I’ve been living in a pop world for this latest stint of shows. From local group to Whosah on Wednesday night to the always energetic New Politics on Thursdays and then The Mowgli’s on Friday, it’s been nothing but happy-go-lucky shows with somewhat calm audiences. It’s been great, don’t get me wrong, but I needed to go back to my roots. I needed a show with sweaty bodies, chugging guitars, and ear piercing screams. Thankfully, Architects was in town last night and they (and their two openers) gave me exactly what I felt my life was missing.
The show started with Counterparts. I had seen these guys before but always in smaller venues. I was extremely worried that they may not be able to fill the space when it came to a venue as large as First Avenue’s mainroom but within the note I was pleasantly surprised that filling the space and getting the large crowd going would be no issue for this band. Counterparts is a melodic hardcore punk band from Canada so they didn’t offer any condolences to the crowd when it came to the insane snowstorm we found ourselves in the middle of but with only thirty minutes on stage, maybe that was for the better. The group powered through their set with the perfect mix of aggression, power and craftmanship.
Although Counterparts has only been around since 2007, they have five full length albums and two EP’s. They could have played for hours and I don’t think you’d have any complaints from the surprisingly large crowd that had braved the snowstorm. They effortlessly commanded the crowd’s attention and had a pit going with in just a song or two. Whether you found yourself in the sweaty mess that had kicked off in the center of the floor or if you were off to the sides just watching the chaos from afar, there was no denying that Counterparts absolutely killed it and the two bands to come had a very high bar to meet.
Following a quick stage change-over, it was time for Stick To Your Guns. Just like Counterparts, I have seen STYG multiple times now but always in smaller venues. After seeing how easy it was for Counterparts to command a larger venue, any worry about STYG being able to do the same fell to the wayside. As the band stormed the stage, they hopped right into a forty minute set full of their hardcore punk sounds. While their sound was a bit more hardcore punk than the metal feel of Counterparts, STYG had the crowd going from the first song. Singer Jesse Barnett didn’t have to say much of anything between songs to get the crowd going. All the audience needed was the blasting drums, chugging guitars and basses, and the intense vocals.
You could feel the anticipation build as STYG left the stage and a large screen came down from the ceiling to conceal the stage for the change-over. The crowd migrated closer to the stage and the front row went from a spattering of people to a can of sardines. As the screen rolled back up, the crowd went insane even though the band members of Architects had yet to take the stage. As soon as the five members were spotted taking the stage, the crowd erupted into a sweaty mess and stayed that way throughout the group’s hour and a half long set.
Architects is a huge name in the metal scene. Their metalcore style is distinct and vocalist Sam Carter has a primal scream that is super recognizable. In a scene that seems to be overcrowded with bands that all sound the same, Architects is a breath of fresh air that is getting the attention that they deserve. Since forming in 2004, Architects has put out seven full length albums. Each album seems to have new elements that show the progression of the band. You can hear how the band has grown over the years which, again, in a scene where things seem to stay the same, is something that makes them stand out.
With an intense light show and nose-ring rattling beats, Architects had a sense of intensity throughout their set that can not be put into words. Unless you were there and felt the beat in your body, nothing I can say will put you there. Beyond the brutal music, there’s a sense of compassion with this band. Having lost a member (and twin brother to drummer Dan Searle) to cancer a couple of years ago, this group had every reason to hang it up and be done. The loss of guitarist Tom Searle was a blow to the band and anyone who ever listened to the group and honestly I wasn’t expecting the group to recover but they definitely recovered and then some. Sam’s tortured sounding vocals seemed to be a constant reminder of the sorrow but in a truly beautiful and touching way. The intensity of the other band members was a perfect match for those tortured vocals leading to now just a powerful set– but a truly emotionally deep set.
Sam addressed the crowd multiple times with words of appreciation for the enormous turn out even with the massive amount of snow dumping on the city outside. He used his platform to promote things that truly meant something to him and you could tell that by the way he spoke and chose his words. With small speeches about standing up for what you believe in and getting off your ass and doing something with your life, the connection between this group and the fans was evident and truly uplifting. It goes without saying but being in the audience during Architects’ set felt like being part of a family and, again, that’s just something that can’t be put into words.
There were a million shows going on last night. I wanted to see Walk The Moon at The Palace Theatre, Enslaved at The Cabooze, FREEWIFI at The Fine Line, Porches at The 7th Street Entry, Steve Aoki at The Armory, and Anthrax at The Skyway Theatre. On top of that, the nearly foot of snow we were getting made me want to just stay in with a cup of coffee and a good book. Thankfully, I chose to go to First Avenue with a group of some of the best friends I could ever ask for and I went to bed last night knowing I had made the right decision.