I can distinctly remember my baptism into the world of metalcore back when I was in high school. I was a diehard nu-metal kid who refused to evolve and while I was familiar with and enjoyed gateway bands like Atreyu or All That Remains, I still avoided the vast majority of the metalcore genre. Then, one fateful evening in the garage of my friend Josh’s house, I was introduced to a song called ‘Back Burner’ by a band named August Burns Red. Just seventeen seconds into the track, it smoothly transitions into one hell of an iconic breakdown the likes of which I’d never heard before. It then continues on its rampage for another three minutes.
“Back Burner” is the third track on August Burns Red’s breakthrough album Messengers, acting as many people’s introduction to the band the same as myself. I was thrown into the deep end that night. Besides Messengers, I was also introduced to With Roots Above and Branches Below by The Devil Wears Prada, Stand Up and Scream by Asking Alexandria, Someday Came Suddenly by Attack Attack!, To Plant a Seed by We Came as Romans, and the first three A Day to Remember albums. There’s really no going back after all that. I was hooked. To this day, I’ll still jam to anything with a decent enough breakdown.
Fast forward to well over a decade later, I found myself in line with a couple thousand other people to finally see August Burns Red live and in person for the first time. It’s true that I’m very late to the party in that regard, having missed them on every Warped Tour and every other stop they’ve made in North Carolina throughout the years, but that evening’s show at The Fillmore in Charlotte was one that just couldn’t be missed. The band was there in celebration of 20 years together; two whole decades of brutal, game-changing metal that continues to inspire new and old legions of fans.
Starting things off with nothing but pure heat was Bleed From Within, longtime Scotland metalheads who were finally touring the U.S. for their very first time. They wasted no time in getting the earlybirds up off their feet and the moshpit moving, tearing through a heavyweight set that included ‘Pathfinder’, ‘Levitate’, and of course their arena-ready anthem ‘The End of All We Know’. Frontman Scott Kennedy even came down off the stage to sweat it out with the crowd for a bit. It’s always great when the first band of the night is able to draw out such tremendous energy from the audience right away. Crowd surfers were already making their way down to the front and moshers were getting their first bruises for the week.
Up next was fellow metalcore legends The Devil Wears Prada, who always bring a frenetically intense set to the party. As a thick haze enveloped the stage and the band walked out to the cheers of fans, drummer Giuseppe Capolupo shot things straight into overdrive with the fast and furious ‘Watchtower’. TDWP showed further confidence in their latest album, last year’s excellent Color Decay, by having the new songs dominate their set. It paid off - the North Carolina crowd stayed rowdy and engaged even during slower moments of the vicious 45 minutes or so. New classics like ‘Noise’ and ‘Cancer’ got just as warm of a reception as classic bangers like ‘Danger: Wildman’ and ‘Dez Moines’ from the old school days.
“I’ve got a question for my band, The Devil Wears Prada,” guitarist and vocalist Jeremy DePoyster began. “Why the fuck do we not play in Charlotte more?! Look at this shit!” he yelled, gesturing towards the madness of the floor area. “What, do I book the tour?” fellow vocalist and frontman Mike Hranica responded sarcastically. “Dude, you’ve gotta bring us here.” DePoyster laughed. “I lived here in Charlotte for the last five years, this is a fucking awesome city. I know you guys are partying tonight and having fun.”
Hranica seemed to agree as he took in the sight of the audience. “A lot of fucking people for Tuesday fucking night.” A few guitar slides and gang vocals later, the six piece band left the stage to deafening cheers and applause. Fans licked their wounds and rehydrated as best as they could in anticipation for the night’s main event, but their efforts were almost all for naught as August Burns Red finally arrived and immediately kicked things off with a one-two punch of Messengers tracks: ‘Composure’ and ‘The Truth of a Liar’. It was a scene of harmonious chaos as the entire venue transformed into a mosh pit and an endless barrage of crowd surfers pummeled the heads of anyone not paying enough attention.
“Oh my goodness. This is our 20th anniversary tour. 20 years!” Jake Luhrs spoke with the crowd during a lull in the mayhem. “There’s really no words for this. Thank you so much for being here tonight. Thank you so much for your support over 20 years. We have the opportunity to continue to live our dreams, live with purpose, love and community. Thank you for that.” Guitarist JB Brubaker joined in to address the couple thousand fans as well. “We’ve played a lot of shows in Charlotte throughout the years, coming up on Tremont Music Hall, who saw us all back then? Amos’ Southend?” The shoutouts to some of the city’s older venues (most of which have sadly shut their doors since) was most appreciated.
The set had an effortless ebb and flow as the Pennsylvania band played through songs that represented both decades of their discography. From 2005’s Thrill Seeker to this year’s Death Below (which came out just a little over a week after this show), every album was accounted for and everyone onstage and off appeared to be having a blast. With this being the last stop of the first leg of the tour, the touring musicians were likely looking forward to a few much-needed weeks off and weren’t afraid to cut loose a bit that evening.
Drummer Matt Greiner wound up getting pranked by the other bands during his solo before giving a quick shout out to NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, who was in attendance. Some good-natured violence broke out in one of the pits, leaving a trail of bloody footprints on the floor. Couples slowdanced to ‘Meridian’ and headbanged together to ‘Invisible Enemy’ and ‘Bloodletter'. Luhrs even broke into a two-step during the middle of new track ‘Ancestry’.
“Hey uh, my mom is here.” the frontman shared with the crowd. “I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like. I’m gonna dedicate this song to her even though ‘Composure’ is her favorite.” The song in question ended up being ‘Backfire’, which meant it was time for the wall of death in honor of Mama Luhrs. The North Carolina metalheads happily obliged and split the crowd down the middle before crashing into each other, and the party continued on. “You’re amazing, Charlotte. I’m glad Ma could be here with you.” She even got in the group photo at the end of the show.
It was certainly a family affair that night at The Fillmore. As things came to a close with ‘White Washed’ and the crowd broke into one last frenzy, it was apparent that the August Burns Red family has only continued to grow over the course of their twenty years as a band. Here’s to twenty more.
August Burns Red will resume their 20th Anniversary Tour with The Devil Wears Prada and Bleed From Within on April 13th. Check out the full list of tour dates below and get tickets HERE.
Apr. 13 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore Philadelphia
Apr. 14 - New York, NY - Palladium Times Square
Apr. 15 - Albany, NY - Empire Live
Apr. 16 - Worcester, MA - The Palladium
Apr. 18 - Niagara Falls, NY - Rapids Theater
Apr. 19 - Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre
Apr. 21 - Grand Rapids, MI - The Intersection
Apr. 22 - St. Louis, MO - Red Flag
Apr. 23 - Kansas City, MO - The Truman
Apr. 25 - Oklahoma City, OK - Diamond Ballroom
Apr. 26 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown
Apr. 28 - Minneapolis, MN - The Fillmore Minneapolis
Apr. 29 - Chicago, IL - Concord Music Hall
Apr. 30 - Cincinnati, OH - Bogarts
May 02 - Cleveland, OH - House of Blues
May 03 - Pittsburgh, PA - Stage AE
May 05 - North Myrtle Beach, SC - House of Blues
May 06 - Richmond, VA - The National
May 07 - Sayreville, NJ - Starland Ballroom
May 09 - Toronto, ON - Danforth Music Hall
May 11 - Montreal, QC - Mtelus
May 12 - Quebec, QC - Theatre Capitole
Check the photo gallery by Nicolás Delgadillo of the Charlotte show below.
BLEED FROM WITHIN