February 3, 2015 Periphery entrance The Fillmore San Francisco, CA 1-26-15 w/ Nothing More, Wovenwar, & Thank You Scientist
Making a statement in the early part of the new year, Maryland based Progressive Metal band Periphery kicked off a month-long headlining tour on January 10th in North Carolina. Named the Juggernaut Tour, in support of their new double album Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega, along for the journey as support are Nothing More, Wovenwar, and Thank You Scientist. Combining young and highly talented acts with their own unique Progressive qualities, Periphery vocalist Spencer Sotelo stated, “The band is planning on performing a good amount of tracks from that record on this tour and we are beyond excited to share this experience with all of our fans. It’s going to be a killer tour and we feel very strongly about the diverse line-up of bands that we were able to bring together for this.” Certainly an arguable statement. The Juggernaut Tour came charging into San Francisco, California on Monday, January 26th, to grace The Fillmore stage. The Fillmore has seen a great array of artists, all putting on an amazing show for fans to speak about for years after and judging by the enthusiasm surrounding the venue an hour before doors opened, this night would be no different.
To kick off the night, Thank You Scientist showcased their instrumentally intricate songs from their 2012 debut studio album, Maps of Non-Existent Places. Formed at Montclair State University in New Jersey, this band brings an interesting twist to progressive rock with elements of Jazz fusion, Classical, and Pop, to name a few. This marks the band’s second tour, after their first came in late 2014, making a splash opening for Coheed and Cambria. Frontman Salvatore Marrano, guitarist Tom Monda, bassist James Robbins, drummer Odin Alvarez, violinist Ben Karas, saxophonist Ellis Jasenovic, and trumpeter Andrew Digris set the tone for the night with songs like “Feed the Horses” and their single “My Famed Disappearing Act,” to get the crowd going. With their interesting sound, they had no problem captivating the audience and leaving them wanting more. The band brought great energy that was contagious and brought captivating stunts like bringing in a puppet to sing along with frontman Marrano. Their unique style and fresh approach left everyone in awe with their musical talent and singing their praises at their amazing addition of classical instruments to the Progressive Rock genre. Fans would be remiss to show up late and not give them a listen.
Second to the stage was Southern California’s Wovenwar, the underdog of the night. In 2013, As I Lay Dying disbanded due to the incarceration of frontman Tim Lambesis, and many thought that was the end of the story for the remaining members. Since then, lead guitarist Nick Hipa, rhythm guitarist Phil Sgrosso, bass guitarist Josh Gilbert, and drummer Jordan Macino recollected to start what is now Wovenwar with Oh Sleeper’s Shane Blay as their voice. While the Juggernaut Tour may only be their second time around as Wovenwar, this band has years of experience to offer their audience. When they hit the stage at The Fillmore, they came out strong both vocally and instrumentally during songs like “All Rise,” the first single from their self-titled and debut album, Wovenwar. Even though they’d only been together for a little under two years with Blay, the band members projected a sense of camaraderie and energy that had the crowds undivided attention. Wovenwar owned the stage and basked in the praises of the audience as they screamed and jumped along with every song. They did not disappoint as they initiated the first mosh pits of the night, with tunes such as “The Mason” and “Profane.” Keep an eye out for this band as they jump into another tour with All That Remains and In Flames in late February.
Keeping the momentum going, one of the upcoming new active Rock bands, Nothing More, was up next. The band took the energy up a few notches with their out of the box performance that kept everyone at the edge of their seats. From San Antonio, Texas, Nothing More brings a unique approach to what it is to be a touring band as they have been independently touring for a better part of their existence. In fact, the band, consisting of vocalist Jonny Hawkins, guitarist Mark Vollelunga, bassist Daniel Oliver, and drummer Paul OBrien, have been through the fire together since they were kids. Hawkins states, “We have conquered so many different challenges and hurdles that have been in our path, but we have only done so when we have stuck together and made sure we did not give up on each other.” Wise words from a band so young. It is no wonder they already find themselves as direct support on a major national tour such as this.
As being recognized as a “do-it-yourself” band, Nothing More take matters to the next level with their percussion platform made out of motorcycle and discarded truck scraps used throughout their performance. Their stand out moments were by far their musical breaks where Hawkins, with the support of Vollelunga, Oliver, and OBrien, gave quite the show with their drumming group solo a la taiko, and their signature stand out moment where they showcased and filled the room with distinct riffs on their percussion platform. Nothing More played tracks from their self-titled album, Nothing More, such as “Mr. MTV,” “The Matthew Effect” and “This Is the Time (Ballast),” which hit #1 in the Mediabase Active Rock chart, and a few new songs that they are sure to share in a future release. The band kept their set upbeat and infused the audience with high energy with every song. Nothing More were simply mesmerizing and no one dared to look away in fear they would miss something during the set. Having already made a lasting impression in North America, Nothing More will be going on an European tour come end of February with Halestrom and Wilson before they hit the US again in April.
To close out the night, the main attraction was none other than Periphery. On the scene for almost a decade now, Periphery are a band that does not shy away from a challenge and they prove it, as they were set to release two separate albums on January 27th. Simply an unheard of tactic, some would say it would be asking too much of an fanbase to take on two albums at once, but Periphery’s ingenuity can certainly pull it off. Drummer Matt Halpern states, “‘Juggernaut: Alpha,’ the first part of the story, focuses on the back story and character development, while part two/album two, ‘Juggernaut: Omega,’ focuses on some pretty serious and gut-wrenching events, taking you for a thrill ride along the main character’s complex journey. Although the albums are split in two physically, the story is only complete when the albums are digested consecutively, allowing the listener to recognize and hear the lyrical and musical overlapping themes, foreshadowing, and connected ideas.” A bold and exhilarating statement for music lovers, the experience was about to begin, and The Fillmore was ready.
Periphery opened their set with “Icarus Lives!” from their 2010 debut album, Periphery, before getting everyone to sing along with “Make Total Destroy.” Coming out flawlessly, the set quickly went into the epic new tracks from the forthcoming releases, including “The Scourge,” “Psychosphere,” and making their live premiere of “22 Faces.” Giving the fans a high dosage of the new material as promised, for many it was the first time hearing the tunes and the experience was nothing short of attention grabbing. Often, when a band performs new material an audience is unfamilar with it, the attention span of the audience may drift, but that was simply not the case for Periphery as they dove into “The Bad Thing,” “Alpha,” and “Graveless.”
Their attention to detail was extraordinary, with everyone in great synergy and the audience eating it up. Continuing to stimulate the crowd to sing along, the final offering of “Scarlet” had most of the voices of The Fillmore crowd joining in. At the end, the crowd was begging for more, so much so they started a chant with the Halpern to bring out Sotelo, bassist Adam “Nolly” Getgood, along with the guitarist trio of Misha “Bulb” Mansoor, Jake Bowen, and Mark Holcomb for an encore that included “Ragnarok” and Massamune.”
If the show was any indication, Periphery’s three year wait for these two albums refreshed and energized them to keep on spreading the Djent movement within Progressive rock for years to come. The Juggernaut show is the ticket to have, with the great mix of spectacular sound meshed into one night. From technically Progressive sounds to heavy, polyrhythmic patterns and soaring riffs, every band had its unique factor to make them unforgettable. Make sure to check out each band when they roll into town. Their music is enough to provoke interest, but their stage presence and delivery is beyond enough reason to become a dedicated follower.