On Tuesday, March 14 August Burns Red ended the first leg of their "20 Year Anniversary Tour" in Charlotte, North Carolina. The show was opened by Scottish metalcore veterans Bleed From Within and U.S. mainstays The Devil Wears Prada.
I have to be honest. I had never heard of Bleed From Within before, and I was in no way prepared for what they brought to the stage to kick off the show.
Since coming together in 2005, the band has released 5 albums, 3 EPs, and can now proudly add half of a North American Tour to their list of accomplishments, with more shows to come when the tour starts back up in April. For any fans who have been dying for a chance to see them live, let me assure you the wait will have been worth it.
It didn’t take the 5-piece act long to get the crowd moving. Between the impressively tight performance and frontman Scott Kennedy’s formidable stage presence, they quickly made it clear that they have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with the two bands waiting to take the stage. In particular, seeing Kennedy sitting on the shoulders of several audience members while delivering his powerful vocals was a moment to remember. From talking to others at the show I can say with 100% certainty that Bleed From Within left North Carolina with more fans than they came in with.
The Devil Wears Prada was next to take the stage, and they definitely brought the energy with them.
This band seemed like they made it their personal mission to make sure every single person in the venue was on their feet and moving. Or even better, off their feet and surfing their way to the front of the crowd. Seriously, I probably spent half of my time in the photo pit watching the crowd to make sure I wasn’t in the way of any incoming crowd surfers. And that was just the start.
The energy TWDP came out with, spearheaded by vocalist Mike Hranica’s frenetic movements across the stage, was absolutely infectious. By the halfway point of the set I had given up on counting the number of people pouring over the barrier in front of the stage, and while I wasn’t about to take my camera into the pit, I won’t pretend there weren’t a few times I was tempted to jump in. The setlist predictably leaned heavily on material from ‘Color Decay’, the band’s most recent album. They jumped straight into ‘Watchtower’ to start the show and moved from ‘Broken’ to ‘Cancer’ to the lead single, ‘Sacrifice’, to close things out. It can be hard to please everyone with a setlist, especially when you’re dealing with a catalogue as long as TWDP’s, but judging from the crowd response this one was a hit.
20 years is a long time for any band to stay together. August Burns Red has not only reached that milestone, but they have done it with a lineup that has remained stable for nearly that entire stretch. They have an insane number of shows under their collective belt, and that was plain to see at The Fillmore.
When August Burns Red launched the set with 2007’s ‘Composure’ they sent us a message that, even with their new album ‘Death Below’ due on 3.24, this tour was truly a celebration of their full career. True to the theme, the setlist included at least one track from every full length album (except the Christmas record) that the band has released.
The performance was incredible, and I have to take the opportunity to talk up the vocal performance of Jake Luhrs. I was blown away by how absolutely massive his growls sounded, and would easily rate it as one of the best deliveries I’ve heard live in concert. The instrumentation from the rest of the band was spot on, and together they kept the atmosphere in the building absolutely electric.
It wasn’t all fast riffs and crushing breakdowns, however. Luhrs made a point to thank everyone in attendance for supporting them and sticking with the group over the years. There was even a heartwarming moment when he shared that his mom was in attendance for the show marking the end of the tour's first leg. And of course the band made sure to get a ‘family photo’ with everyone in the building.
The stage went dark after ABR performed ‘Marianas Trench’, but it wasn’t long before the audience’s chant of “one more song” brought the lights back up to reveal drummer Matt Greiner behind his kit. He ripped through a drum solo with ease before the others returned to close out the show with encore tracks ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and ‘Whitewashed’. From the first beat clear through to the end, this show was a triumph. Twenty years in and the metalcore titans show no sign of slowing down. Here's to twenty more!
August Burns Red's new album 'Death Below' comes out March 24.
To see upcoming tour dates and pick up tickets for your nearest show click here.
Photos and article by Dillon Reesor