March 6, 2015 Red overwhelm the senses NYC 2-25-15 w/ 3 Years Hollow & Islander
One of the biggest names in Hard Rock over the last five years has been Nashville, Tennessee’s Red. Forming back in 2004, the band has built a name for itself with a crushing guitar tone, impassioned vocals, and lyrical content that dares to challenge. Devoting so much energy to their music each time they create, Red return in 2015 with their fifth studio album, entitled Of Beauty and Rage, released February 24 through Essential Records. Eager to get out on the road and perform the new tracks for their dedicated followers, Red kicked off the Of Beauty and Rage tour on February 19th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with support from Islander and 3 Years Hollow. It was a mere four days later that the excitement came to New York City on Wednesday, February 25th, to Gramercy Theatre, fittingly on the release day of the new album, an album release party of sorts. Fans gathered inside the theater, ready for an evening that would be full of high energy Rock from start to finish.
As support for the touring bill, New York City based band Charetta warmed up the stage first. Finding themselves as a fixture in the New York Hard Rock scene, the band consists of vocalist Angelina DelCarmen, drummer Adonis Sanchez and guitarists Pablo LaFrossia and Chris Fullam. Opening everything from Revolver’s 2014 Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock New York Show to gracing the stage of 2014’s Vans Warped Tour, this band gets around, clocking in with over two hundred live shows to date. Rocking hard and heavy, DelCarmen commanded the stage with her band, comfortable in their surroundings as they played their original tunes such as “I’m Not Your Bitch” and “The Apocalypse Is Here.” Their 2013 EP, The Apocalypse, was produced by Mike Watts (Story of the Year, Theory of a Deadman) and is five tracks worth checking out.
Based out of the American mid-west Quad Cities, 3 Years Hollow took the stage to a surprising roar from the crowd. The band has been hard at work the past few years, having completed a stint on the Rockstar Uproar Tour in the summer of 2014 and just finished a gig on the ShipRocked cruise in 2015. Although recently having gone through some lineup changes, the band went on with vocalist Jose Urquiza, guitarists Tony Reeves and Neil Kuhlman, along with Ryan Bennett (formerly of Eye Empire) handling drum duties. Opening with the heavy-hitting “End of Demise,” off of their independent release Ascension (2008), the band wasted no time in letting the crowd know what they were about. Urquiza was quick to warm up the venue in between “Hungry” and “Remember” while pointing out devoted ShipRocked attendees in the audience. In addition, Sevendust’s own Morgan Rose was present in the crowd supporting the band as well. Currently on bass after the departure of Dex Digga, Kuhlman provided excellent rhythm and harmony sections to Reeves’ melodic choruses and powerful verses on guitar. Before leaving the stage, it was evident that 3 Years Hollow have earned their spot in the modern Hard Rock world, since many a concert attendee was able to sing along verbatim to the soaring choruses of “Chemical Ride” and closer “For Life,” which has been on constant radio rotation across the nation. The band was more than appreciative and greeted fans all night long in the downstairs lounge as Islander was setting up to take the stage next.
Another burgeoning band that is building a name at a rapid pace is Greenville, South Carolina’s own Islander, hitting the stage next in direct support of Red. Having completed multiple tours this past year alone, many of which blasted through New York City, as well as a summer long trek on 2014’s Rockstar Mayhem Festival, Islander have done more than cut their teeth in the Hard Rock scene. Coming out full force, vocalist Mikey Carvajal and guitarist J.R. Bareis, sporting a dinosaur tail, immediately launched into upbeat tune “Counteract.” As vocalist Carvajal began to chant the refrain, “This is not a dream,” the crowd was ready to receive his stage dive and carry him briefly around the front of the floor of Gramercy Theatre. Moving forward with “The Sadness of Graves,” the band was a tight unit, becoming ever more fluid and relaxed as the set moved on. By the time they launched into “Lucky Rabbit,” most of the floor was moving in response to the rhythm of the line, “You’ve been talking to the dead,” courtesy of Carvajal’s coaxing and chant-response. Igniting much excitement upon the first few crunchy chords of “Criminals,” the crowd began to move and open up the floor as the band blasted through their new single, “New Wave,” before closing with the thunderous and immensely popular “Coconut Dracula.” Before leaving, Carvajal made his way to the middle of the crowd walking on devoted fan’s hands and shoulders along the way. Judging by the reaction of everyone, there is no doubt that Islander are rising in the rankings extremely fast.
Finally, it was time for Hard Rock powerhouse Red to take control. Fans were packed in to get as close to the impressively decorated stage as possible, which featured a theme based on the cover of their new album, Of Beauty and Rage. While this may not have been the first time most had seen Red live, for many this would be their first introduction to the newest material from them. Having completed the touring cycle for 2013’s Release The Panic, they have not performed in the Big Apple since October of that year. Anticipation was buzzing at an elevated level.
As the introduction blared and the back lights on stage became crimson, the hooded figure featured on the cover of the album emerged to the roar of the crowd. Newcomer Dan Johnson (formerly of Love and Death) approached the off-centered drum set as twin brothers Anthony (guitar) and Randy Armstrong (bass) and Michael Barnes (vocals) arose from behind a curtain of smoke and CO2 emissions. The band kicked into brand new track, “What You Keep Alive,” immediately causing a reaction. Johnson’s rhythm and timing were on point, blending smoothly with the Anthony’s melody and crooning guitars. Barnes effortlessly launched into the chorus with beautiful backings of violins and orchestral back tracks. The members were constantly emerging and receding into the smoky atmosphere, their shadows only visible at times between the blinding back lights. As the band teased with snippets of the chorus of “Death of Me” before launching into it entirely, the excitement and anticipation of the crowd could be both felt and heard.
Although the setlist was largely dominated by fresh compositions such as “Impostor” and “Falling Sky,” the band included fan favorites such as “Already Over,” the blood-pumping “Feed the Machine,” along with“Let Go.” Receiving a deafening applause, Of Beauty and Rage tunes “Shadow and Soul” and “Part That’s Holding On” capped off the performance as each member departed from the stage. Fans were rabid and bellowing for the band to return for an encore. Red obliged, starting with aggressive track “Darkest Part” before the song that launched them into mainstream success, “Breathe into Me.” Clearly still a track fans can connect with, the adrenaline was flaring and Red brought the house down in their final minutes.
Sticking mostly to the songs and music, Red did take momentary breaks between songs to show appreciation and interact with the crowd, but really could do no wrong the entire night. The band has become immensely popular and really has hit an impressive peak in recent years, evident by the sheer passion and number of audience members. They project a positive feeling onto all that cross their path and prove that music is more than entertainment, but an emotion for all.