Crown The Empire is one of those groups that change with every new release. From one album to the next we see new styles, techniques, and themes with each being better than the next. I had the privilege to catch the band on their most recent tour ‘Rage Fest’ at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA, featuring Attila, Gideon, Veil of Maya, Hawk, and Life Right Now.
Life Right Now is a smaller band with tons of energy and creativity in their live shows. All four members bounce around, while managing to keep a solid downbeat thanks to the skill of drummer Jon Beane and his use of the double kick pedal. The group features Zachary Scott on harsh vocals, Justin DiMarco on bass and clean vocals, Kyle Dameron on guitar, and tour drummer Jon as mentioned above. This band manages to mix metalcore with a punk feel that ties together in an amazing way. Life Right Now for sure has a sound for everyone.
Next Hawk took the stage. This group really caught my attention, partially due to their fun, entertaining introduction and also because of their pure, raw energy and talent. Hawk, formerly named This or the Apocalypse, is based out of Lancaster, PA and consists of vocalist Ricky Armellino, guitarist Jack Esbenshade, bassist Bernard Stabley, and Adam Reed on drums. Armellino does a great job transitioning between harsh and clean vocals smoothly and confidently. It is easy to tell he has control over his voice. His great participation with the audience is for sure worth mentioning as well. Bernard Stabley is also someone who must be brought into the light. Stabley is an absolutely incredible bassist, mastering difficult runs and more importantly knowing when to be clean and when to be busy. Overall Hawk is an awesome group who I recommend seeing in the future.
Gideon is a band out of Tuscaloosa, AL made up of vocalist Daniel Whorther, lead guitarist Tyler Riley, bassist Caleb Derusha, and the extremely talented drummer Jake Smelley. This band has tons of energy, and knows how to get a crowd going. As they performed heavy riffs on stage, the audience broke into massive circle pits and flailing moshers. The energy this group gives off is absolutely infectious.
After Gideon, Veil of Maya came on stage. This group hails from Chicago, IL and for sure knows how to get a crowd jumping. Bassist Danny Hauser did an outstanding job playing his instrument and by far had the coolest bass I had ever come across. Same Applebaum, on drums, is also an incredible musician with a great grasp on his instrument. With the help of powerful vocalist Lukas Magyar, the band is very versatile and hops from extreme metalcore to more of a punk sound with bass you can feel in every part of your body. I recommend checking them out.
The final supporting act was Attila, though it’s almost wrong to name them an opening band. This fun, party metal group, while not for the light of heart or underage, draws a large crowd and brings together some of the largest pits I have ever been exposed to, including a deadly wall of death. The group, out of Atlanta Georgia, is a metalcore band featuring vocalist Chris “Fronz” Fronzak, guitarist Chris Linck, bassist and backing vocalist Kalan Blehm, and last but not least, drummer Bryan McClure. Not only are these guys extremely talented and funny, but they have some of the craziest fans and a very intense hate for pineapple on pizza. This group really knows how to put on an entertaining show.
Finally we get into headliner Crown the Empire. I have had the opportunity to meet and see these boys perform twice in the past, so it was no surprise when they put on a great show. The band is a rock group based out of Dallas, Texas and includes lead vocalist Andy Leo (who has quite the love for Whiteclaw and whiskey), guitarist Brent Hoover, bassist Hayden Tree, and drummer Brent Taddie. One aspect of the show I find important to mention is the quality of the theatrics. The light show alone was well put together, with confetti to give off a party environment and massive CO2 cannons. I also appreciate the band’s ability to bring the crowd down to a personal level with an acoustic rendition of their song Millennia, which the crowd sang and drank along to. It was a rather sweet moment and a great way to change up the energy. Overall the set was great, and their new album is worth checking out if you are looking for something new.
All together the show was a huge success, regardless of the immense heat of Mr. Smalls. Feel free to check out any of the bands listed above, as they are all made up of talented musicians who clearly care and love what they do. Also, check out Crown The Empire’s new album Sudden Sky! They deserve the support and I promise you will not be disappointed.
Photos by Christian West
Review by Farah Hawk