Twenty Years ago, five kids got together in their drummer’s refrigerated egg house on Griener Farms in quiet Lancaster, PA, to start a band and create their own musical outlet. Little did they know, it would be the beginning of something so much bigger than any of them could have possibly imagined.
After ten albums, multiple Grammy nominations, countless sold-out shows around the globe and amassing one of the most devoted followings in metal, August Burns Red set out to celebrate their historic 20th Anniversary. And tonight, August Burns Red sets sail on the final leg of this monumental campaign as fans get sent down memory lane for a crushing career spanning set, chalked full of Angry Music for Happy People.
Kicking off the show is the brutal five-piece hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Bleed From Within. The band gained huge acclaim from American fans while opening for ABR on the first leg of the tour, and immediately became a fan favorite on Day 1 at HeartSupport Fest. The band would start it up by dropping their sledgehammer track I Am Damnation on the crowd, and unleashed hell throughout. The level of raw intensity ripping off of the stage was insane and caught many concert goers off guard. Singer Scott Kennedy’s mighty roars would be a call to battle with every word as he leads the brigade of destructive riffs and devastating breakdowns.
Bleed From Within would split their set with some of the most crushing titles from the latest record Shrine including Stand Down, Levitate and of course, the devestating opener I Am Damnation. But they would reach back and pull the pin on explosively charged musical devices like Into Nothing and closing it out with The End of All We Knew. This band walked into the building with two of the biggest bands in metalcore and completely turned the room on its head, as it was just one relentless audio attack after another.
Word on the street is that something big is coming down the road for Bleed From Within. Whatever it is, it would be well deserved. Maybe some tours lined up with more top caliber tier bands? Perhaps their own headlining tour which after seeing them tonight, there’s no doubt they could pull off. But however it all goes down, bet your ass I will be there if it involves them passing through town.
The next band needs no introduction, as Ohio natives The Devil Wears Prada hit the stage under a sea of blue saturated light and the sound of their own futuristic PSA. Fans would lose it as soon as the intro to Watchtower echoes through the room. TDWP set it off right out of the gate with an incredible tempo and they would follow it up with the fan favorite anthem Danger: Wildman.
Aside from their incredible catalog over the last seventeen years, every fan knows it’s the high level of energy TDWP brings to the stage every night. And this tour is no exception. Guitarist Jeremy DePoyster had the fans leaping in the air as they launched into fast paced and multi-layered vocal menagerie of Salt before taking fans on an emotionally charged version of Chemical off of 2019’s hit The Act.
The band creates such an amazing atmosphere with their music and a big factor is having the ability to incorporate three vocalists and three guitarists at any given moment. That ability is a huge contributing factor in how TDWP set themselves apart from a lot of bands. Front man Mike Hranica pulled double duty throughout the night on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, but still had time to work the stage from end to end, firing up the crowd with every pass.
There were so many high moments to this set, but the height for me, was when we got to hear the impassioned hymn Cancer. DePoyster had every fan light up the room with their phones like stars in the sky as he and Hranica belt out the tracks moving vocals, before the entire room joins in and almost lifts the roof off. TDWP would shift it back to the heavy side of things as they wrap up their set with their heavy hitter Sacrifice that had every fan ripping every word while the rest lose their minds in the pit.
And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. While the room swells up with cheers and screams, lights flicker across the stage as ABR’s iconic flaming U begins to come to life. Soon the members of August Burns Red fill in across the stage as singer Jake Luhrs screams out “Are you ready for 20 years?!”. And as the excitement grows to a deafening level, JB Brubaker dives right into the intro to Rescue & Restore‘s Fault Line. Luhrs commands “Everyone off your feet!” and as the band kicks in, the entire floor comes to life like someone shaking out a rug. They hit the fans with a brutal combo right out of the gate as they roll from that, right into Empire and Martyr. But luckily for us, the band wouldn’t make fans wait long for a taste of new music.
ABR would fill the fourth slot with the first single off of Death Below with the crushing Ancestry. As the brutality commences, the LED panels behind Matt Griener fire off like tracer rounds through the skies of Bagdad. Even though KSE singer Jesse Leach leant his cleans to the studio track, all the fans that have been asking for clean vocals from Luhrs over the years finally got their wish as he grabbed the reins and let those vocal cords fly.
As the wave of energy and breakdowns continue, the middle of the set is jammed packed with bone crunching chaos as August Burns Red pulls the chain off of tracks like Your Little Suburbia is in Ruins, another rager from Death Below with Backfire and of course Bloodletter. Whenever Luhrs announces “This is the heaviest song we’ve ever written”, you know to tie your shoes tight and hold on to dear life.
The track is just a beautifully orchestrated symphony of breakdowns and grooves conducted by none other than the musical prodigy himself, Dustin Davidson. The song would have him paired with Brubaker on guitars as Brent Rambler slid to bass, providing that devastating low end punch.
The biggest surprise of the night was the entry of the instrumental Laniakea off the Phantom Sessions EP. The trio on strings would keep their positions as they laid down woven layers of intricate playing that just wowed everyone watching. As some fans already knew, ABR have had a rotating setlist on the tour, keeping things fresh every other night. To be fair, regardless of what set you’re fortunate enough to see that night, nobody is leaving disappointed.
We were gifted with the A setlist tonight, and the hits just kept on coming. Rolling out the remainder of the set were absolute rippers like Provision, Ghosts, Back Burner, Paramount and White Washed. And believe it or not… they weren’t done yet.
After a short blackout following White Washed, spotlights home in on the explosion behind the drum kit as Matt Griener embarks on his percussive onslaught. Fans instantly erupt with cheers and applause while they look on with amazement as Matt works the kit like a man possessed, producing synchronized beats and rhythms that sound like an automatic weapon being fired. And as the ceasefire commences, Griener stands atop of his throne with devil horns high in the air and lets out a solid scream. Only to be out done by the ovation from the crowd.
When the rest of the band reconvene, they waste no time giving Matt a break as they sail right into their highly regarded track Marianas Trench. The subtle intro acts as a rouse to the insanity that lurks just around the corner. When the main verse emerges, circle pits form like tiny twisters across the floor. While Jake Luhrs thanks the crowd and announces this will be the last song, the band break right into the intro to one of the biggest anthems in their arsenal with Composure. Whatever the crowd had left in the tank, it fueled the biggest pit of the night with one punishing breakdown after another beating like a battle drum. And just like that. The show twenty years in the making wraps up with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen this band put on. I think if everyone had a drink in their hand, they’d toast up to another twenty more!
Of all of the tours August Burns Red has put together, this is the one that you do not want to miss! As the second leg just kicked off, there are plenty of opportunities to catch this absolutely insane show. So make sure you head over to the band’s official store to grab tickets, merch and VIP access to every show. And for all you drummers out there. Don’t forget about Matt Griener’s drum class that he puts on before every show. It’s such a unique experience and I guarantee, it’ll be something you remember for a long time. Only five seats per city so don’t sleep on this awesome opportunity!