March of Madness Tour Invades Patchogue, NY 3-15-17

March of Madness Tour Invades Patchogue, NY 3-15-17

March is known for many things, notably the arrival of spring, the death of Julius Caesar, and the NCAA’s single-elimination basketball tournament, March Madness. Adding more intensity to it all, the cleverly-named March of Madness Tour – starring Memphis May Fire, Blessthefall, The Color Morale, Sylar, and Bad Seed Rising – kicked off on March 3rd out in El Paso, Texas.

Jam packed full of Rock and Metal, the tour features some of the scene’s most exciting bands, making it a bill not to be missed. Working its way inland and toward the Midwest, when the March of Madness Tour stopped at The Emporium in Patchogue, New York on the Ides of March – Wednesday, March 15, 2017 – fans of all ages packed into the venue for what could only be described as musical insanity.

The Emporium, in the heart of Patchogue – a newly gentrified town on Long Island’s South Shore – seemed to be the  perfect host for the March of Madness Tour.  Still able to bring out a large crowd the day after a snowstorm, every single person in attendance was excited to behold the spectacle of such a sonically diverse lineup. That in mind, first to take the stage and grab the attention of the crowd would be Baltimore, Maryland’s Bad Seed Rising.

A quartet of talented teens, Bad Seed Rising are the youngest band to be signed to Roadrunner Records. Also the youngest band on this tour, their debut full-length album, Awake in Color, was released in 2016. The band – consisting of Singer/Guitarist Francheska Pastor, Guitarist Mason Gainer, Bassist Louey Peraza , and Drummer Aiden Marceron – spent the summer of 2016 living out one of their dreams on the Vans Warped Tour, and have shared stages with everyone from 3 Doors Down to Kix.

On this evening, Bad Seed Rising were charged with the unenviable position of prepping the audience for a plethora of bands to come. Traditionally, the first band of the night play to a half-full venue, that is, if they are lucky. Driven to succeed, Bad Seed Rising clearly did not get the memo as they performed with an enthusiasm that was geared toward a sold out stadium. Kicking off their six-song set, these headbanging teens began with “Dexies,” off the aforementioned Awake In Color. Also from their debut, “Obvious” and “I Can Feel You” followed next as Pastor demanded the crowd’s attention like a veteran rocker.

After the powerful track “Fighting Gravity” – the sole selection from 2015’s A Place Called Home EP – “Mess” was anything but that as Marceron walloped the drums, while Pastor and Gainer’s guitar riffs rang loudly through the room. Moving about the stage with tons of energy, they closed out the set on a high note with “What Have We Done?” to a generous reception. The band’s first visit to The Emporium since their opening slot for Saliva back in 2014, it was clear Long Islanders would welcome back the rising stars anytime.

Next up and hailing from Queens, New York, Sylar brought their own unique style to the stage. Coming together back in 2011, their most recent offering, 2016’s Help!, was released via Hopeless Records to critical acclaim. Continuing to tour in its support, Vocalist Jayden Panesso, Vocalist/Guitarist Miguel Cardona, Guitarist Dustin Jennings, Bassist Travis Hufton, and Drummer Thomas Veroutis give a gentle nod to the raw Hard Rock stylings of the early 2000s all while presenting a fabulous New York attitude.

A somewhat local gig – considering they were only an hour east of home – Sylar took the stage in determined fashion. Ready to prove themselves, they kicked into the melodic Nu Metal of “Gambit Rogue Delight,.” With soaring dual vocal harmonies and pummeling bass, the band flowed immediately into “Golden Retreat” off 2014’s To Whom It May Concern before the infectious “Dark Daze,” which saw Panesso and the band rocking even harder.

Receiving cheers and applauds, Sylar kept the momentum flowing with “Pleasure Paradise” as they broke down into a heavy Rap/Rock dual. Continuing to prove that New York’s scene is hardly dead, Sylar ended with the especially heavy Nu Metal of “Live/Breathe” and pulverizing bass lines of “Assume.” Also on the rise to big things, Sylar offered a solid set making them a must see live band.

Moving right along, Fearless Records’ The Color Morale were on tap next. Celebrating a decade of Metalcore, the Illinois based band are currently touring in support of their fourth studio release, 2016’s Desolate Divine. Despite oft-times being labeled a Christian band, The Color Morale’s Garret Rapp (vocals), Devin King (guitar), Aaron Saunders (guitar), Mike Honson (bass), and Steve Carey (drums) have expressed that they do not wish to be labeled as such. Performing heavy music with an emotional core, the quintet rightfully prefer to be judged for their creative and musical prowess and not their personal religious beliefs.

Known for their energetic delivery, The Color Morale burst onto the stage with fierce determination, opening with “Silver Lining.” Overwhelming the small stage with vigor, “Suicide; Stigma” and “Walls” would follow as the band interacted freely with the excited crowd. Complimenting it all, Rapp’s on-stage banter tends toward the motivational and inspiring, much like the band’s music, as they charged along with “Learned Behavior”and introspective “Clip Paper Wings.”

Ending their all-too-short set on a high note with the motivationally-focused, melodic assault of “Strange Comfort,” The Color Morale walked off to a sea of cheers.  While the nature of the March of Madness Tour lineup allowed the band only an abbreviated set, it was abundantly clear to all in attendance that The Color Morale are equally worthy of headliner status.

Speaking of headliners, another band clearly worthy of top billing, Blessthefall are one of the most popular Metalcore acts on the scene today. Originally hailing from Arizona, the band – consisting of Beau Bokan (lead vocals), Eric Lambert (guitar), Elliott Gruenberg (guitar), Jared Warth (bass/vocals), Matt Traynor (drums) – have shared stages with literally everyone, including, but hardly limited to, Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine, Every Time I Die, August Burns Red, As I Lay Dying, and Asking Alexandria.  Blessthefall show no signs of slowing down: their most recent release, their fifth studio album, To Those Left Behind, hit shelves back in 2015 on Fearless Records and was included at No. 39 on Rock Sound‘s Top 50 Releases of the Year.

Their first visit back to The Emporium since their show back on November 6th of 2015, Blessthefall pulled out all the stops; immediately propelling themselves into set opener, “2.0,” a song off their sophomore effort, 2009’s Witness. The crowd went crazy for the intoxicating melodies and assaulting, pulverizing verses of “What’s Left of Me,” blistering “Bottomfeeder,” and the catchy, clean choruses of “Walk On Water.” Keeping the adrenaline pumping, next came the deliciously heavy assault on the senses, crowd favorite “Hollow Bodies.”

Not at all limited in their abilities, in some of the ‘cleaner’ vocals of the set, Bokan cheered “We’ll all be dead in the end,” on “Youngbloods.” One of the band’s few tracks that leans more towards clean vocals than dirty, dirty heaviness, “Looking Down From the Edge” was also big hit with the crowd. Evidentially loving Blessthefall however they can get them, when Bokan implored the crowd to sing along with “Dead Air” and “Promised Ones,” nearly everyone knew the lyrics word-for-word.

Charging ahead like a bullet train, Blessthefall finished off their blistering set with one of the most beloved tracks from their catalogue, “You Wear A Crown But You’re No King.” Addictive, melodic, and completely Metal, the crowd loved every final second of the band’s impressive set. Only scratching the surface of their potential, the future for Blessthefall looks bright as fans hope to hear some new music soon.

After four openers, the time came for the main attraction, Memphis May Fire. Interestingly enough, Memphis May Fire are not from Tennessee, no: they hail from Dallas, Texas of all places. Their brand of Metalcore has lead them to share stages with a veritable plethora of acts, including Bring Me The Horizon, We Came As Romans, Sleeping With Sirens, and I See Stars, just to name a few. Led by Vocalist Matty Mullins, Guitarist Kellen McGregor, Guitarist Anthony Sepe, Bassist Cory Elder, Drummer Jake Garland, Memphis May Fire continue to grow – as explicitly seen on their most recent release, 2016’s This Light I Hold, which debuted at an impressive No. 42 on the Billboard 200.

Cutting to the chase, Mullins and co. took the stage in fierce form, immediately fired into “This Light I Hold.” Offering a perfect blend of clean and dirty vocals, the music was on point and the crowd was in love from the first note. Raising the excitement higher and higher with each word sung, “Where were you when they had no faith in us? Where were you when they shot us down?” questioned Mullins on “Prove Me Right.”

Unifying melody and angst, the rage-filled “Sever The Ties” followed as Mullins stated the cut was in fact a serious contender for the band’s next single/video. Stepping from the stage, joining the crowd on the floor, Mullins inspired a massive circle pit – placing himself in the center – and told the crowd that the scene was being recorded and might just make it into the next video. Then, holding nothing back, the audience continued their vicious worship into the band’s performance of  20102’s”Legacy.”

At this point in their performance, Mullins paused for a breath to explain that – at a deeply dark point in his life – he was so desperate in his failed search for love that he actually considered ending it all. Of course, this was the moment when love walked in the door and inspired him, lyrically. This lead into “No Ordinary Love,” where the key line implores, “Come back to me love.” A slightly slower tempo for the band, but no less vital, it was clear highlight of the night.

Returning to the heaviest side of their sound, “Vices,” as well as “The Victim,” and power ballad “Miles Away” followed next. That in mind, it would be dishonest to say that Memphis May Fire lack diversity as they continued the slowed pace with the flawless guitar work of “That’s Just Life,” and the catchy, uptempo “Wanting More,” both tracks from the band’s most recent disc. Like a roller coaster ride, full of twists and turns, the vicious assault of “Beneath the Skin” and the more intricate and intense “Carry On” closed it all out as the floor shook from all the bodies flying about.

Hoping for more, crowd applause and chanting begged Memphis May Fire back for an encore. Thankfully the band had a little more left in the tank as they dished out the growling intro of “Without Walls” before launching flawlessly into “The Sinner.” A hugely popular track with the assembled masses, it was a final battle cry from Memphis May Fire as they left their fans sated and sweaty and, of course, wishing that there was still more.

A bill that packs a punch for the price of admission, The March of Madness Tour is one of the best concert experiences to be had in the early spring of 2017. Showcasing a colorful mix of Rock and Alternative Metal styles, each band did a fine job with the time they were provided. Winding to a close over the next two weeks, with only select dates remaining, be sure to check out The March of Madness Tour before it is too late.

Photos by: Aintellin Photography

Tour Dates:

Mar 23 – For Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
Mar 24 – Tampa, FL @ Culture Room
Mar 25 – Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
Mar 26 – Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
Mar 28 – Austin, TX @ Grizzly Hall
Mar 29 – Corpus Christi, TX @ Brewster Street Ice House

A portion of every VIP package sold during the March of Madness Tour goes to the LTD Foundation. The LTD Foundation brings the music industry together with fans who have terminal diseases – helping to inspire their fight through the healing power of music  – by delivering all access VIP experiences with their favorite bands.

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Jeannie Blue
[email protected]

Jeannie likes to joke that she is little, yellow, blue, and different. She seemingly popped out of her mother's womb with a pen in her hand and has been writing ever since. Many moons ago - in what feels like a separate lifetime - Jean was co-editor of an online music magazine that afforded her great opportunities to interview and photograph some of her favorite bands/musicians: Tommy Lee, Good Charlotte, Warrant, Bring Me The Horizon, My Chemical Romance, Sevendust, New Found Glory, Deftones, Poison, VH-1 "Band On the Run" Flickerstick, an endless list of unsigned locals, and so many others. These days, she can usually be found hiking aimlessly through the woods in her favorite Technicolor sneakers with a Nikon in hand and her rescue dog, Molly, who is a bit hare-brained.

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