(Photo Credit: Bob McCoy)
On November 8th 2005 the world would be introduced to a band from Lancaster, Pa that would ultimately change the face of metalcore forever. August Burns Red made a name for themselves early on with their technical songs structures paired with a barrage of off timed brutality in their breakdowns. The band toured for the better part of the next two years opening for everyone from Haste the Day to As I Lay Dying while winning fans over at every stop along the way. In March of this year August Burns Red hit the road with Killswitch Engage making it one of the most anticipated tours of the year. After just 3 shows of the U.S. leg of the tour, it was announced the remaining dates would be rescheduled due to the COVID outbreak. It’s been 8 months since the band has hit the stage and in front of a crowd but tonight, August Burns Red play for their fans around the world.
We catch the band backstage in their pre-show hand shake where bassist Dustin Davidson leads the charge with “We don’t need CORONA VIRUS… BECAUSE WE HAVE EACH OTHER!”. If that doesn’t motivate you to go out and play angry music for happy people, I don’t know what will. Through the red and blue stage lights we hear the climatic instrumental building up as drummer Matt Greiner jogs up to the drum riser where he extends his arms and lets out a scream. Even before anyone else hits the stage you can just see his excitement being back behind the kit. Before long the remaining members file out of the door and make their way to the stage saluting the fans as they take position. Jake Luhrs takes a running start to the center riser, points to the sky and unleashes a mighty roar as the band tee up the opening of “Your Little Suburbia Is In Ruins“.
The band ripped through 3 songs before we even know what hit us. After the dust settles from the ferocity of “Endorphins“, we stare through the dark red lighting as Jake Luhrs is perched over and the band reset for their next attack. We don’t have to wait long before the triplet riddled intro of “Too Late for Roses” begins to shake our wireless devices. Through out the song Jake’s voice hit just about everything in his vocal register from screaming to a ground rumbling growl. Even with months off his voice is as powerful as it’s ever been. But before the song could end, Dustin Davidson gave him a run for his money as the two went back and forth with the songs “FOR NOTHING” lyrical cry.
Prior to the start of “A Wishful of Dreams” Jake thanks all the fans at home and lets us all know how fortunate and blessed they all are to be able to do this and hopefully be able to see them shortly. I’m sure the band was excited and looking forward to putting on this show and the loyal fans were equally as excited and at this point would do and give just about anything to see August Burns Red take the stage. When “Consumer” starts up little did we know, there was a surprise waiting in the shadows for all of us at home.
While the camera focuses of Jake and Dustin on the left side of the screen, original frontman of August Burns Red and the Thrill Seeker album Josh McManness slips on stage undetected until the camera pulls back to to reveal him picking up the mic. I’m not going to lie. This literally made me say “OH SHIT!!!” out loud as Jake announces his presence and passed the torch, giving Josh the floor for the remainder of the song. McManness’ stage presence was that of a seasoned vet and his voice sounded amazingly strong and true to the album.
It’s always a treat when a band can open up a song with brutal breakdown to really get the adrenaline pumping, and that’s exactly what ABR does with “A Shot Below the Belt“. With all the energy coming through our screens it’s almost impossible not join the band in head banging along. The excitement even got Jake to let out an ol’ Rick Flare “WOOOOOOO”. You can see the guys just digging in and letting loose as they mosh around the stage and it was such a great thing to see. As a fan I can fully appreciate the fact that bands love hitting the road and playing for fans from all over. But to have that stop so suddenly as it did for ABR as well as other bands makes the the shutdown that much more difficult to deal with. Watching this band play tonight you could see the excitement, passion and just good old fashion fun on all of their faces which in turn, should put a smile on all of ours.
The instrumental “Eve of the End” was dedicated to the fans from the band. The song is both heavy and haunting with its chugging riffs and JB Brubaker’s saturated solo. As the song progresses the build up becomes more and more intense and the lighting itself intensifies around the band. The pairing created a great atmosphere that just pulls you right in. With the last note still ringing in the air, Matt Greiner plays the very iconic fill for “The Seventh Trumpet“. The fan favorite powers along like a locomotive until it come to a complete holt, allowing Jake to reach for the sky to announce “The stars begin to fall”. The lights fade to black only to explode on cue with the band as they rip the monumental breakdown. The unique 360 camera above Greiner’s kit gave us a great view of Jake moshing in front of the drums as the rest of the band carried on. As the last song on Thrill Seeker this would also mark the end of the set… or so we thought.
Much to the delight of the fans at home August Burns Red were not quiet done yet, but would roll out a handful of tracks from their sophomore album Messangers. The rhythm and lead combo of JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler are some of the best in the business and “The Truth of a Liar” is a perfect example of that. I remember the first time I heard this album and being blown away by how powerful that intro was. Watching this song live tonight gives me that same feeling 13 years later. “Up Against the Ropes” really had Matt Greiner’s kick drums smoking with the extensive double bass work through out the song. JB and Brent picked things up with their high speed lead section only to have it transition to an over powering breakdown.
With the 14th and final song of the night the band will give us a solid closing of the show with “Back Burner“. Jake’s last request for the fans would be to have fun with this one and get off the couch. He also gave a subtle “circle pit” indicator which I have no doubt people took full advantage of in their living rooms or god forbid smaller areas of their homes. The lighting explodes around the stage area as August Burns Red ascend into what seems like plethora of raging riffs and blast beats. Just before the final epic breakdown of the evening Jake unleashes everything he has left in a scream so loud it gets picked up by the mic which is about 2 feet away. For the last minute and thirteen seconds it was nothing but raw energy as the band played mercilessly to end the show on a crushing note. True to form with their live shows Jake grabs the setlist off the drum riser and tosses it towards where the fans would usually be cheering as Dustin tosses some picks past the cameras.
To say that this show was a success would be a huge understatement. A big part was the production work that went into the lighting rig engineered by David Summers as well as the cinematography work done by tour photographer Ray Duker and Aurora Films. I have covered more than a couple live streams since the pandemic hit, but I have never seen such an out pour of support from fans for one of these shows. Fans getting excited to watch some of their favorite bands, sure. But the way the they flooded the bands social media with so much love and admiration it was truly moving to see. There has to be a record set by the guys in the band for the most instagram stories shared.
What is normally dashes across the top of your phone was replaced with what looked like dots because of how many stories there were. So many fans took the time to really immersed themselves in getting ready for the show. One fan checked in for the stream half way across the world in Barcelona. But hands down, the best posts were fans showing how excited their own kids were during the performance. And even now, 3 days after the fact people are still posting their favorite moments from the show. And the best part, is that August Burns Red will be back in a month to bring holiday cheer to all with their annual Christmas Burns Red concert. See you all there! Scroll down to check out ABR’s unique take on the Mariah Carey Christmas classic “All I Want for Christmas”