I don’t usually make the trek out to a show in Minneapolis unless it’s at The Varsity for two reasons: first, it’s the closest venue to me and second, I know exactly what to expect with parking. In short my routine is intact and I don’t get thrown a curveball. However, I found myself making to drive out to The Cabooze because of August Burns Red, one of my favorite bands and one that I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to see, even if it messed with my routine. The band sold out the venue weeks before the show, similar to last year when they came though the Twin Cities, and I expected the exact same as last year: difficult parking, a sea of people, and walking in freezing only to leave sweating like I’ve been standing in the humid, midsummer sun for three and a half hours.
Crystal Lake opened the show promptly at 7pm with a statement: an aggressive and impressive drum solo that set the tone for a hard hitting set. This is the first time I’ve been exposed to Crystal Lake’s music (this is also their first time across North America on a tour) and the intensity of their performance sold me on them instantly. Not only did the band captivate and win over the audience with their stage presence, but their heavy music got a good part of the crowd rowdy early on. I always try to make it a point to see the entire lineup even if I haven’t heard of any of the openers before and Crystal Lake is a perfect example of why: I instantly became a fan.
Next up was veteran metalcore band Miss May I. I’ve seen this band headline The Cabooze, play Northern Invasion, and open for a few other bands, but for me this band does best in smaller club venues. The raw energy they carry on stage at smaller venues amplifies their sound and the intense crowds make their performance burst out of the venue. Their performance this time around was no different; even though they were second on the bill, they brought the best of their fast paced music which only amped up the crowd more. Playing a mix of old and new songs, their setlist for me was almost too short; the standard songs were in there (“Hey Mister, “Relentless Chaos”) but I was left wanting more.
Fit For A King took the stage shortly after Miss May I, and after seeing them perform part of their new album last fall, I was a little more than excited to catch them again. My only complaint about their set was how short it was. Between their intensity and the crowd more than matching it, their set flew by in a rush of breakdowns and insane stage presence. I thought their headlining set at Amsterdam Bar & Hall a war and a half ago was wild, but their set at The Cabooze topped it. Between the endless supply of crowdsurfers, guest spots by Crystal Lake and Miss May I, and band members jumping into the crowd, the band proved that they can own a sold out crowd.
Last but certainly not least, August Burns Red took the stage. I’ve seen this band countless times between headlining tours and festival spots and they always deliver a powerful set. Even with a lengthy discography, the band touches on every single record with the exception of their first, and Matt Greiner always delivers an incredibly technical and groovy drum solo. Honestly, what made me most excited to see them this time around was their live debut of their rendition of The Legend of Zelda theme, simply because that series is a personal favorite of mine. With that said, I can’t emphasize enough just how good August Burns Red is live; this band has perfected their craft and with every show can still manage to figure out how to make their performance refreshing and new. With a band as technically solid live as August Burns Red, it’s difficult to be critical of their performance. While I would love to see them headline a venue that isn’t The Cabooze one day, there’s just something special about watching them completely own this venue every time they come through, regardless of what their setlist is.