I Prevail Strike the Match Tour Lights Up The Underground
The one thing I am finding out, no matter what you experience in life, job that you do, or people you surround yourself with, some things never change. For me, that is the feeling you get when you are on your way to a venue to see live music. It is still as exciting to me as it was in 1983 when my friends and I went to our first “real” concert to see our favorite band, Def Leppard. I don’t mean to date myself, but the good news is I am still going strong 30 plus years later and my love of live music is as strong as ever.
Tonight was no different as I walked into Charlotte’s newest music venue, The Underground. I was looking forward to seeing the lineup they had put together, I Prevail, The White Noise, My Enemies & I, and Bad Seed Rising. I will be honest, I hadn’t had much exposure to these bands except on Youtube but based on what I saw, it was obvious I was going to be fans of all these bands. When I arrived at the venue and went down the stairs through the front door, I was greeted with an intimate venue that I think is going to be one of the best places to see live music around. I wanted to give a shout out to the staff as well. What a great group of people they have working there, the security team, bar staff, and management. They all seemed to make everyone feel welcome.
As I scoped out the club for the best position, fans were already lined up against the barrier in anticipation of the evening’s performers. Ah, the good ole days where you leave school or work as early as possible to make sure you get there in time to get in the front row see your favorite band. I walked up to the barrier and immediately noticed that these fans were in for a real treat. The stage was literally an arm’s length from them. They were going to be up close and personal with the bands tonight for sure, and is there anything better than that? I say absolutely not! Crowd interaction is so important and tonight it looked like you wouldn’t have a choice but to participate, whether you liked it or not.
First up was Bad Seed Rising. When I watched their videos on Youtube, the first thing that struck me was, “damn these kids look young.” In person, damn they looked young. The members are Francheska Pastor (Vocals), Mason Gainer (Guitar), Aiden Marceron (Drums), and Louey Peraza (Bass) from Baltimore, MD. They have been touring this summer and made a lot of strides to get their name out at Warped Tour.
Francheska and the guys walked on the stage and took it over. I thought to myself, “ok I am looking at some rock stars here.” The fact that they were so young was quickly noticeable as it looked as if they have been on tour for years. They ripped through songs like “It’s My Time” a song that will stay in your head for days, and now one of my favorites, ”I Can Feel You” based on a dream Francheska had about a snake, and “ Carry On” an anthem about never giving up while others around you may be sleepwalking through life. Crunchy guitar, driving bass, powerful drums, and creative vocals give these up and coming stars a unique place in the competitive world they have chosen to dive into.
My Enemies and I. Colored contact lenses, standing coffin accessories, dark clothing, bass driven intro music, facial piercings. Not what you normally expect from a bunch of guys from Richmond, VA, but hey, I admit, it has been awhile since I have been to Richmond. When the intro music began, I could feel it reverberating off my chest in the photo pit. I thought to myself, “am I going to get blown out of the photo pit?” I was hoping so, and the fans on the barrier seemed to hope so to! There was a black and gold accented microphone laying on the floor center stage waiting on its owner to pick it up. Like a blur, it happened. The mic was swooped up in the hands of the band’s front man. Jeff Hill stormed onto the stage with his signature look, white hair, no shirt, and I DON’T NEED SAVING in black marker scrawled across his torso. I also got caught in the crossfire of Jeff spitting into the crowd. Just another night in the pit and hazard of the job.
My Enemies went on to attack The Underground with songs from their album “Sick World.” Red, green, and blue lights flooded the band as their electronic, Zack Jones and Brandon Sellitti’s cutting guitar sound got the crowd into a frenzy.
Ryan and Griffin held down the rhythm throughout the set. I mentioned earlier that crowd participation was not optional; Hill was on top of the barrier and in the crowd more often than he was on the stage. He and the band took their music up close and personal to the fans who came to see ME&I.
The White Noise – how can you describe these guys? According to their Facebook page, they classify themselves as aggressive rock. With influences like, Alice in Chains, Slipknot. Rob Zombie, Blink 182, Ozzy, Angus Young, and the Foo Fighters, I feel like this is a band that can crossover to many genres and fan bases. Rock fans, punk fans, hardcore fans. There is something in this band that is appealing to everyone. One thing I feel certain about is, that things probably get broken quite often when these guys are together.
Tommy looks innocent enough until he picks up his sticks and starts laying down a speed beat on his drums. This kick starts the rest of the guys into their fury of movement across the stage. The minimalist look of the band shows that attitude, lifestyle, and being genuine in the music you play makes you successful and will draw fans to you. The fans were screaming at the top of their lungs along with the band as they rolled through song after song. There were a few that could have stepped right in, and Shawn could have taken a break. He recognized one young fan in particular and shared his mic with him. The result was a band, fan duet that didn’t miss a beat. “Have fun. Crowd surf. Don’t be afraid to dance.(Shawn has a particular circular hip movement has become his go to dance move) Be stupid,” I have heard the band encourage. They have come a long way since their first tour, where they admit they made every mistake that a band could make. Mistakes ranging from crashing their van to losing or having their equipment stolen.
TWN certainly gave everything they had in this show, and the crowd gave it all right back to them as well. Tip for the fans, they are not big fans of social media,especially during their shows. They want you to put your phones down, participate in the music, and go crazy!
I Prevail- The crowd was certainly primed and ready for I Prevail to perform. The opening acts did a great job of building over the evening to a pitch where I Prevail was going to have to show bring their best. I had a chance to chat with a young man who was there to see I Prevail. He was the same kid who was sharing the mic earlier with Shawn from TWN. He asked me, “ Do you know who my favorite band is?” Without thinking I said, “Taylor Swift?” He looked at me and said, “ Hell No!” He replied, “ Linkin Park!” That made sense to me based on the lineup. I did however laugh a little bit since I Prevail actually covers Blank Space and really brought them a lot of attention. For the record, Taylor Swift, I think you are awesome, if you were to happen to read this!
There have been a lot of similar style bands before them, but I Prevail brings it as as strong or stronger than the predecessors. Brian Burkheiser(clean vocals) and Eric Vanlerberghe(harsh vocals) blend their styles into some catchy songs like “ Crossroads” that continue a theme I am seeing in music of encouraging people to fight through adversity they may face in their lives and never give up! “Love, Lust, and Liar,” takes us back to the reality of hardships that impact us all and allows us to get the anger out through the song by asking some of our favorite people to “Stay the Hell out of My Life.” They did play fan favorites like “My Heart I Surrender.” Nice song, but I was ready to pick it back up. Then they finally played it. “ Nice to meet you, where you been? I can show you incredible things. Magic, madness, Heaven, sins.” I looked back in the crowd to my new friend and pointed at him. He finally got my Taylor Swift joke from earlier. He laughed. To end out the evening, Eric let the crowd know they played Raleigh, NC the night before. This brought out the normal boos and chatter from the Charlotte crowd. There is a lot of competition between the capital city and the state’s largest city, especially in the heated political climate we are seeing. Once the boos died down, Eric then said, “ It is time to clear out the center of the floor and participate. If you can’t or are too afraid to participate, then move to the back.” Finally, the polite crowd was being encouraged to get in the pit and mix it up a little bit. They took instruction well and got a circle pit going. Still very polite to each other, they mixed it up a little. I Prevail said goodnight to the crowd. Until next time.
Great show. Start to finish. We had brand new blood. The youth brought it early and the energy never slowed down all night until the final song from I Prevail. Get out and see all of these bands. There is not one that I wouldn’t pay to see again. They have all made it to my playlist, especially if I need to get my energy level up! A special thanks to all of the bands for bringing it day in and day out and to The Underground for bringing great music like this to Charlotte.
Check out the remaining tour dates here!
See the full photo gallery here!