August 12th marked the final night of prolific metalcore outfit Underoath’s IlluminaTOUR. What better way to end than at the legendary Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH – a venue billed as “America’s longest running rock club”?
Letlive, a hardcore punk outfit from Los Angeles first took the stage, delivering a frantic performance. This reviewer attended the show relatively unfamiliar with either opening act so from my perspective most of the songs seemed to blend together. I did admire the lead vocalist’s ability to assume the point of view portrayed in each track. On that note, upon later review of some of the band’s lyrics, I found it interesting how the full spiritual dichotomy seemed to be portrayed on this tour. Underoath strikes a balance between dark and positive themes, while Times of Grace tends to stay almost exclusively positive and Letlive, while not being exclusively negative, clearly prefers to write about the most desperate themes. This came out in their performance, and seemed to resonate with fans. This did not stop people from having a blast though, as almost immediately a circle pit formed during their performance.
Other opener Stray From the Path could not make this date, so things moved on to direct support Times of Grace. While the name might still be unfamiliar to most, those in metal circles ought to recognize this group’s all-star pedigree. Times of Grace is the project of Ex-Killswitch Engage member Jesse Leach and current Killswitch member and famed producer Adam Dutkiewicz. Their live band is rounded out on the drums, bass, and rhythm guitar by members of Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, and Envy on the Coast. Times of Grace delivered a performance that was classically metal, complete with helicopter hair-spinning, Adam D growling “Make some f*ckin’ noise!” into the mic, and blast beats and guitar tapping galore. The main thing that made them stand out, as I said before was their positivity. Jesse and Adam D both took brief moments to address the audience regarding these positive messages. From my point of view I wondered if they were recent Christian converts but they did not say anything preachy or dogmatic.
Finally, after a brief set change Tampa, FL’s Underoath took the stage to the booming percussion-based intro of “Vacant Mouth.” It was a riot to see keyboardist Chris Dudley frantically banging in his secondary role as back-up percussionist during this intro. The band followed quickly with old favorites “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door” and “Young and Aspiring” from their breakout record They’re Only Chasing Safety. “Moving For the Sake of Motion,” a rare inclusion in their live set also followed. “Emergency Broadcast :: The End is Near” off of Lost in the Sound of Separation provided a change in routine, slowing things up amid a back-drop of surreal footage. It enabled the audience to take a breather between the chaos of the front and back of the set, and absorb the ambient, progressive hardcore that Underoath is becoming increasingly known for. The backdrop used scenes from music videos to complement “In Regards to Myself” and “Writing On the Walls,” the latter which concluded an encore with “Driftwood” and “A Boy Brushed Red…”.
I should probably take a moment to comment on the musicianship of Underoath. This was my second time seeing them, and the first time seeing them with ex-Norma Jean drummer Daniel Davison and sans Aaron Gillespie, drummer/singer extraordinaire. The absence of Gillespie meant that lead guitarist Tim McTague would fill in on some of the clean vocals, though lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain shouldered his new responsibilities quite well. Tim McTague also fulfilled his role as a back up vocalist surprisingly well. He’s not greatest singer ever, but he carries even the old songs as well as he needs to.
Underoath set-list – Vacant Mouth, It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door, Moving For the Sake of Motion, In Division, Young and Aspiring, Emergency Broadcast :: The End is Near, Who Will Guard the Guardians?, In Regards to Myself, In Completion, Breathing In a New Mentality, Paper Lung; Encore – Driftwood, A Boy Brushed Red…, Writing On the Walls