The crowd waiting to see a metal gig in The Garage tonight are just a little older than one might expect in this usually teenager-dominant milieu. They are here for Rise Records’ ‘Rise Up Tour’, the U.S. metal label’s travelling showcase of their most prominent artists, namely Like Moths to Flames, Silverstein, The Devil Wears Prada and Memphis May Fire. A line-up like that might lead many to check the length of their fringe to determine whether they’d just woken up from a six-year coma. However nostalgic though, there is palpable excitement in the air.
First to the stage are Ohio bruisers Like Moths to Flames, who proceed to fire through a set of characteristically heavy breakdowns and chugging riffs that it’s hard not to move along with. Despite the early start (doors opened at 5.30 for some reason) they put on a strong show and leave the ever-growing crowd suitably warmed up and ready for an evening of shouting and strained neck muscles.
Strangely low on the bill, considering their roughly sixteen years as an active band, Silverstein open their set with ‘Stand Amid the Roar’ the uplifting opener of 2013’s ‘This is How the Wind Shifts’. Having been around as long as they have, the Canadian post-hardcore heroes obviously don’t struggle with enlivening a crowd.
An anxiety churns among the some of the older fans regarding how far into their lengthy back-catalogue the band will venture, but dissolves instantly as the opening riff of ‘Your Sword Versus My Dagger’ from breakthrough second album ‘Discovering the Waterfront’ echoes through the hall. The setlist is gratifyingly far-reaching – highlighted by first album favourite ‘Smashed into Pieces’ – and manages to cover most of the bases across the band’s seven albums. The soaring ‘My Heroine’ closes Silverstein’s set, their legacy cemented in a truly memorable performance.
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After a much-needed break, The Devil Wears Prada appear onstage, jumping straight into a blistering rendition of ‘Planet A’ from last year’s ‘Space’ EP. Mysteriously though, they appear to be sans vocalist. It’s not until a few seconds in that people start to realise that the frightening man who’s been storming back and forth in the near-empty mosh pit is holding a microphone. Vocalist Mike Hranica proceeds to spend roughly two thirds of the set charging ape-like around offstage, to the delight of the crowd and likely the chagrin of the poor roadie who has to hold his mic cable aloft to avoid it tangling.
It’s an electrifying spectacle, due almost entirely to the sheer passion and raw aggression of Hranica’s demented performance. Their set blasts through material both old and new, including particularly memorable cuts from the band’s two exceptional concept EPs ‘Space’ and 2010’s ‘Zombie’ – the energy level rarely drops below frantic. On his brief returns to the stage, Hranica even produces a guitar for performances of ‘To the Key of Evergreen’ and ‘Daughter’ from new album ‘Tranist Blues’. Hranica’s manic persona is unmatched, and gives new significance to the title of set closer ‘Danger: Wildman’, during which guitarist Kyle Sipress joins him in the crowd, throwing his guitar back onstage in an explosive finale.
Capping off the evening are Memphis May Fire. Following The Devil Wears Prada is no easy feat, but the Texas moshers hold their own with an incendiary set. Charismatic frontman Matty Mullins stays firmly onstage, but conducts the crowd expertly throughout their sometimes punishing, sometimes grandly melodic set. Despite a great performance, however, it’s hard to get over the sheer intensity of TDWP’s set, leaving Memphis May Fire at something of a disadvantage.
Rise Records have shown with this tour that the veterans in their roster are far from past it; truly there was no weak link in the line-up. But, as the crowd filter out into the night, it’s hard not to overhear what everyone’s talking about: The Devil Wears Prada stole the show.
‘The Dying Things We Live For’, ‘I Am Alive in Everything I Touch’, ‘Transit Blues’ and ‘This Light I Hold’ are all out now via Rise Records