Every Time I Die, the Acacia Strain, etc. Warehouse Live February 22, 2013
Buffalo's Every Time I Die has been around long enough that fans know exactly what to expect from their gigs: unrepentant mayhem both onstage and off, soundtracked by a high-energy stream of stomping, howling hardcore. When the band's party wagon crashed into Warehouse Live on Friday night, it was greeted by a sellout of supporters well past ready to cut loose and go absolutely bonkers. Predictably, ETID was only too happy to deliver the goods.
Throughout their 15 or so years at or near the top of the metalcore movement, Every Time I Die have stood out amongst their peers by never taking themselves too seriously, pumping out boozy, unhinged heaviness studded with sarcasm and wit. Massachusetts deathcore warriors the Acacia Strain, providing direct support for ETID on the five-band tour, proved to be a bit of an uncomfortable fit stylistically with the headliners' smilin' disposition.
The venue's studio room was packed balls to buttholes for the show, and Acacia's pummeling, nihilistic assault soured the crowd's mood a bit. Grimacing fans submitted to vicious hate-moshing in the middle of the floor as the band produced crushing syncopated grooves largely unadorned by melodic distractions. Tightly packed as the room was, it was tough to get away from the carnage, and it was a tad unnerving to see concertgoers' fight-or-flight instincts kick in amongst the flying fists and kicks.
The Acacia Strain did all they could to keep the crowd roiling.
"You paid me money," said lead growler Vincent Bennett. "If you're gonna stand there with your hands in your pockets, that's your fault."
Simply finding a place to stand around was a challenge. Venue security did a nice job of hustling shit-starters through the throng before scattered scuffles turned into all-out brawls, but the typically tight-knit scenesters sweating all over each other didn't appear to be feeling the brotherly love after the Acacia Strain's set that often gets preached at hardcore shows. Mercifully, that changed quick when ETID hit the stage.
The anticipation had grown nearly insufferable as the band's gear was set up. When the lights went dark, the Acacia Strain's misanthropic fury was forgotten as fans greeted their heroes with a spirited "Let's go, Buffalo!" football chant. Charged and ready, Every Time I Die launched into the ferocious "Bored Stiff," and the audience exploded.
Maybe they'd been moshed out from the night's previous acts, but during ETID's set, the crowd mostly preferred to clap, pogo, scream and bounce off the walls rather than bang into each other.
The band's dynamic front man, singer Keith Buckley, conducted the chaos, screeching over his brother Jordan's stuttering guitar riffs.
"I want to see bodies on top of other bodies!" he hollered.
The crowd was more than happy to oblige that request, sending a steady stream of crowd surfers toward the stage. The group's female fans didn't shy away from the cascading action, and a wheelchair warrior even found himself hoisted overhead a time or two.
Between songs, Buckley praised Texas fans' balls-out energy, recalling good times gone by in Houston from filming the group's "We'rewolf" video here to having his head split open by security at a gig years ago.
ETID rewarded their loyal local fans with a brief medley of Pantera riffs, including the monster breakdown from "Domination" and a few snatches of "5 Minutes Alone." The audience went wild for whatever they did, aiming squarely for complete release. The band egged them on relentlessly, bouncing and thrashing about onstage to a nice mix of cuts from their most recent album, Ex Lives, and older favorites.
The wild, whipping "Ebolarama" and "We'rewolf" had the audience practically climbing the walls before driving them straight into the ground with the crushingly majestic "Indian Giver." Though the studio was jam-packed, the band's bright-eyed intensity drew the crowd in further still, making the room feel even smaller and more intimate by the end.
By the time the band evacuated, audience members' voices were shot and their backs had tightened up. But more important, their every frown had been turned upside down. It's that kind of reliable alchemy that can keep a band smilin' and grindin' through six albums and countless tours down in the darkened crevices of the underground.
Personal Bias: They're the fiancée's favorite band. There was no skipping this one.
The Crowd: Mostly young white guys and gals. One very young audience member was singled out by Buckley for making ETID his first-ever show.
Overheard in the Crowd: "What happened to my glasses?"
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Random Notebook Dump: Only at Warehouse Live could we be treated to the spectacle of rap fans dressed to kill running a gauntlet of sweaty, smoking hardcore kids to get into the H-Town's Next Up Hip-Hop Concert. Both groups of music fans seemed bemused by the contrast.