First introduced to this band at Rocklahoma back in May, it was completely obvious to me that this Metalcore group from Ocala, Florida was (or has been) on the fast track from the moment they hit the stage. Oddly enough, they performed right after the show was delayed due to a massive power outage, which was before the tornadic activity arrived that almost blew us to visit The Great Oz that shut the whole show down.
It’s my theory that they stirred up enough energy in the f’ing atmosphere that made that storm dogleg back and head straight for us. The hoard of people that were in front of the stage waiting for music – any music would have sufficed us crabby festival goers – got way more than we expected. It was like all of us, simultaneously had the wind knocked the fuck out of us as we tried to catch our breath the rest of their set!
Since then, they have been on my radar, just waiting for the blip to blink alerting me they were headed for Dallas. And six months later, that blip landed me at Gas Monkey Live for their support appearance to A DAY TO REMEMBER’s triumphant return. I was going to make sure that what I remembered at Rocklahoma was real and not a fluke (or more honestly, my floundering memory that waivers as I am old AF!).
Getting to the venue, after picking up my press stuff, I was kinda strolling looking at my phone thinking the line was just around the corner. Pretty sure I said out loud, “WTF?” when I saw the line winding back through the parking lot at least ¼ of a mile down towards the grass at the back of the property. There’s something about a long line to get in a show that amps everyone up and makes it even more exciting. Besides the obvious, I don’t know the exact reasons, but I love to see a sold out or close to sold out show no matter who is freaking playing. How about y’all?
Close to 7:30 when WAGE WAR’s set time began, I made my way to the floor and had to slither like a garden snake in tall grass, around a gazillion people standing in the front to claim their place for the night or at least that was their hope. And as the lights dimmed and I had my camera up to my eyeball hoping I hadn’t accidentally put the camera on a setting that had the flash on (jeezus that is the worst, ever!!). The band walked onstage and in that brief moment before the music starts and it feels like the air has been replaced with cotton or that you’ve been holding your breath for the last hour. Right when you think you’re going to keel over you’re blasted with music and saved!!
And from that moment, I couldn’t tell you the song order or if there were mistakes, nothing. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you the set list, and if they played this or that song – frankly, that’s not why I go to shows to write a review. Y’all know why I preach to every and anyone who will listen to me about why I love music and the bands I love; it is those connections y’all! To connect with the band myself and to show others how important the connections between bands and fans are with the sole desire to root those connectors deeper. Since this was only the second time I’ve seen them and my connection with them has just started to fuse, I think of this as an opportunity to become a FFL (Fan For Life) of WAGE WAR for me and maybe some of y’all.
BRITON is quite the lyricist and has some pretty thoughtful and deep words strung together which is always a bonus for me. I loved the power that came behind every band member’s performance. It was totally felt in the audience as they screamed the words back to BRITON on stage.CHRIS GAYLORD (bass) moved so fast, I think his aura moved right behind him that caused this escalator-looking effect at times coming through the beams of light. SETH (BLAKE) and CODY (QUISIAD) duked it out within themselves; not IN battle and not against each other but with all the would be’s and the could have’s that didn’t hold them back to leading them to the place they’re at now. I imagined a centrifugal dome holding us, the music and the band all together, almost. And with the pounding force coming off of STEPHEN’s (Kluesener) drums that managed to keep all of this movement, energy, and epic vibrations wrangled in; not letting any note or vocal spill over. I’m sure had one note accidentally rolled off and to the other side or if the security guys would have allowed one leg or arm over that invisible barrier that kept everything in the room together and balanced, it would have spontaneously combusted in a white ball of light!! POOF!!
Too much? I don’t think so. I think that WAGE WAR has the acute ability to harness the energy of a crowd like they saw in Dallas and at Rocklahoma – probably anywhere they play – and reel it in as nourishment and feed it back to an audience in massive doses. Now, this ability shouldn’t be taken lightly because not every band does this. I’ll venture to guess though that since their inception in 2013 that this ability to rile up an audience and bring it has just been fine tuned to almost perfection.
WAGE WAR strengthened this connection for not only me, but some of the other random people I like to talk to at shows. It’s only fair, no? A review isn’t just about what I think. I like to see the reaction from fans about a band I’m covering. Like two guys that drove up from Houston after seeing ADTR the night before, totally unplanned and just made the 5 hour drive because they wanted to. When I asked about their thoughts on WAGE WAR, they were impressed enough to be here in Dallas to see the show again. Both said that WAGE WAR brought it in Houston and they loved the set. An energetic and huge ADTR fan in line that showed me her tattoo of lyrics from one of their songs. And when I asked her and her friend if they had heard of WAGE WAR, they talked about hearing them streaming on a music provider and both were excited to see what they did live. Her friend was totally impressed with their music as well. I didn’t get to talk to them after but I’m sure that what they saw in WAGE WAR’s set just made their connection stronger. I mean how could it not?
As WAGE WAR finish out this tour and with the remaining adventures they have left supporting “DEADWEIGHT” this year, I hope that you get to experience this band live. If you don’t have the record, go buy it and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Then make sure you’ve done as I did and put them on your radar so you’ll know when they’re coming to your area. I know that if you are a fan of Metalcore, the battle in moving up on your list of favorites will be lead by WAGE WAR. #thatsafactjack
Til Next Time – MRML
Photos by Cherri Bird