As anniversary tours continue to find themselves announced at an increasingly alarming rate, calling into question both my age and mortality, there are only a fair few that actually have the ability to make me feel my 42 years. As a somewhat distantly invested fan of August Burns Red, the long-running metalcore outfit currently commemorating the release of, to me, one of their more interesting albums, Rescue & Restore, I felt my age in a different way at last night’s show at Bogart’s. Much like Hatebreed’s September showcase for The Age of Brutality, hardcore/metalcore shows are for young and/or young at heart to get their wiggles out. And while the bands performing night after night leave nothing behind, it’s hard not to feel the weight of so much heavy music by the end, even if, like me, you’re a curious spectator and lightweight fan.
One of the most intensely entertaining and supremely gnarly bands I’ve had the good fortune of seeing at Bogart’s, Crystal Lake, opened things up (including the pit). Their live set was wild, and on a stage cramped with multiple bands’ equipment and ABR’s insane lighting rig, traversing from one side to the other was fun to watch them try to navigate between wicked jumps, theatrical shredding, and regular reminders to wake up, move, and keep the pit going.
They came out swinging, and somehow, for 30 straight minutes, never let up. I would 100% percent make it a point to catch their live show again should they come back through.
Spite was next, and I admit, not having heard them before, I was fooled for a minute into thinking it was going to an instrumental set - their vocalist arrived on stage some time after the music started, so imagine my surprise when this sinister character appeared, microphone in hand.
Their set was 40 minutes of brash sounds, hocked and caught loogies, lots of sneering, and killer breakdowns. The crowd loved it, and I loved watching their guitar player literally stomp angrily around the stage through all of it.
Canadian exports Brand of Sacrifice played the role of direct support for August Burns Red, and amidst all the pig squeals, subsonic growls, and dreadlock tossing, their set was an instant favorite. Engaging in the great hardcore pastime of unleashing absurd amounts of heavy throughout the course of a song, then pausing to take a breath, then announcing, as loudly and sternly as possible, what song they’re about to play, every segue was a bit of a masterclass in how to structure and play through a brutal, but well rounded set of heavy ass music.
That they hung out at the merch booth after their set - through almost the entirety of ABR’s - is a testament to how much fun they were having, and how seriously they take what they do. Looking forward to seeing them again sometime.
August Burns Red, if you’ve never seen them before, is one of the most consistently good live bands currently touring. From lighting, to stage setup, to overall presence both in the musical sense and just in general presence (I get the sense that they’re all just good dudes, you know), I’ve never left an ABR show dissatisfied.
This one was the first where I’ve heard so much from Rescue & Restore, the album they’re currently celebrating the 10-year anniversary for, and it was truly wild to see an acoustic guitar on stage, to hear more clearly the mellower breaks and more subtle musicality the band so clearly possesses, to watch and listen to them take what would likely not make much sense in a mixed set from across their discography and turn it into a show that gave them a bit more time to breath.
I had a lot of fun watching them work their way through the set, hearing them quietly, confidently remind folks that hey, we’re here to have a good time, but you know, feel free to dance, mosh, crowd surf… all of which the sign in front of the stage at Bogart’s clearly says not to do (kudos to the staff, as always, for looking out for not just the wellbeing of those brave enough to entrust their bodies to complete strangers as they glide roughly from floor to stage, but for taking care of me and the other photographer trying to capture the mayhem and pretty lights).
All in all, like every other time I’ve been fortunate enough to catch August Burns Red live, this one left me feeling good. I enjoy heavy music, even if I’m not jumping in the pit and windmilling bigger dudes than me in the face, and I will always appreciate being able to go to a heavy show like this and feel like I’ve seen or heard something I hadn’t before. Cheers to ABR and cheers to Rescue & Restore. Thanks for letting Cincinnati be a part of the celebration.