Bullets and Stage Dives

By on March 1, 2016

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

It was 30 minutes after the doors opened and a line still snaked around the ropes outside the House of Blues at Disney Springs. Though Asking Alexandria would be left off of this stop, fans in Orlando would get to see headliner Bullet for My Valentine for the first time since 2013.

Lawrence “Loz” Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

Lawrence “Loz” Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

“Freakin Disney,” said one fan at the barricade when I started asking around. Apparently there had been some pre-existing history between Asking Alexandria and the venue. The Disney-owned House of Blues took issued with language sold on AA’s merchandise during their last appearance, meaning that Denis Stoff, Ben Bruce, and company would be hanging out at the parks instead of playing alongside Bullet and opener While She Sleeps.

While She Sleeps (photo Will Ogburn)

While She Sleeps (photo Will Ogburn)

While She Sleeps

Damn, that was a lot of strobe lights.

While She Sleeps brought a level of energy that you can only hope for in most opening acts. For the first three songs, the bandmates darted back and forth across the stage bathed in flickering strobes. It created a surreal effect, like some kind of hallucination. Their silhouettes seemed to vanish and reappear in each flickering beam.

Loz Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

Loz Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

While She Sleeps were great at crowd involvement. They were able to get audience participation in ways that many couldn’t, due to the jaded nature of concertgoers with hours to go until the headliner.

Vocalist Lawrence “Loz” Taylor was the star of the show – directing the guys in audience to put their girlfriends on their shoulders, and crowd-surfing through the pit for the better part of a whole song. He said he wanted a “festival-type atmosphere” at the indoor show, and he accomplished that goal.

Loz Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

Loz Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

The quintet from Sheffield finished off their six-song set with their biggest hit, “Four Walls”. The track features a band-wide harmony, where their heavy British accents accentuated the monkish chants.

Loz Taylor crowd-surf (photo Will Ogburn)

Loz Taylor crowd-surf (photo Will Ogburn)

The Takeaway: While She Sleeps was a great forerunner of the British invasion that was to come. They seemed very personable and natural, like they were really enjoying their time stateside. Loz Taylor was a treat, and fans definitely got more than they were expecting in an opener.

Jamie Mathias, Bullet for My Valentine (photo Will Ogburn)

Jamie Mathias, Bullet for My Valentine (photo Will Ogburn)

Bullet for My Valentine

As I stood in the pit awaiting the main event,  chants of “Bull-et, Bull-et, Bull-et” began to come from the crowd. The Welsh rockers took the stage bathed in white lights and fog, then got right to work.

The first track was “No Way Out,” a heavy and fast dose of headbanging to start off the set. The intricate drum patterns, quick guitar riffs, and melodic choruses got the crowd engaged early.

Bullet for My Valentine fans (photo Will Ogburn)

Bullet for My Valentine fans (photo Will Ogburn)

The next highlight was two songs later, as vocalist Matthew Tuck broke into the lead single off of 2010’s Fever, “Your Betrayal.” This was the first song that most of the crowd knew, and they mimicked everything from the whispers to the screams. The drum cadence mixed with a catchy hook made this one easy to get into.

Next, the Brits went with a throwback from 2005’s The Poison. “Four Words to Choke Upon” is pure nostalgia for those of us that grew up with the genre. This song could’ve been sung by one of about five bands, as its angsty style is so representative of music at the time. Over ten years later, those former teenagers are now adults, and many of them were singing the loudest.

Jason Bowld, Bullet for My Valentine (photo Will Ogburn)

Jason Bowld, Bullet for My Valentine (photo Will Ogburn)

Tuck announced that the typical drummer, Moose Thomas, was at home because of the birth of his first child. This meant that the band’s old friend Jason Bowld of Pitchshifter would be picking up his previously scheduled drum solo. Bowld flew back and forth between drums, bashing away an improvised rhythm. One of the bets live drum solos I’ve ever seen based on its difficulty. With a band as big as Bullet, the accompanying lighting as also awesome.

Jamie Mathias (photo Will Ogburn)

Jamie Mathias (photo Will Ogburn)

Those lights would turn blue and illuminate the whole venue as they broke into a classic, “Scream, Aim, Fire”. This one has been a staple on my workout playlist since middle school, and it encapsulates everything that’s great about Bullet. The light speed drums, shredding guitar by Padge Paget, and Tuck’s melodic vocals paint a picture of total destruction. The crowd went wild, creating one of the few real mosh pits I’ve ever seen at the HoB. Someone threw a shoe. It was intense.

Matthew Tuck, Bullet for My Valentine (photo Will Ogburn)

Matthew Tuck, Bullet for My Valentine (photo Will Ogburn)

Throughout the set, they did a great job of mixing old tracks with new. It can get kind of dicey when a band goes on tour with a new album, but fans still want to hear classics. Bullet did a good job first and foremost because their new album, Venom, is pretty solid. They were able to promote their new work – tracks like “You Want a Battle?” and “Venom” – while still mixing in samples from every era of their existence.

They closed out the set with this time-warping shuffle, jumping from 2005 to 2015 on a whim.

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

The encore was packed with firepower, and featured two of my all-time favorites. First was “Tears Don’t Fall,” followed by “Waking the Demon.” The first is an emotional metalcore ballad about love and loneliness. The second is another workout playlist all-star for those days when people are less than tolerable. The audience knew both by heart, and screamed the finale at the top of their lungs. Needless to say, stress levels would be much lower at work on Monday.

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

The Takeaway: Bullet was one of the last remaining bands of their era that I hadn’t seen live, and it was certainly worth the wait. Though their stage presence wasn’t all that impressive, their rock-solid setlist made this easily one of the favorite concerts I’ve covered. Bullet has found a way to reach the top without selling out, meaning that they serve nostalgia with a high production quality – the best sound, the best lights. If you’ve ever been a fan, now is a great time to check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

Loz Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

Loz Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

Loz Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

Loz Taylor (photo Will Ogburn)

Aaran MaKenzie, While She Sleeps (photo Will Ogburn)

Aaran MaKenzie, While She Sleeps (photo Will Ogburn)

Mathias and Tuck (photo Will Ogburn)

Mathias and Tuck (photo Will Ogburn)

BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE (photo Will Ogburn)

BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE (photo Will Ogburn)

Jamie Mathias (photo Will Ogburn)

Jamie Mathias (photo Will Ogburn)

Jason Bowld (photo Will Ogburn)

Jason Bowld (photo Will Ogburn)

Loz Taylor in the crowd again (photo Will Ogburn)

Loz Taylor in the crowd again (photo Will Ogburn)

Aaran McKenzie and Sean Long, While She Sleeps (photo Will Ogburn)

Aaran McKenzie and Sean Long, While She Sleeps (photo Will Ogburn)

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

Paget and Tuck (photo Will Ogburn)

Paget and Tuck (photo Will Ogburn)

Matthew Tuck (photo Will Ogburn)

Matthew Tuck (photo Will Ogburn)

Matthew Tuck (photo Will Ogburn)

Matthew Tuck (photo Will Ogburn)

Jamie Mathias (photo Will Ogburn)

Jamie Mathias (photo Will Ogburn)

Bullet for My Valentine Crowd (photo Will Ogburn)

Bullet for My Valentine Crowd (photo Will Ogburn)

(photo Will Ogburn)

(photo Will Ogburn)

(photo Will Ogburn)

(photo Will Ogburn)

Jason Bowld (photo Will Ogburn)

Jason Bowld (photo Will Ogburn)

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

Padge Paget (photo Will Ogburn)

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