Halloween. It is that one day a year when little ghouls and goblins can truly let their freak-flags fly. So what better way to spend your treat time than with the Kings of Halloween? Motionless In White’s The Graveyard Shift Tour is, in fact, Halloween brought to the stage! With friends The Amity Affliction, Miss May I, and Old Wounds, Pennsy’s own brought their brand of spooktacular mayhem to Philadelphia’s Electric Factory on Tuesday, October 31, 2017.
Other tours might claim to be a Halloween scream, but The Graveyard Shift Tour is all that and a bag of Reese’s PB cups! Motionless In White’s headliner started on the West Coast in late September, then worked its way through 27 dates across 21 states before finally arriving home to Pennsylvania. Philadelphia’s Electric Factory, a mid-sized, 2,500-capacity venue on Willow Street – just a stone’s throw from New Jersey – was chosen to play host to the final evening of the tour. With a near sold-out crowd quickly filling the venue and talk turning toward costumes, Scranton, and traveling from far and wide – with two lovely ladies from North Dakota taking that prize! – the night began with a happy hum.
While the opening slot throughout the bulk of the tour went to the feisty William Control, he bowed out of the tour gracefully, if prematurely, a few days earlier, making way for the return of Old Wounds. An incendiary quintet from Asbury Park, New Jersey, their debut album, 2013’s From Where We Came Is Where We’ll Rest, established the group as a ferocious force, while 2015’s The Suffering Spirit cemented the boys as a vital fixture in today’s Hardcore scene. Having toured with the likes of Aiden, Every Time I Die, and Beartooth, these Warped Tour alums have a die-hard fan-base that is quickly growing in strength and numbers. Coming to the Electric Factory stage for their first show together in a year, Old Wounds – Vocalist Kevin Iavaroni, Guitarist Ben Waugh, Bassist Michael Weintraub, Drummer Matt Guyre, and touring Guitarist Lumpy – were poised to impress.
Under blood red lighting, Old Wounds took the stage to 1976’s The Omen theme song and exploded with brutal force into “The Sharpest Knife for the Blackest Heart.” With Iavaroni prowling the stage and the crowd-surfers immediately launching themselves skyward, this was an explosive beginning to a slaughtering set. The fierce Hardcore stomp of “Rest In Piss” followed, along with the band’s brand-spanking-new single, “Only Your Enemies Leave Roses.” Despite the song only being released that very same day, the crowd was not deterred and the mayhem continued at full-throttle.
Tethered only by the length of his microphone cord, Iavaroni worked his fans through the pulverizing “Heaven Is A Memory,” getting a circle pit going on the floor. With his vicious screams anchoring “Son of No One” and “On Leather Wings,” he then led the group into the short but brutal “New Fortunes,” before closing out with the murderous rampage of “Moral Hex.” As Iavaroni launched himself – microphone and all – into the crowd for a surf-session, the band’s impressive and explosive set came to an all too quick finale. With dates coming up with Eighteen Visions, as well as a gig supporting E. Town Concrete and Madball, there is no excuse to miss this killer quintet!
As the theme song for the Power Rangers played over the PA, Miss May I trotted onto the stage with playful smirks across each of their faces. Embracing their inner “go” immediately, they propelled their fans into a chaotic, crowd-surfing extravaganza for set opener, “Lost in the Grey.” Fan favorite and one of the band’s heaviest offerings, “Relentless Chaos” saw the crowd working overtime to propel more surfers toward the stage. The melody-infused “My Sorrow” continued this rampage but saw many more fans singing along with its infectious choruses.
In a display of the band’s stellar musicianship, they embraced every note of the brutal “Hey Mister” with the crowd feeding off their endless energy. With this give-and-take continuing at an ultimate high, the boys tackled “Swallow Your Teeth” and “Under Fire,” both off their latest offering, Shadows Inside. In fact, the album’s namesake would serve as their grand finale, a killer sing-along that had the crowd bouncing on the tips of their toes. It was a short set, no doubt, but packed to the gills with triumphant energy worthy of true superheroes!
Taking the stage in yuppie finery, looking fresh from brunch at the yacht club, The Amity Affliction – Vocalist Joel Birch, Guitarist Dan Brown, Bassist/Vocalist Ahren Stringer, and Drummer Ryan Burt – raised their glasses for a toast – no doubt those were bellinis or mimosas! – before launching into the soaring “I Bring the Weather With Me.” With the nearly sold-out crowd already eating out of the palms of their tattooed hands, they induced sing-alongs on the melodic choruses of “Open Letter” as well as “Lost & Fading.” A particular fan favorite, “Shine On” kept the crowd on their toes, passionately echoing every word back to Birch and co.
This symbiotic transfer continued into the band’s most melodic offering, the candid “All Fucked Up.” The passionate and confessional quality of The Amity Affliction’s sincere, but blistering material continued on a pair of beloved favorites, “Death’s Hand” and “Pittsburgh.” With the fan response already riding a massive high, it seemed almost impossible for the audience to get even more elated. Amity’s energetic and inspiring set ended with an ocean of crowdsurfing mayhem on “Don’t Lean On Me” and the explosive, but danceable “This Could Be Heartbreak.” The passion that the band inspires in their fans was palpable, with many in the crowd seemingly in attendance just to witness these Aussies in America.
The honor of sharing stages with their idols – bands like Korn, Slipknot, HIM, and Bleeding Through – would follow, along with a musical evolution that would produce three superb albums – 2012’s Infamous, 2014’s Reincarnate, and 2017’s killer Graveyard Shift. Dogged determination and a road ethic like no other have kept Motionless In White (MIW, if you will) favorites throughout the scene, and their legion of die-hard Creatures would not dare miss a chance to spend October 31st with the Kings of Halloween themselves!
As the curtain dropped, Motionless In White – Vocalist Chris Motionless, Guitarists Ricky “Horror” Olson and Ryan Sitkowski, Bassist Devin “Ghost” Sola, and Drummer Vinny Mauro – were met with triumphant cheers from the massive and boisterous Philly crowd. Wasting no time, Chris offered up a “Happy fucking Halloween, Philadelphia,” before the guys – along with stage performers Kylie Devyn and Gaiapatra – launched into the sexual stomp of “Rats,” off the band’s recent Graveyard Shift. Prowling about the stage in a black mini-skirt and some seriously killer platform boots, Chris worked his fans into a frenzy. When fan favorite “Reincarnate” followed, the crowd-surfers worked double-time to reach the front of the barricade and high-five their beloved Mr. Motionless.
Amping up the band’s visual element, Devyn and Gaiapatra took to the upper tier of the set with grinders to make literal sparks fly for the boys’ latest single, “Necessary Evil.” It was followed by the internet-troll taunting “Soft” – and with black MIW flags waving in the air thanks to the ladies – the anthemic “Loud (Fuck It).” Introducing the old-school fan favorite “Abigail,” Chris brought out Old Wounds’ Iavaroni. A firecracker of energy, Iavaroni matched Chris note for note as the two propelled the band through the beloved, Crucible-inspired track. With the energy continuing on high, fans passed forward a silk “570: Home Sweet Home” flag to accompany the band’s performance of “570,” an ode to their beloved hometown and the band’s roots. Similarly, “America” turned into a sing-along, while old-school favorite “Ghost In the Mirror” put a special spark in many fans’ evenings.
Taking a moment to be candid with his fans, Chris discussed that at recent VIP Meet & Greet sessions, several parents have thanked the group for bringing them closer to their own children; mothers and sons, fathers and daughters are pairing up to concert-hop together for the love of music and family. Acknowledging that his own family is very sacred to him, Chris confessed that his father, Jerry Cerulli, has been an integral part of the band since day one, helping to craft past and present on-stage props and set-ups, as well as schlepping the boys and their gear from gig to gig in their earliest days. In a truly special moment, father and son stepped forward together to turn Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” into one sincerely rocking duet.
Anyone who knows and loves MIW, understands that this is a band who are big on the visual aspect of their performance; turning an already killer song into an epic display of theatrical fun is the MIW way. So goes the hilarious, cinematic romp through Hollywood Forever that is “Dead as Fuck” and “Not My Type: Dead as Fuck 2.” With the band’s cheerleaders shaking their pom-poms and Chris shaking his hips, the boys created a highlight to an already uproarious set. Complete with a pinch of female-dominance, a 7’ tall zombie and an equally large headless horseman (minus the horse, of course!), the stage was full of mischief and mayhem and the crowd were loving every second of it.
Asking for a cheer from the die-hard fans, Chris launched the band into a pair of tracks from their debut, Creatures, beginning with “Immaculate Misconception,” a brutally candid confession and the band’s unspoken credo. Perhaps a visual highlight of the night, the Lost Boys-inspired “We Only Come Out At Night” saw him adorning a pair of giant vampire-bat wings, creating some deliciously Gothic imagery to accompany the song.
With his band-mates stepping back to relax, Chris then introduced what would be a highlight of many fans’ evening: the Costume Contest. Two groups of five were brought on-stage to show off their wears and be voted on by the crowd. There was Reptar beside Jesus Christ; crazy clowns and one of the deranged Silent Hill nurses; a male Harley Quinn and a zombie married couple; along with a beautiful butterfly and even Chris Motionless himself. Joking that if the gal dressed as his doppelgänger won, they had to split her loot, Chris allowed the audience to cheer for their favorites and, no real shock, his feminine alter-ego took home the prize.
For “Break the Cycle,” the band brought out their tech, Christian Charlesworth, to play drums, which, in turn, left drummer Mauro with nothing to do to occupy his time. Deciding to ham it up, Vinnie stomped back and forth across the stage in a one-man mosh, exciting all the fans that love their Trap Demon. They then segued into “Voices,” before tackling the entirely apropos “Devil’s Night.” With Devyn and Gaiapatra in bloodied dresses and deranged masks – swinging weapons around the stage – there was no stopping the full-throttle frenzy that left two lucky fans swinging from the hangman’s noose.
After a momentary lapse to build tension, the band returned to the stage for their encore, “Eternally Yours.” If there might ever be a hint of love in an MIW track, this is where you will find it. With emphatic thank yous to their crew and all the other bands on the tour, Motionless In White ended with foam floating from the sky and the ladies gifting red roses to adoring fans. When it was all said and done and the last drumsticks had been tossed, Chris jumped off the stage to hug each and every front-row audience member, taking that extra special moment to thank the fans who put him up on that very stage.
Sad to say, The Graveyard Shift Tour has come to its conclusion, folks. With the last show being an epic representation of what a hard-working, appreciative, and humble little band from Pennsylvania can do, it is no wonder whatsoever how these guys have accrued such a rabid and devoted fanbase and have earned the respect and friendship of so very many of their peers. Motionless won’t be back on the road until January 2018, in Europe, no less, so while the guys rest up and take some much-needed time with their families, everyone should go learn their catalogue of material and prepare themselves for whatever comes next. It is guaranteed to be a real scream!