Asking Alexandria's Motley Crew Invades Tennessee For A Night in Nashville
Band Photo: All That Remains (?)
On October 29th at the storied War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, TN, a rather unusual tour lineup shook things up a bit. Asking Alexandria rolled in, bringing All That Remains with them, along with the veterans of Sevendust, as well as the younger For Today and Emmure. If the lineup didn’t involve Sevendust or All That Remains, it would have made more sense. All That Remains wasn’t stretching it, really, but including Sevendust with this largely metalcore bunch? I scratched my head at that choice.
It was a bizarre experience.
Emmure kicked things off quickly, with dynamic and subtlty: Vocalist Frankie Palmeri introduced one song by saying “This is a love song for you, Nashville. This is a song called ‘Drug Dealer Friend.’” This song’s most repeated lyric is “I wanna watch you suck his dick. I know you fucking love it. BITCH.” Subtle. The band tossed out groove-laden chug-a-thon after chug-a-thon for a half an hour, often abusing the Auditorium’s relatively new sound system with ridiculous sub drops that shook your innards. Another subtlety that the band likes to do, in terrible taste, given the climate of youngsters with guns in this country, is to ask the crowd to “put your guns up” by raising their thumb and first two fingers in the shape of a gun into the air.
The audience was mostly made up of high schoolers on the main floor, parents in the upper deck or at the back, and in-betweeners who might have felt awkward because they were only there for Sevendust or All That Remains. Emmure mustered a large number of the crowd for a good time in the pit and front area. Despite being in a venue that was first used for classical music back when it was built, each band was represented well in terms of sound.
For Today was up next, bringing a religious flavor and a small amount of preaching. I don’t particularly like being preached to by any religious group, be they Satanists, Christians, Muslims, or what have you, but I could still respect the music. This was my first experience of the band, and it left a good impression. The vocalist was able to connect with the crowd easily and had a firm control of the pit while also looking like a brawler straight out of an apocalypse scenario. The skinny bassist was a fun ball of energy, jumping around all over the stage. The drummer really worked hard and the two guitarists both had charisma in their own ways -- the one by spitting into the air multiple times (much to my dislike, seeing as how I had a professional camera in the photo pit) and the other by rocking some great angry faces as he screamed into his mic.
Unlikely as it seemed, Sevendust were on third, with a slot of only half an hour, which they pushed past gently. Before the show, I had interviewed lead vocalist Lajon “LJ” Witherspoon. He explained their positioning on the bill as a chance to get exposure, which makes sense, because what demographic is open to you to go after if you’ve already made a name for yourselves in the business over 17 years? Of course -- The kids born back when you first started.
Sevendust churned out a powerhouse performance in that smaller time slot, turning a number of heads in their time. They were seemingly adopted by all in attendance, as everyone on the floor and in the balcony seats were up and attentive towards the end. “Splinter” and “Till Death,” which Lajon dedicated to his deceased younger brother, got a lot of crowd attention, as well as the often-used closer “Face 2 Face.” Of course, Sevendust could have just played one song and walked off and still have had the same effect on the crowd because of the intensity level of their live performances.
All That Remains took the stage after a generous set change time, in what was to be an awkwardly large stage area for them. When they got going, it seemed as if they were swallowed by the space, with Asking Alexandria’s giant staging behind them, the drums pushed back, and the gear from the other bands moved out. The band seemed to be less than the sum of their parts for this set, as well, looking like five individuals focusing on their own performance rather than playing off of each other. That’s not to say that the music wasn’t consistent or of the delivery of their normal caliber, because nearly everyone seemed to enjoy it. Guitarist Olli Herbert’s riffing was quick and deft, and vocalist Phil Labonte was right on point. It just didn’t feel like the band had pow-wowed with each other in quite some time.
Asking Alexandria was a point of contention for me, having seen them live two years before this. They’re enormous, having landed within the top 10 on two US charts for both of their most recent albums. They certainly had everyone in attendance transfixed for their performance. They also had an hour and a half to do what they wanted. Nevertheless, I was done with them after three songs and left the show. Quite simply, I felt that they still had too much to prove and were painfully awkward in doing so.
Lead vocalist Danny Worsnop barked at the audience in the upper deck to “get the fuck down here” and pointed at a group of gleeful high-schoolers with their parents, motioning for them to make their way down. Worsnop also threw out every curse he could within the span of thirty seconds -- something to the tune of “Yeah, mother fuckers, make fucking bad decisions with us, goddamn right! Shit!” It was ridiculous overkill and felt, to me, to be insulting to the intelligence of the audience, but what do I know? Stand-up comic George Carlin once said just about every curse word in 30 seconds to a crowd, too, but he was being insightful and hilarious. He didn't have anything to prove, unlike Worsnop. Nevertheless, the band is successful and seem to have hit whatever target audience was aimed for, which clearly does not include myself.
Asking Alexandria will tackle three dates in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio without the other bands, but will resume the tour in New Jersey on the 11th, going through to the 22nd.
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