Counterparts’s tour, Private Room 2.0, stopped through Buffalo on November 17, 2019 with Stray From The Path, Varials, Chamber, and Greyhaven. Let me tell you, round two was even better than round one. This tour bill is stacked with some of the best hardcore bands today featuring co-headliner Stray From The Path who released their latest LP, Internal Economics, the same day as Counterparts released Nothing Left to Love on November 1st this year. This headline pairing provided the crowd with endless hardcore beatdowns that the crowd responded to with non-stop moshing.
The show kicked off with Greyhaven, a band I was not familiar with previous to this tour. This was their last date on the tour before they would depart from the tour. Out of all the bands on this bill, I think Greyhaven was the perfect band to set the mood. Their music borders the harder side of post-hardcore and the lighter side of hardcore depending on which song you listen to. Their music allowed the crowd to simply listen to great music while warming up and grabbing a few drinks at the bar.
Next to take the stage was Chamber. We’re about to hear a lot more about this up and coming hardcore band from Nashville in 2020. This year marked the release of their debut LP with Pure Noise Records, Ripping / Pulling / Tearing. Unlike Greyhaven, Chamber is a straight heavy hardcore band with outstanding technical skills. Their guitar licks are captivating, eerie, and so well written that it gives me chills when I hear them. I always notice a good front-man because of how well and how often they interact with the crowd. For a lot of front-men, performing to a crowd without a barricade to separate them can be intimidating, especially as an opener for a tour, but Sam Fleming didn’t shy away from the crowd during the set; he frequently remained at the very front of the stage, engaging fans who may have never heard his music before. The crowd responded to their energy on stage with a massive mosh pit that would remain in the middle of the floor throughout the rest of the show.
After Chamber, Private Room veterans, Varials, took the stage by storm. This is my fourth or fifth time seeing Varials live and the response from the crowd gets more and more insane each time. The first time I saw them was on the original Private Room tour last year and I instantly fell in love with this band.
Varials has been almost non-stop touring since last year and released their third LP this year, In Darkness. In the short year that I’ve been familiar with them, they’ve gotten increasingly more well known in the scene and has made a name for themselves by touring with some of the best hardcore and metalcore bands today. Last year, they opened the Private Room tour, but this year, they had the coveted third slot before the first headliner, Stray From The Path. I’ve never seen Varials receive a response from the crowd as crazy as this one. More people were moshing than I’ve ever seen, more people were screaming their lyrics along with Travis, and I saw tons of fans sporting their infamous red, green, or blue shoulder bags (including myself). Although Brendan Murphy accidentally missed his featuring during the set because he was “in the potty”, the set still packed enough energy to get the crowd riled up for the two headliners to come.
Stray From The Path took the stage after Varials. By this point, I was hoping that the moshers had worn themselves out so I’d maybe catch a break from protecting my camera from flying fists, but I was dead wrong. If anything, the mosh pits during Chamber and Varials were simply a warm-up to the craziness I was about to experience during SFTP and Counterparts.
Last year, I was able to move around in enough places that I wouldn’t have to worry about my camera getting hit, this year it was every man for himself on the floor. The medium-sized bar venue was nearly sold out during this year’s tour and nearly every fan that would come for the night had shown up by the time SFTP took the stage, so it was absolutely packed. During the first part of their set, the crowd was energetic, but I knew they were still saving some energy for Counterparts so it wasn’t too bad…Until vocalist Andrew Dijorio asked the crowd if they wanted to be part of a music video and then all hell broke loose on the floor. It was insane, but it was arguably the best part of the night. People were stage diving and crowd surfing and moshing and climbing all over each other and truly embracing the environment of being at a punk show.
Finally, the band the crowd had been waiting for all night had come: Counterparts. If I thought Stray From The Path had a wild set, Counterparts was even crazier. If I’ve learned anything about Counterparts fans, they are die-hard for their band, plus they were hyped to hear songs like “Wings of Nightmares”, Paradise and Plague”, and “Love Me” for the first time live. Their set list featured a wide range of songs from all of their discography including fan favorites like “Witness”, “No Servant of Mine”, “Swim Beneath Your Skin”, and they closed the night with “The Disconnect”. I love the Private Room tour concept that Counterparts has stayed with these past two years. The idea of the private room and being able to engage with the artist inches away from you with no barricade encapsulates what hardcore punk music was meant to be. The community at the Private Room Tour 2.0 was no different from the first run, and I saw many people who attended the first tour come back for round two. Last year, the bill wasn’t completely hardcore, but this year, adding another band and keeping a consistent bill helped their success and they nearly sold out Rec Room in Buffalo. I hope they continue this tour through their career and keep bringing more of the best hardcore bands in the scene along with them to help expose their fans to the best and brightest in our scene.