Words: Chandler Poczciwinski
Photography: Haley Sousa
Ever since I discovered Vein at the Every Time I Die’s ‘Tid The Season last December, I have been eagerly awaiting their return. From that one performance, it was clear that Vein left a lasting impact on the Buffalo hardcore scene which is quite distinct in Buffalo. There’s something about bands like Vein and Every Time I Die that seem to draw a crowd that can only be seen at a show when the heaviest bands roll through the chicken wing capital of America. While the Boston, MA natives started in 2013, they didn’t receive the attention they deserved until the release of their first full-length album Errorzone (June 22, 2018). Produced by the legendary Will Putney, Errorzone received massive critical acclaim, even being named the 6th best metal album of 2018 by Rolling Stone. Despite being their first full-length album, Errorzone proves that Vein is not your average metal band. By taking influences from hardcore, mathcore, and everything in between, Vein has created a sound and image that separates them from the rest of the bands in the hardcore scene.
With a critically acclaimed album under their belt, Vein hit the road this fall with their friends in Soft Kill and Higher Power, adding Modern Color, Dead Heat and Narrow Head on select dates. I was lucky enough to catch this fully loaded tour as it made its stop in Buffalo, NY this past weekend. The tour features a mixed bill with each band possessing their own unique flair, so it was destined to be a night of great music.
First up was the melodic rock group Modern Color from California. This band sounds like a melodic version of Vein; their music still holds the anger and the heavy vocals like Vein but includes more ambiance and less synth making their performance an excellent way to kick off the night. What really stood out to me was the overall dynamics of their performance. At one point, they would be melodic and soft, but then in a moment’s notice they kick into a grungy rock beat that grabbed the attention of everyone in the audience. Their set was similar to a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, but always full of excitement and emotion.
Up next was Higher Power, who made the trip from England to join this tour. Higher Power brought a whole different feel to the show with their extremely high energy hardcore sound that sounds like 1970s New York City punk rock meets 2010 post-hardcore. It was almost impossible to stand still as High Power played and vocalist J Town dashed around the stage encouraging Vein’s fans to mosh and get crazy even if they had never heard any of Higher Power’s music before.
Even Vein’s bassist, Jon, could be spotted in the pit as Higher Power played through songs off their 2017 release Soul Structure in an effort to get the crowd pumped up for the rest of the night... Along with the songs off their past releases, Higher Power also played a new song titled, “Seamless” off their recently announced new album 27 Miles Underwater, set to drop January 22, 2020. 27 Miles Underwater is Higher Power’s first release since being signed to the major label Roadrunner Records, which they were signed to the same week as the show, and with “Seamless” already setting the bar high, this record is going to take Higher Power to the next level.
Following Higher Power, was Soft Kill, who brought an entirely new vibe to the night. By flooding the stage with smoke (to the point where you could barely see any of the members even if you were standing less than a foot away from them) and turning off every light they could in the venue besides the warm spotlights they brought on the stage, Soft Kill created a visual experience that complemented their darkwave/post-punk sound. The smoke effect that Soft Kill brought was so intense that it even set off the fire alarm in the venue, which created a cool effect all on its own. The combination of Soft Kills stage effects and their dark mellow tone created an atmosphere that almost felt like the calm before the storm that Vein brought to the stage.
Finally, the highly anticipated Vein took to the stage. As fans waited for the metal powerhouses to start, the venue felt quiet and calm, with smoke still lingering from Soft Kill’s set. However, as soon as Vein headed into their first song “Untitled” all hell broke loose as the pit opened up and fans rushed the stage to scream along. It didn’t matter if you were right in front of the stage or at the back of the venue, you could feel every note that Vein played deep inside your chest as well as the constant body slams coming from the pit as members of the crowd sprinted back and forth with as much energy as they could. I applaud Vein on their addition of the DJ on the stage, who added a whole new dynamic to their live performance, especially during the intro of “Virus://Vibrance” when the synth-y drums echoed throughout the bar.
While Vein already has some distinctly heavy bass drops, the DJ added his own bass to the drop which made the whole crowd erupt every time. Even though Vein’s music makes the crowd go crazy on its own, the addition of Vein’s notoriously great stage presence just adds fuel to the fire. Every time vocalist, Anthony, got close to the edge of the stage he was greeted by a pack of fans who were screaming every word along with him while he would get up close and personal and, at some points, grab the heads of those screaming along with him and position himself face to face with his fans. He would spot the fans who knew all the words and allow them to take the mic and scream so that the rest of the crowd could feel the emotions flowing from them. It is clear from this show that the Buffalo scene has kept a close eye on Vein as they continually make a name for themselves in the metal scene. Between their debut album and their energetic, unforgettable performances at Tid the Season and this show, it is obvious that Vein has a great future ahead of them, especially in Buffalo. If you want to see a dynamic range of bands along with the live experience that is Vein, check out their list of remaining shows, you won’t regret it.