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This show was a little different than my normal: Heavier bands, 5:30 PM means I’m late (?!), and an entire night of technical problems were all out of the norm for me. The constant? Great performances for those that waited in such a long line to get into the sold out venue.

First up for me was Chelsea Grin. While the vocals weren’t necessarily my cup of tea, these guys put it all out on the stage for a great performance. The fans sure seemed into everything coming from the stage. Even with some of the fastest hair whips I’ve ever seen, their musical talent really shined through.

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The Ghost Inside took the stage next and gave me something a little more familiar to listen to. Their music is fast and overflowing with energy. Visually, their performance went hand-in-hand with the songs. Running around on stage, jumping, and generally keeping the crowd involved was their plan. Well executed, fellas. Definitely look for these guys to come through your town.

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I’ve gotten used to seeing two (sometimes three) guitarists on stage, so it was a bit interesting to see that Veil of Maya only had one. The ultimate stand out of the band to me (and my apologies to the rest) was their bassist. Watching and listening to him warm up before their set made my eyes go wide. Extremely technical and a master of his axe. Together, however, this band put on a crowd-pleasing performance that kept the energy of the night high.

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Set Your Goals was not immune to the night’s technical issues: Vocal microphones not working, amps and their microphones shutting off, even having a tech trying to swap out cables during the set. Still, despite these problems, Set Your Goals performed amazingly well and proved that any performance issues were strictly out of their hands. I’ve always had difficulty photographing these guys. There are so many of them on stage and they all move so much! As a member of the audience, however, this works in your favor as they are truly entertaining to watch. Don’t forget to learn their songs because they always depend on the crowd to jump in and be a part of the show.

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The Acacia Strain brought the show back to the heavy side. The crowd was going nuts! Jumping, moshing, crowd surfing… all of this after hours of music had already been played! It’s amazing the energy a crowd has when the music moves them. The crowd was so into the performance that the balcony started shaking — One of the few times I’ve actually been afraid for my life at a show.

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White Chapel took the stage next. Amidst moody and flashing lights, these metal masters moved the crowd into a riot. They were in the crowd’s face the entire time and everyone was loving it. I’ve always believed that metal musicians had to have great timing as well as playing skills, and these guys have it all. Hats off mostly to their drummer, however, who had the crispest and most consistent double-bass pedal I’ve ever heard. It’s no wonder there were so many White Chapel t-shirt being worn in the crowd (yes, I know… some of you don’t want to be that guy).

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Closing out the show was Parkway Drive. I love bands like this. They play fast and heavy music with a smile on their face! Walking out wearing trash from backstage put to rest any doubt that these guys were here to have fun. When chasing each other around, catching air, or asking the crowd to get to the stage got boring they took matters into their own hands and threw beach balls out into the audience. This energized the crowd even more as the venue turned into a giant kickball, volleyball, and football (both versions) arena. Even with all this commotion, Parkway Drive continued to play flawlessly. After answering the screams of an encore, their set ended with a final laugh as a fan managed to jump on stage and give surprise hugs to members of the band. To return the favor, he was kept on stage for more hugs until being put at the bottom of a Parkway Drive dog pile. These guys are true entertainers. Listen, watch, enjoy!

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Many thanks to Felicia from Epitaph for hooking me up with a photo pass for tonight. Thanks to the HOB Sunset security for giving me the heads up when a body was coming my way!