April 4, 2016 Escape The Fate & New Years Day Level Rock City Studios Camarillo, CA 3-25-16
Just a little over five months after the release of their fifth studio album, Hate Me, Escape the Fate continue to move forward with more live shows in its support. A band which has traveled a long and windy road, founding drummer Robert Ortiz said it best back in a 2013 interview with CrypticRock when stating, “It’s never stable, it’s a Rock band. The difference with us is we just continue to persevere.” Honest and pulling no punches, Escape the Fate’s history has seen members come and go, but through it all, they continue to grow as one of Heavy Rock’s elite. Now with a lineup of Ortiz, Vocalist Craig Mabbitt, as well as Guitarists Thomas “TJ” Bell and Kevin “Thrasher” Gruft, Escape the Fate crafted yet another dynamic record in the form of Hate Me. Dripping with emotions, the album is their fourth to break the US Billboard 200, proving nothing can stop Escape the Fate. With that in mind, the guys hit the road as of March 21st with California’s New Year’s Day on a four date run prior to a bigger tour with Hellyeah and From Ashes To New. Allowing both Escape the Fate and New Year’s Day an opportunity to play more extensive sets, the final night before meeting up with We’re All in This Together tour found the bands at Rock City Studios in Camarillo, CA on Friday, March 25th.
Having sustained a fair share of twists and turns along their journey as well, Anaheim California based New Year’s Day was up first to jump-start the evening. Formed over a decade ago by Vocalist Ash Costello, New Year’s Day has seen their sound grow from Pop Punk roots to a more textured, heavy Gothic Rock styling. Having been featured on Vans Warped Tour, shared tours with the likes of Motionless in White, among others, New Year’s Day is a band that, in spite of lineup changes, continues to build a strong, devoted following. Making a grand impression following the release of 2013’s Victim to Villain, New Year’s Day continued their growth with 2014’s EP Epidemic, and put out their most personal and riveting album to date in 2015 with Malevolence. With Costello leading the charge and keeping with her artistic vision, New Year’s Day’s supporting cast of Lead Guitarist Nikki Misery, Rhythm Guitarist Jeremy Valentyne, Bassist Brandon Wolfe, and Drummer Trixx took to the stage ready to rattle the large crowd.
With an energy and presence that was notable, New Year’s Day walked out onto the stage as the excitement in the room became palpable. Their fanbase, lovingly referred to as “Creeps,” has grown considerably over the past year, but regardless of quantity, the Creeps are some of the most dedicated and passionate music lovers out there. That is reflected in both the quantity and quality of New Year’s Day’s live show attendees as they know every word to every song, both new and old, and sing along in full force. With that said, the band wasted no time and jumped straight into their popular anthem, “Kill or Be Killed.” This high-energy track features plenty of group chanting, making it the perfect way to get fans engaged and singing along right off the bat. The band then played “I’m No Good,” off Victim To Villain, which features a more upbeat rhythm, which is nearly impossible to resist the urge to dance along with.
Following up with “Other Side” and “I’m About to Break You,” they also performed the title-track off their most recent album when Costello confessed the song carried a lot of emotion for her. Sincerely coming across in the performance, Costello’s ear-shattering scream after the first chorus was clearly not meant to just sound cool, but as a portrayal of how she feels about the events that prompted her to write the song. If there is one moment that accurately describes New Year’s Day’s passion and drive, it is that one. They would go on to offer other fan-favorites such as the popular “Angel Eyes” and intense “Defame Me” to close out their set.
Although they have done away with the chainsaw wielding “Killer Mickey” and the flag waving “Living Dead Girl,” New Year’s Day does not mess around when it comes to bringing theatrics to the masses. With that said, their stage show is now more refined and less gimmicky than in years past, but the band is still Hauntedmansioncore at its core. Misery did a full-on Exorcist style backbend, drools, and repeatedly hits himself in the head with a microphone stand throughout the performance, and Guitarist Valentyne interacted with the members of the crowd, pulling an inhuman face whenever an ecstatic fan meets his eye. In addition, Costello’s combination of whiplash-inducing headbanging and harsh screaming portrays the ferocity of New Year’s Day’s emotion behind their songs and performance, but even the most badass Rock stars cannot keep a straight face when it comes to the adoration from their fans, and Costello was all smiles when she looked upon the faces in the crowd. All in all, New Year’s Day continue to be a compelling band with plenty of good years ahead of them.
By the time New Year’s Day left the stage, the crowded venue was abuzz with excitement from fans eagerly awaiting Escape The Fate. At 11 PM, as Ortiz took his place behind the drumkit, Bell and Thrasher followed with touring bassist Max Georgiev as opening notes of “Just A Memory” was met by deafening screams. The screams got louder as each member took to the smoke-filled stage, one by one. Guitarist Kevin Thrasher opened up the song with a fast and intricate guitar riff that set the pace for the rest of the performance. The energy level did not waver as Mabbitt, clad in a New Year’ Day t-shirt, jumped on stage and began singing. Within minutes of the beginning of the set, a mosh pit had opened up, pushing everyone who did not want to get caught up in the moshing towards the outskirts of the room as they played on with “The Flood” and “10 Mile Wide.”
Continuing to pummel, the sound system at Rock City Studios could not handle Escape the Fate, and while it may not have been up to par, the quality of the performance was good enough to make up for that as they played on with songs such as “Ungrateful,” “Alive,” and “Ashley.” While Guitarist Bell did most of the speaking in between songs, Mabbitt interacted with the crowd by holding out the microphone to audience members during their most popular songs, resulting in the venue being filled with the passionate voices of the band’s loyal fans. This added a sense of community to the show as they mixed old and new cuts such as “Something,” “Remember Every Scar,” and “Gorgeous Nightmare.”
Adding even more flair to the exciting set, Thrasher’s five minute guitar solo featured some dazzling work such as shredding Van Halen’s “Eruption.” Thrasher showed immense talent and kept everyone’s attention as the solo acted almost as a brief intermission. Later, as the band took their leave, chants of “one more song” exploded from the crowd. After just a moment, they gave in to the request and returned to the stage with their popular “One For The Money,” and it was nearly impossible to hear the band over the singing of the crowd. As one last hurrah, Bell opened one of the remaining water bottles from the stage and spewed water out all over the audience, then threw the empty bottle into the crowd. Fans reached up, trying desperately to catch the bottle that one of their idols had touched. After the song ended, Thrasher and Bell tossed out their remaining guitar picks, which were eagerly caught by the waiting hands of the crowd. Furthermore, Ortiz did the same with his remaining drumsticks, which he later signed for the fans that had caught them.
Everyone at Rock City Studios, regardless of their differences, had one thing in common – they love Escape The Fate. That common love of music is enough to bring any group of people together, and that is a beautiful thing. Overall, both New Year’s Day and Escape the Fate delivered solid, high-energy sets that left the audience craving more. Lucky for fans, there is still plenty more to come as both bands now join forces with Hellyeah and From Ashes to New come April 30th when the tour commences as Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville, Florida.