Underoath 050

It’s a little weird writing that title. Here in southern California, we’ve been experiencing mid-to-high 70º weather so I almost forgot what season we’re supposed to be in. The bands on tour made it very clear they were happy to be out of cold temperatures, and the audience made it more than clear they were happy to be sharing the night with them.

I got to the venue while Animals as Leaders were setting up. I had never heard of them before tonight, so I went in with zero expectation. One word sums up their music: AMAZING. I know instrumental music isn’t for everyone (trust me, I love good lyrics and vocals just as much as anyone) but these guys have some serious skills. Imagine Dream Theater with no vocals and you’ll have a good idea of what Animals as Leaders sounds like. I was completely blown away by the technical ability of these three musicians. The band had two screens set up showing abstract visuals that seemed to be timed to the music (or music-sensitive like Windows Media Player and iTunes visualizations). One could argue that their stage presence left something to be desired, but for many (myself included), the lightning-fast fingers on eight-string guitars was more than enough to watch and enjoy.

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Up next was one of my favorite bands, Thursday. Just like the Dashboard Confessional show from last week, Thursday was celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their album “Full Collapse” by playing it in its entirety. I still remember hearing these guys in high school on mp3.com and being instantly hooked on a sound completely new to me. Of all the times I’ve seen Thursday live, this was definitely one of the best (yes friends, it rivals the Thrice, Thursday, and Coheed show at the Palladium). Vocalist Geoff Rickly was spot on for each song and even noticed it himself by excitedly announcing “I’m feeling it tonight!” The crowd’s participation was equally great, singing and screaming along to every song. Hyping things up even more, Thursday was joined on stage by Touche Amore front man Jeremy Bolm for “Concealer”. The band as a whole looked totally in sync with as much heart as you can put into a performance — truly an amazing thing to watch. Be sure to catch them on this tour and be ready for goosebumps.

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Closing for the night was Underoath. I can’t begin to describe how excited the crowd was. As soon as the lights went out and the projector turned on, the audience let out the loudest collective scream ever. The venue was packed and ready to explode as the band walked out onto the stage. From a photographer’s perspective, the lighting was horrible… but from a fan’s perspective, the lighting was INCREDIBLE! Couple that with the band’s intense command of the stage and you have one power-packed set. There was so much chemistry between the audience and the band that it seemed no one wanted to leave the edge of the stage. Face-to-face, close enough to touch… this is where anyone in Underoath (who wasn’t stuck behind a drum set) wanted to be. I was curious as to how the band would sound and perform with the departure of drummer and clean vocalist Aaron Gillespie, and that curiosity was met with reassurance that the band would definitely be able to carry on despite having to replace a key member. Front man Spencer Chamberlain and guitarist Tim McTague took turns filling in clean vocals and even employed the audience’s singing help when McTaque’s laryngitis prevented him from singing for the second half of the set. Underoath made sure to play songs off of their latest album Disambiguation. One of my photography buddies mentioned during the performance that Underoath’s sound has become a lot heavier since Gillespie’s departure and I fully agree. I loved it. If you’re looking for an amazing, all-around performance then look no further than Underoath on this current tour. I’m sure, of course, that the next time around they’ll be topping this tour with even more visual cues and even heavier-hitting songs — I’m looking forward to it!

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Many thanks to Libby and Bari of MSO for hooking me up for tonight. I can always count on you guys for a smooth night of shooting. Big high-five to Carly, Jered, and Bre for toughing it out on the frontlines. Considering the venue’s shooting conditions, I’m really sorry if my camera popped up into anyone’s shots! Hi Kim.