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Stick To Your Guns and Emmure North American Tour 2018
With Support From: Sanctions and Wage War
Words and Photography by: Chandler Poczciwinski
A cold Saturday night in Rochester, NY, caused people to crowd around the parking ticket booths like penguins huddling for warmth. It was my first show with a complete hardcore bill in quite a while, at a venue (Anthology) that I had never been to before. I was excited, to say the least; a new venue is always an adventure, and Stick to Your Guns, one of my all time favorite bands, was headlining the event for the evening. Unfortunately, I missed the opening local act Destroy//Create, who I was really hoping to see because I know they are a local gem. Destroy//Create is definitely one of the premier hardcore bands in the Buffalo/Rochester area, and they have some really great shows coming up that I hope to find myself at.
Sanctions, the boys from Long Island, NY, were the next act to hit the stage. This band definitely did not disappoint, their extra heavy chugs shook the room and were the perfect way to start off an evening of hardcore music. I was super excited to see the next band Wage War play, they are one of the first metal bands that I got into, and I have been following them since their first release Blueprints. Wage War has always been on the top of my list for great sounding metal bands, and they once again solidified their spot on that list. However, I could see it in their faces that they were itching to play some new songs, and I hope to see some new music coming from them soon. The co-headliners for this tour, Emmure, treated the Rochester crowd to a combination of great heavy music and awesome stage production. The lighting production for this tour was unlike any that have seen before. They raised the bar to the next level and added a really unique element to the show for their fans viewing pleasure.
When I first saw this tour lineup, I was a little surprised to see Emmure and STYG co-headline together, and didn’t know what to expect when I got there. However, the combination of Sanction, Wage War, Emmure and Stick To Your Guns provided a wide range of sound for the crowd to eat up. It actually turned out to be a great night and I was able to get a taste of all the different types of hardcore music that I find myself listening to. This was my first time seeing STYG live despite them being one of my favorite bands. My high expectations for STYG were surpassed, and they didn’t disappoint in the slightest.
Besides their undeniable energy and passion, what I love the most about STYG is the positive message that they preach while they are on stage. A message full of standing together, standing tall, and taking action that can be easily taken to heart during these pivotal moments in history. It should be known that Stick To Your Guns is not a political band, they are a band that speaks on social issues. Their latest release True View (2017), actually touches the least on social issues, and instead gives us a glimpse into frontman Jesse Barnett’s personal struggle and reflection that has plagued him for the past few years.
This tour shows once again how STYG is a band that focuses on action, their #Hopebringers initiative rewards fans who do simple volunteer work around their community, with free tickets and signed merch. Is that not enough to prove STYG’s commitment to their message? It should also be know that recently in 2017, in support of the Action not Words charity, Stick To Your Guns became the first American hardcore band to play in Kenya. I could go deeper and deeper into all the great things that Stick To Your Guns does as a band, however, I will leave that for a future article. If you want to dive deeper into STYG for yourself you can catch them right now on their co headlining tour with Emmure, or you can find their latest album True View wherever you get your music. However, until next time, stay positive, take action, and long live hardcore.
Headliner: Bumpin’ Uglies
Support: Kaleidoscope Sky, Joint Operation
Venue: Iron Works
Words and Photography: Chandler Poczciwinski
Buffalo was treated to a night of great music and even better vibes this past Thursday, October 4th as Bumpin’ Uglies (Annapolis, MD) came through town to start the next leg of their never-ending tour. Bumpin’ Uglies has spent quite some time in Buffalo. In the ten years vocalist Brandon Hardesty, bassist Dave Wolf, and drummer TJ Haslett have been touring, Buffalo has been a date on their map for the last seven of those years. Buffalo was one of the first cities that they ventured to when they first started to tour with band Pasadena. Back then, Bumpin’ Uglies mostly played to small crowds of about five or so people at a small local bar. However, this most recent appearance in Buffalo was not reminiscent of those times; their show at Iron Works really showcased the massive growth of this band, and the dedication of their Uglies Nation. Iron Works is surprisingly one of the only Buffalo venues that we have never been to before. After arriving to the venue, I discovered that this is truly a gem of downtown Buffalo. From the outdoor patio filled with chatter and cigarette smoke, to the upstairs viewing loft with plenty of comfortable seating, friendly staff, and overall great atmosphere, we will definitely find ourselves at Iron Works soon. This tour, Bumping Uglies is supported by Joint Operation, who jumped on the bill last minute after band, Stacked Like Pancakes, dropped off a few days before.
The first act to take the stage was local reggae-rock band Kaleidoscope Sky from Salamanca, NY, a small town nestled in the Southern Tier of New York close to our home at WSBU 88.3 The Buzz. They started as a simple two man jam band that grew into an outstanding 7 member musical act. From their reggae jam-band interludes to electrifying guitar solos coming from lead guitar player Bill Bratek, Kaleidoscope Sky has something for everyone.
Overall, their performance was outstanding, and vocalists Alex Haas and Ashley Paulus complemented each other very well in live setting. However, the screams from the crowd when bass player, Tristan Lee, showed his skills behind the mic, really proved that this band’s dynamic energy is what truly sets them apart from other reggae artists. Kaleidoscope Sky’s set was met with roaring applause from the crowd and were a perfect transition into the next act of the night.
Following Kaleidoscope Sky was Joint Operation, a Baltimore, MD band who jumped on this tour just a few days days prior to leaving, after complications with scheduled band Stacked Like Pancakes. This four-piece reggae-funk group puts all of their influences, from Nirvana to Sublime under one roof and creates an easy-listening sound with a reggae-rock vibe.
With their debut album set to release winter of 2018, the hype around this group is about to really take off. Despite only having four members, Joint Operation does a great job of filling out their sound. Vocals from Josh Lewis complemented with the guitar work of Ben O’Brien left no gaps in the mix. Joint Operation was the perfect band to jam out to while the rest of the venue filled out in anticipation for the headlining act of the night.
Finally, the band who is on (and forever will be) their never ending tour, Bumpin’ Uglies (Annapolis, MD). Coming off the release of their latest album Beast From The East released earlier this summer, this tour proves that even after a decade, Bumpin’ Uglies still has a lot up their sleeve. Haley and I were lucky enough to be able to talk to the band before they took the stage.
Our conversations varied from their lives when they are off tour, their long history in Buffalo, and obviously their music. Uglies’ frontman Brandon Hardesty shared his new task of being a husband with a child on the way, while balancing his ever growing music career. He tells us, “When you are on the road as much as we are, you spend your time at home trying spend quality time with the people you love, rather than just hanging out, due to our time at home being so limited.” The Uglies actually have a long history in Buffalo, it being one of the first cities that they would tour to when they first hit the road with an old band called Pasadena. Going from playing to a handful of people at small dive bars, to packing out Iron Works, you can see the growth of the Uglies in just Buffalo alone. Some fans at the show shared with me their long history with Bumpin’ Uglies from when they were playing their smallest shows, to other fans showing me their Bumpin’ Uglies tattoos. One fan shared that Pasadena was one of the first band’s in the reggae scene to take a chance on Bumpin’ Uglies and really give them the exposure they deserve. Now, the Uglies have seen a success that Pasadena never was able to achieve in the time they were a band, and rightfully so. The Uglies are a hard working band; after ten years, countless tours, and six albums plus one live album, they deserve it. The Uglies also shared with us how they don’t fall into the popular trap of playing the same set of songs every single day on tour. They stress the fact that each set is tailored to each city, what they are responding to and what they want to hear. They do this for multiple reasons, the obvious reason is that it’s boring to play the same set day after day, the other reason being that with their dedicated fan base, a lot of fans come to blocks of shows rather than just one date, so the Uglies change up their set so fans don’t see the same set twice.
They’re the type of band that will play the songs that the crowd is screaming. A tell tale sign that a band is a great band is when you go to their show and during the between song lulls, fans all scream different songs that they want to hear. If you go to a show and the fans all scream for the same song it means that that song must be a great song, however, if fans all scream different song then that band must have a vast collection of great songs that goes far beyond their “hits”. The second would be true for the Uglies, their impressive hour and a half long set spread across their multitude of releases, with fans eating up every song. The combination of their genuine offstage demeanor and their musical command on the stage, Bumpin’ Uglies are so much more than your normal reggae band.
Our overall experience at the Bumpin’ Uglies show was nothing short of amazing. With this show being our first taste of the live reggae scene in Buffalo, we were treated to a night of happy, genuine people of all ages and unbelievable musical talent. Also, even though this was our first experience at Buffalo Iron Works, it has already turned into one of our favorite venues. Bumpin’ Uglies never ending tour is probably hitting your city soon, and they will be be back on tour in February 2019 in support of Reel Big Fish, once again returning to Buffalo.
Counterparts’s highly anticipated Private Room tour made its stop in Buffalo, at the newest venue in the city, The Rec Room. This tour was in support of Counterparts’s new EP, Private Room, released on September 7, 2018. Private Room is a short three song ep, timing in at a little under 7 minutes, made up of leftover songs from their 2017 full length release You’re Not You Anymore. This tour focused on exactly what it says, “Private Rooms”; smaller venues to bring all the fan up close and personal, for an intense no-barricade experience, the way Counterparts are truly meant to be experienced. The support for this tour was an interesting selection of bands that branched between multiple genres. Counterparts vocalist, Brendan Murphy, touched on this subject during their set, by saying how this somewhat odd selection of bands was done so they could appeal to a wide variety of people, an element the bill’s of the local shows the band used to attend. Instead of sticking with a strict hardcore lineup, they brought in “emo” band, Have Mercy, and Being As An Ocean, a somewhat melodic post-hardcore band. Personally, I thought this provided for a great concert experience because it brought all my favorite genres of music and wrapped them into one convenient package.
The first band of the evening was Varials (Philadelphia, PA) who brought a truly unique hardcore sound to the show. Varials is definitely not your generic hardcore band, by having a combination pure aggression (like in Knocked Loose), strong deep screams from lead vocalist Travis Tabron, and their unique rhythms, Varials has found a recipe for success. This sound can be found on their recent release Pain Again (2017) the first release on their new label Fearless Records. I was able to see Varials a few months ago when they were on tour with Gideon, and again they brought the same raw energy that attracted me to them in the first place. Varials is still a newer band in the industry, however, their live shows have something special that will take them very far.
Up next was, as I would describe as the “oddball” of the evening, Have Mercy, the Baltimore emo rock band. Even though at first glance Have Mercy might have seemed a little out of place on this bill, I thought they played a great set that complemented the rest of the bands very well. Have Mercy is one of those bands that is not hard to like, with frontman Brian Swindle’s emotional raw vocals, and guitar work that properly drives the songs, Have Mercy has it all. The Buffalo fans were also treated to an acoustic performance of a song off Have Mercy’s upcoming album (release date not set). This was my third time seeing Have Mercy live and what I have determined is that every tour Brian sings each song just a little bit different, creating for a truly unique live performance each time you see them.
The third band of the evening was Being As An Ocean, who played a set like I have never seen before. I was a little nervous as to how they would convey their new sound that can be found on their latest album Waiting for Morning to Come, but BAAO turned their album into a live experience that I will never forget. Between their lighting theatricals and frontman Joel Quartuccio spending as much time in the crowd as he did on the stage during their hour long set, BAAO has a truly unique live experience. When I saw BAAO on their most recent run on the Vans Warped Tour, I honestly thought their set was a little lackluster, and was almost disappointed. However, after seeing them in a smaller venue where I was able to properly get the full BAAO experience, I take back everything that I said before. The true emotion and passion that they put into their music is evident in their performance. From Quartuccio dancing with the audience during the interludes to McGough’s captivating, melodic vocals, it is clear this newest album was built to give a live experience like no other. Their set focused on their latest release but they didn’t forget to please the fans by branching back to their earlier releases with a set that flowed effortlessly from song to song. As I have now learned, when Being as an Ocean plays live they do not just play a set, they play a show.
Finally, the headliners of the evening, Counterparts, would close out the music for the evening on a very high note. Starting off with “Monument” the first track off their newest EP Private Room, and expanding all the way to songs off their 2011 release The Current Will Carry Us, Counterparts played a career spanning set to the packed venue full of energetic fans. This show could easily have taken place at other larger venues in Buffalo such as The Town Ballroom, however, that would have defeated the purpose of the tour. The Private Room tour, brought fans of a variety of music, into the same small space to all experience a wild evening together. From stage diving to insane moshing, The Rec Room is, without a doubt, the place to see a metal show. The Rec Room allows artists like Counterparts to really show the power of music, by being able to bring people of all types into the same place, to share the one thing we all have in common, our love for music. This tour felt like a local show but with your favorite artists. Playing all of their shows in smaller venues with a mixed bill isn’t something you often see with bigger artists in the scene, but at the end of the day, music is what brings us together. No matter who the person is standing next to you in a show, we are all united by our love for music, and during that time we are all together, and even after we leave, we are all a family. This is a feeling I rarely get at bigger shows, but the Private Room Tour was definitely designed for the fans and it was definitely appreciated by everyone.