Album Review :
Concert Review: Emery, As Cities Burn, Cry of the Afflicted

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Artists: Emery, Mayday Parade, As Cities Burn, Pierce the Veil, Cry of the Afflicted
Venue: The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA
Date: March 7, 2008
Review by: Eric Pettersson

As an old burlesque hall that has since been converted into a punk venue, The Trocadero Theater is one of my favorite places to see a show here in Philly, and hearing that As Cities Burn and Emery would be stopping by was such exciting news, my friend Reuben and I had plans to go months ago. I mention Reuben because the pictures you will soon see are his. He is a budding photographer and quite good. If you enjoy these shots and would like to see the rest of his work at the show, you can visit his MySpace here where they will all be posted in the near future.

The night began with Cry of Afflicted. On the way down I reflected that I knew they were one of the recent signees to Tooth & Nail/ Solid State, but I couldn’t remember if they sounded more like Anberlin or Norma Jean. Well, it turns out I was right on both counts… sort of. Cry of the Afflicted are a new screamo band. The sound is clearly a bit dated, and they sadly add nothing new to it. They played well and had some decent energy, but the music, the performance, everything, it was all just so terribly generic that by the end of the night I had forgotten they even played until their guitarist met us all near the exits to desperately promote their new CD, The Unveiling, which they were selling for only $5.

Pierce the Veil were the band to really get this show rolling. Playing most songs from their latest Equal Vision Records release, A Flair for the Dramatic, Pierce the Veil ripped through an incredible set of high energy emo-flavored post-hardcore rock and roll. Vocalist Vic Fuentes has a high and somewhat whiny voice that you would normally hear coming from a band like Lovedrug or The Rocket Summer, but this time it’s backed by heavy technical guitars and pounding drums, and his high-pitched shriek-style screams are top of the line. Their energy was fantastic, and this guy strutted himself and his guitar around stage in a way that would have made early rockers like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley proud. Also thrown into the setlist was a hilarious yet well-done cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” which turned this crowd into the rowdiest group of show-goers I’ve ever seen.

Unfortunately, this moshing, crowd-surfing, fist-fighting (literally, someone got thrown out for it), hardcore-dancing (another kid got carried out in a choke hold for continuing to dance on top of a fourteen year old girl that had fallen) audience had absolutely no idea what to do when As Cities Burn hit the stage and started playing “Wrong Body.” The energy completely died and their show just seemed to lack the passion it should have had. However, I do not credit this problem to the band. I credit this to the tour. As Cities Burn would fit better on other bills with bands like mewithoutYou or Brand New, not Emery and Cry of Afflicted. It would have worked a lot better had they still been touring on Son, I Loved You at Your Darkest, and the crowd got moving again and loved “Bloodsucker Pt. 2,” which ACB chose to end their set with, but with that being the only song from that album and the rest coming from Come Now Sleep, it just didn’t click with this crowd. Which is a huge shame, because they played a great selection of songs and gave an equally great performance. Honestly, I was totally shocked at the lack of As Cities Burn fans in that room, because they were my main attraction. Hopefully next time around they’ll draw in a different audience that will be a little more receptive to their music.

I was also completely shocked to find that I was the only one in this crowd not singing along to Mayday Parade. I had barely even heard their name before this night, but judging by the crowd they are apparently getting to be kind of huge. For those of you who, like me, are unaware of this Fearless Records band, they play a basic form of upbeat alternative rock that is sometimes still called pop-punk, in the veins of The Starting Line or Relient K (Mmhmm and newer). It was well played with decent energy, but nothing I haven’t heard before, although that isn’t really a priority with this genre and I don’t really think it needs to be either.

As excited as the crowd was for the previous bands, it was obvious that everyone really came for Emery. Vocalist and bassist Devin Shelton told the crowd after the first opening song or two, “Tonight we’re gonna play some new songs, some old songs, and some stuff in the middle. This next song is one of the one’s in the middle,” and then ripped into “So Cold I Could See My Breath.” They played through all the hits including “Walls,” “Ponytail Parade,” “Playing with Fire,” “Studying Politics,” “Listening to Freddie Mercury,” “Rock-N-Rule,” “The Party Song,” “Don’t Bore Us, Get to the Chorus,” and more. As always, the energy was high as Devin and Toby Morell switched bass duties off and on so the other could take the role of dancing around at the main microphone as lead singer. Keyboardist Josh Head was of course another huge part of the intensity of this performance as he took most of the screaming parts up front, and when he wasn’t screaming or playing the keyboard, he was constantly dancing around stage with sweet moves that have obviously taken years of doing this to perfect. He even sat down to join main drummer Dave Powell on a second set for a song or two. At one point the band told us that they wanted us to always remember “how much Jesus loves you.” Everyone was obviously connecting with Emery’s music, thankfully much more than ACB’s, and I found myself continuously drawn to looking at a certain man who must have been around forty-five, but was moving around singing along to every word with his eyes closed, and I kept thinking (aside from wishing I knew this guy and his story) that if I were in a band, that would be the most moving thing to see when I look out at a show, to know that I was doing something right. The night ended with the expected encore, and everyone went home satisfied although I personally would have been a little more satisfied had the crowd not been so agitated and obnoxious.

Was it worth the $17 at the door? Absolutely.

Was it worth the $125 tow fee, $41 parking ticket, and $11 cab ride because I missed a sign saying Tow Zone when I parked? Absolutely not.

BUT, my interview with Josh Head (Emery’s keyboardist/vocalist) was most definitely worth that much (along with the fun experience of dealing with the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Did you know you can pay tickets online with your credit card? Fantastic). To read that interview, click here.

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