Words and Photos by Haley Sousa (Twitter: @hal3yanne)
This past Tuesday, Capstan made their way through Buffalo on their East Coast/Midwest tour with Neverkept, Rarity, and Bilmuri. The tour started on October 2, 2019 and runs all the way through October 20 making their last stop in Margate, Florida.
The show kicked off with an electrifying set by Pennsylvania rock band, Neverkept. This tour is their first time on a full tour run. Guitarist Aaron Mong informed me that they’ve played shows here and there, but this is the first time they’ve ever jumped on a tour. Honestly, if they hadn’t told me that, I would’ve had no idea.
Although they only have one song currently released, their set provided enough energy to set the mood for the night and get the crowd excited for the rest of the bands to come. It always amazes me when I have never heard of a band and they blow me away on stage, but that’s what I expect from a first opener; I always hope that when I leave for the night, I know of a new band that I will continue following through their journey. I mean, that’s how I discovered most of the bands who I listen to today. I’m extremely excited to see where their career as a band takes them.
Next was Rarity. This was my second time seeing them live. The first time was a month ago, at Mohawk Place, actually, during their short headlining tour in promotion of their latest album, The Longest Lonesome. We also had the chance to interview them twice prior to their performance Tuesday night which allowed us to gain a little insight into who this mysterious band from Hamilton, ON is. The first time we saw them live, they were on the last date of their tour and they played a quick thirty-minute set full of songs off of I Couldn’t Be Weaker and new singles off of The Longest Lonesome. There were only a couple people in the crowd at that show, but when we saw them on Tuesday, it felt like a whole new band. Rarity is a band that feeds off the energy of the crowd and with the bigger crowd at this show, they came alive on stage. The response they received back from the crowd fueled their performance even more and I was so happy to see so many familiar faces come out to see them again after their headlining tour. I had so many favorite parts of Rarity’s set that night, but I think the best part of the entire set is when guitarist, Adam Clarke, hands off his guitar to a random person in the crowd. At both shows, I was able to capture the moment and both times the person in the audience was extremely confused at first, and then realized what was happening and just started strumming like crazy while Clarke played around with his peddle board, turning absolute chaos into a distinct sound that would end their set both nights.
Playing before Capstan was Bilmuri. After leaving Attack, Attack! in 2011, lead vocalist, Johnny Franck went on to form Bilmuri in 2016. This band is the meme band. Their social media is literally just memes which I think is risky, but Bilmuri does it right. On their last album, wet milk, there aren’t any spaces between the words of their titles; they even titled one song “spacesbetweenlettersarecool” just to be ironic. Personally, I’m not a fan Bilmuri’s sound; not that it’s bad, it’s just not my style. Their live performance, on the other hand, was outstanding. They were funny, down-to-earth, and honestly, I liked their live sound more than on the recordings. They have some hardcore fans that absolutely adore their music which was perfect to get the crowd hyped for Capstan. Even though, most of the people in the crowd didn’t know their music, there were four or five fans that were dancing and screaming the lyrics along with the band the whole time and even made lead singer, Johnny Franck, laugh at some points during the set and loosened the crowd up for Capstan who took the stage next.
It’d been awhile since I’d seen Capstan live, since Warped Tour 2018 to be exact. Back then, they performed to a decently thin crowd on the Owly.fm stage, but this show was one of the few times I’ve witnessed a fairly crowded Mohawk Place. A few weeks back, they released their latest album Restless Heart, Keep Running which has received rave reviews from fans on social media. Although I feel the album sounds like typical Capstan, which isn’t a bad thing, I think what makes them so successful as an artist is their undeniable ability to connect with their fans on and off the stage. They frequently respond to fans’ comments, retweet their fans’ tweets, and consistently preach that their fans are not alone in their struggles with mental health. On stage, Capstan loves to get up close and personal with their fans, especially lead singer Anthony DeMario who rarely walks away from the front of the stage while performing.
I got a taste of their friendliness at Warped Tour when I saw them the first time around. At Warped Tour, I had the opportunity to talk to them after their set and they were unbelievably friendly and at no point did I feel like they didn’t want to be talking to us. They shared stories from being on the road, some of the meanings behind their songs, and made sure that every member of the band signed both of our shirts. In terms of connecting with fans, Capstan is an expert. I didn’t expect the same treatment in Buffalo. Obviously, it’s been over a year and the band has experienced immense growth since they played Warped Tour in 2018, but I couldn’t even tell; they were the same band on Tuesday that they were over a year ago: passionate and extremely caring towards their fans. Even in the way Andrew Bozymowski’s speaks during his mini speeches on stage exudes compassion, gratitude, and thoughtfulness. After their set, a few members remained at their merch table engaging with their fans the same way they did with me a year ago. It goes without saying that Capstan writes outstanding music and has amazing stage presence, but in this day and age, sometimes those things just aren’t enough anymore. With more and more artists and bands popping up in the scene every day, bands now need to find what makes them special and use it to their advantage. Capstan’s ability to engage with their fans each and every day and making their fans feel appreciated, important and cared for, will carry them far in the age of social media. Kevin Lyman often talked about how kids nowadays would rather sit on the couch and watch Netflix or scroll on social media than go to a concert, but Capstan uses this to their advantage to consistently engage with fans on social media which will ultimately draw more fans to their shows over time especially when they realize that they’ll be able to sing along with DeMario for almost every second of their performance. Fans’ memories of Capstan’s performance in Buffalo will stick with them forever. The fan who handed his phone to DeMario on stage will always remember that moment, a fan who might have been having a terrible day and then heard Bozymowski talk about how they aren’t alone and that Capstan will always be there for them will always remember those words on their bad days, and the fan who grabbed DeMario’s hand during “Wax Poetic” and screamed the lyrics at the top of their lungs while making eye contact with him will never forget the way his hand felt and the energy that flowed between them. Those memories are what keep fans coming back to see them live, what keeps fans tweeting and posting about the band on social media, and ultimately will be what fuels Capstan’s career all the way to the end. The day that they have to put up a barricade will significantly change how their live performances feel from the audience, so if you have a chance to catch Capstan on this tour, I highly recommend it.