“This is the worst I’ve seen since Death Grips” a security guard tells me as he goes to catch another barrage of crowd surfers coming over the railing. Heads are getting smacked, blood is being spilled, and bodies are hitting the floor at a ferocious pace as the Metalcore Dropouts tour crashes into The Fillmore Charlotte on this eventful Saturday night - and the headliners haven’t even taken the stage yet.
It’s always a sign that it’s gonna be a good show when you arrive nice and early and the line is already stretched around the block. Just follow the black band t-shirts and you’ll find your way inside, where you’re greeted with even longer lines for tour merchandise. It’s a sold-out Saturday night at The Fillmore and it definitely shows - even with the queues wrapping across the venue, the floor in front of the stage fills up with people a full hour before the first band even plays.
The place practically radiates with energy as LANDMVRKS finally takes the stage and sets the mood with a ferocious set of metalcore madness. As riffs explode and the pit is immediately set in motion, frontman Florent Salfati quickly wins over unfamiliar attendees with his impressive display of soaring melodic vocals and gutturally powerful screams. In between songs, someone comments on how impressed they are with his singing.
The French band turns the night’s warm up into a full-on workout, demanding the North Carolina crowd open the floor up and get off their feet. Their set is mostly made up of newer tracks from Lost in the Waves but there's a heavy little treat for old school fans as well. As LANDMVRKS’ time comes to a close with the anthemic ‘Self-Made Black Hole’, Salfati leaps down into the front row to sing with his people. For the good number of fans that were there experiencing their first heavy concert, this was a spectacular way to be inducted into the magic of live music.
Up next is Canada’s very own Counterparts, still riding high off their critically-acclaimed 2022 album A Eulogy for Those Still Here. All hell breaks loose. Some unfortunate soul in the front row gets their head split wide open as a crowd surfer collides with them, throwing the venue staff into disarray as they try to help. Rather than slow things down, the energy actually starts to pick up as the music continues and a now endless stream of crowd surfers begins to rain down on everyone.
The mosh pit banner is brought out and the injuries rapidly pile up as Brendan Murphy howls and shrieks into the microphone. Security has their work cut out for them as the crowd only gets rowdier and rowdier to Counterparts' crushingly heavy - and surprisingly emotional - set. The songs range from across the bands’ entire career and Murphy encourages fans to move on up to the front to sing along with him. The rest are instructed to just go wild and they happily oblige.
Those still standing lick their wounds and prepare for the next wave of chaos with Texas act Fit for a King. The co-headliners treat the Charlotte crowd to headbanging grooves and big poppy metalcore choruses that make for a huge 14 song set. At this point, things have gotten out of hand in the best way. Bassist Ryan “Tuck” O’Leary as well as guitarist Daniel Gailey soar into the air over and over again while vocalist Ryan Kirby hypes the crowd to a boiling hot level.
At most shows, the band is usually the one who has to match the audience’s energy, but FFAK manage the opposite, forcing the Charlotteans to try and keep up with them instead. At one point, O’Leary hops on over to the bar closest to the stage and tosses back a pair of tequila shots, then plays the ongoing song’s breakdown on top of the counter. “So this is a sold out show tonight. So what I’ve gotta see is the largest wall of death The Fillmore has ever seen!” Kirby calls to the gleefully violent crowd.
Amongst the mayhem, you might be able to spot someone in a banana costume, or even the good ol’ Buc-ee’s beaver throwing down in the pit. Everyone from little girls to old bearded men go soaring over hundreds of hands and into the arms of venue staff, who release them back into the crowd to do the same thing all over again. Charlotte goes ballistic for new songs ‘Reaper’ and ‘Eyes Roll Back’, only for ‘Vendetta’ and ‘God of Fire’ to set things off into another dimension. “Best North Carolina show we’ve ever played.” Kirby tells the crowd. “That was easily the best show of the tour, Charlotte.”
Miraculously, despite the past couple hours of brain-rattling metal and the noteworthy number of audience injuries, The Fillmore was only more charged up for the night’s closing act. Ohio metalcore heroes The Devil Wears Prada arrived and wrung out every last bit of strength the place had left in it, quite literally shaking the floor during their electrifying show. The band’s impressive and massive light production perfected the harmonious chaos as they tore through a Color Decay-heavy set, even including bonus track ‘Reaching’ for good measure.
Of course, all of the favorites like ‘Danger:Wildman’, ‘Chemical’, ‘Dez Moines’, and even a favorite track from their first Zombie EP were being played for the couple thousand ecstatic fans in the building as well. Mike Hranica and Jeremy DePoyster stirred the crowd into a frenzy several times over as the rest of the band jumped and headbanged around the stage. One overenthusiastic guy ran onto the stage in the middle of the excitement and flung himself into the first few rows, hitting the floor with a predictably hilarious thud. I’m sure he’s fine.
On one side of the stage, Emma Boster of Dying Wish can be spotted taking in the action, adding to the exceptional roster of legends of the genre that were currently in the room that night. The scene clearly isn’t fading out anytime soon if the talent and enthusiasm in Charlotte that night is any indication, and it’s bands like The Devil Wears Prada and Fit for a King that are helping carry the torch.
The night ends with a wildly celebratory throwback track, ‘Hey John, What’s Your Name Again?’. All of the diehard fans of the band (like myself, who's been rocking the same pair of TDWP shorts since 2009) rush to the front of the madhouse to scream along with passionate ferocity. For a show with many high points, this particular finale was somehow able to be the true peak.
Check the remaining dates of the Metalcore Dropouts Tour below. Get tickets for the last handful of shows - HERE
10/14 Dallas, TX – The Factory in Deep Ellum
10/15 San Antonio, TX – Vibes Event Center
10/17 Albuquerque, NM – El Rey Theater
10/18 Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theater
10/19 Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues