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Underoath, Thursday, Animals as Leaders, A Skylit Drive - Town Ballroom, Buffalo, NY - 02/11/2011

Review/photos- Mike Suicide

On February 11th Underoath stopped in Buffalo NY to promote their new album Disambiguation. The tour features supporting bands A Skylit Drive, Animals As Leaders and Thursday. My first impression walking in to the venue was that the crowd was quite diverse. The age of these Hardcore fans seems to run the gamut from 15 to 55. It was nice to see I wasn’t the oldest guy at the show, At 18 years old I clearly remember being mortified that I would end up ‘that guy’.

A Skylit Drive was the first band to hit the stage. This is a six-piece band out of California, fronted by Mike ‘Jag’ Jagmin. He has an incredible vocal range (Dee Snider of Twisted Sister even commented on it at a recent show). They are a young band with a lot of talent and a pretty stable line up (having only a few change ups since their inception). They’ve had plenty of time honing their musical skills with plenty of heavy touring including the 2009 Warped Tour. It was remarkable that the opening band garnered so much audience participation albeit well deserved.

Next up was Animals As Leaders, an instrumental project formed by Tosin Abasi, originally a member of the now defunct Metalcore band Reflux. Abasi is a guitar virtuoso; his fretwork is nothing short of genius. The music is as close as hardcore can get to Prog Rock without loosing the Hardcore vibe. I truly enjoyed the set, as did the crowd who chanted for more.

Thursday is widely regarded as one of the few bands that brought the Emo/ Post Hardcore genre into the mainstream. Since their inception in 1997 they have had minimal lineup changes with the departure of Bill Henderson on guitar in 2000 and the addition of a keyboardist in 2003. They took the stage and it was evident they had people there specifically to see them. Geoff’s voice seemed a little rough, after Jagmin from A Skylit Drive joined them on stage for a song; Geoff confirmed that he had a sore throat. I have to admit I was slow to catch on to the Emo movement so I’m not that familiar with the all the songs, but I can tell you I admire any musician who will suffer through sickness to deliver for their fans. Although this band might seem to be on the down swing of their popularity I don’t see them slowing their pace. They delivered a great performance.

While waiting for Underoath to hit the stage I wandered around the venue and happened to bump into Andy Williams. For those of you unfamiliar, Andy is one of the guitarists in Buffalo’s Metalcore band Every Time I Die. He told me ETID finished up their Australian tour and are back home writing new material.  He also said that he is going to join on with New Hampshire based Trap Them to play guitar for some upcoming shows. This is an interesting development that I will be keeping my eye on.

Underoath is the antithesis of my view on Heavy Metal. I tend to be no fan of secular religion or their followers proselytizing through metal music. Thomas(who runs this site) and I have had this discussion a few times regarding other religious driven bands that shall remain nameless. Anyway, I do respect peoples right to believe what they want to believe and also respect anyone who can create music and create it well. Underoath is no exception. This band is really an anomaly. They have with stood so many line up changes that no original member even remains in the band. I can’t recall any band that has accomplished this feat and still came out with a label support and a sound that still holds on to the premise of the original incarnation. They performed an outstanding set to an enthusiastic crowd. No matter how many times in my concert experiences over the years that I have witnessed a crowd singing back lyrics to the band, it still raises the hairs on my neck. The band feeds off the crowd’s energy and gives twice back and that’s what happened on this night. If I had to bet at the end of Thursdays set that half of the crowd would leave I would’ve lost my ass. The fans stayed and so did I; we witnessed an amazing performance by a band that truly has been ‘born again’.

This was a great show with a great turn out for some great bands. If you get the opportunity go see this tour when it hits your town.