Norfolk, Virginia (October 30, 2019)– It is a brisk Holloween’s Eve here in this Navy town and once again I arrive at The Norva for tonights show. I am walking into the show right at 7pm and learn that I had missed the opening band Santa Cruz due to an unknown move up of the shows start time. Lots of people were arriving when i entered the building so unfortunately I think we all missed Santa Cruz’s debut performance in Norfolk tonight.
Only a few minutes pass and I see the house security becoming active up front as tonights second band Tempting Fate of Los Angeles, CA takes the stage. The band enters stage right as blue spotlights dart around the stage and the crowd begins to clap. Lead singer Cory Beecher is wearing what seems to be a bright yellow rain coat to at which one moment in the set he proclaims, “Don’t let this yellow coat deceive you…” The band put on an energetic show for the audience. Cory’s brother, guitarist Shane Beecher provides powerful backing vocals for various songs as they play their unique mixture of melodic metal laced with carefully engineered guitar riffs. The band stated the set was going to be short tonight due to time restraints. While performing Cory would jump down from the stage and sing out to the crowd while perched on the metal barrier behind me. The crowd is loving it, and the stage was also alive with hair flying all over the place from Matt Campbell the bands bassist. Showered in blue stage lighting, the stick flipping showman drummer Alex Rivas displays intense faceial expressions as his arms meticulously pound the bands percussion to the rhythm of the songs. Later in the set Shane removes his jacket and displays his bright orange and yellow Jack-o-lantern shirt in honor of Halloween the next day.
With the yellow coat now gone, Beecher entertains the crowd as the stage lighting cascades from behind him giving the band a dramatic look. The two brothers perform close on stage with Cory’s arm draped on Shane’s shoulders as he strums his guitar. The set ends quickly but the crowed was left cheering by the end as Tempting Fate thanked everyone for coming out.
The night is moving along at record speed as the stage is reset in a matter of minutes and Wilmington, NC’s He Is Legend is about to go on. The lights drops and I can see dark silhouettes of the band entering the stage. The first song begins and it is loudest I have heard so far tonight. The the chaotic grooving riffs set the crowd on fire as vocalist Schuylar Croom flails his arms and spins around the microphone. Guitarist, Adam Tanbouz is laying down the heavy rock metal grooves washing over the crowd and feeding the circle pit mid room. The first few rows are rocking out but there is a group of fans within the circle pit as well. Someone lost a shoe and I see a fan holding the shoe while holding up their cellphone of which they had written “Who’s Shoe?” on the screen so it was bright and easy to see. During the He Is Legend‘s more melodic choruses, the pit merely slowed down to a walking zombie like circle of energy that would burst back into action when the music increased its tempo. It was fascinating to see.
The shirtless drummer Jesse Shelley, is rocking out on his thrown as bassist Matty Williams whips his head to the rhythm of the kick drum. He Is Legend‘s songs are pounding with intensity and the melodic vocals of Croom accent the bands power and forms an entertaining mixture of musical genres.The songs give me almost a Black Sabbath meets Alice In Chains vibe that was being blasted out and enjoyed by everyone in the room. Combined with Scholars dynamic stage presence He Is Legend are showmen who come to get the job done.
Yet again, only a few minutes pass and it is now time for Whitechapel to take to stage. There is only dramatic spotlighting on the band as they break into their first song. Mostly dressed in black, the band seemingly sinks into the darkness of the stage and their movement reveals a small bit of visual every few moments.
A red and black eyeball graphic is displayed behind the Knoxville, TN based band. The driving riffs have kicked The Norva into high gear as vocalist Phil Bozeman voice commands the building.
YOU ARE NOTHING!
WE ARE EVERYTHING!
Some parts of the songs remind me of the band Tool, because I can feel the song building up with emotion and then the powerful tifs that makes you loose control of your body when it kicks in. Gabe Crisp’s bass lines have the crowd swaying and drummer Ben Harclerode snare and kick drum have me memorized as they are in sync with the droning riffs. The music is carefully arranged and at times cinematic, bringing a visual feeling to the atmosphere of The Norva to where you don’t want to take your eyes off the band.
After a brief pause, the next booming Whitechapel song rips through the crowd as the entire place sways. I see a line of about 10 people in the pit arm and shoulder to shoulder rocking side to side in harmony to some slower parts, and I don’t think they even know each other. The guitar riffs of Ben Savage, Alex Wade have me nodding my head and i know it is going to be sore tomorrow but I don’t care. The deep gritty vocals of Phil ais like the chant of an Ogre reciting ancient ritual.
This band had me at “double bass” and the rhythm has me locked in and if I didn’t have my photo gear on me I’d be in the pit. The guitars are menacing and bringing the crowd together with their overall energy.
‘Move Bitch Get out the Way’ by rapper Ludacris begins to play on the house PA. The crowd starts to sing along.
“Move bitch, get out the way
Get out the way bitch, get out the way”
The band enters stage right and first thing I notice is they all have mohawks and bandanas. Quickly I realized everyone in the band was dressed up to look like their guitarist Dan Jacobs who was the only on stage with a real mohawk adorned with a bandana.
Backdropped with their albums “In Our Wake” iconic skull. Singer Alex Varkatzas address’ the crowd with waving arms and big smiles as the band ramps up the first song.
The band is intense as the backing vocals of red bearded bassist Porter McKnight enhances the bands energetic songs accompanied by the powerful chorus singing of drummer Brandon Saller. Brandon’s vocals show such talent that he could front his own separate band but yet highlights the main lyrical talents of Lead vocalist Alex Varkatzas.
During the set the place is a mad house, smoke cannons are going off, blasts of white pink and blue lights flood the stage and all the members interact with each other and the crowd.
From behind the drum set Saller says “Time flys when your dressed like Dan!”
I see a familiar fan from earlier in the circle pit. He his holding up is phone yet again but this time is reads “WHO’S HAT?” and sure enough he’s holding a baseball cap in his other had.
Mid set Brandon makes an announcement, “I think at this time there should only one Dan in the band.” ans they all begin to remove their fake mohawks. …“Someone else must be Dan now.” and he tosses his mohawk into the front of the crowd.
During one song bassist Porter McKnight leaves the stage and starts walking while still playing in the crowd. The entire circle pit is going wild around him, its a wild thing to see him rocking out with his red beard in the middle of the chaos. Then slowly turns and continues to play and walks back toward the stage.
The band continues to blast though a few more their songs but leaving the stage briefly and coming back for an encore. Saller says,
“We ain’t F’n dn yet!”
Suller begins to sing on his drummers microphone, “The pit is alivvvvve with the sound of musssssic!”
Who has our new record?, Alex say’s. “ We gonna play House of Gold.”
“You give me a reason to feel like I belong here
I’ll be building this house made of gold
Darling, I now feel
Yeah, I pushed through the rain and the cold
And forgot all the pain that I’ve known
Yeah, you give me a reason to feel like I belong here
In this house made of gold”
I see someone bring out a green floor tom drum and set it up next to guitarist Dan Jacobs.
“We’d like to give a big thank you to Captain Jeff.
Thank you for giving your time to make noise for us military we are very proud”, says Brandon, as the band and the crowd begin to cheer
The band continues to play and are really in sync with each other. At one point every guitar playing member was playing their instruments behind their heads and also doing 80’s style rock posing beside each other front of stage.
Atreyu are masterful showmen, keeping fans excited and engaged the whole show. The circle pits never stopped moving and if someone fell a group of people would help them up immediately.
Catch them on tour here.
The Time Is Now
Right Side of the Bed
Ain’t Love Grand
My Fork in the Road (Your Knife in My Back)
Ex’s and Oh’s
Our Sick Story (Thus Far)
Demonology and Heartache
Her Portrait in Black
Bleeding Is a Luxury
House of Gold
Becoming the Bull
Five Vicodin Chased With a Shot of Clarity
Lip Gloss and Black
Photojournalist: Ken Penn