In Our Wake 11/25: An Evening To Remember

The chill of late November did not intimidate the long line outside of the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. My first visit to the venue left me pleasantly surprised!

Minneapolis based Sleep Signals took the stage first. Their energy was immense but frantic, perhaps because the band still has something to prove. Sleep Signals began touring three years ago and have shared the stage with some pretty big names including Seether and Alesana- but have yet to release a full length studio album. The group played material from both of their EP’s and received a great outburst of enthusiasm for their performance of “I’ll Save You,” their most popular single to date.

Lead Singer, Robert Cosgrove’s, voice carried above the band, but unfortunately never wavered from it’s static growl. More variation in tone could have provided the extra flare that the band’s sound lacked. Guitarist Sean Fitz tore up the venue. The ease with which he danced and headbanged lead me to believe that either his guitar was weightless or he himself defied all physical law. Drummer Klae held down the fort from the back of the stage with solid beats. Although it was difficult for me to see guitarist, Cody Lane, and bassist, Alex Nikolas from my side of the stage, their playing amplified throughout the room, providing rich and warm textures.

Ice Nine Kills upped the ante with their Silver Scream costumes-which extend beyond clothing and into the band’s behavior and performance. As always, the entire crowd echoed each of Charnas’ words–I’m not being hyperbolic, if you’ve seen INK live you know it can be difficult to hear the vocals above the chorus of concertgoers.

Despite Justin Morrow’s *flawless* Jigsaw makeup, “The Jig Is Up,” didn’t make the setlist–much to my own disappointment. However, the live rendition of “Merry Axe-Mas” sleighed. JD Deblieck didn’t miss a single note in the prolific guitar solo. Charnas donned a Santa hat and lead the audience in the pre-bridge “Jingle Bells” parody. Patrick Galante continued to prove himself as an excellent addition to the band with a spot on performance of the song’s chaotically epic bridge- which brims with tricky tempo changes.

I was pleased to see that touring guitarist Ricky Armellino had rejoined INK for the tour. His spritely and childish energy brings a lot to the serious atmosphere, and his Georgie costume is the perfect fit. The band performed their customary “Me Myself and Hyde,” “Communion of the Curse,” amongst Silver Scream hits “The American Nightmare,” “IT Is The End,” and “Stabbing In The Dark.” The only adjective I deemed just for this set was “ killer.” Each member of the group seared their own haunting image and sound into the audience’s craniums with perfect synergy, each one a talented showman in their own right.

My only piece of feedback was that Charnas’ backing track was often too audible and emphatic. However, this may have been a venue sound issue, because the next two acts struggled with it as well.

Memphis May Fire practically ran onto the stage–they seemed genuinely excited to be there. I remember watching the same kind of energy unfold the first (and only) other time I saw them, which was on Warped Tour in 2015. The moment Matty Mullins opened his mouth, my own jaw hit the floor.

As a vocalist I understand that live performance involves many moving parts that make ones voice sound- to put it kindly- less impressive than if one is standing still in a studio. That being said, Mullins’ tone, strength, and pitch were spot on for the entire evening. I was amazed with his clear high belt. His performance alone kept my eyes glued to the stage– even when several microphones sputtered out and delayed the set. Mullins handled the situation gracefully, pausing the show in order to give the band’s sound tech enough time to resolve the issue, and chatting with the audience as they waited patiently. His amiable demeanor brought the audience closer to him.

Kellin McGregor, the founding member of MMF brought swift energy as he maneuvered the stage while bassist Cory Elder stood statuesque in order to deliver perfect rhythm. The band broke out “The Old Me,” the lead single off of brand new album Broken, an introspective headbanger full of rage and pain. Otherwise, Memphis Mayfire steered clear of their newest work. Highlights included “Carry On” and “The Sinner.” Finally it was Atreyu’s turn. I expected to be more star-struck by an act I have waited to watch live since my middle-school days. Their presence was certainly not underwhelming- but rather humble and genial.

Drummer and vocalist Brandon Saller snuck onto the stage, and opened the set with Atreyu’s tour and album’s namesake “In Our Wake.” The crowd stilled at first, leaning in to listen, but was reanimated with the introduction of lead singer Alex Varkatzas and lead guitarist Dan Jacobs.

The song is an easy sing-along that I find reminiscent of their 2015 single “Do You Know Who You Are,” which also made an appearance well into the set. These introspective pieces rally crowds because they create a sense of shared identity- and their slow, arm-waving tempos give the band some breathing room between heavier material.Saller’s voice resonated with joy. His tone was strong and steady, as if he was not also playing drums.

Varkatzas paradaded about stage, confident in a pair of red plaid pants and not much else- his voice seemingly untarnished by a 20 year run with Atreyu. Unfortunately, Varkatzas’ microphone met the same fate as Mullins’. Retreating from the stage, he demanded an explanation from his sound tech- who successfully swapped out the damaged mic.

The trio of strings traveled the stage quite a bit, and were untethered in terms of wires or cords, which provided them ample freedom. Guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel were 100% comfortable with the set and delivered consistently headbang-worthy performances. Bassist Marc Mcknight was the most excited- his enthusiasm and crowd interaction were unmatched by his bandmates and he even alighted from the stage to play directly in front of the crowd.

The venue nearly combusted during cult classics, “Becoming the Bull,” “Ex’s and Oh’s,” “The Crimson,” and “Bleeding Mascara.” There’s something otherworldly about listening to your old favorite songs from years past, live. I imagine this phenomena as a three to five minute time machine- where your old memories and feelings are reignited and preserved-just as they were- except in a new place and time. Now picture the Paradise Rock Club packed to the brim with nostalgic fans of all shapes, sizes, and sobriety levels experiencing the aforementioned emotional journey together. Magic.

“Anger Left Behind” and “The Time is Now” were the only other In Our Wake tracks that I heard, and they simply didn’t have the same punch as the rest of the set; perhaps it is simply because the audience was not as familiar with them. The former embodied the classic attitude and ferocity of an Atreyu song, but with lyrics that question the future impact of the group- a thematic quandary featured on In Our Wake. The latter felt is a stadium pump-up song, complete with gang vocals, yet devoid of the soul that the Paradise Rock Club thirsted for that evening.

Unfortunately due to an unrelated injury *be careful not to perch your desk anchored microphones precariously* I was not able to stick the rest of the set out and headed home. On my way out I stopped by the merch tables where I was delighted to meet Derrell and Arielle- who treated me with the utmost kindness. Songs I missed included: “Falling Down,” “Blow” and an encore including Rick Astley and Bon Jovi covers as well as a personal favorite of mine “Lip Gloss and Black.”

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