This concert had me confused for quite some time. I was first thrown off when I showed up to the venue. There was a line around the building of 13 year old girls, and I kind of panicked. Did I show up to the right place? Why are there so many little girls here? I kid you not it was solely teen girls plus a few dad’s and mom sprinkled in. My fears were soon settled when I learned the other stage in the building was holding an Augustana concert. I found a second line hidden on the other side of the middle schoolers, much shorter but also much more of what I was expecting to see. The shenanigans didn’t end there, unfortunately. Once they’d separated the little kids who thinks it’s fun to be “rebelious” and go to a concert, and I’m sure it was a first for at least half of those teenie boppers, I thought I would be okay, but I was very, very wrong.
I knew three bands were playing. Emery was the headliner and Oh, Sleeper and Hawkboy were opening for them. I figured Hawkboy would be the first band up seeing as how they are unsigned and have only released four songs or so, so I was a little surprised when it wasn’t them up on the stage first. I wasn’t too familiar with Oh, Sleeper. I’d just listened to their latest album for the first time a couple days before and I haven’t heard anything before that. It was hard to understand what the lead singer was saying but I heard Oh, Sleeper and thought that that was who we were watching. This really shook me, because what I listened to earlier in the week was good music that I enjoyed and what I was seeing was one hundred percent the opposite of that. What we were experiencing was five guys who really thought a lot of themselves trying to capture the essence of crabcore in a silly but hardcore manner. These guys just failed, they tried to have cool breakdowns, they tried to add video game sound effects, I think they even tried to do a cover of “There’s a place in France where the naked ladies dance,” I’m not sure what the true name of that song is, but you know what I’m talking about, you almost feel sorry for the guys. The lead singer, despite sporting a pretty cool mario zombie shirt, looked like a retarded monkey while he was doing that jumping walk and banging his chest. It was really quite comical and while my ears were hating me I couldn’ t help but be amused. I mean they really did think they were pretty cool.
Finally I saw the duo that was Hawkboy, and I knew for sure that the next things I would hear would be pleasing to my ear. Hawkboy is a remnant of As Cities Burn and their sound has continued in the direction that their former group had been moving. They have a new E.P. that is up for free download on the web. They played a few of the fun indie rock songs off of that new E.P. and also played a few songs from Hell or High Water. Cody Bonnette has a very unique voice and watching him and Aaron Lunsford was a lot of fun. From interviews I’ve read it doesn’t seem that they know what the future holds for Hawkboy and whether or not they will record any more songs or tour anymore after this little run for the summer, but I sure hope they do.
Up next was the real Oh, Sleeper, which eased my troubled mind. The tricks were over and what we were dealt was some quality, straightforward metalcore; no video game sound gimmicks and no dance moves oozing with douchebaggery. These guys brought the heat and I don’t know what else to say about them beyond that. Emery closed us off and they also brought the heat.
Coming off of their new release, We Do What We Want, Emery tried to make their sound harder and they more or less succeeded. Moving in that direction they seemed to lose a little focus on one of my favorite elements in their sound although I still enjoy their new album. The vocal harmonies between Toby Morrell and Devin Shelton were the biggest hook for me and probably had the biggest role in converting me to the band, so I was a little worried when Devin left the band earlier this year. Maybe they knew he would be departing soon and that’s why they moved in the direction they did, I can’t really say. For this tour they’ve brought in a new guy to fill Devin’s part, and he did a fair enough job with the backing vocals. I’m not sure if that’s going to go anywhere after the tour, only time will tell. Toby was also very entertaining to watch, he just has some interesting mannerisms on stage. Not only that, but you could see how much he enjoyed performing for us and how much he enjoyed the roar of the crowd. It seemed the louder we got the bigger his smile got. Josh Head, the designated screamer, is also fun to watch. There are people who crowd surf and then there is Josh who walks on the crowd. You could see the moment when he decided that he was leaving the stage and he then took his step of faith onto somebody’s shoulder screaming his little heart out the whole time. The last time I saw Emery they were touring with six or
seven other bands, so it was nice to have fewer bands to allow them to play more songs. They took full advantage of it, playing quite a few songs from their new record. In the middle of their set they slowed things down a bit, brought some stools up, and played a few acoustic tracks for us. Emery put on a great performance and capped the night off very nicely.