We made our trek to Seattle in good time. Last time we were at Studio 7 in the industrial area of Seattle was to see 10 Years a couple of years ago. Then it was a cold and rainy week day, this time it was a hot sunny day on a weekend. If you’re ever in the industrial area on a Sunday, practically everything is closed but fast food and Starbucks. We got to the venue early so we can be first in line to support the opening acts. Once inside the hot muggy studio we learned that the 4 band line-up turned out to be a 7 band line-up because a few local bands were added to the bill. I am not a fan of more than 4 bands for a show (unless it’s a festival) but I was happy to see some local acts were getting some love and you never know, one of these local bands might be the next big thing.
First up was A Taste of Daylight. A three-member band consisting of Patrick (guitar/vocals), Cody (bass) and Rudi (drums) from right here in Seattle. My favorite part was probably the drums and unfortunately that was about it. With the time allowed for them, A Taste of Daylight only played 4 songs. Their style was not a great match for this show. With the type of singing and non-cohesive sound, I think they would fit in better for an audience who are also fans of one their influences like Chiodos or The Used.
Next up was W16, also a three-piece consisting of Caspian (guitar/vocals), Jimi (bass) and Jacob (drums) from Kirkland, WA. We overheard the security guard tell them that they looked so young it made him feel old. Although just kids, they looked at home on stage. Caspian was dressed like a greaser from the 50’s and he had some skill on the guitar. He seemed to be the leader of the group because throughout their set, the other guys would look over at him for cues. W16 had a bit of old school jamming blues and rock sound to them. At one point, Jimi had a little technical difficulties and even though the other guys seemed frustrated, Caspian and Jacob started jamming to pass the time. These guys have the potential to go far, just need to keep at it and gain some more experience. I wouldn’t mind seeing W16 again.
Finishing up the local band set was Awaken the Empire. Their look and sound seemed reminiscent of what you would see on the Ernie Ball Stage at Warped Tour. Their roots are in LA yet their hometown is Seattle, but these guys have toured all over the United States. Their stage presence was so professional it shocked me that they were a local band. Awaken the Empire consist of Damien Lawson (lead vocals/guitar), Romina Fronti (bass), Daryl Falconer (drums) and Shivan Somaratne (guitar) currently on Another Century label. Awaken the Empire has been around since 2009 and have slowly been making a solid name for themselves. Even getting some recognition from MTV for their video ‘Rise and Fall.’ They played their new single ‘Cross My Heart’ my favorite song of theirs, which is off their new album they’re promoting entitled Aurora. During the last song of their set, Damien came out and sang in the accepting crowd. Awaken the Empire definitely made some new fans that night.
Next up to the stage was Skytown Riot who hail from the same hometown as headliner 10years – Knoxville, Tennessee. This four-piece consist of Van Gallik (vocals/guitar), Cody Hensley (keyboard), Jason Fruchey (bass), and Sebastian Dunkel (drums). They started their set with the symphonic song ‘Sensational’ which was a great kick off song to introduce themselves to the audience because it showed their range and gave the audience a clear view of who they are. My first impression was they remind me a lot of Muse with their harmonic sound infused with solid rock. Cody had quite the set up around him with his keyboards and for a few songs he even busted out a key-tar! I was pretty excited about that, it’s always fun to see an unconventional rock instrument brought on stage and used well. My personal favorite song of theirs is the heavier ‘Runaway Princess’ which really got the crowd moving. Each song that they played seemed to build up on the last by adding more flair. Their energy and music flowed perfectly between each member and poured over into the audience because each member had the chance to show us their musical skills. With so much passion, Skytown Riot sure know how to put on a show.
Following the melodic Skytown Riot was the heavier, in-your-face rock band Islander. These guys come all the way from South Carolina consisting of stable member Mikey Carvajal (lead vocals), new member J.R. Bareis (lead guitar) and touring members Joe Rickard (drums) and Ryan Pei (bass). Promoting their first studio album Violence & Destruction on Victory Records, they start their set with the fast ‘Cold Speak’ to get the crowd going. To me, Islander was a blast from the 90’s with their old school nu-metal sound mixed with a bit of dirty hardcore. Their sound was a Deftones meets P.O.D. with Mikey’s vocals similar to Sonny Sandoval. Islander was a nice heavy change compared to the previous bands, these guys screamed and jumped with all their energy and commanded attention from the audience. During the middle of their set they busted out the song ‘New Wave’ which is the jamming anthem that washes over you like rain, which; with the rising temperature of the venue the audience really needed. Followed by my favorite song ‘Criminals’ which on their album features Sonny from P.O.D., is the head-banging, jumping song that growls in the pit of your stomach. Islander ended their set with ‘Coconut Dracula’ which I think as Mikey sings the chorus, you wonder if he’s really saying ‘Coconut Dracula’? and yes, he is. Great song.
I am not sure how to go about describing the next band, Starset. They were refreshing for sure. This four-piece comes from Columbus, Ohio and are listed as Cinematic Rock. So I am standing front and center stage as Starset sets up, they place a tall podium right in front of me. I look around at my fellow audience members and joke at the view I now have. One of the band members tells me that the podium is ‘C-3PO’ ha! I laugh and tell him my favorite is R2-D2. Well, next to the podium is a big box of so many technical devices any geek would be excited for. I only recognize a projector, mirror and then a huge touch screen. The same band member informs us in front that this piece of equipment, called the Emulator, is real expensive so no one should touch it and if we see anyone reaching their hands in it, to smack them. Such pressure being upfront!
Once the band is set up, they go off stage to get ready and make their grand entrance. Starset consist of founder Dustin Bates (lead vocalist/keyboards), Ron DeChant (bass/keyboard), Brock Richards (guitar) and Adam Gilbert (drums). They start off their set with the intro called ‘First Light’ as the members take the stage in outfits that look a cross from scuba diving gear to going into space. Each member has a mask on that shows their face and lights up with the music, except for the singer Dustin. He has two microphones, one is used for his clean singing and the other makes his voice sound mechanical. As they take the stage and go to their proper places, they start the song ‘Rise and Fall’ which is very harmonic and ends with a screaming heavy finish. Dustin periodically touches the huge touch screen but uneducated me on what that contraption can do, I am not sure if the Emulator is creating sounds or what. Starset sure knows how to put on a show. Each member is in character and bursting with energy. It is almost like they do transport the audience into another world with their gear and the screens behind them that portray various space related imagery. Unfortunately, at one point there was some technical difficulties. Dustin jokes around saying that these sort of problems never happen and of course they would happen in Seattle, where Bill Gates resides because if it was running all Mac instead of Windows, this wouldn’t have happened. Some of the crowd laughs about that and nod in agreement while others I do not think understood the joke. While we wait for things to get up and running again, the crowd starts chanting ‘drum solo!’ A special treat, Adam starts giving the crowd what they want. Not only does he pull off an amazing drum solo, Adam stays in scene with some robotic movements and never breaks character. The audience cheers loudly for Adam in loving approval. Because of the technical difficulties, Starset had to cut down their performance and frustrated Dustin promised the crowd that next time they are in the Seattle area, they will make a special stop to do a mini free show. If you missed them at this show, you won’t want to miss them again. Starset did get to play their new single ‘Halo’ off their new album Transmission which has an essence of Breaking Benjamin/Linkin Park sound. Starset ended this journey with us with their first single ‘Demons’ which has a very radio hitting quality that brought the audience together and singing along. Great performance from these guys, even with the technical difficulties. The few audience members around that were confused and frustrated at first I believe were won over. Starset made some new fans for sure.
Now we wait for the highly anticipated headliner, 10years! I loved standing in the crowd, listening to audience members talk about their concert experiences, tonight it was mainly about how much 10 years music has helped them through various struggles. I am a huge fan so I may be biased but 10years I think is an underrated band because each album they put out is solid, with songs that really speak to our generation. 10years consist of Jesse Hasek (lead vocals), Ryan ‘Tater’ Johnson (guitar/screams), Ryan Collier (bass), Chad Huff (guitar) and Kyle Mayer (drums). Although for unknown reasons, 10years started their set late so I was afraid they would have to cut some songs but they played their set list in its entirety! Kicking off with their recent single ‘Miscellanea’ from their new album From Birth to Burial set the mood for their show, crowd was jumping and singing along. They played a few songs off their debut album Autumn Effectsuch as ‘Empires’, ‘Autumn Effect’ and the single that got them noticed ‘Wasteland.’ It’s always so great to hear ‘Wasteland’ live because you can feel the band humble to this song as it paved the way to where they are now. 10years puts on such an amazing show because each member has enough energy to fill up the venue and more. You could see Tater especially excited, he was glowing because his new wife Rachel came to support the band for some of the tour. One of songs they played off their 2010 album Feeding the Wolves is one of the most beautiful songs you could hear live. ‘Fix Me’ is song everyone can relate to, a struggle in your life no matter how big or small, that made you feel inadequate or not perfect, this song gives you the voice to say I am ok just the way I am. It was beautiful to hear the whole audience sing at the top of their lungs, especially the chorus ‘I’m fine in the fire, I feed on the friction, I am right where I should be, don’t try and fix me.’ Jesse even came down into the audience to sing with us during that song. You could feel the emotion from the crowd so much so that the 10years members had to be moved. Between some songs, Jesse would sing a little intro and the audience was hanging on every word. 10years eased into their LSD trip sounding song ‘….And All The Other Colors’ and the frustration with the media single ‘Beautiful’ from the albums Minus the Machine and Division respectively. They played a great mixture of old and new songs but as a greedy audience member, I still wanted more. They ended their set with the title track off their new album ‘From Birth to Burial’ which showcases a little rap part by Jesse that has a hint of a Linkin Park sound but 10 years makes it their own. I love seeing 10years because after every show, they usually hang around to meet the audience and each one of them is so excited to be doing what they love.