A Day To Remember

support August Burns Red + The Ghost Inside + Living With Lions
author AP date 27/10/11 venue Kulturbolaget, Malmö, SWE

The Eastpak Antidote tour has a habit of switching its target audience in each iteration. This, my third time seeing the tour, was preceded by the 2010 edition featuring Sum 41, The Black Pacific, Riverboat Gamblers and Veara, and by the 2009 edition featuring Alexisonfire, Anti-Flag, Four Year Strong and The Ghost of a Thousand. This 2011 edition was clearly pointed at the scene equivalent of hardcore moshwarriors, what with featuring A Day to Remember, August Burns Red and The Ghost Inside, as well as the odd sheep in the pack, Living With Lions; a line-up strong enough to attract three Rockfreaks.net writers, two Rockfreaks.net photographers, as well as a host of regular readers and hangarounds to the Swedish side of the Øresund strait in Malmö. Read on to hear my assessment of this year's line-up.

Living With Lions

Living With Lions face a tough task against the metal and hardcore oriented audience, but pull through with a solid half hour of roughened pop punk. In stark contrast with their show in Lyngby this summer, the band comes across as confident and enthusiastic despite the limited response, and spare no sweat in their stage antics. Much like A Loss For Words, Living With Lions is the kind of band that exudes passion when performing live and drives even the most stringent naysayers to bob their heads and quietly chant along to the whoa-ohs and catch phrases in the likes of "Regret Song" and "Honesty, Honestly". So while it is true that Living With Lions are hardly the most urgent or frantic live band on the market, their performance tonight is one of unquestionable quality, due in equal parts to the brilliant sound mix and the instant memorability of many of their songs. If there is one thing to criticize the band for, however, it is that vocalist Stuart Ross, who used to handle lead guitar duties in the vastly different Misery Signals, has yet to come to his own as the centerpiece of a band, and is consequently unsure of how to carry himself on stage at times. There is a certain shyness to the man that does the band no favors. But on the other hand, the sheer fun of it all is almost enough to eclipse this fact, and certainly enough to warrant the band a solid grade.

The Ghost Inside

Judging from the fact that the amount of people inside the venue has more than quadrupled between the time Living With Lions end their set and The Ghost Inside begin theirs, these Californians must be the main attraction on this tour for a big portion of the audience. Last I saw them they faced an unresponsive crowd and had little else to offer than monotonous chugging and constant breakdowns, causing my impression of them to plummet, but now, armed with their best album to date (the critically acclaimed "Returners") and entering to a hero's welcome, The Ghost Inside is a different beast altogether. Regardless of the fact that their music still does very little for me, it is impossible not to be impressed this time as they single-handedly transform the floor into a massive, raging moshpit that persists throughout their set without relent. Clearly feeding off the mental response, vocalist Jonathan Vigil absolutely fulfills the role of a frontman, in stark contrast with Stuart Ross, brandishing himself like a deity whilst repeatedly extending the microphone into the frontlines of the crowd during the many gang shouts in the band's songs. It is a short but sweet affair, and proof that The Ghost Inside are swiftly becoming one of the mainstays of the contemporary hardcore scene. As the only downer, the sound mix takes a sharp decline for The Ghost Inside, making most of the lingering melodies in songs like "Chrono" difficult or impossible to hear, bringing the low end to the forefront instead.

August Burns Red

Following the showdown described above, the crowd is understandably pumped when it becomes metalcore crew August Burns Red's turn to stir things up. It is fortunate that the sound mix has been adjusted for the better now, as the instrumental magic of this Lancaster, PA bunch is the most important aspect in the band's show. Whereas the last time I watched them the band's setlist was dominated by songs with the maximum amount of breakdowns, tonight's contains a veritable best-of selection condensed into nine songs. Kicking things off with "Composure" and "Empire", the band is met with an enraptured audience that produces the evening's first real sing-alongs during the latter's majestic mid-section, but it is not until the absolutely brilliant new song "Internal Cannon", its embedded lounge music sections driving large portions of the crowd to a mysterious dance, and "Meddler" that the full potential of this band is realized. Out of the three times I have seen them, this is the best without question. Whether it is the numerous pronounced solos courtesy of lead guitarist J.B. Brubaker or the confrontational personality of vocalist Jake Luhrs that is at the forefront, August Burns Red deliver a loud and invigorating demonstration of power, cementing their status as one of the current flagships of the metalcore genre. The final two songs of the set following another new song in "Cutting the Ties" have an unfortunate brake effect, however, bringing what began as a grandiose display of prowess and showmanship to a more subdued finale amid thunderous breakdowns. Rather than assuming that "Poor Millionaire" and "Back Burner" are the biggest crowd pleasers the band has to offer, August Burns Red would have done well in choosing songs like "Truth of a Liar" and "Thrill Seeker" to finish things off. Still, this is but a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent performance.

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A Day To Remember

Let it be known that I was fully prepared to give A Day to Remember a fair chance at proving their worth to me despite my disliking of their music and image. In fact, I was half-expecting the band to put on the best show tonight given the live reputation that precedes them. Unfortunately - and it might just be that the band is not at the top of their game tonight - the case is the opposite. The show literally starts with a bang, with a deluge of confetti fired at us from the front in the beginning of "Sticks & Bricks", and continues in decent fashion through "The Danger in Starting a Fire". But from then on the show is best described as a constant struggle with vocalist Jeremy McKinnon's subpar voice and lung capacity, resulting in lengthy rapping tirades instead of deep growls in the likes of "A Shot in the Dark", and the remaining members' inability to compensate for it with any sort of meaningful show. It feels as though tonight is one of those nights the band just wants to get over with as quickly and painlessly as possible, and judging from the slim enthusiasm of the crowd, most people seem to agree.

This is not a stab at A Day to Remember based on my personal bias against their music, as I would jot down similar thoughts if it was one of my favorite bands putting on such a lackluster performance. But when the highlight of the show is a measly two songs in the middle, one of which is a cover of Millencolin's "No Cigar", something is clearly not coming across as intended. The supposed big live production of which the band spoke in an interview with Rock Sound last year consists, quite tragically, of the aforementioned confetti, a net of balloons released into the crowd during set closer "The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle", and a dozen beach balls thrown in during "The Downfall of Us All" in the encore. So while it is true that this is by no means the worst show I have ever had to suffer through, it is a far cry from some of the best. There is little to no connection sensible between band and crowd, and the set is hurried through with the kind of manufactured smiles that suggest the band would probably rather be sleeping their hangovers off in the peace and quiet of their tourbus. Disappointing.

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Setlist:

  • 01. Sticks & Bricks
  • 02. The Danger in Starting a Fire
  • 03. A Shot in the Dark
  • 04. You Be Tails, I'll Be Sonic
  • 05. My Life for Hire
  • 06. All I Want
  • 07. I'm Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made of?
  • 08. All Signs Point to Lauderdale
  • 09. Mr. Highway's Thinking About the End
  • 10. This is the House That Doubt Built
  • 11. 2nd Sucks
  • 12. Why Walk on Water When We've Got Boats
  • 13. No Cigar (Millencolin cover)
  • 14. Homesick
  • 15. Have Faith in Me
  • 16. You Should Have Killed Me When You Had the Chance
  • 17. The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle

--Encore--

  • 18. If It Means a Lot to You
  • 19. The Downfall of Us All

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