May 21, 2015 Of Mice & Men reach new heights in New Jersey 5-11-15 w/ Volumes & Crown The Empire
Many can look to 2014 as the year Southern California’s Of Mice & Men shifted into super-stardom with the release of the band’s highest charting album to date, Restoring Force. Shattering anyone’s expectation, the album awoke a whole new group of listeners to what Of Mice & Men have to offer. Spending time crushing venues atop The American Dream Tour with Bring Me The Horizon in the earlier part of the year, later they would become part of a package with Linkin Park and Rise Against as they played Europe. Re-releasing Restoring Force as a special expanded edition February 24th, dubbing the title Restoring Force: Full Circle, the five-piece band embarked on a headlining tour with a stellar supporting cast of Volumes and Crown The Empire. Since late April, these three bands have been touring hot spots like New Orleans, Nashville, Atlanta, and on Monday May 11th, the Full Circle Tour rolled into Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey. It was an extra humid day for this time of year, but the sticky air and random rain showers did not stop the anxious crowd to see this three bill monster up close and personal.
Reigning from Los Angeles, California, opener Volumes got the crowd started with their breakdown heavy jams. Coming off a successful early year tour with Veil of Maya, Volumes continue to support their 2014 release of their third full-length, No Sleep, and the band brought together a solid setlist to guarantee exposure. Blasting through the set with new tracks like “The Mixture” and “Erased”, frontmen Gus Farias and Michael Barr commanded the stage with a boisterous and excited presence. It was easy to tell that the band was thrilled to be on such a massive tour in the music scene, and took advantage of every moment on stage that they could get. Even throwing in some older tracks like their closer “Wormholes,” Volumes successfully got the crowd off of their feet, as some of the audience even caught on to the lyrics. Moshing came easily as well – the heavy and demanding quality of Volumes took their opener potential to the next level, proving that they are ready for bigger and better things.
Next onto the stage was Dallas, Texans Crown The Empire, the breakthrough Metalcore band of 2014, coming in even stronger this year on the Full Circle Tour. The release of their latest album, The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways, called a lot of attention to the haunting essence of Crown The Empire, resulting in quite a following at the Starland Ballroom when they hit the stage. Like Volumes, Crown The Empire dominate the stage with two frontmen: Andy Leo and David Escamilla. The two gentlemen are meant to run the stage, staying true to their aesthetic by screaming and singing with all of their hearts in a possessed, demonic quality. This unique energy easily transferred to the interested crowd as they blazed through favorites like “Initiation”, “Makeshift Chemistry”, “Memories of a Broken Heart”, and “The Fallout”. They seemed to find a perfect blend of new and old songs to satisfy everyone in the crowd, even including one of their first hits, “Voices,” for the long-time fans, ending in a lasting impression of Crown The Empire for the night. After the conclusion of the Full Circle Tour, Crown The Empire will be appearing at Download Festival June 12th in the UK, so it is never too late to plan an early Summer getaway.
Soon enough, it was time for Of Mice & Men to finally hit the stage. Their suspenseful introduction begins with the tall and brooding vocalist, Austin Carlile, shouting the words to “Public Service Announcement” alone at a microphone stand. Carlile’s dominating presence as a frontman has become iconic in the Metalcore scene, and he makes this ownership extremely clear on stage. The band effortlessly erupts the crowd with old and new songs; it is surprising how fast the fans caught on to the recently released “Broken Generation” from the band’s Restoring Force: Full Circle. The crowd feeds off of Carlile’s seemingly innate ability to put on a thrilling show, especially in the wrathful “You Make Me Sick” as he powers through an incredibly long scream as he commands center stage. Going from ferocious to giddy, the band is all smiles as they take in the intimate moment at the Starland Ballroom; Carlile addressed how nice it was to play a show where everyone sings back their words after performing at the iconic Las Vegas Rock in Rio music festival the weekend before.
It is not difficult to observe the many emotions bubbling up in Of Mice & Men’s catalog once fans see them perform the songs live. Drummer Tino Arteaga slams the drums with incredible force during the thrashing “Bones Exposed” and the sincere passion of “Never Giving Up” rings through bassist and singer Aaron Pauley’s powerful voice. Their set closes with two emotional songs for Carlile, as he lets his more human, sensitive side shine through to his adoring fans. A day after Mother’s Day, he heartbreakingly performs “Another You” and “Second & Sebring”, the two songs written and dedicated to his late mother. At this moment, there was a pure connection of care and emotion between the band and the audience, projecting the explanation about Of Mice & Men’s ever-rising success. They draw from this raw emotion and understanding to deliver a show so intimate and real, no matter how big or small the stage they play on. When coming out for an encore, the connection was so vividly there that the energy of the band were equal to the crowd as they jumped to “The Depths” and sang fervently during “You’re Not Alone.”
The rapid maturation in Of Mice & Men in the past year has certainly led up to a monumental headliner like this. Even the opening acts tastefully complemented the style and finesse they hope to prove in the music scene, leaving their fans with a killer lineup and an unforgettable night. After their stop in New Jersey, they played near sold out shows in New York City, Chicago, and more, as the run wraps up June 7th in San Diego. Their visit to The Garden State was unforgettable and the final time they walked of the stage of the Starland Ballroom was like saying a heartfelt goodbye to a friend after having the deepest conversation of life.