By Keeyahtay Lewis
Holy shit. I have seen A Day To Remember play twice now, and both times I was left with just that thought: Holy shit. Maybe I should leave that for the end of the review but I think it is a pretty accurate way to start this off. I haven’t seen anyone bring more energy and just raw power to the stage in a long time. Last Wednesday night, they had an off day in between shows with Rise Against and they decided to spend it at Starland Ballroom. I had a chance to talk to Neil Westfall, guitar player, before the show. He said that they absolutely love playing NJ and didn’t want to pass up a chance to play for us all on their day off.
They opened up, like they often do, with The Downfall Of Us All. That is a pretty perfect song to open up an ADTR show; it starts out so heavy before some clean vocals kick in. It never ever fails to get every single person on their feet and moving. And move they did. Starland Ballroom was very, very sold out for this show. The floor was a pit of chaos, and ADTR loves it that way. A Shot In The Dark, I Am Made of Wax Larry, and My Life For Hire were all next. Along with the band kicking out a lot of beach balls to the audience. They never fail to make the crowd feel like an important part of what is happening on stage.
Leading all this chaos is singer/screamer Jeremy McKinnon. Neil Westfall and Kevin Skaff are on guitars. Josh Woodard was on bass, with Alex Shellnutt on guitar. ADTR are road warriors and they have the live show down a science. Not that it feels forced, but it is definitely a well oiled machine.At times bursts of smoke take over the stage, or the beach balls flinging through the air, they take it all in with a smile. I want to say too how much the band engages with the crowd. Especially McKinnon. Even while we are in the photo pit shooting he gets low and makes sure that we can all get amazing shots. You seem him too reach out a million different times to grab some kids hand, or even just smile and wave to someone in the back. The rest of the band follows suit. It is easy to see that they really love playing and love being able to fill any venue with screaming, singing, moshing, crowd surfing kids going batshit crazy.
Fast Forward to 2012 was next, and McKinnon forgot the whole first verse. He made a joke about it and laughed, and it was hardly even noticed. One small misstep in what was turning out to be another amazing show. All Signs Point To Lauderdale, 2nd Sucks, You Be Tails I’ll Be Sonic, Homesick…every song was a hit. At one point someone dressed as Gumby came out and fired t shirts into the crowd. And during Homesick McKinnon did the thing I was hoping he would do: he got into a huge inflatable ball and walked into the crowd. Fucking awesome.
Have Faith In Me was next and it was a clear fan favorite, with everyone singing louder than McKinnon could. Then they played an old one from their first album, You Should Have Killed Me When You Had The chance. It was hard to believe that the floor could get even crazier, but it did. McKinnon instructed someone to actually crowd surf on another person, and some kid in the audience did just that. At this point not only do we have beach balls flying through the air, toilet paper being flung around by the band, CO2 explosions with smoke and lights, but we also have the craziest pit I have ever seen. The security at Starland had their work cut out for them. In fact, at one point McKinnon thanked the security for “not being dicks and keeping everyone safe.”
It was encore time and the band had three good ones ready to go. All I Want was first, followed by If It Means A Lot To You. The latter song started out acoustic with McKinnon and Skaff before the band kicked in for the louder second half. The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle was their last song, and they left the stage with the energy still at an absolute high.
Such a good show. The band also talked about going back home to Florida after their last tour date to work on the new album, which they announced would be called Common Courtsey, and they should actually be working on it right now.
A lot of people I think instinctually want to dismiss ADTR or speak poorly of them. Honestly, I have no idea why. There are not many bands out there that sound consistently amazing while playing at such a high energy and volume. I love those dudes, and I would see them play any chance I got. One of the best shows I have seen this year so far.
All photos courtesy of Keeyahtay Lewis of DeadBoltPhotos.com