October 7, 2015 Courage My Love & XXI Save The Night At Revolution Music Hall Amityville, NY 9-27-15
The Wolves of War tour sees the return of Orange County Hard Rock band Burn Halo to the fold in support of their newest album of the same title. Unfortunately, the tour package saw its share of setbacks including the loss of direct support band Heartist a mere few shows from kick-off. In addition, Burn Halo Lead Vocalist James Hart was forced to miss the first few dates himself. Furthermore, it seems the streak of bad luck continued on Sunday, September 27th, at Revolution Bar & Music Hall in Amityville, New York as the show started an hour before advertised time with all local bands absent. Despite setbacks, the two remaining national acts, XXI and Courage My Love, stepped up to the plate to make it a night worth remember for fans who made the trip out.
With no local acts to warm up the crowd, XXI was tasked with the honors of opening for the Amityville crowd. The four Carrollton, Kentucky men came to the stage ready and willing to perform in front of a very different crowd than usual. With eyes on them, the four delivered a performance that had those in attendance banging heads and screaming for the band to play more.
The origins of XXI are a heartbreaking story, and thus an uneasy one to tell. Originally known as A Feast For Kings, Carson Butcher (now Vocals, formally Drums), Robbie Barnett (now Drums, formally Bass), Jamie King (Guitar) and Seth Weigand (Vocals, Guitar) still mourn the untimely passing of original singer Eric Gentry in 2014. Renaming the band XXI as a tribute to the young age of Gentry’s parting, the band chose to move forward and continue to play for live crowds in honor of their fallen friend.
A mix of Christian Hardcore, Metal, and Rock influences are apparent in their music. With their first album as XXI, titled Inside Out, releasing less than two weeks prior to the show via Tooth & Nail, the band joined the fans to show them what the new album was all about. Choosing to use their whole set as a showcase of the new CD, the band opened with “Counting Me Out” to garner the crowd’s attention.
As the music blasted, the band remained animated on stage through mind blowing tracks such as “Hanging By A Thread” and “All I Want.” Butcher, despite being known for his drumming acumen until last year, showed he is more than capable of fronting of a band of this caliber. Emotional screams and powerful vocals highlighted each track off the album as well as the band’s live set.
Moving on to “Way You Love Me” proved to be the right move as the fans in attendance were, by now, completely entranced by XXI’s performance. The band would continue on with “Wasn’t Enough” before closer “Say It Again;” a track that, by all rights, should be destined for prominence within the genre. As the chorus found the lyrics “We were made for… We were made for more,” channeled through the mics, and into the ears of those in attendance, fans hoped to see the band achieve just that, more.
XXI is a band that simply needs to be on music fans’ radar. With Inside Out still a very young album, fans of all sorts of Rock music will find something to enjoy within the tracks to be heard. With no end of touring in sight, the band continues to tour heavily throughout October and beyond, giving fans in multiple regions a chance to experience first hand what XXI brings to the table. Fans who get the chance to see them live will not be disappointed.
Moving right along, Courage My Love was ready to go next. Sometimes three is a crowd. Other times three is just what you need to take the Pop-Rock genre by storm. With the two sisters, Mercedes (Vocals, Guitar) and Phoenix (Drums, Vocals) Arn-Horn, classically trained in vocals, piano, guitar, and cello each, the two always seemed to use their musical talents to reach the masses. Formed in 2009 and naming their band after a quote from the 1936 H.G. Wells movie Things To Come, the two, alongside original bassist David Blake-Dickson, would not take long to be discovered as they were signed a year later after garnering attention at a Battle of the Bands. Hailing from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, the three collectively became known as Courage My Love. In 2012, the trio released an extended version of their original For Now EP, an album that helped the band go on to be named one of the 2012 “Top 100 Bands You Need To Know” by Alternative Press Magazine.
Sadly, 2012 would also mark the year that Blake-Dickson chose to leave the group citing personal reasons. The two sisters were soon joined by now current bassist Brandon Lockwood and the three quickly proved Courage My Love still had all the staying power a band could ask for. By next year, the three found themselves gracing the cover of Canadian Musician Magazine. The magazine would serve as an introspective into the band’s use of social media to reach fans worldwide. Those looking to see more of the band reaching out to fans are strongly suggested to check out the band’s YouTube site which includes a six part faux-reality show involving the band along with plenty of music videos for fans to sink their teeth into.
Coming off their most recently released album, Becoming, Courage My Love entered Revolution Bar & Music Hall on a quiet Sunday night unaware that the night would be much different than most. Even so, the band’s approach to the night would have remained unchanged. Whether playing in front of a sold out arena or playing in front of a small group, Courage My Love’s act won’t change. It does not need to. When the three members take the stage, they are completely themselves. Three friends having fun and playing awesome music. For the Amityville audience, it was a real treat made better by the intimate setting the night created.
With one act down on what was now believed to be a three act night, Courage My Love began to make their way to the stage for their first time in front of a Long Island crowd. As the three members tested equipment before their performance, it became immediately clear the three loved performing together. Laughter ran rampant across the stage as Lockwood spat water from his bottle at the two sisters with a look of jest in his eye. As the three members found content in their set up, the lights dimmed to mark the start of their set.
Rejoining the stage, the three immediately met around Phoenix’s drum set, each throwing in a hand to ready themselves for the set ahead. As anticipation built, Phoenix took to her throne as Mercedes and Brandon both moved forward on stage, one towards each mic. Keeping things upbeat and moving with their mix of Hard Rock and Pop Punk anthems, the three members played through a variety of their big hits to the delight of those in attendance. The three members showed a level of charisma on stage that cannot often be found. Being their first time in Long Island, Mercedes was effervescent in her excitement and cute as a button with her interactions with the crowd.
Blasting through tracks including “Bridges,” both Mercedes and Brandon both played to the crowd, jumping onto the stage’s edge to be as close to to their supporters as possible. Alongside Phoenix, the three showed a camaraderie not often seen in acts today. Playing well off of one another, one thing is crystal clear when seeing Courage My Love play live: they love being on stage with one another. The three friends clearly soaked up every moment they were able to spend in front of the Long Island crowd and were obviously having fun to even those far away from Revolution’s stage area.
“All I Need,” more than any other song of the set, served to showcase the talent the two sisters possess when singing with one another. The two together created a beautiful harmony that slowed down the set and had fans soaking in a performance both touching and unbelievable. “Skin and Bone” did the same while adding a harder hitting track that allowed the band to take off and energize the fans in the process. More catchy tracks such as “Kerosene” highlighted the band’s energy level. As the band kicked the intensity up, Brandon and Mercedes rocked out to their own tracks, taking delight in the fruits of their labors. The frenetic pace was easy to enjoy and impossible to replicate. Even Katy Perry was not safe as the three produced a cover of “Dark Horse” that gave the original a run for its money. The three took every track to the fullest potential live, leaving fans singing along and newcomers listening intently. Before leaving, Arn-Horn honorably gave mention to XXI’s recent release and asked for support of all the bands on the tour. Thanking the fans one last time, the band then left the stage, at the time unaware that they had just headlined it.
Refusing handshakes in lieu of hugs and high fives, the band showed their absolute love for their fans after performing for them live. Posing for photos and joking with those in attendance created a feeling of friends hanging out. As fans young and old came to greet them, the three took to each fan personally. Things were jubilant for the Amityville crowd until an announcement from Burn Halo’s Joey Roxx not long after stating the band would not be playing tonight due to an illness suffered by frontman James Hart. However, the remaining band members were all willing to stay at the merch booth to meet and greet fans. It was a shame that Burn Halo could not play, however, as all know, accidents do happen and people do get sick. The rest of the band were extremely apologetic and promised to return as soon as possible.
While most bands might have seen the out of the ordinary night in Amityville as a kerfuffle, Courage My Love took it with grace and enjoyed every moment. As the War of Wolves Tour came a bit of an odd ending, Courage My Love is gearing up for their second released album within a year. Still untitled at this point, fans can only hope the tracks continue to impress. Newcomers are strongly recommended to check out the most recent release of Becoming as well as last years Spirit Animal to sate their needs for Pop-Punk perfection until then. As for Burn Halo, they are plugging away on the road through the end of October, so do not miss this underrated band.Reporting by Mr. G.