Guess Who Killed The Attention Tour | 7/2
Intro/ Attraction to Tragedy:
Providence rush hour traffic determined my late arrival at The Alchemy. Unfortunately one of my favorite local bands Attraction to Tragedy had already played. The blow was made more harsh by the fact that I missed their newest single “Agony” in person. “Agony” is the genesis of a more refined era for Attraction to Tragedy. It is characterized by clearer recording quality, more demonstrative instrumentals and vocals all wrapped up in a provocative and enticing cover design. Never listened to A2T? Imagine if Alesana and Black Veil Brides had a baby and they raised it on late 90’s rock.
Brandon Blackout, A2T bassist, and his lovely partner, Natalie, caught me on my way into the venue. We crossed paths with Alexia and Caleb of Eyes Set to Kill, the evening’s headliner. They scootered past us, hair blowing majestically in the wind. Brandon, Natalie and Sterling (A2T drummer) graciously welcomed me to their merch booth where I watched as Plymouth-based progressive rock band Frantic Endeavor took the stage.
The six-piece band barely fit onto the miniscule platform both physically and artistically. My eyes and ears could not follow all six musicians as they rocked out in their own right. Frantic Endeavor consists of a pop-rock vocalist, classical violinist, punk and metal guitarists, a classic rock drummer and this evening, a fill-in bassist (of progressive metal band Sunsinger.) The group seamlessly played through their 5-song discography, a self-titled EP dripping with character.
Most notable was the final song, the twangy pop-punk “2+2”, a frantic 😉 exhortation on open-mindedness and justice. Lead singer, Lexi Lacock was not nervous, but rather coye as she rallied the crowd. Her performance was indistinguishable from the recording. Violinist, Sierra “Squibby” Lavoie joined the audience, simultaneously backbending, dancing and fiddling with ease and grace. Chris “BusJACK” Prendergast and Wesley Davis maintained a surf-rock inspired melody at metal speed, featuring licks that hearken to Warped Tour. Ethan “Nickels” Jackson was invisible, but by all means audible- his steady rhythm drove the calvary of musicians in front of him. Dvstin Black, the bassist of Plymouth-based Sunsinger (seriously who knew Plymouth had such a rich arts scene?) blended in with the group despite only a few days notice to learn his parts.
The Funeral Portrait:
I live for longer lineups because of bands like Atlanta emotional-rock band The Funeral Portrait- a new favorite of mine. Echoes of symphonic rock, horrorpunk and metalcore are evident in their discography. The group blessed the stage with incense and preserved a conversational tone with audience members as they prepared. My recollection of the setlist is blurred because I was too busy having fun engaging with the band, which attests to their amiable theatrics and the virtues of intimate venues such as the Alchemy. Hits including “Paper Mache Man”, “Flowers in The Attic” and “Holy Water” garnered audience participation from a petite and reluctant crowd.
The Funeral Portrait have a solid and cohesive lineup; not one member remained in the shadows or stole the spotlight. Frontman. Lee Jennings converted cheers and energy from the room into a spectacularly daring stage presence. Vocal stamina is imperative considering that vivid lyrics drive The Funeral Portrait. Jennings danced, pointed, nose-booped, and posed for cameras as he spun pitch-perfect narratives of love, loss, pain, revenge, anger and fate; far exceeding my expectations. Guitarist, Cody W and bassist Robert Weston worked closely together to fuse rhythm and melody through stand-alone performances that matched Jenning’s energy. Drummer, Homer compensated for his immobility with hairflips and head bobs. The entire band scintillated with confidence, style and individuality, which is to be expected of people who’ve toured 25 times in the past five years. My eyes are peeled for their next show in my city and yours should be too!
Awake At Last:
My second Awake At Last live experience was even more tantalizing than my first. The band’s mission and message of spiritual awakening is exemplified in their debut Album The Change which has been topping charts (#2 Billboard Heatseekers #3 Hard Music Album etc.) since its release. Not to mention the record’s commanding composition which accentuates the personality and talent of each musician.
The narrative of the album unfolded before listeners this evening, bewitching them into a dancing and singing frenzy. A new confidence radiated from the band, whose hard work was validated as the crowd echoed their every word. It was a treat to hear The Change exclusives “Paralyzed” and “Unobtainable” (a surprise #1 popular track on Spotify). The crowd had already memorized the lyrics of hits “The Change,” “Dead Generation” and “More Than Animals.”
Awake At Last performs as a well-oiled machine. Lead singer, Vincent Torres has worked for clearer pronunciation and greater power in his high belt, which he styles with an all new grain. Guitarists Eric Blackway and Imran Xhelli flanked Torres, saturating the venue with particularly low pitched licks and harmonies as poignant as they were deep. Their heavy, high-stakes shredding is stadium-ready with hard rock, post-hardcore, post-punk and even pop influences. The power trio tore up the front of the stage and my eyes couldn’t rest on just one musician because they each exuded immense passion.
Touring bassist, Drew Hansen occupied the middle of the stage and concert-goers would suspect he was a permanent member unless they knew otherwise. He complimented the group’s energy with a grounding yet spirited presence. Beneath a thin mask of concentration, drummer, Jon Finney wore a bright smile, enjoying every moment on stage. Finney brings a sweet and earnest intensity to the band’s dark and heavy atmosphere. Awake At Last’s synergy is the secret ingredient in a potent potion of sound.
Eyes Set to Kill:
The female fronted fever dream Eyes Set to Kill were humble and amicable as they set up the stage. It’s clear that this band keeps it real- they lack the smoke and mirrors- the facade- that many musicians dawn to separate themselves from their audience. Case and point: lead singer and guitarist, Alexia Rodriguez strode onto stage in a Dumb and Dumber T-shirt and fishnets.
A cinematic drum roll introduced ”Violent Kiss,” a romantic frolic somewhere between pop punk and metalcore. Rodriguez’ fingers were fluent along the neck of her guitar and her voice matched the grace and intensity of her instrumentation. AJ Bartholomew, rhythm guitarist and unclean vocalist, screamed into the microphone with a fervor that set the set’s tone.
Although the two vocalists did not perform on the recording of Reach their rendition had much more energy and fluidity. Thanks to the current lineup, the band’s debut album has aged gracefully. Touring bassist, Kevin Koelsch was all smiles- singing and dancing with the crowd while seamlessly blending with both his string counterparts and drummer, Caleb Clifton, who looked more at home seated behind a drum set than any drummer I’ve had the pleasure of watching– and I’ve seen quite a few.
The set continued with other Reach hits, most notably the title track. Then it was onto “Broken Frames.” Rodriguez lit up immediately upon singing her own material. Her mood was infectious and concert-goers jumped to the beat. A mosh pit opened on the floor behind me and an elderly gentleman clad in a neon and a fedora obliterated the dancefloor to his own groove. It seems ESTK fans are a more diverse and inclusive group than I had expected.
Following a few more Broken Frames tracks the band switched it up with new material including singles from their self-titled album, “Die Trying,” and “Break.” Despite the band’s shift towards cleaner cut hard rock, their aesthetic and message are steadfast. Eyes Set to Kill represents the clash of beautiful and grotesque and the raging between madness and logic; symbolic of the human experience and one’s inner self.
A bittersweet cover of Charlie Puth’s “Attention,” was a good choice on ESTK’s part- because let’s face it, who doesn’t know the words to “Attention”? The trotting bassline showcased Koelsch’s ability to lead-a rare opportunity as a rock musician. I adored Rodriguez’ choice to keep the original lyrics despite the vocalist genderswap; too many artists tamper with lyrics for heteronormativity’s sake.
“Infected,” the anthem from my high school commute, did not make an appearance, much to my own disappointment, but all was forgiven when the band closed with “Darling.” Bartholomew had remained silent over the tour to preserve his voice for this very occasion and his dedication and discipline certainly paid off for a razor sharp performance. The dueling guitar bridge between he and Rodriguez was one of the evening’s most exciting moments and has been singed into my mental flipbook for life. I’d like to thank the members of Eyes Set to Kill for a show that has satisfied my concert craving of 6 years, and every musician from the show for being friendly, forthcoming and welcoming of my work. Till next time!