An epic show in December: 20 Bands Of Christmas.

If you weren’t at the 20 Bands of Christmas, you missed a great show that demonstrated some of the local talent and exposed the wannabee, the unoriginal, and the just plain weird and creepy bands who were all just thrown into the mix.

Now this took place about two weeks ago, and I’ve been super busy, but I’ve been slowly compiling this mega post up until now. Christmas and New Years get in the way a bit. 

Well, like any scene, there are some good bands, and well some bad ones. I’m a bit impressed then I thought I would have been though. Anyway, I’m just going to mention the bands who’s sets I remember in as best and order as possible.
Adrian and The Spidelles:
This is seriously some of the weirdest and creepiest music I’ve ever heard. My eardrums were assaulted by a synthesizer filled with tones from an 80s horror film. I found their music strange, but not in a good way. They come close to the vibe, feel, and sound of the Allison’s band in Yes Man. Perhaps even weirder.  Let me say this as well; I usually like music like this.

They could have been that band, and you might not have known the difference. The female vocals aren’t something to be particularly fond or jealous of either, as they sounded kind of hoarse, and very very undesirable. Essentially think the opposite of Taylor Swift, except even worse. On the other hand, this could be the result of those kinds of vocals being completely intentional.   I was told by the promoter that these guys attracted a fair amount of people, which I’m still wondering exactly how.

There were plenty of surprises at this show, and here are some of the good ones:
EPIC!

When “The Composure” started playing, I instantly knew I was hearing something that wasn’t just yet another crappy pop punk indie rock band who couldn’t sing and perform live. In fact they were the opposite.  Their vocals were excellent. I felt like I was listening to an edited track in a studio, and that is always a good sign for the live sound of any band.  It reminded a bit of early Boys Like Girls and The All American Rejects, except much more epic.

  The vocals weren’t plauged by an annoying high tenor didn’t have a  particularly high tenor (“Cough” Hawthorne Heights, Alesana, A Skylit Drive “Cough”) but had a well balanced vocal range that sounded just about perfect.  I literally saw the basist move back and forth from the mike to vary the effect of his vocals.  He actually knew the perfect range from the mike at which they would fade, vs. going to far from the mike that no one would hear them. That in itself is something I’ve never seen done by any other vocalists in this area…. ever.

I haven’t this impressed with an indie punk rock band that has played in this area in a very long time. Their vocals had a mix of incredible harmonization as well as great backup vocals.  Its too bad that they will probably only treat this area to a small amount of shows at best considering they hail from Pittsburgh. .

The good news is that these guys intend on touring, and actually have two members of Punchline in the band, hence their similar sound to them. Look for these guys if your ever in a pop-punk indie rock mood, you won’t be disappointed.

 Cries Of Deception:  I’ve seen them a few times, but this is the best they’ve sounded live, and I think that is because they’ve improved. Despite crappy equipment I can now better make out actual riff changes and hear that the song involves a chubby baby.

Now the last time I saw them was at Mad Maggies which has a much better sound system then Just For Fun where they played on Dec. 18th. Even though the Mad Maggies Show that I saw them play had a bad sound tech, the sound system their is very good. Now contrast that with the sound system at Just For Fun. Yea, they have definitely improved in every way live, and this show was evidence of that.

I would even venture to say that Anthony’s screams have improved as well. I noticed his vocal range was alot better, and his high’s really impressed me.  (His highs remind me alot of Mike’s from TDWP, and that’s always a positive in my opinion.) The clean vocals have also improved quite a bit since the last time I saw them. Keep an eye on these guys, they will be a band that makes going to local shows an hour or two away worth it.

Brave Refrain: They hadn’t played in months, according to what their vocalist said, but these guys were a great surprise. He might have some of the best clean vocals in our entire scene.  The vocals sounded perfect and weren’t plagued by most of the problems our wannabe clean vocals are in this scene such as a high tenor, consistently being off key, not being able to hear them at all, ect.  not high. 

To sum it up, their set had a very metal-core feel to it, though the clean vocals gave it a bit of a softer catchier alternative rock feel which was a surprise. Has a mix feel of it with metal-core. Did I mention the screaming range was good? I was getting a bit sick of the really high or really low screams…

I really hope these guys get back at it, as they are one of the better bands that I’ve seen in our area.

Seeking Zero: One of the heavier bands of the night, but surprisingly good. They took a bit of a departure from the riff, sweep, chug and then breakdown routine.  This could be a band to keep watch of if you want to hear something heavy, but a bit different from our scenes hardcore and deathcore bands.  Don’t pay any attention to their crappy recording on facebook, as they certainly sounded better live. (Good surprise eh?)

Oath To Order also put on a good show Who? Remember What Lies Beneath? Well this is them now.  Played before Elysion Fields.  Filled with ABRish feeling riffs, they put on pretty damn decent set. If only I remembered more about their set…
Now heres a list of the bands who I had some solid expectations of which they mostly fulfilled:
Elysion Fields: Drew plenty of people, and sounded good live. Only complaint is their kick drum which they have yet to fix the sound of. (DL is still not working, as most sound guys simply dont know how to accommodate them.) The horns were proudly displayed by EF’s new vocalist  Chris who pumped up the crowd as they began their set.

Punchline:

I had never seen this band before, even though I have heard of them. To be honest, they were the best band of the night in their live performance. Everything was crystal clear. I’ve never seen harmonization of vocals like theirs before.  They even sounded better live then they do in their music videos on youtube.

Best band of the night!

I’ve rarely seen pop punk of this caliber. Its too bad these guys don’t tour anymore, and don’t play shows for the most part. They actually used to tour with Fallout Boy until, as I understand it, Fallout Boy turned their back on them and nabbed all of the spotlight. They actually have some music videos on youtube, and I’ll post one so people can get an idea of them:

Kudos to George for putting on this show. The guy is proving to be a great booking agent, who has been nabbing a variety of bands. I’ve seen him promote at various shows around the area, so he puts effort into getting promotion for shows, something that is hard to come by nowadays it seems.

For All Those Sleeping:  
They were only able to play five songs, something which really pissed me off, considering were one of the bigger bands there. They however played several of my favorites including “Janice It Ain’t Funny” and “Favorite Liar”  I’m really surprised that a fight didn’t break out during their set, which almost happened several times.
One major gripe I had is that I couldn’t  hear their main vocalist almost at all for his clean vocals, and most of his screams, even though his vocals sound much better live then they did on the album which kind of have a whiny high tenor sound to them.  This and more technical issues would plague bands further into the night, possibly due to someone messing up the cable wires on the floor which had been covered and pressed down with duck tape. I somewhat blame that fiasco on the wires being too close to the pit.
The Crimson Armada: 
I never knew a short middle eastern looking dude could scream so well and so powerfully, but then again, I had never seen these guys before.

Their drum monitors weren’t working for some reason, but that didn’t seem to impact their epic performance of of a cover of PODs  “Alive” which everyone sang out loud, even a superbly drunk Mike Benette.  In fact, I saw Mike Stowell throw down during their set, something I’ve never seen him do. If only I had a camera to take pictures of it.

I should mention that this is when the fight took place that night.  For those of you who don’t know Anthony Hauser, he is one of the very cool and friendly hardcore dancers at shows. Essentially hes like a teddy bear, except very slim and cool.

Unfortunately that didn’t stop a hate mosher from picking on him. This particular hate mosher pushed him pretty damn several times in the middle of throwing down. I’ve rarely seen Anthony get mad, but he at one point was ready to attack the guy.  Well finally someone did something about it. Jon Shiffley, who is actually friends with both me and Anthony got in front of the guy and pushed him away.  The response was a punch in the face from the guy who knocked off shiffleys glasses which ignited the fight.  The hate mosher threw a few punches at him, as well as other people trying to break up the fight.

Finally a literally huge and wide security guard tackled the guy full out, Brian Urlacher style. As the guy tackled him, there were probably about four people including Shiffley and Hauser punching and kicking the guy as he went down. I usually don’t like it when people get beat up, but when you hate mosh people, I feel that you have it coming, which is exactly how I felt about this guy.  I had first hand view of it to. If only I would have had a camera.

Thyateira:

Somehow, someway, they landed a spot second to last for the show, but they didn’t disappoint even though I was sure that they would. I’ve used Thyateria as a punching bag as to why the Death Metal in our scene sucks and have compared them to The Black Dahlia Murder wanabees. No longer though. 

They were surprisingly good live and their guitarist who does the clean vocals was incredible. His vocals not only astonished me, but others there.  He may have just turned this band into a serious contender in our local metal scene.  Even if you don’t like their particluar style of metal, I strongly suggest going to their live shows, as excitement is guaranteed, and there are plenty of friendly moshers at their sets. 

Within The Ruins

These guys were solid, and sounded as good as they did the last time I saw them at Clearwater, if not a bit better. Things seemed relatively calm during their set, which was surprising. I was a bit exhausted and in pain after having been at the show for about 12 hours when they started playing, so I took off toward the later end of their set.  I wish I had stayed around a bit more though.

Did I mention that I had never done as much throwing down as I did at this show? Overall, this one of the best shows of the year. I’m looking forward to more for 2011, specifically Underoath in February!

One downside to the show was that several bands advertised for the event didn’t show up. This includes Sleep Serapis Sleep, I Made You Myself, Buried By The Ocean, The Plot In You (Their van broke down), and a few others whose names I’m forgetting.