WE CAME AS ROMANS
This was the first band that we saw on this tour date at The Metro in Chicago and the first thing I thought about them after they performed their first song was, "is this a Christian band?" The band's set up with the constant change up of screaming to clean vocals, a boat load of band members, and a synth player reminds me a lot of Christian hardcore heavyweights The Devil Wears Prada and Underoath. Plus when a band tells the audience to raise their hands in the air towards the sky, instead of fists or devil horns, you know what kind of show you are in। However, Devon and I tried to give this band the benefit of the doubt. So we looked them up on Wikipedia while they played on stage. Turns out their music is not full of Christian lyrics, but most of the band members are devout Christians--kind of the same way the next band that followed them on stage, Emery, would be described as.
Let the record show that I don't have a problem with Christian bands. I rather enjoy other Christian bands such as MxPx, The Devil Wears Prada, and the like. But it's kind of awkward to see a band that has "Christian band" characteristics and still trying to create crossover appeal. This band definitely has appeal as many of the people that were there really liked this band. For me, however, I really didn't hear much originality or anything that stood out from this band's setlist as the music structure seemed too random. The songs are dominated by screaming vocals and the clean vocals were intended to create a good mix, but the clean vocals do very little to enhance this band's music in my humble opinion. The music itself was pretty unmemorable as I couldn't tell you any one particular song that stood out. However, without a doubt, their shows are full of energy, if anything mindlessly chaotic. And the songs are full of so much positivity, you'd think you were at a Hatebreed show. This band must be getting a lot of pub because they will be touring the upcoming Spring version of the Scream it Like You Mean it Tour.
Let me preface this by saying that Emery was without a doubt the best band that performed on this tour date. Playing a good mix of their albums, their set was predominantly filled with songs from their more recent album, ...In Shallow Seas We Sail. The album is what a great mix of screaming and clean vocals should sound like and without a doubt was one of the best albums to come out in 2009 for the post-hardcore genre. Emery was near flawless live and without question the best band of the night. There was something wrong with the sound as the clean vocals, for all bands, sounded awful and high-pitched, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Emery was fantastic on this night. Just like the band that preceded them, Emery is one of those bands where all band members are devout Christians, but go out of their way to not include too many, if any, songs with strong Christian overtones as they attempt to appeal to a mass audience. Whether you agree with their beliefs or their marketing approach, you cannot deny that Emery, simply put, is a rock solid band.
Headlining on this date was the mighty Canadian post-hardcore band Silverstein. Silverstein, to the best of my knowledge is not a Christian band but they love touring with those type of bands (i.e. The Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red, etc.) as their appeal to an evergrowing younger crowd who are full of angst and heartbreak meshes well with the crowd who count these shows as part of their mandatory weekly mass.
All kidding aside, the super-vegans were on the heals of releasing an album that didn't do much to keep my interest going for this band. A Shipwreck in the Sand might have been this band's most intricate piece of work, but for an old-timer like me, nothing will ever top their first two full-length albums. Nevertheless, I tried to come in with an open mind for this band and their new work, however, just like the two preceding bands, whenever clean vocals were used in their music, the singer's voice would sound atrocious. And I like lead singer Shane Told's voice, but there was something off at The Metro that night as the high-pitched-sounding vocals were deafening and made me regret not getting earplugs. The band's setlist was pretty unspectacular for me as the first five songs were flooded with their newest material. It was a nice surprise to see them play "Red Light Pledge" live, a very underrated song. Nevertheless, the "old" songs they selected for this night is getting very predictable and uninspiring. How many times do we have to hear "Bleeds No More" to end every show with this band? And even the crowd started thinning as Silverstein's setlist continued to drag, more and more people were leaving the show.
So to summarize, after reflecting on this show, you realize that the band who was headlining seems to be on the way down, while the band that we witnessed first, We Came As Romans, have yet to peak and are just streaking towards the top. Or maybe I'm exaggerating, but on this night, Emery were the band live, but We Came As Romans stole the show. Meanwhile, Silverstein's set just dragged on forever.
On a positive note, the best part about going to The Metro is that there are these two Thai restaurants in the Lakeview area that might be the two best Thai restaurants in the entire Cook County area. Try out THAI CLASSIC (get the Pineapple Chicken) and PS BANGKOK (best Tom Yum soup ever. I recommend you order it with seafood).