Ah the Rave. Four different venues inside one building, all with their own little niche. The Eagles Ballroom, playing host to huge bands like the Deftones and Staind, the Rave Bar which accommodates smaller bands like Motion City Soundtrack and Straylight Run, the Eagles Club which holds Taking Back Sunday and the Starting Line...and finally the Rave Underground. The dance floor basement of the Rave. The one place inside The Rave I had never been or seen a show at. However once Story Of The Year rolled into town, I have now officially hit the cycle.
The Rave Underground is really a dance floor, complete with trippy bar and constantly rotating disco balls. Not quite the place I was expecting them to put a punk rock show, but hey whatever works. After watching the disco lights play on the faces of the kids around me (I had come alone due to the fact about 5 of my friends pulled out of going before the show), and almost going insane from the anticipation, the lights finally dimmed and local Milwaukee boys The Response took the stage. You might remember my nice little review of the Response/Last Place Champs show from back in November (view here). Since then I had grown to appreciate the Response even more. And seeing as how the past 2 weeks had been a hell of a rollercoaster for me, I wanted to scream my lungs out to these songs. Unfortunately, when the mean age of the crowd is about 15 (i'm 17 and I felt old at this one), they really fail to see the amusement in local bands. It was no matter. The Response tore the stage up as they usually do, hitting everything perfect. If the band was intimidated at all by the size of the crowd or the headliners popularity, the only time it showed was during the between song banter. The band sounded a little lost and confused, but once they started the songs back in, they looked right at home. The faithful crew of about 10 kids that knew who the band was gathered about 2 rows back in the center, and gave the band the support they needed. I myself, screamed my heart out, visibly scared a few 15 year olds in front of me, and went to town. The crowd in general seemed fairly unresponsive, but I'm hoping the Response won over at least a few new fans. This band has yet to fail me musically or in their live show.
Next up, was Letterkills from Southern California. The guitarist came out with a belt of bullets (yes i kid you not, a belt made out of bullets), and got quite a few sarcastic responses from the crowd. This band (minus their awesome lead guitarist) looked nothing like the band I had seen back at Warped and preached about to so many about (including this very site). Once the band was ready, the lead singer came out wearing an almost cowboy looking shirt, a bandana around his neck, and some eyeliner I think. This drew a few more sarcastic responses. I think I was one of the few in the room who knew what was about to happen though. The band started playing full throttle, and the lead singer became more animated than anyone was expecting. Bouncing all over the stage, almost strangling his guitarist, nearly killing his drummer, gazing at people in the crowd just to freak them out...these guys came to put on a show. After tearing through a load of great sounding new songs, the band kicked in to material some recognized ("Don't Believe" which was on the Warped 2003 comp) and the crowd finally blew up. Many of the Story Of The Year fans were still not won over, but once again it didn't matter. The lead singer noticed me and a few other kids singing along, so without fail he jumped into the crowd for a hell of a sing along. Nothing better than having one of your favorite band's lead singers inches away from your face, both of you screaming in unison. The band closed with "Radio Up" (illicting more sing alongs and smiles from the lead singer that someone knew their music), and the "Hey Woah" song. I don't know the actual name, all I know is that the chorus is "Hey! Woaah!". Sound cheesy? Try resisting it. The entire crowd at this point had caught on, and the lead singer of Story Of The Year came out to help get the crowd hyped up and sing alone. By the time Letterkills was done, my throat hurt, my ass was kicked, and the night wasn't even over.
With the two bands I had actually gone to see out of the way, I was rather uninspired about seeing Story Of The Year. Having previously called these guys a "poor man's Used", I figured it was at least worth it to stick around. Plus I hate trying to fight my way out of the floor. Story Of The Year came out, the girls screamed, the place erupted...it was like someone had given the entire room of kids adrenaline. The thing about a SOTY live show is that the band is tight...there is no sloppy playing, off key screaming, or wrong notes. The band moves around precision like, jumping exactly at the right times, very calculated. The good thing is though, it's not as calculated as the band's highly overproduced album. The songs sounded much better without studio effects behind them, and in all reality SOTY was transformed into the band I wish they were. The band ran through "Until The Day I Die" to the screams of many. I was amazed that they had not saved their single for last. The band played through a lot of Page Avenue, before leaving the stage. Then came the encore. Metallica's "Enter Sandman". Yes that's right kids, Story Of The Year covered Metallica. I guess that arena tour with Linkin Park inspired them to play some arena sized songs. Amazingly enough, this was no half assed cover. The guitar solo was note for note, the singer sounded just much higher pitched than James Hetfield, but as bad as it could've been, it wasn't. And that was it. Story Of The Year left the stage to a great reception, and in all actuality, the band wasn't as bad as I was anticipating.
Afterwards, I said what's up the Response guys (though I did miss Mikey), talked to the guitarist of Letterkills for a short time (the album comes out May 4th kids...be forewarned that it will rule), and finally headed out. So in the final rundown, The Response were as amazing as always and hopefully this group can get a few more high profile gigs and finally start hitting the scene, Letterkills destroyed everyone with their stage presence and overall rock feel, and Story Of The Year turns out to not sound as bad live. My lungs hurt, but I felt relieved, just like a great concert is supposed to do to you. If you have one of the off dates featuring Letterkills and Story Of The Year near you, go see it. It's worth the price of admission for Letterkills alone. And kick a little 15 year old ass in the pits for me.