I don't really know how to start this. After moving to Western Pennsylvania from Chicago, there's a disparity between the amount of concerts, and if this show is any indication of the concerts in Erie, then I don't think I'll be disappointed at all.
The Forward Hall in Erie is a small club, with a bar attached to its left side like a leech. The stage, if that, is a foot off the ground. At least there's a semblance of familiarity.
Up first was New Jersey's (and recent Ferret signees) the Banner. I didn't like their music, not that they didn't try. I expected greater things, remembering reading Anchors' wildly positive review and just thinking…is this it? Most of their tunes sounded like a slight deviation from the metalcore we've been hearing with barking, incomprehensible vocals, but their material off of Each Breath Haunted sounded more melodic and interesting, while still maintaining the tough guy image that the Banner seemed to project. If you like the Banner, then I can't see why you wouldn't like their live performance. They were performing with a new guitarist, which may explain the lack of cohesiveness exuded by the band. I know I'm making excuses for the Banner. I wanted to get into them, but I just wasn't feeling it.
Modern Life Is War (who was also touring with a fill-in guitarist) on the other hand, from the first note, had their fans in a stranglehold. If I told you that Modern Life Is War were extremely enthusiastic, then you'd get the wrong impression; if I told you that their bleak songs don't to transfer to a live setting, you'd get a different impression than what happened; if I told you that the singer (Jeff) screamed and moved like he caught fire, you'd get a different impression than what actually happened.
In plain English, though the band was on its 'A' game, Modern Life Is War's bleakness didn't come through because of the front row singing along. It's pretty hard to have a bleak, noir atmosphere when you're being piled on for a gang vocal chant. That said, as reported by many other attendees of Modern Life Is War shows, the guys unload energy like a baseball bat hitting a tennis ball.
Musically, the only reference point I can think of is the Suicide File except bleaker and with longer songs focusing much more on tragedy of small-town life rather than politics. They later admitted to be influenced by Tragedy.
Set list in order as much possible... "D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S." was requested and played, but I forget exactly where in the set they put it.
- Martin Atchet
- By the Sea
- John and Jimmy
- Late Bloomers
- Young Man Blues
- Hair Raising Accounts of Restless Ghosts
Next up was With Honor. I'm a fan, so yes, I am a little biased when I say With Honor played better than Modern Life Is War, but I really did feel as though the cohesion of With Honor overall made the energy higher than the manic tendencies of MLIW's Jeff; not to say that the four guys in Modern Life Is War just stood there and played their instruments, but With Honor as a group gave off a very "together" vibe, as though everyone was completely dialed into what they were doing.
With Honor's positive spirit musically only grew with the addition of a live audience, and Todd made more gang vocal parts for songs off of the new This Is Our Revenge
, which sounds near-majestic live. Each of the guitarists seemed dialed into their music, and the drummer appeared rock solid on cymbal crashing. Perhaps why I enjoyed With Honor so much was because of the positivity of their material. Modern Life Is War is a hard act to follow, but somehow, With Honor managed to do it, not just by energy and a tight rendition of their material, but aided by their fans who were more familiar with their material.
(from what I can remember, not in order):
- More Than Heroes
- Rethink, Return (opener, I believe)
- Like Trumpets
- Gun for Hire
- Small Dreams
- Two songs off of their first EP
- Plot Two
As for the headliner, Walls of Jericho, I had seen them before in Chicago, and decided to give them a fair shot. I left after 7 minutes. While their performance was high energy and charged up (Candace moved on stage as though she had been in solitary confinement for the last year), the violence of the crowd just got to me. Maybe it was just the differences between the out-and-out positivity of With Honor and the thuggish-ness of the Walls of Jericho fans. I also didn't care for Walls of Jericho in Chicago, and after their performance in Erie, I still don't. I suppose I'm an old man now that the violent dancing for the sole purpose of violence is getting to me.
So I left. There was no local opener for me to miss. If any iteration of this tour should pass through where you live, I highly recommend you go.
Picture of Modern Life Is War's set list, minus "D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S."