The Devil Wears Prada - Zombie V Tour with Secrets, Born of Osiris, The Word Alive
Rochester Armory Basement, Rochestern NY
Waiting in line for this show I realize how much and how little metal has changed over the years. The last major metal act I saw live was Megadeth over 15 years ago. Fans at that point still tended to long hair, denim and leather. Tonight's crowd features far more colorful hair and parent-preferred lengths that I associate more with Rob Halford than I do with the metalheads I grew up with. Once the concert started this energetic crowd, mostly young certainly moshed, thrashed and banged their heads like proper metal fans should, short blue and pink hair or not.
Opening act Secrets got the crowd going with some fun tunes and dual vocalist delivery. As opening acts tend to do, the mosh pit stayed small and needed encouragement. The music cranked out by the band certainly kept the crowd entertained, and despite being new, they received very favorable reactions from those who arrived on time. Given that my experience with them comes from their recent acoustical release, I was not exactly prepared for the tunes, but they did well, and certainly deserve this spot on a national tour. Hopefully someday they’ll move up the billing so as to not be the filler for the ticket-taking time. The lighting in the Armory Basement sucks bad, but the sound is crazy good. The stage is barely elevated and the flat floor limits visibility to snatches between arms. This problem would not get better throughout the night. I eventually managed to get a security guy to let me to the side stage area for a few minutes for the last two acts, a privilege I opted not to abuse. I still can't get over the sound, it was pretty darn good for a room that used to hold munitions and arms for the local arm of the National Guard.
The Word Alive got the concert proper off to a good start, bringing an enthusiasm and attitude to the show that overcame the venue's deficiencies. At one point they encouraged the pit to mosh around one of the room's many support poles. I guess I'm old, but the first thing I thought of was the potential for grievous injury. The music managed to continue to be entertaining, and the enthusiasm of the crowd grew as the band chugged out over half an hour of loud obnoxious death metal.
As a major label act, Born of Osiris knows how to get a crowd going, playing a variety of their fans' favorites from most of their albums. The crowd responded energetically, moshing with an enthusiasm they had not displayed previously. Two guitarists and two vocalists means a lot of noise, screaming and death metal incoherent singing. The venue surprised all night with an audio quality that compensated somewhat for the extraordinarily lousy lighting. The skill set displayed by BoO's musicians impressed me greatly, relying less on pure grind and crunch, and mixing that sternum-crushing element with solos and more "musical" elements. The rare appearance of the synthesizer served mainly as a respite and bridge between heavy-duty eardrum ruination.
Headliners The Devil Wears Prada demonstrated their live performance experience with a lingering, anticipation-heightening long intro before launching into a clinic on death metal and how it can bring several hundred people together into a seething mass of arms, fists and cellphones. The pit positively exploded as the band churned out a bunch of their fans' favorites as well as a few new tunes. One of the elements promoted by the band for the show and tour features the fact that TDWP play the entire Zombie EP during the course of the concert. The lights for these guys were somewhat better, but the venue design meant that they were back-lit more than anything. As a photographer this presented nearly as many issues as the underlit opening acts did. Stage-diving continued nearly unabated during the show, although the crowd-surfers tended to be the same few brave souls over and over again. TDWP, by virtue of cranking up the volume to 12 (it was already at 11 for the openers) managed to produce a worse sound quality than their openers. The music and vocals were muddier and less distinct than those of The Word Alive, Secrets and Born of Osiris. After the cleanliness and quality of those bands, to have the headliner sacrifice that quality for volume was a bit disappointing.
The Zombie V Tour continues for these guys and hopefully the venues will improve. The entertainment value for the average death metal fan stayed quite high, and those prone to moshing and crowd-surfing and stage diving (as I was once, when I was young) should find themselves thoroughly satisfied with the show each band puts on. And hopefully the sound guys resist the temptation to push the sound past the quality mark for the sake of volume.