Times of Grace and Underoath in Nashville: The Illuminatour
"Be vigilant in truth and love," is not a lyric you’d expect to hear from a metal band, and especially not at a live show. You’d think it would have a way of stopping mosh pits, but that wasn’t the case when Times of Grace and Underoath came to Nashville, bringing along the bands Stray from the Path and Letlive. On the night of August 9th, the "Illuminatour" was to be a high-volume lesson in believing in yourself.
Amidst a record high-temperature summer, fans waited outside the venue well before the doors opened.
A welcome reward for sweating our asses off waiting in line outside, the air conditioned lobby of Rocketown swelled with attendees shortly after the doors opened at 6 pm. Mostly a crowd made up of younger fans, the turnout wasn’t all that impressive for a Nashville show. The crowd barely took up half the space of half the concert hall. As Jesse Leach noted to me during our interview before the show, there are a lot of tours that are competing this summer and ticket prices weren’t exactly low. The full text of the interview will be posted here in the coming days.
The first band on, Letlive, gave an enthusiastic performance, with the lead vocalist bouncing around the stage and bassist tossing his hair everywhere. The vocalist’s on-stage antics included emptying a trash bin on stage and chucking it over the guitar amps, as well as throwing his microphone. It didn’t endear them to anyone from what I saw, although the band had some energy and got the front of the crowd into it. To my ears, the band didn’t sound or look all that original.
Kids who had sat down by the walls of the venue before were starting to get up and come to the crowd for the 2nd band, Stray from the Path. The front of the crowd actually knew much of the band’s lyrics and was singing them back, attempting to get up on the mic when the lead vocalist would venture out over them. The drummer sported a see-through drum kit and packed a grab bag of skills in his competent hands. The guitarist played in a spastic non-melodic style, often using stomp pedals to mimic electronic programming.
The kids were forming tiny pits and going solo with their air-punching/Bruce Lee thing occasionally, which gave the kids a chance to blow off steam and the onlookers to get their laughs. Either way, everyone seemed to be happy with Stray from the Path. The sound mix was excellent, as Rocketown usually boasts. Inbetween sets, the crowd would invariably head to the merch tables, where one merch agent had set a funny sign up that read, "Tip, or you’re obviously a racist." Respect your merch guys.
Times of Grace made their way to the stage after a set change, oddly taking the stage to very little yells or claps. It was evident that most of the crowd members were seeing the cast of Times of Grace for the first time. They didn’t seem to recognize Jesse Leach, Adam Dutkiewicz, or Joel Stroetzel from Killswitch Engage, nor Matt Bachand from Shadows Fall. However, the band warmed up with some guitar noodling and got the crowd whipped up when the intro to "Strength in Numbers" kicked in.
Once the band got going, the crowd got going, obviously receptive. Leach, Bachand, and Adam D belted out the soul-searching and deeply honest lyrics of the songs on their debut album. If they were at all fatigued from a month of being on the road, they didn’t show it. Leach, who was fighting a sickness that night, still nailed each song. Adam D was up to his Adam D antics, running around the stage in gym shorts and a cutoff shirt, occasionally flexing his biceps on his other arm when he had a one-handed tapping part to play on guitar.
Many guitar squeedlies, anguished screams, and off-kilter remarks were heard throughout the set, with Adam once telling the audience, "If your hands aren’t in the air right now, you have a MASSIVE VAGINA." I looked around, horns up, at a crowd of exactly zero vaginas. Clearly, the kids now knew who Times of Grace was. Moreover, Jesse Leach had endeared himself to them by telling them they could do anything they set their mind to, with the evidence being himself.
As the headliner, Underoath took the stage just before 10 pm. The band incorporated a video backdrop and coordinated blue LED light arrays around the stage. Unfamiliar as I am with Underoath, I can’t speak to what songs the band performed off of what album, but they had the crowd moving pretty well. The band’s stage was surprisingly darkened, probably to enhance the LEDs, and it worked to set the mood. The band never stopped moving on stage, with the exception of the guitarist on stage left, who played each song mechanically, with all the stage presence of an ant farm.
The Illuminatour plays tonight at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC and will roll through Richmond, VA and Columbus, OH in the days afterward to wrap it up. A photo album from the show will be up shortly in the Photo Gallery.
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