The Cool Tour falls flat, still pleases fans

A review of The Cool Tour with As I Lay Dying, Underoath and more at the House of Blues on July 20, 2010

, Contributing Writer

The summer concert season is in full swing and with it, a handful of touring festivals. Last Tuesday, metalcore fans were treated to the “Cool Tour” at the House of Blues in Boston. The show featured crowd pleasing sets from headliners As I Lay Dying and Underoath, as well as Between the Buried and Me.

Headliners As I Lay Dying came tearing out with opener “94 Hours” from their breakthrough album Frail Words Collapse. In addition to some older songs, the band featured a number of songs off their latest release, The Powerless Rise. From heavier songs like “Anodyne Sea” and “Beyond Our Suffering” to more catchy fodder like “Vacancy” and “Condemed”, the songs fit right in with the older material and was just as well received by the crowd. But it wasn’t all perfect. Singer Tim Lambesis, who’s screaming was almost entirely incomprehensible, sounded like background noise to the rest of the band most of the time. Despite Lambesis’s shortcomings as a singer, the rest of the band more than made up for it. Guitarists Nick Hippa and Phil Sgrosso are both great songwriters and players and worked great together. And drummer Jordan Mancino gave an excellent performance, even gracing the crowd with a spectacular drum solo about midway through the set.

However, As I Lay Dying’s set became very repetitive as the band applied a heavier part/melodic chorus formula over and over in just about every song. It made for a set that lacked substance, with the lone exception being an excellent rendition of “The Sound of Truth”. However, none of that seemed to matter with the crowd, who moshed and sang-along to every song. The band closed with an old favorite “Confined”, where Lambesis called for a Wall of Death that spanned the entire room. The crowd couldn’t be more excited to see the band and the band did there best to put on a show that matched that level of passion. And, for the most part, they succeeded in doing so.

Underoath, who went on before As I Lay Dying, received a similarly warm reception. This tour marks the band’s first tour without drummer and clean vocalist Aaron Gilepse, who recently left the band. As a result, singer Spencer Chamberlain and guitarist Timothy McTague had to cover the clean vocals. And while the band did try to stick to some of their heavier material, on some of their more popular songs like “Writing on the Walls” and “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”, it was clear they were straining to match Gilespe’s more high pitched vocals. For the most part, though, it didn’t take away much from the overall performance. But much like As I Lay Dying, they have a certain formula they’ve mastered and utilize in most of their songs, resulting in a similar sort of blurring. Opening songs “Returning Empty Handed” and “Breathing in a New Mentality” are so similar in structure and sound, they might of as well have been the same song. Underoath starts all their songs at 100 and remains there until the end, which is why a song like “Emergency Broadcast: The End is Near” (where Chamberlain even joined in on playing guitar) which starts at about 50 and then builds to real bang at the end, was such a refreshing break in the middle of their set.

At first glance, Between the Buried and Me don’t really seem like a good fir for this tour. With multiple 10+ minute songs and a lot of experimental elements in their songs, they seem fit for another tour. But you would never have guessed that based on the crowd, who were on board from the first moments of opening song “(B) Decades of Statues”. The band has such a high energy, drawn mostly from lead singer Tommy Roger’s incredible stage presence and the intense skill and technicality of every other member, its impossible to just stand there, arms crossed and watch. Songs like “Obfuscation” and the 11 minute “Disease, Injury, Madness” are so packed with different moods and layers, from fast paced and angry, to mellow and beautiful, the crowd couldn’t help but be captivated. And their closing song, the masterful 15 minute epic “White Walls”, which continues to build and build, getting heavier and heavier, until finally it bursts into the most glorious guitar solo, leaving the crowd absolutely elated. It’s one of the absolute best ways for any band to end a set. It’s hard to imagine any band having to follow such a powerful, captivating set and As I Lay Dying and Underoath, no matter how well they did play, just seemed to pale in comparison.

Earlier in the night, Blessthefall, the Acacia Strain, Architects, Cancer Bats and War of Ages performed.

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