Michigan based power house I Prevail unleashed their second full length album Trauma in March of this year on Fearless Records. The band first gained momentum when they released the Taylor Swift cover “Blank Space” on their EP Heart Vs. Mind and that was just the opportunity they needed to blow the minds of fans an haters. Covering a song isn’t always about playing a it note for note the same way as it was recorded, but to make it your own and expand off the blueprint that had been laid. Certainly there are challenges that come with that, but when you go and attempt to put a spin on such a popular pop song like that, the bar is set high right out of the gate. But like I Prevail have done throughout their career, they conquered and exceeded all expectations.
The success of Trauma hasn’t come easy to the band. Singer Brian Burkheiser suffered a severe vocal injury that left his future with the band in question. Over the course of months he withdrew from the aspects of the band and had been overcome with depression. But with the help of his band mates, he was able to pull himself up and persevere to become the singer he has been revered as and put out their best music to date. After Brian had bounced back from his injury, he and the band came to the decision to put out their next album without the help of any outside sources, using just the creative force of the band to take their unique sound to the next level break down any barriers that stood in their way.
As the lights set on a sold out show at the House of Blues, 2,500 screaming fans are applauding in anticipation as the the LED panels on stage take the crowd on a trip through the woods that was very reminiscent of something from the movie Sleepy Hollow. As Steve Menoian, Dylan Bowman Gabe Helguera take their place on stage, just when you thought it couldn’t get any louder, Eric Vanlerberghe walks out in a calm demeanor but once he takes his position on his stand he roars “GET ON YOUR KNEES AND BOW… DOWN!!!!”. The band breaks into the opening track of Trauma with the heavy headbanging “Bow Down” sending everyone into a frenzy. Just before the chorus kicks in, Brian Burkheiser fly’s in and lends his harmonic vocals to the otherwise dark and dirty number.
“Rise Above” featured Justin Stone who opened the show here in Orlando and after winning over the crowd with his performance earlier in the night, received a large ovation as he came out to add his vocals on the fourth track off their new album. Half way through the set, Brian Burkheiser addresses the crowd and discusses the struggles he had endured, giving credit and respect to Bowman, Menoian, Helguera and Vanlerberghe for helping him with his recovery and lighting the fire inside to continue on. When an artist shares their stories of being able to overcome issues whether mental or physical, it gives hope to those who hear it and lets them know that they’re not alone and that they’re not the only one going through it. This was also the driving force that fueled the song “Paranoid” on their new album.
Eric Vanlerberghe starts off the an emotionally somber point of the show with the track “Goodbye (Interlude)”. The song was written as a remembrance of Eric’s best friend that was lost to suicide in 2016. The lyrics tell a story of him receiving the news through a phone call with his mother while on tour in Pittsburgh. While Vanlerberghe and Burkheiser narrate, images of their lost friend are displayed behind them with #conallproud. “Every Time You Leave” is a ballad depicting the other side of relentless touring and how it effects the personal side of the band. This is something that most fans don’t give much thought to as countless musicians spends the better part of a year of not more touring and being away from family and loved ones and the toll that it can take. This song also gives guitarist Dylan Bowman his time to shine as he showcases his vocal range.
As the show winds down, Eric Vanlerberghe announces this will be the last song of the night and immediately the crowd beings to chants “DOA, DOA, DOA”. Eric looks around smiling and says “They already know. This is DOA!”. Track 6 off of Trauma has been one of if not the biggest fan favorite track off the album and was met instantly with the crowd singing the lyrics back to the band. After the song the song ends, the bands walks off stage and the fans immediately start to chant “ONE MORE SONG!”. With the house lights still out, it gives everyone hope that I Prevail will return on stage… and they did not disappoint. When the bands returns, Brian announces that “We’re not just playing one more song, but two. This is the song we’re most proud of of any of the songs we’ve written” and break right into “Breaking Down”. The band ends the show with the fierce track off of the album Lifelines “Come And Get It”. Vanlerberghe makes it very clear, he wants everything the crowd had left, and that’s exactly what they gave him!
The Trauma Tour wrapped on August 9th in Grand Rapids, but do not fear. I Prevail will be hitting the road with A Day To Remember for the Degenerates Tour starting on September 28th in South Carolina. That tour will run through November 22nd in Nashville and then a much deserved break until the European leg kicks off on February 26th in Oslo, Norway. For all merch and band info, visit iprevailband.com and for more info on Atom Splitter artist, head over to atomsplitterpr.com.