Friday, June 23, 2006

It Dies Today / Haste the Day / Chiodos / Flee the Seen

Whoever it was at Facedown Records that signed Flee the Seen must have been snorting immense lines of coke because they have to be one of the biggest disappointments on the label’s roster. Their music is as clich├ęd and scene-defined as almost any other Hot Topic band, which led to a live performance that left a lot to be desired. Their sound, in a nutshell, is pretty much Evanescence with a few male yells and a couple of breakdowns. Sometimes, however, bands that lack in the talent and songwriting departments can make up for their deficiencies in a live setting by being energetic. This wasn’t the case. The half hour that Flee the Seen was on stage was brutal.

The band members basically sat in their respective areas for the entire set with the drummer at his kit, a guitarist on the left, a bassist on the right, and the twitchy girl vocalist in the middle. I say twitchy because she did that annoying thing where she would shake her head back and forth at random times, like she was violently trying to shake her hair out of her eyes. Someone should give her a tip and tell her that it doesn’t make her look badass or hardcore—it makes it look like she’s in a weird type of cognizant seizure.

Thank God Chiodos was up after the audible atrocity that is Flee the Seen. There was actually a very large fan base in attendance to see Chiodos which was a little surprising as I didn’t realize their following was as large as it is, at least in the Midwest. Once on stage they kicked right into “The Words ‘Best Friend’ Become Redefined” which set the place off. Unfortunately this meant that there were a bunch of 14 year old, 120 lb hardcore dancing kids pretending that they were somehow expressing something by flailing their hands and arms around like a group of angry monkeys. It would be a lot more comical to watch them if they weren’t consistently smacking people that weren’t “dancing”, which usually included me. Whatever happened to coming to a show to watch a band instead of coming to pretend that you’re the Karate Kid on speed?

Outside of the stupid antics of the monkey people in the crowd, Chiodos’s set was killer. They seamlessly transitioned between the mellow moments of their set and the straight ahead rock outs. The band also genuinely appeared to be enjoying themselves on stage, which is always a plus and also helps the people who came to watch the band get into the music.

Next on the bill was a band that was interesting to see, mostly for the fact that they were touring with a new lead singer than the one they made all of their records with. The one trait that Haste the Day had always possessed which put them in a different realm than most modern metalcore bands was that their ex-lead singer, Jimmy Ryan, had a demonic growl that was unmatched. In December of 2005, however, he left and was replaced by Stephen Keech. Unfortunately, Keech is no Ryan… not even close.

By all accounts Haste the Day put on a good show, but for fans of their records, Keech just can’t do what Ryan was capable of with his voice. Instead the songs sounded much more tame and less unique with Keech’s very standard metal growl. On top of the mellowing of the growls, on their cover of “Long Way Down” there wasn’t a breath screamed. The back-up screams from the album were instead sung in a very gruff voice by Keech, which robbed the song of the little bit of edge it possessed in its studio form. Thankfully the music during Haste the Day’s set was still crunchingly heavy.

The final and headlining band was It Dies Today. I’ve heard many great things about their live show, but had not yet had the chance to experience it. The best way to describe it would be… light-hearted. Bear with me, as I realize that I’m probably the only person on this earth to describe their live show with those two words. The difference between It Dies Today and the other bands that played is they were out there playing their asses off but, at the same time, just goofing around doing whatever they felt like.

When a band member runs back and forth on the stage playing his guitar while sporting the world’s biggest shit-eating grin and another is jumping into the crowd while he plays his bass… at which point he falls back onto the stage, right on his ass, gets up, falls over again, and subsequently decides to just stay there on the ground while playing, you know the band is enjoying themselves. It’s moments like those that make you actually feel the fun they’re having as opposed to how so many bands try too hard to seem “hard” or serious.

The 45 minutes that It Dies Today played just flew by. Song after song, breakdown after bone-crushing breakdown, these guys didn’t stop and neither did the crowd. Everyone was everywhere running into everyone else. In the chaos I really hope some linebacker sized tough guys knocked the crap out of the wannabe tough kid hardcore dancers in return for the obnoxiousness.

Go see these guys if you can. It’ll give you a great excuse to rail on all those scene kids that you know you’ve been wanting to flat out destroy ever since they started their ridiculous “dancing” trend. Screw scene kids. Enjoy the music, not the image.

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