October 1, 2015 Hollywood Undead Capture Mayan Theatre Los Angeles, CA 9-15-15 w/ I Prevail & Crown the Empire
After a humble start with their first song actually being posted on Myspace back in 2005, Hollywood Undead has come to the forefront of the Nu Metal/Rap genre. Although all six members of Hollywood Undead sing vocals throughout their four albums, five of them also multitask by playing instruments at the same time. After some lineup changes, the masked men now consist of Jorel “J-Dog” Decker on rhythm and bass guitar, keyboards, synth, and programming, Matthew “Da Kurlzz” Busek on drums and percussion, George “Johnny 3 Tears” Ragan on bass guitar, Jordan “Charlie Scene” Terrell on lead guitar, Dylan “Funny Man” Alvarez on vocals, and Daniel “Danny” Murillo, who took over for Aron “Deuce” Elichman in 2010 after some musical disagreements with the band, on keyboards and rhythm guitar. Only Dylan “Funny Man” Alvarez stays behind the mic stand. Creating a stir with well-received albums such as 2008’s Swan Songs, 2011’s American Tragedy, and 2013’s Notes from the Underground, they continue to create their old school yet unique sound.
Two years later, on March 31, 2015, they released their newest album, Day of the Dead, along with a trailer where the guys throw their infamous masks into a coffin before shipping it off, signifying the band moving on. Now they are back this Fall with Crown the Empire and I Prevail to rock the US once again. Scheduled to hit cities from coast to coast, their stop at the Mayan Theatre on their home turf of Los Angeles, California on Tuesday September 15th was one fans would not soon forget.
The lineup was an interesting mash up of very different music, but there was a common theme: all three bands had more than one singer. This was not the only thread of commonality, though. Each band also got a great reaction from the crowd. The venue was almost packed when the first band, I Prevail, started their set, which is always a great thing to see. While often times fans get to the venue early in order to get a good spot for the headliner and then stand around looking bored while the opening bands play, I Prevail’s commanding stage presence kept that from happening. Formed in 2013, I Prevail gained national attention when their cover of Taylor Swift’s “Black Space” hit YouTube on December 1, 2014, which peaked at #90 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and at #23 on US Mainstream Rock Songs chart. Their debut EP, Heart Vs. Mind, was released on January 26, 2015, and since then, the band has been working hard to climb the ladder.
Now consisting of clean vocalist Brian Burkheiser, screaming vocalist Eric Vanlerberghe, Lead Guitarist Steve Menoian, and Drummer Lee Runestad, as well as touring members Dylan Bowman (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Tony Camposeo (bass guitar, backing vocals), the band’s energy was contagious as they took the stage. This night, they started their set with “Heart vs. Mind” and continued with “Love, Lust and Liars,” “Face Your Demons,” “The Enemy” and “Crossroads.” A few songs into their set, there was already a mosh pit and a majority of the crowd was jumping and having a good time. For such a new band, their ability to interact with the crowd from up on the stage was phenomenal.
Keeping the crowd’s interest, one of the highlights of their set was their cover of the aforementioned “Blank Space,” which was featured on the 2015 re-release of Fearless Records’ Punk Goes Pop Vol. 6. It was amusing to see rockers in the crowd belting out lyrics they would never admit that they know, along with Vocalists Burkheiser and Vanlerberghe. The band also sang a cover of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” before ending the night with “Deceivers.” Be sure to check out these up-and-comers for a great, energetic show.
After I Prevail exited the stage, some attendees migrated to the back area to try to cool off, while others stayed put, not willing to risk losing their spot in front for the Metalcore band Crown the Empire. Formed in 2010, these Texans have one EP, 2011’s Limitless, and two full-length albums, 2012’s The Fallout and 2014’s The Resistance: Rise of The Runaways, to their credit. This sextet consists of David Escamilla (lead vocals), Andrew “Andy Leo” Velasquez (vocals, keys), Hayden Tree (bass, lead guitar), Brandon Hoover (lead and bass guitar, backing vocals), Brent Taddie (drums), and Bennett “Benn Suede” Vogelman (lead guitar, backing vocals). The set design was very true to the band’s theme, complete with flower arrangements and mannequins wearing creepy Venetian masquerade masks sitting on top of the amps. The crowd was ecstatic as Taddie, Tree, and Hoover took to the stage, followed by Andy Leo, and Escamilla.
In the usual Crown The Empire dramatic manner, the band launched into “Phoenix Reborn” from The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways. The track began with Leo’s voice backed up only by violin and drums. It is rare for bands to play songs that can leave their singer’s voice completely raw and uncovered by loud instruments, but Crown the Empire pulled it off beautifully. After the first verse, the whole band sang together, creating a call to arms and inviting the crowd to get ready for the next forty-five minutes. The group chant and drumming stopped, and Escamilla’s voice came through, bringing the guitar, bass, and drum with him.
The crowd was already singing along, their fists in the air, banging their heads along to the beat. Moving on to the next song, “Initiation,” they amped up the energy and so did the crowd. Not only was the band giving it their all, they were having fun while doing it. Escamilla’s grin never left his face, and both vocalists interacted with the crowd by making eye contact and reaching out for high fives. Leo never stopped moving and jumping around on the stage, which made for an exciting, albeit tiring, performance. They closed with “Machines,” one of their most popular tracks, and the crowd sang along to every word. Crown The Empire stole the show, and they are not a band to miss. Having toured with Pierce the Veil, Attack Attack!, Ice Nine Kills, Asking Alexandria, and The Used, among others, this band is already on its way to being a household name.
After so much non-stop action already, Hollywood Undead’s set to follow was spontaneous, loud, and brightly lit. This excited more than deterred the band’s hardcore fans, and they threw their bodies into the music, flailing about as they jumped, sang, and screamed. The band played exceptionally, and the crowd launching themselves into every verse and lyric. United, concertgoers of all ages embraced the show. The set started off with “Usual Suspects” from Day of the Dead. They continued on with “Undead,” “Tendencies,” “Been to Hell,” and “Dead Bite.” With their aggressive sound and intimidating masks, Hollywood Undead can be a bit much for someone who has not heard them before, but this crowd was made up of long time fans and were not daunted by the intensity – they loved it.
Not ones to disappoint the crowd, the boys of Hollywood Undead kept going with “Kill Everyone,” “Sell Your Soul,” “Gravity,” “War Child” and “Comin’ In Hot.” After “Party By Myself,” the guys kicked off their now infamous medley that combines Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic,” “Apologize,” “Bottle and a Gun,” Snoop Dogg’s “Gin & Juice,” “California,” “No. 5” and Pharoahe Monch’s “Simon Says.” Next was a fantastic rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” before busting out with the happiest song about suicide ever – “Bullet.” With ample energy throughout the performance, they wrapped things up with “Another Way Out” and their latest album’s title track “Day of the Dead” before leaving the stage for the first time. Cheering for more, the audience braved the hot, humid theater and called the band back for an encore as they played “Everywhere I Go” and 2010’s big hit “Hear Me Now” before debarking the stage for the last time of the night at the Mayan Theatre.
Hollywood Undead’s current tour, which began on September 8th in Dallas, Texas, continues on until October 22nd where they will wrap things up in Salt Lake City, Utah at In The Venue, playing an unbelievable thirty-two shows in those six weeks. In between those shows, they will make a stop at the Rock Allegiance Festival on October 10th in Chester, Pennsylvania and will play the Monster Energy Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, California on October 24th. They will also make an appearance at the Kink Music Festival in Portland, Oregon on November 14th. With this many dates, fans have no excuse but to grab tickets to see these extraordinary, multitasking musicians.Reporting by Sarah Mankoff