April 3, 2014 Asking Alexandria Break Down The Walls of Starland Ballroom 3-22-14 with August Burns Red, We Came As Romans, Crown the Empire, & Born of Osiris
Since being founded in 2008, UK rockers Asking Alexandria’s rise has been fast and steady with three chart shattering albums, collecting a rabid group of fans, and selling out concerts all around the world. With tireless touring in 2013 and the massive success of From Death to Density, Asking Alexandria announced they would be returning to North America in March 2014. Reaping the benefits of their labor over the years of touring, this headlining string of dates dubbed “Break Down the Walls Tour” stopped by Starland Ballroom in Sayerville, NJ on Saturday March 22nd to play a sold out show with August Burns Red, We Came As Romans, Crown the Empire, and Born of Osiris.
Opening things up for was Chicago, IL natives Born of Osiris. Coming off one of their most successful years since formation a decade ago with their game changing album Tomorrow We Die Alive and a scorching performance at Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Born of Osiris are a fast rising commodity in the world of metal. Mixing a myriad of progress elements with deathcore distinguishes this band among their peers.
Kicking their set off with the epic song “Machine”, Starland Ballroom responded with high energy and a headbanging frenzy. The combining furious guitar chops of Lee McKinney with the eargasmic keyboards and synth by Joe Buras created an atmosphere both powerful and intriguing. Vocalist Ronnie Canizaro tone was brutal and clarity with songs such as Follow the Signs” from The Discovery (2011) and “Bow Down” off The New Reign (2007). Slaying through their seven song set, the band closed out with new fan-favorite “Exhilarate” having the audience as such, exhilarated and ready to rock which set the bar high for the rest of the bands to follow.
Next up was Dallas Texans metalcore group Crown the Empire. Having only been around for four short years this band has accomplished a lot in that time. Signing to Rise Records shortly into their careers and pumping out their successful debut album The Fallout (2012) would be enough for any young band, but the momentum has not faded, gaining a loyal and massive fan base as well as heading out on the road with some of today’s powerhouses such as Pierce the Veil, The Used, and now Asking Alexandria. With the recent announcement the band has completed the recording of their new album, it seems 2014 is only going to get better for Andy Velasquez (lead vocals), Brandon hoover (guitar), Hayden Tree(bass), Bennett Vogelman (lead guitar), David Excamilla(scream/backing vocals), and Brent Taddie (drums).
Storming onto the stage, this band was on mission to make a statement. Mixing metalcore vocals of Excamilla and emotionally driven singing of Velasquez make Crown the Empire an excellent hybrid of styles. Songs like “Makeshift Chemistry” and “Children of Love” were just a few of the highlights through the band’s seven song set. One could not help but be taken by their intensity and dedication to their music as they played through each song. Crown the Empire have something special going on and when their new album is released it could take them over the top.
Directly following, Troy, MI band We Came As Romans arrived on stage. Now three records deep, their latest effort Tracing Back Roots (2013) could prove to be the band’s best yet. Having taken on a long list of tours of their own over the years this band is no stranger to playing sold out shows at small and larger venues. After some early line-up changes We Came As Romans has settled in with solid chemistry in Kyle Pavone (vocals/keyboards), David Stephens (rhythm guitar/vocals), Joshua Moore (lead guitar), Lou Cotton (rhythm guitar), Eric Choi (drums), and Andy Glass (bass).
With guitars blazing and energy only a band doing it for eight plus years could have, We Came As Romans started off with “Tracing Back Roots” going into “Ghosts”. Stomping and jumping on the stage the six-piece band went on through an energized set including “Fade Away” and covering The Wanted radio sensation hit “ Glad you came”. The set closed out nicely with fan-favorites “Hope” and “To Plant a Seed”. Filled with emotion and passion We Came As Romans was humble and sharing smiles as the audience showered them with cheers.
Moving along, Solid State Record alumni, August Burns Red, took the stage ready to start a fire in the audience. While very well capable of headlining themselves August Burns Red bring the highest energy and most positive experiences to the stage each time they perform. Their sixth full-length album Rescue & Restore (2013) peaked at No. 9 in the Billboard Top 200 making August Burns Red have made their mark on the mainstream. Led by vocalist Jake Luhrs along with JB Brubaker (lead guitar), Brent Rambler (guitar), Matt Greiner (drums), and Dustin Davidson (bass) this band is a force to be reckoned with.
Opening with 2011’s “Internal Cannon”, August Burns Red blasted into a series of imposing tunes including “Composure”, “Empire”, and chilling breakdown of “Provision”. Their performance was nothing short of spectacular to watch on stage. There was frequent dancing, crowd interactions, occasional funny facial expression, and laughter which makes it easy to see through the band’s success they haven’t taken a second for granted, thoroughly enjoy doing what they do. Playing a good mix from all of their releases and ending with the powerful and loved “ White Washed” August Burns Red is a band you can see over and over again and be blown away every time.
After an exciting and impressive mix of opening acts it was time for Asking Alexandria to take the stage. Fans packed in close to the stage. Many, who have seen the band numerous times, and other newcomers awaited with eager ears and eyes for the set to begin. Their stage setup consisted of red curtains with enough lighting to give KISS a run for their money.
The UK boys arrived out on stage one by one while kicking off with cross over rock hit “Don’t Pray For Me”. Danny Worsnop paced back and forth on stage effortlessly belting out vocals that sounded record quality. Lead guitarist Ben Bruce wailed on guitar and headbanged along to each song to follow including “Run Free”, “Breathless”, and “Someone, Somewhere”. Worsnop displayed veteran showmanship enticing the audiences interaction consistently from song to song. With overall stellar performances the rest of the band including bassist Sam Bettley,rhythm guitarist Cameron Liddell, and drummer James Cassells, Asking Alexandria sounds tighter than at any point in their career. There is no doubt the magic of a true rock show was unfolding before this sold out audience.
Triumphing through an illustrious eleven song set highlighted by “The Death of Me” and “Killing You” the explosion occurred during the closer “Poison”. The energy reached new heights in Starland Ballroom as lights saturated the crowd and band alike as if being inside a firework display. Fans screamed for more and received a three song encore.
Asking Alexandria bring everything they have to their fans each night they perform. There is no wonder the band is on the mind of everyone these days as they blast off into rock-n-roll super stardom. The tour continues throughout the USA so catch them now or as part a main stage attraction on this summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.Article and images by Jesse Murch