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Fear Before the March of….Lights?

Monday, July 18th, 2005
Fear Before the March of Flames / Curl Up and Die / Bear vs. Shark / Fire When Ready / Fares Well Without
The Championship, Lemoyne, PA

Having not been to a hardcore show in what seemed like forever, I was particularly excited to see the lineup presented this evening. Truth be told, I even requested off from work for this particular show and was not disappointed that I forfeited my amazing salary of six dollars an hour for three hours of musical entertainment.  Fares Well Without, a local hardcore favorite, took the stage first.  I have seen them play several times prior to this show, and the lead singer Wally’s stage presence brings an added spark to their performance.  A mix of more traditional hardcore and metal, Fares Well Without succeeds at blending the two genres to create their own exciting brand of music.  While not exceptionally innovative, they are well on their way to becoming a serious force to reckoned with in the music business, and the boys making up the band are all rather young, with a lot of time to grow and hone their sound.

The next band to play was Fire When Ready, who seemed a bit out of place on this particular tour based solely on the category their music falls under in the giant spectrum of mostly made up genres everyone is so fond of using.  Although the lead singer, who doubled as the bassist, realized that about a third of the way through their set that his bass was not playing properly, he merely tossed it aside, grabbed the microphone, and began gyrating around the stage Adam Lazzara style.  Since I had never heard their music prior to this night, I had nothing to compare it to and thus did not notice any notable difference sans the bass line.  In fact, I would recommend that they find a regular bassist and just have him do vocals, because his antics on stage when free of the constraints created by playing an instrument added a great deal to their performance.  Admittedly, I am not a fan of most punk rock, but Fire When Ready’s music and vocal style seemed merely based on this, and instead of being merely another cookie cutter band, they added a certain complexity and uniqueness to their music.

After their set, you may recognize the next band as one I’ve already written about several months ago; a little band called Bear vs. Shark.  Since I’ve already sang their praise in previous publications, I will spare you the gory details and just say that once again they put on a stellar performance that did not disappoint in the least.  Given that I had already seen them play a couple months ago, one might be worried that the set would be somewhat redundant, but this band, especially the vocalist, is one that always manages to spice everything up, and take it up a notch no matter what.

Curl Up and Die was probably the most disappointing band for me, solely from a musical stand point.  Though prior to seeing them live, I hadn’t been exposed to a great deal of their music sans several songs I downloaded to get a feel for them, I was let down by their lack of ingenuity and the seeming blandness of their songs.  Despite the vocalist’s amazing energy and stage presence, the fact that their songs all ran together and none stood out is what stuck in my mind most about this particular band’s performance.  Perhaps if they dropped the formulaic song structure and made the lyrics at least somewhat intelligible they would have greater success at holding the audience’s attention.

The most anticipated band in my opinion, Fear Before the March of Flames, did not disappoint in the least.  In fact, they even upped their quality of performance since the last time I had seen them several months ago.  A few extra minutes of setting up time yielded a Plexiglas covered light box set in the middle of the stage on the floor, and several sets of strobe lights at the back of the stage.  The lead singer cavorted around the stage; jumping on the box of high powered colored lights, which along with the strobe lights (and absence of other lights in the room) created almost an ethereal feel.  The only disappointment was that the venue owners would not allow the lights in the record store connected to the stage to be shut off, which would have provided a more dramatic lighting effect.  Sound clips and space-like sounds accompanied the band’s crazed performance of their own unique brand of complex hardcore and served as interludes between songs.  Unlike their touring counterparts Curl Up and Die, Fear Before the March of Flames had a much more unique sound to their music; with more elaborate and distinctive guitar parts in addition to the more distinguishing vocals.  With all the flashing lights and crazy stage antics, this was one band that was lucky that no one in the audience was epileptic, because they surely were seizure inducing…in a good way.

– Allison Frank