March 9, 2015 Stick To Your Guns tear up NYC 2-22-15 w/ The Amity Affliction, Being As An Ocean, ’68, & In Hearts Wake
Back in November of 2014, Californian Hardcore band Stick To Your Guns announced their plans to embark on the Disobedient Tour in February 2015 in promotion of their fifth studio album of the same name. As the band’s first record in almost four years, the string of dates, which kicked off three days after its release, comes with a great deal of anticipation to the scene. Piling on the excitement, along with the aforementioned headliner, In Hearts Wake, ’68, and The Amity Affliction join as direct support for the tour scheduled to conclude March 8th. Conjuring some of the hottest acts in the Hardcore/Metalcore scene, it is no wonder, that when they arrived in New York City on Sunday February 22nd, that sold out crowd greeted them at Gramercy Theatre at 127 E 23rd St. Bitter cold temperatures aside, the heat was on and the Disobedient Tour was the source of fire.
Stepping up first was Byron Bay, Australians known as In Hearts Wake. Together now since 2006, the band released their third studio album titled Earthwalker in 2014. Know for their environmentally conscious ideology, the unity consisting of vocalist Jake Taylor, bassist/vocalist Kyle Erich, drummer Caleb Burton, along with guitarists Ben Nairne and Eaven Dall strive for much more than just creating music, they want to send a message. That message was solidified with Eartherwalker and now the band look to keep the energy flowing with a quick follow-up set for release May 5th entitled Skydancer. According to Taylor, the two albums were records along side one another, and now for the first time ever North America will have a chance to see what In Heats Wake is all about. Approaching the stage with confidence, they immediately went into crushing track “Earthwalker” followed by “The Unknown (Strength)” and “Departure (Death).” While the initial onslaught was impressive, perhaps the most intense moments came with the more melodic “Healer” and set closer “Divine” where a mix of clean and rough vocals intertwined and the guitars resonated with atmosphere. In Hearts Wake certainly did their first visit to the states justice, and with a performance like this, they will probably be back soon.
Next was Atlanta, Georgia based two-piece band ’68. In the wake of The Chariot, in 2013, vocalist Josh Scogin had made references that this project with drummer Michael McLellan was on the horizon, and it did not take long before their debut EP Midnight was released in December of that year. Signing up with Good Fight Entertainment, shortly after, their full-length album In Humor and Sadness was released in the summer of 2014 . Different than Scogin’s former projects, ’68 brings a raw Garage Rock/Punk vibe to the scene. Having sold more than 3,000 units of their debut album in its first week, there is no doubt this band has something fans are interested in hearing, and they brought that no frills style to Gramercy Theatre. Simply naming the titles of their songs, they opened with the guitar stretching of “Track 3 g”. Possessing more energy and intensity than most four-piece acts, Scogin and McLellan electrified the audience and plowed through their set. Facing one another for most of the performance, opposed to facing the audience, did not stop any momentum as they sounded more like a throwback to the early ’90s mix of Grunge and Punk. Be sure to check them out for a break from the norm and be thrust into pure anarchy.
Following up was Alpine, California’s Being As An Ocean. Together since 2011, the band’s sophomore album How We Both Wondrously Perish was released in May of 2014, which became an instant Billboard 200 success after springing to, and holding, the 57th spot. Now vocalist Joel Quartuccio, guitarist/vocalist Michael McGough, bassist Ralph Sica, drummer Connor Denis, and lead guitarists Tyler Ross return to touring after co-headlining with Fit For A King in fall of last year. Marching out to an audience so amped up by the time “Mediocre Shakespeare” kicked, bodies were moving everywhere. Taken back by the response, Quartuccio reciprocated the greeting by jumping down onto the floor to lean over the barricades, much to fans delight as he sang directly to them. Taking a moment to go back to 2012’s internet sensation album, Dear G-d…, they charged into “The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget” before newer song “Death’s Great Black Wing Scrapes the Air” and back to “Dear G-D.” Clearly inspired, each member gave all they had into the performance and Quartuccio even enthralled himself in the whirlwind on the floor standing directly in the middle of it all before crowd surfing back to the stage. As they closed out with “L’exquisite Douleur” and “This Loneliness Won’t Be The Death Of Me,” Being As An Ocean kept the fierce emotion of the night moving forward. The band turn their attention overseas now, but they will be back for Van’s Warped Tour this summer.
As direct support for the evening, a swell of support appeared on hand for The Amity Affliction. Formed over a decade ago in Gympie, Queensland, Australia, this band has become one of the hottest on the international Metalcore scene over the course of four studio albums. Having toured North America seven times in their tenure, their first ever headlining tour came in fall of 2014 when they visited in support of their latest release, Let the Ocean Take Me. Chosen as a Top 5 album of 2014 in the Metal category by CrypticRock, this band stands out with a raw emotion that cannot be denied.
With the lighting going down, a brief moment of silence gave way to vocalist Joel Birch, bassist/clean vocalist Ahren Stringer, drummer Ryan Burt, and guitarist Dan Brown, erupting into “Pittsburgh.” With sheer unadulterated human feeling, Birch belted out the words in a rage-full scream as Stringer provided clarity with crystal clear singing. It was one hell of a way to open their set which set the tone for what was to come next with “Greens Avenue,” melodic masterpiece “Lost & Fading,” and 2012 album title track “Chasing Ghosts.” Sounding unbelievably tight, the guitar chops of Brown sliced and diced at will, with perhaps the biggest moment coming during “Death’s Hand.” Creating a tension in the chest of all in attendance, the same despair felt on Let the Ocean Take Me was projected in the live setting flawlessly as “The Weigh Down” and “Never Alone” kept the mosh pits in motion. Taking the moment to address the audience, Birch and company needed not to say much as their music connected on a deep enough level that spoken words could not replace. While the lyrics may be of their own personal struggles in life, the context is something any human being can relate with, and on this night at Gramercy Theatre, contact was made as The Amity Affliction rounded out their performance with “Open Letter” and “Don’t Lean on Me.” Unwilling to comprise their sound, The Amity Affliction are a band that has naturally matured and continues their steady climb to the top. They now will head over to Europe to tour with Of Mice & Men through April.
After surviving three pulverizing opening acts, the New York City sold out crowd took a moment to recharge their batteries, whip the sweat from their brows, and gear up for headliner Stick to Your Guns. Lead by founding vocalist/guitarist Jesse Barnett, Stick To Your Guns have been a vital part of the Hardcore community in the new era. Coming together back in 2003, the band has kept the philosophy of traditional Hardcore values alive with their style, sound, and overall message. Holding together the same lineup for quite sometime now, the band’s arsenal consists of bassist Andrew Rose, drummer George Schmitz, along with guitarists Chris Rawson and Josh James. Making their return to Gramercy Theatre for the first time since 2013, both the fans and Stick To Your Guns were ready to roll.
As Barnett stormed out like a madman, the band charged into new song “Nobody” before “Empty Heads” and “Amber.” The adrenaline on the floor was flowing rapidly as Hardcore dancing took over and fans lost themselves in more Disobedient songs like “I Choose No One” and “The Crown.” Continuously enticing the crowd participation, Barnett leaned over the edge of the stage mixing his Hardcore bellows with melodic singing to match the guitar work of Rawson and James. Upping the ante, the discontent of their lyrics was amplified with “Bringing You Down,” “What Goes Around,” and “Disobedient.” There is no question Barnett and the band strongly believe in their cause and the energy their music created was undeniably real as the frenzy continued in the crowd. Taking time to articulate himself about injustices and standing up for what is right, Barnett was an unstoppable force barreling through fan favorites such as “The Bond,” “Such Pain,” and “Built Upon the Sand.” Wrapping up the set with “We Still Believe,” the faithful supporters raised their voices and hands for more from Stick To Your Guns. The request was granted with a relentless two song encore of “Diamond” and “Against The All.”
While Stick To Your Guns offered a heavy-hand of their most recent works in 2012’s Diamond, and of course 2015’s Disobedient, they certainly mixed it up enough to satisfy the most seasoned of fans who made the trip out to see them. Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, it is admiral to see a group of individuals so stead-fast for their cause, and Stick To Your Guns are. Their passion and devotion to the music, fans, and the movement shined bright in New York City as they had circle pits moving, not once, but three times. Now they bring the cause abroad to Brazil, Australia, and then Europe. Regardless of what outsiders may think or say, Stick To Your Guns resonate the true essence of Hardcore music.