Motionless In White & Atreyu Invade Lynchburg, VA 5-8-19 w/ Wilson

In the year 2019, a tour arose from the outer reaches of hell to burn the world alive with scorching Rock-n-Roll fire. A co-headlining jaunt between Motionless In White and Atreyu that featured friends Wilson in its opening slot, The Spring Invasion Tour hit Lynchburg, Virginia on Wednesday, May 8th and brought with it plenty of headbanging and Metal fury.

An idea that was clearly birthed (or is that berthed?) on January’s Shiprocked cruise, the 18-date Spring Invasion Tour began on April 15th in Pensacola, Florida, and traveled a somewhat wonky route through lesser hit areas of the U.S. — including several stops in Texas and Wisconsin, along with shows in Iowa, Michigan, and Canada — before winding up under a month later on May 9th in Knoxville, Tennessee. Sure, there were some festival dates here and there that extended the run, but it was largely a short experiment in combining the might of Motionless In White with the exceptional power of Atreyu.

On the evening of May 8th, the tour arrived to Lynchburg, Virginia, a small city nestled along the James River just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The venue for the evening, Phase 2 Dining & Entertainment on Murray Place, was a bizarre but wonderful blend of catering hall and concert venue, complete with in-house restaurant.

Ready to get the evening started, Wilson took the stage first. The Michigan band formed in 2010 and have been successfully building a party reputation for themselves ever since. With the release of their three studio albums — 2013’s Full Blast Fuckery, 2015’s Right To Rise, and 2018’s Tasty Nasty — the sextet has been practicing their right to rock out like true ballers and proving that their social media tag, #wilsonparties, is entirely apropos billing.

The venue was already comfortably full when the band took the stage to educate Virginia on their “house of fuckery.” Exploding into the thick groove of “Dumptruck,” the Chad Nicefield-fronted sextet bounced through a set chock-full of frenetic energy and fun. Their compact setlist contained a slice of some of their finest, catchiest material, including the likes of headbanger “Wrong Side of History,” the 1990’s Alterna vibes of “Summertime Treat,” and the infectious jam of “Fucked Up My High.” It was the undeniable thump of “Like A Baller” and rocker-stomper “House of Fuckery” that really brought the house over to the Dark Side and made them party with Wilson, marking the band’s set as a success.

With Wilson exiting the stage, it was time for the first of two main events. With a career that is truly a never-ending story of amazing music, Atreyu has been going strong for two decades now. Originally a part of the glorious Orange County, California Metalcore scene, the band’s sound has undergone quite the evolution since their humble beginnings with 2002’s Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses. The vampiric The Curse followed in 2004, along with five more releases spread across the next fourteen years, including 2007’s Lead Sails Paper Anchor, 2015’s Long Live, and, most recently, 2018’s In Our Wake.

Brilliant at everything they do, Atreyu – Vocalist Alex Varkatzas, Guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel, Bassist Porter McKnight, and Drummer/Vocalist Brandon Saller – are guaranteed to deliver whenever they take to a stage. Which was no different with their 15-song Lynchburg set.

Varkatzas and his brothers took the stage to “The Time Is Now,” off their exceptional recent release, In Our Wake. In fact, the band’s set would be heavily weighted with tracks off their latest, but their opening also represented The Curse (“Right Side of the Bed”) and Lead Sails Paper Anchor (“Becoming The Bull”). With smiles on their faces and an infectious joy permeating their set, Atreyu proved that even after all these years they are a magnificently well-oiled machine and still very much at the top of their game.

The fact that the band are still thrilled to be performing together was abundantly obvious as they joked with one another and rocked through fan favorites such as “Ex’s and Oh’s,” the sole selection from A Deathgrip On Yesterday, along with newer selections like “In Our Wake.” Varkatzas worked the crowd onto their toes as Saller’s vocals soared on “Do You Know Who You Are?,” the set’s only representation of Long Live.

Then it was time to shake things up a bit with a familiar and beloved cover, Atreyu’s classic take on Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name.” Inviting the now packed crowd to sing-along, there was an energy exchange between band and audience as the two paid tribute to the Hard Rock ‘80s anthem. This was followed with talk of Chipotle — despite the guys still needing a sponsorship from the company — along with rocking out to “Nothing Will Ever Change,” and a song for the couples in attendance, “When Two Are One.”

Next, rocker-stomper “Falling Down” sashayed the quintet into “Anger Left Behind.” For another fan favorite and classic Atreyu offering, “Bleeding Mascara,” McKnight took to the floor to commingle with the crowd and get a circle pit going. Lest any of those seated at the tables interspersed throughout the venue feel left out, he also made some rounds here, as well.

As the band’s set began to wind down, they introduced their newest single, the tender “House of Gold,” and noted that they recently shot a video for the track. Next, the classic “Lip Gloss and Black” had the crowd chanting, “Live, love, burn, die,” though, ultimately, they would opt to end their set with the high energy explosion of “Blow.” Clearly the right choice, as the crowd seemed to eat up every single moment. Though there was not a single selection from 2009’s Congregation of the Damned, the band’s catalog was otherwise well-represented throughout the set.

Atreyu are a band who come to the stage and bring their A-game for every single show; a band who, even after twenty years, seem just as thrilled to be performing together for crowds as they did in the beginning. Their musicianship is flawless, their live show is full of sincere energy and an infectious delight, and they are simply unstoppable. Though it appeared that many in attendance on this evening were there to see Motionless In White, it would be unfair to say that Atreyu didn’t deliver an epic set in Lynchburg!

Speak of the devil and the evening’s co-headliner Motionless In White shall appear. The proud Pennsylvanian quintet released their debut album, Creatures, in 2010, and have been slowly but steadily taking over heavy music ever since. Categorize them as you like, but albums such as 2012’s Infamous, 2014’s Reincarnate, and 2017’s Graveyard Shift have merely served to increase the hard-working and determined band’s fanbase. Stints on the Vans Warped Tour have not hurt their reputation, nor have the band’s theatrical headlining tours that deliver exceptional musicianship alongside well-choreographed visuals.

With two huge events on their horizon — the June 7th arrival of their fifth full-length, Disguise, along with a summer tour with Alice Cooper and Halestorm — Motionless In White (known simply as MIW to fans) came to Virginia to deliver a dose of their brand-new material as well as to sate fans’ appetites for the old. Taking the stage following Atreyu, the quintet — Vocalist Chris “Motionless” Cerulli, Guitarists Ricky Olson and Ryan Sitkowski, Bassist Justin Morrow, and Drummer Vinny Mauro — owned the crowd from the second they set foot on that stage.

Launching themselves full-throttle into the dark and sinuous “Black Damask,” MIW single-handedly inspired the beginning of the evening’s crowd-surfing. With those at the barricade cautiously rocking out, Cerulli and his soldiers continued their headbanging into the anthemic “Devil’s Night” and more recent single “Necessary Evil.”

Pausing to address the crowd, Cerulli discovered that literally everyone in attendance claimed to be an old-school MIW fan as he introduced “Abigail,” off the band’s 2010 debut. The big shock of the evening, however, was the fact that it seemed just as many of the audience already knew all of the words to the band’s two new singles, “Disguise” and “Brand New Numb,” which only debuted a few weeks ago. Elated at the reception to their newest material, the quintet rocked especially hard on the pair of tracks.

While Bassist Morrow (formerly of Ice Nine Kills) was only announced as the band’s newest member in late March, it’s important to note that the man already fits MIW like a glove. A talented musician with his own sense of theatrical flair, Morrow skulked about the stage in his own personal take on corpse paint, creating an ominous and brooding air about his performance. Perfectly suited to the collective personality of MIW, his presence felt already familiar and he matched his new bandmates flawlessly.

Of course, the set was not all new songs and new band members. Fan favorites such as Infamous’ “Sick From The Melt,” Reincarnate’s “Break the Cycle” and “Death March,” as well as Graveyard Shift’s “Soft” and the hugely-popular “Voices” solidified the band’s set. Intent upon letting his fans know that he was having a blast, Cerulli conversed with the crowd between songs and offered crowd-surfers high-fives throughout the entire night.

Alas, all great things must come to an end and so MIW offered up “Reincarnate” to a raucous crowd before exiting the stage. Thankfully, they returned shortly thereafter for their standard encore and perhaps the band’s most signature track, “Eternally Yours.” Tossing roses to the crowd, Cerulli thanked the fans and the other bands for making this a night to remember in Lynchburg.

Sadly, The Spring Invasion Tour had an all-too-short shelf-life. So while you can no longer check out the tour for yourself, you can find these three exceptional bands on the road throughout this summer. In late May, Wilson head out on the road with comedic titans Steel Panther for a match made in heaven, while Atreyu head across the pond to the UK and Europe. In July, Motionless In White will be out on the road opening for Alice Cooper, but fans are already anxiously awaiting June 7th when the new record, Disguise, drops.

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