Of Mice & Men Rock Sold Out Gramercy Theatre, NYC 2-17-18 w/ Blessthefall, Fire From the Gods, Cane Hill, & MSCW

Winter can often be a slow time for tours as bands gear-up to head out on huge spring and summer endeavors. Fortunately, that was not the case when New York City was treated to an absolutely stacked show as Of Mice & Men brought the Defy Tour to Gramercy Theatre on Saturday, February 17, 2018. They did not let several inches of snow – well, slush in NYC’s case – stop them from heating things up for the sold out crowd. Thanks to their openers MSCW, Cane Hill, Fire From the Gods, and blessthefall, it was a non-stop night of moshing, crowd-surfing, and headbanging that those in attendance would not soon forget.

Snow be damned, fans lined up around the block as they waited to crowd inside the theater in time to see MSCW (pronounced like Moscow, of course). This Los Angeles via Russia outfit is helmed by Tsarita, who also goes by the name Moscow, and backed by an exuberant band with a flair for showmanship. Moscow currently has one EP out entitled Queen of Sin but judging by the band’s exceptional live performance and the crowd’s reaction to Metalcore bangers like “Black Widow,” “Heartbeat,” and “Queen of Sin,” Moscow will certainly be one to watch.

Now that fans were warmed up by Moscow’s lascivious performance, it was time for New Orleans’ Heavy Metal outfit Cane Hill to take over. The room was already pretty packed by this point, and fans seemed eager for more fun. Thankfully, when Vocalist Elijah Witt, Guitarist James Barnett, Bassist Ryan Henriquez, and Percussionist Devin Clark took the stage, they were clearly ready to bring it and show off tracks from their latest album, Too Far Gone. They kicked off their set with “Time Bomb,” a fan-favorite from their eponymous debut album, and followed that up with “Lord of Flies” and “10¢.”

An impressive amount of people were singing along through “True Love” and “Mannequin,” but when Whitt asked the crowd to get those moshes going and bring up the energy in the room, fans responded with gusto. Finishing off their set with new track “It Follows,” “Too Far Gone,” and “Fountain of Youth,” Cane Hill proved that they were a force to be reckoned with in the Metal world.

The room was already buzzing as the crew began rotating gear and pulling up the banner for Fire From the Gods, but the night was only just beginning. Fire From the Gods are a Metal/Hardcore act from Austin, Texas, and as soon as they kicked off their set it was clear that the band were ready to bring a fresh, unique combination of sounds to the scene. Though they are a Metal band, FFTG, led by vocalist AJ Channer, weave in some Hip Hop sensibilities into their sounds. Though the band formed in 2010, it was not until 2015 that the band re-formed under the leadership of Channer and released Narrative. Last year, the band released a re-imagined version of their debut with Narrative Re-told via Rise Records.

Guitarists Jameson Teat and Drew Walker, Bassist Bonner Baker, and Drummer Richard Wicander round out the band’s explosive lineup, creating one of the most promising bands in the scene today. This night was particularly special as Channer was born in the Bronx, and so the band brought their A-game as they ran through tracks like “Diversion” and “Pretenders.”

The band’s onstage energy was insane and incredible to watch, and fans responded to Channer’s message of positivity in regards to mental health and empathy in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Florida. He stated that change begins in your heart and went on to dedicate “End Transmission” to the shooting victims. People jumped and moshed through “The Voiceless,” and the whole crowd pushed toward the barricade as Channer climbed onto it to finish the set with “Excuse Me.” Fire From the Gods easily put on one of the best performances of the night, getting the crowd even more hyped for what was to come.

There was an explosive cheer and chant of “blessthefall” ringing from the crowd as the banner bearing the logo of blessthefall’s latest, to-be-released album, Hard Feelings, rose above the crowd. The Scottsdale, Arizona, Metalcore band are set to release their sixth full-length album, and since forming in 2004, blessthefall have accrued quite a dedicated fanbase. Judging by fan’s reactions when Vocalist Beau Bokan, Guitarists Elliott Gruenberg and Eric Lambert, Bassist Jared Warth, as well as Drummer Matt Traynor took the stage, the band likely could have easily been headlining the show.

Kicking things off with “You Wear a Crown But You’re No King,” the crowd-surfers immediately started flying and the mosh pits parted the sea of fans. It seemed as though the whole crowd was into the band’s set and singing along to “Youngbloods” and “Oathbreaker.” Bokan jumped up onto the barricade as fans crushed to get close and be a part of the action, and it seemed as though the band loved engaging with the crowd as much as possible.

They kept that wild energy up through “Walk on Water” and new track “Melodramatic,” which plenty of people in the crowd already knew the words to even though it was only just released. Following that, Bokan taught those in the crowd who were not familiar with blessthefall to sing the chorus to fan-favorite “Hey Baby, Here’s That Song You Wanted,” which everyone happily sang along to. Then it was time to finish off their set with a frenetic finish of “Dead Air” and “Hollow Bodies.” Blessthefall put on a set that could have been the final set of the night, and fans even chanted “one more song” as the band filed off the stage, but it was no to be because it was finally time for Of Mice & Men to take over.

Of Mice & Men (sometimes abbreviated as OM&M) have been through a lot since coming together in 2009. The band has been through multiple lineup changes, most notably the departure of vocalist Austin Carlile in 2016. Now the band is helmed by Bassist and Vocalist Aaron Pauley, and  just released their first album with Pauley at the helm, Defy, on January 19th via Rise Records. Plenty of tracks off Defy have already earned millions of plays each on streaming services, adding to the band’s already impressive numbers. Fans are still clearly excited to support the band as they move forward and continue forging a path through the Metalcore scene.

Fans were already cheering as the band’s banner went up and the response when Pauley, Guitarists Alan Ashby and Phil Manansala, along with Drummer David Valentino “Tino” Arteaga walked onto the stage was explosive. The band began their set with the title track from Defy, which fans were immediately into, bolstered by a moody, theatrical light set up and an illuminated double-kick drum set for Arteaga. Following that up with two more tracks off Defy, “Warzone” and “Unbreakable,” OM&M kept the crowd’s energy at maximum.

Everyone in the room went wild for the OM&M classic “Would You Still Be There” from 2014’s Restoring Force, but then Pauley gave the crowd a quiet moment and asked for everyone to raise their cellphones and lighters for the intro of another new song “Back to Me.” Following that, Pauley then asked if there were any Classic Rock fans in the house before going into a Heavy Metal rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Money,” easily one of the highlights of the evening.

They kept things rolling with “On The Inside” and then had the crowd form a wall of death, where the crowd splits in two and then crashes into each other. Sounds cool, right? Well, it is cool to look at, at least. Maybe not so much to be a part of! Fans quickly recovered, though, and kept moshing and crowd-surfing throughout “Bones Exposed” and forming a massive circle pit during “Instincts.” Then the band finished off their set with a huge medley of “YDG,” “Still YDG’n,” and “YDG’n Forever,” songs which are spread-out over multiple albums. It was a massive way to finish off their set while pleasing all of their fans, and the band left the stage to huge cheers.

Of course, it was not long before the band returned for their encore of “You’re Not Alone,” after which Pauley asked everyone to crouch onto the ground and jump up – an OM&M tradition – as they started their final massive song, “The Depths.”

With the evening’s frenetic energy come to a close, fans went out into the snowy evening, buzzing and sweating from the huge lineup and jam-packed evening of Metal. Make sure you check out this tour as it finishes up its U.S. run!

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