City Walkin’ with Three Days Grace

By on October 6, 2015

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

The Hard Rock Live inside of Universal’s City Walk opened its doors to a double-header of hard rockers on Friday night as We Are Harlot and Three Days Grace showed a glimpse of the genre’s past, present, and future.

Jeff George - We Are Harlot (photo by Will Ogburn)

Jeff George – We Are Harlot (photo by Will Ogburn)

 What You Need to Know

Three Days Grace parted ways with acclaimed frontman Adam Gontier back in 2013, and have since handed over the reigns to Matt Walst. The younger brother of the band’s bassist (Brad Walst), and a success on his own at the helm of My Darkest Days (“Porn Star Dancing”), Walst has been given a unique challenge: follow a legend while maintaining his own identity.

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

The band’s first album with this new lineup, Human, debuted in March of this year to mixed reviews, and they’ve been on an international tour ever since. They look to continue their success as one of the few bands in their genre that is still producing quality music all these years after debuting with Three Days Grace in ’03.

Brad Walst - Three days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

Brad Walst – Three days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

We Are Harlot found themselves in a very different situation when it came to their lead singer. The band features former Asking Alexandria frontman Danny Worsnop, who left because he felt that he was a hard rock vocalist in a metalcore band. In Harlot, Worsnop has found a new outlet for his creativity. Their self-titled debut was released in March, and they began to receiver praise almost instantly. Harlot beat out Beartooth among others the win Newcomer of the Year at the Golden Gods, as well as being nominated for album of they year by Kerrang.

 We Are Harlot

 Harlot bounded on to the stage like a group of kids being released from school. As he entered, Danny Worsnop carried with him a mic stand covered in multicolored cloths Steven Tyler style.

Jeff George (photo by Will Ogburn)

Jeff George (photo by Will Ogburn)

They opened with “Denial”, engaging the crowd from the jump. The high-energy song allowed for some solid shredding by Guitarist Jeff George (not the quarterback), and also showcased Worsnop’s chops as a singer. It seems that either Asking Alexandria never called on him to use all of the tricks in his vocal bag, or he is out to prove the world wrong with this new gig. With Harlot, Worsnop sounds right at home.

Danny Worsop (left) and Jeff George (photo by Will Ogburn)

Danny Worsop (left) and Jeff George (photo by Will Ogburn)

Next came the slightly softer “Easier to Leave”. The rhythmic beats of Bruno Agra on the drums fit well with the melodies in the song. Agra was surprisingly interactive for a drummer, frequently doing tricks and pointing at the crowd while hammering away with the other hand.

Danny Worsnop and Brian Weaver (foreground) (photo by Will Ogburn)

Danny Worsnop and Brian Weaver (foreground) (photo by Will Ogburn)

 

Little Fan (photo by Will Ogburn)

Little Fan (photo by Will Ogburn)

The next highlight came when they played “The One”. The catchy chorus and simple chord structure makes this song an easy one to get stuck in your head. We Are Harlot made it easy to enjoy their music during the show.  The band took a very carefree persona on stage, frequently talking to the crowd and claiming to not have a written setlist.

Worsnop and George - We Are Harlot (photo by Will Ogburn)

Worsnop and George – We Are Harlot (photo by Will Ogburn)

They followed with “Dancing on Nails”, their biggest single off of the record. Staying true to their message, the song is fast and guitar-heavy. We Are Harlot have a knack for making songs that are fun, heavy, raspy, and catchy, and this was a good example. Worsnop, with his unkempt beard and chest hair poking out from his V-neck, looked to be having just as much fun playing with his friends in Harlot as he did playing sold out festivals with Asking Alexandria.

Brian Weaver - We Are Harlot (photo by Will Ogburn)

Brian Weaver – We Are Harlot (photo by Will Ogburn)

Bruno Agra (photo by Will Ogburn)

Bruno Agra (photo by Will Ogburn)

 Three Days Grace

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

 At this point, I have to give a disclaimer. Three Days Grace was the first real concert that I went to back when I was in middle school and hard rock was king. I’ve been listening to them since their first album, and this show was circled on my calendar since they announced it. I was pretty bummed when Adam left, and initially unimpressed with Matt Walst, but Human has grown on me. Now, moving on…

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Through pillars of blue light, Matt Walst ran onto the stage like a madman. Gone was the bleach-blond hair, replaced by spiked up jet black locks that made him resemble a mix between Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach) and Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day).

“I am Machine” was the opener, and fans ate it up. The lead single on Human, tracks like this give me hope for the future. Walst, with black paint on his arms, directed the crowd like some kind of Tim Burton-designed drum major.

Three Days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

Three Days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

The setlist was dynamic. It truly incorporated everything an old-school fan would want to hear while still touching on new stuff. Oftentimes a band will be on an album tour and hang fans out to dry by only promoting their new stuff, this was a refreshing way to reward fans that appreciate all 3DG music.

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Fans screamed as Barry Stock played the intro riff and Walst sang, “I could be mean, I could be angry, you know I could be just like you.” The entire, packed house sang along. I found myself doing the same from the photo pit as a darted back and forth trying to catch the whirlwind of energy that was Matt Walst.

Next up came “Chalk Outline”. Three albums, spanning 12 years in three songs, not too bad.

Brad Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Brad Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Moving down the setlist, I have to give Matt Walst props for his rendition of “Pain”. He breathed emotion into the words as if he’d written them himself, and the crowd took notice. As a matter of fact, I wonder how many of them knew he didn’t.

Anther song that I was surprised by was “Break”. The fast-paced song was one of the highlights of the night. As Stock quickly flew up and down the neck of his guitar, fans exploded into chants during the chorus. This song mixes heavy drums by Neil Sanderson, a master in his own rite, and intense, erratic vocals by Walst.

Barry Stock - Three Days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

Barry Stock – Three Days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst - Three Days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst – Three Days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

“Home” is a song off of Three Days Grace that shows the real young angst that made them popular. Once upon a time, it was a tool that Adam Gontier used to showcase his vocal talent; releasing an acoustic version and playing it live often. Again Walst did it right. This is not a song that everyone knows, but the ones that do know almost every word, and he was able to trigger the nostalgia reflexes by singing it confidently, but not overstating himself.

After a killer drum solo by Sanderson, the regulation set began to come to a close.

“Never Too Late” was towards the end, sparking lighters and emotions across the floor.  The song grapples with the difficult subject of a friend considering suicide. Even if you’ve never been in that situation, the song brings back memories of hardships of the past while remembering the central message: it’s never too late to change your life.

Brad Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Brad Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Brad Walst began the most famous bass groove in the band’s history, the intro to “Animal I Have Become”. The crowd sang, “So what if you can see – the darker side of me – no one will ever change this animal I have become”. Wlast waved his hands back and forth and the crowd followed.

When it was over, the lights dimmed and chants of “Three Days Grace!” filled the Hard Rock.

 They came back out with the one missing piece in a perfect setlist: “If you feel…so empty…so used up…so let down”. The song was “Riot”, and while many original fans were there with their spouses (or even kids), they brought the house down one last time. Across the floor, I saw friends and random strangers looking at each other yelling, “let’s start a riot!” This is what rock music is all about.

Jeff George - We Are Harlot (photo by Will Ogburn)

Jeff George – We Are Harlot (photo by Will Ogburn)

Jeff George (photo by Will Ogburn)

Jeff George (photo by Will Ogburn)

Danny Worsnop (photo by Will Ogburn)

Danny Worsnop (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst - Three days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst – Three days Grace (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Matt Walst (photo by Will Ogburn)

Barry Stock (photo by Will Ogburn)

Barry Stock (photo by Will Ogburn)

 

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