April 19th, 2012 @ ShoWare Center, Kent
I have elaborated on the virtues of Title Fight on this site before — multiple times, in fact! The Kingston, Pennsylvania band did away with the flourish that most bands bring to a large arena stage. They had a simple banner behind the band with a black cat and the words Title Fight and had a black cat — that was it. Instead, the band let their brand of punk/hardcore speak for itself. At any other time, the band would be completely successful — but the branding of this tour apparently wasn’t for the most musically enlightened individuals. So despite the fact that the kids of Title Fight were going absolutely nuts on stage, commanding the stage, and basically acting like the large arena stage was the smallest venue stage; the crowd maintained a heavy level of inactivity. Which is a shame, because for someone like myself who finds it hard, at this point, to cling to those punk rock ideals that were so firmly rooted throughout my formative high school years, Title Fight are one of the few bands who can put a little big of life into these old legs. The band reminds me of what it used to be like back in the day — and back in the day, life was easier. There wasn’t a financial crash that left everyone wondering where the next meal might be coming from. Nostalgia isn’t a bad thing in small doses, and Title Fight is that perfect dose — even if they are playing on a stage so large it is almost obscene.
A Day To Remember
Such a large stage is absurd to me, because back in the throes of the early 2000s when metalcore was just getting a footing in everyone’s head — before it became the new hot thing — those bands were playing small venues. They didn’t have legions of teenage fans snapping up every new tour shirt available, layering on each of those said shirts, and then going nuts like they were watching the Backstreet Boys being interviewed by Carson Daly on TRL. The Florida based pop-punk/metalcore mashup band A Day to Remember will remain one of the more baffling live acts I’ve seen in a long while. The band, for all intents and purposes, is good live — I guess. They command the stage and played with a bevy of hokey gimmicks appropriate for a large arena stage. Plumes of smoke predictably shot up during equally predictable and boring breakdowns that litter the band’s music. Lead singer Jeremy McKinnon ripped a page right out of Wayne Coyne’s book and shot around the crowd on an inflatable ball for half a song. On ADTR’s last song the bassist and guitarist did a pretty sweet choreographed running jump kick at each other that culminated in a mindless hurling of a bass guitar completely across the stage into the receiving arms of one of the band members, as the ceiling rained in multi-colored balloons. All in all, if you were there to just see an entertaining act, ADTR provided that. If you were there to see an entertaining act with any redeeming musical quality, then you have to look towards a different band. A Day to Remember’s swagger on stage made the whole metalcore/pop-punk gig seem like a complete caricature of itself. The fact that any band could take was happening in the late 90s and somehow make a bucket ton of people go bonkers off it complete the full circle that is the absurdity of metalcore today.
The chants and cheers for Rise Against filled the stadium as the stage went dark and I had a slight introspective moment, recalling the first time I saw Rise Against 10 years ago and then wondering how the hell I got to sit where I was that day: in an arena in a suburb of Seattle with thousands of people who were about to sing every freaking word to every freaking song aloud as if their lives depended on it. Rise Against, for what it is worth, are still a good live band. But they aren’t as good as they were 10 years ago. That is fair, considering they are now all 10 years older with 10 more years of touring under their belt. But after the sheer, laughable insanity that was ADTR’s set, Rise Against seemed overmatched for what I was expecting. The band had four digital video monitors that occasionally flashed images of discontent, videos of voiceless individuals speaking, and other shots that are very Rise Against-ish. But the band didn’t incorporate that element into their set as seamlessly as they could’ve. Instead, those elements played in-between during, which was alright to a certain extent. Rise Against, like Title Fight, eschewed the traditional elements of an arena show and let their aggressive music, passion, and heart be the driving memory for the show.