June 1, 2016 (Hed) p.e. & The Veer Union Thunder Into Amityville, NY 5-26-16 w/ Everybody Panic!
With more than twenty years in the game, self-proclaimed “G-Punk” Rap-Metallers (Hed) p.e. have hit the road yet again on the Storm Warning Tour. Always known to be a live band to see, this time around they are promoting their eleventh studio album, Forever!, set to hit stores in mid July 2016. Seemingly always on the road, the band has weathered many “storms” of their own throughout the years, facing multiple lineup changes and label changes, but ultimately found a new home on Pavement Records, with a fresh, talented lineup that seems to have a promising future. With sole original member Jared Gomes (vocals) keeping the brand going, he has recruited new guitarist Greg “Gregzilla” Harrison (who replaced longtime member Jaxon Benge) and Bassist Kurt “Kid Bass” Blankenship (who replaced original member Mark “Mawk” Young), in addition to long-time Skinsman Jeremiah “Trauma” Stratton.
Returning to Revolution Music Hall in Amityville, New York, a spot they have visited often in recent years, this time around they brought along labelmates The Veer Union and the very new Everybody Panic!. Fans present from last time (Hed) p.e. was in town with Alien Ant Farm back in April 0f 2015 returned, eager to hear new music from the G-Punkers with many “Whoop Whoops” (Juggalo anthem) being chanted throughout the night. Getting the mojo flowing early, local acts Fight of the Century and One Day Waiting warmed up earlier arrives. Both performing strong sets of original tunes, they proved that Long Island’s Hard Rock/Metal scene is still very vital.
Thereafter, first up on the tour package was Everybody Panic! out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Although a new band, in theory, two of their members, Vocalist Ty Gay and Guitarist Dustin ‘Provo’ Provenzano, have roots that span the Rock/Metal scene from years ago. Currently a Jiu-Jitsu master, Gay previously fronted bands like Lure and Whitefall while “Provo” spent his tenure in national acts such as Rikets and Skinlab. In addition, the band just recently added Levi Dickerson, former drummer of the now defunct Anti-Mortem, and new bassist Pat Nolan.
Taking the stage with an impression, white-coated drum kit with their logo on the double bass heads, the band instantly kicked into driving Rock while Gay performed barefoot and let his long dark hair completely loose as they played songs like “Darkest Day” and “No One Gets Out Alive.” Those still unfamiliar with the band, they perform Hard Rock with a unique vocal sound, courtesy of Gay. Moving along, at one point Gay introduced a very personal number, which was evident in his emotional performance during the piece.
The band was cordial and eager to meet fans after their set, before closing with their latest single, “When it All Burns,” featuring some fierce double kick courtesy of Levi. Having more than a few heads bopping, the band did gain attention of many and had a handful of new fans waiting for them at their merchandise table. With such a tight sound, odds are Everybody Panic! will begin to pick up more steam as the word spreads.
Next up on the bill was the veteran Canadian Hard Rock band known as The Veer Union. Traveling a long road to the point they are, they released the highly anticipated new album Decade a mere five months ago via Pavement Records. The story began when Vocalist Crispin Earl originally started the band a decade ago, hence the new album title, under the name Veer before signing to Universal Records. After changing their name and releasing their major label debut, Against the Grain, in 2009, the band hit the road with heavy hitters such as Sick Puppies, My Darkest Days, and Hurt. A very well-received album, the band went through some tumultuous times internally. Thankfully, Earl stuck with his vision and spent years rebuilding the band between albums, which undoubtedly contributed to a much darker tone of 2012’s Divide the Blackened Sky. Now reconfigured with supporting cast Dan Sittler (guitar), Ryan Ramsdell (guitar), Amal Wijayanayake (bass), as well as newest member Tyler Reimer (drums), The Veer Union are reemerging with new life and new blood.
Coming out with tons of energy, guitarists and bassist headbanged in unison to “Watch You Lose” as Earl worked the front of the stage. Having a unique stage presence, the band had large light fixtures interspersed between members to add another dimension to their visual and audial approach. A cohesive unit, they kept their sound tight and moving between numbers, letting the music speak for itself, including tracks “Darker Side of Me,” “Divide the Blackened Sky,” and the driving “Bitter Me.”
The Veer Union’s enthusiasm was certainly infectious and many (Hed) p.e. diehards found themselves moving to the front of the stage to support a band they previously may have not known. Despite an intimate crowd setting, the band worked the room as if it were an arena, demanding movement and response when necessary. Before departing, they closed with newest single “Defying Gravity” and “Seasons,” which demonstrated the talent and chops of each member. Taking to their merchandise table after the set, like “Everbody Panic!,” The Veer Union was eager to meet and greet with all who came out to support them. With that in mind, it is time this talented band hit their stride and get the respect they deserve.
Getting ready for the main event, the crowd began to close in on the stage where many a Juggalo started the call-and-response chants. Coming out to the very groovy and moving “Pay Me” off their forthcoming release, Gomes took no prisoners with his full-on, throaty, rapped/screamed verses, while Bassist “Kid” and Guitarist “Gregzilla” bounced in unison. Having spent more than half his life on a stage at some point or another, Vocalist Gomes knows how to work a crowd from thousands to tens. His voice also remains remarkably solid considering his constant fluctuation from barks, to raps, to melodic singing. With that said, if “Pay Me” is any indication of what the new album will sound like, fans are definitely in for a treat!
Much like the other proud and few bands still around today from the Nu-Metal era, the back-catalogue of (Hed) p.e. spans dozens of tracks and fan-favorites. Doing their best to keep things varied from tour to tour, the band did play the token necessities including “Renegade,” “Bartender,” and “Raise Hell,” but also some lesser known tracks that may have been set on the back burner for a time. The slower-paced, funky “Swan Dive,” for example, was a pleasant surprise to hear live, as well as the Hip Hop driven “Game Over,” which featured the hard-hitting rhymes from Gomes back from his Suburban Noize Records days.
Keeping things moving consistently, the band rolled into the single “No Turning Back,” from 2015’s Evolution, with Drummer “Trauma” keeping a solid, ballsy groove. True to Gomes, he was vocal and blunt on stage between songs. The vocalist, who wears his heart on his sleeve, is known for often having a tongue-in-cheek banter session with fans between numbers. While this is something that could often offend unfamiliar fans, which is sort of the point, it also has garnered affection from die-hard supporters, and the antics at Revolution Music Hall this time around were no different. Playing for a solid hour, the band made impressive segues from number to number, where many songs sounded like they were played by a different band, including “Bloodfire” and “Let’s Ride.” Closing out with with an interesting number, the heavy, Punk influenced “Peer Pressure,” (Hed) p.e. gave one final jolt to the pit and the fans rabidly moved about.
Always one to show appreciation and thanks to his fans, Gomes was more than accommodating to the loyal (Hed) army, and the band was present out on the floor before as well as after the show. It is both refreshing and admirable to see a veteran band like (Hed) p.e. still making waves, and time for fans that have supported the band through thick and thin.