Filter have been creating music and touring for the better part of 20 years, but if by chance they have fallen off your radar, listen up! They are currently on tour supporting their newest release, The Sun Comes Out Tonight, and I’m going to come right out and say it…this record is all kinds of awesome. There isn’t one bad song and they sound really good live. I had a chance to see them at the House of Blues in Chicago as part of their Self Inflicted Tour along with openers Red, Otherwise and We As Human. It was a night packed with great sets from everyone. While each band appeared to have their own “cheering section” so to speak, overall, it was a great night for Rock and Roll.
The first band of the night was We As Human from Nashville, TN. Playing songs from their 2013 self-titled release, their 30-minute set definitely set the tone for the night. Starting off with Sever, Dead Man and Zombie, (all songs that would be perfect for a Halloween theme) the band showed just how much they enjoyed playing for the Chicago crowd. Before Bring To Life, lead singer, Justin Cordle told the crowd, “No matter how many mistakes you make, you’re never too far gone for a second chance.” That’s a pretty powerful statement and very true. Based on crowd response to the song, afterwards, bass player, Dave Draggo simply said, “I like it.” while Justin told the crowd he wanted to put everyone in his suitcase. Clearly wanting to take them home or possibly bring them along on tour.
With two guitar players in the band, Jake Jones and Justin Forshaw, I noticed they had different personalities on stage. Jake tended to strike different stances and make angry faces while singing back up while Justin remained more collected. Between both though, there was no shortage of riffs. Drummer Adam Osborne, who mostly played all night with his hair hanging in his face, along with Dave on bass provided that steady back line all night. Before Take the Bullets Away, once again, Justin shared words of wisdom with the crowd. As he grabbed the necklace around his neck, he told everyone he wore it to remind himself of who he was. “Nobody tells me what to do. No one holds the key to my future but me.” They ended their set with I Stand and crowd favorite Strike Back. During the song Justin jumped off stage and stood on the step of the security rail to get up close with the crowd. As he sang the chorus, “The bigger they are…” the crowd followed by singing “…the harder they fall.”
Check out my We As Human photo gallery here
Next up were crowd favorites Otherwise. Although they are from Las Vegas, they have spent more than their fair share of time touring the Midwest. Probably why lead singer Adrian Patrick commented that Chicago was their third home away from home. Playing songs from their 2012 release True Love Never Dies, Otherwise came out and blew the doors off the place. I don’t know where the band gets their energy, but I’ve seen them more than once and every time they put on one hell of a show. Opening with current single Die For You, Adrian held nothing back. Bassist, Vassilios Metropoulos was his usual whirlwind self while, drummer, Corky Gainsford played aggressively all night all while making the craziest faces to the crowd and photographers alike. Not to mention throwing quite a few sticks in the air and catching them as they came back down.
Continuing with Lighthouse and Vegas Girl, they eventually brought it down a notch with their next song. One of their more popular hits, I Don’t Apologize (1000 pictures), had a lot of the audience singing along. However, the most touching moment came towards the end of the song. Adrian was singing, down on one knee and facing his brother, guitarist Ryan Patrick, as he was playing. As the song was ending, Adrian stood up and hugged his brother. I’m not sure if there is some meaning with the song between the two of them, but regardless, it was a pretty cool moment during the night.
Check out my Otherwise photo gallery here
The last two songs of the night brought out the most action from the band. During Silence Reigns, Vassilios jumped off the stage and went into the crowd. He played while moshing around with others during a good portion of the song. The dude is crazy but for sure entertaining to watch. Before their last song, Adrian told the crowd, “No matter what cards you’re dealt, always believe in yourself.” He then spoke to all the possible soldiers in the room and told them, ”Thank you from the bottom of our black little hearts.” The night ended with their biggest hit, Soldiers, which included not one but two 3-way jumps. The first took place shortly after the start of the song which had Vassilios and second guitarist Andrew Pugh standing on then jumping off of cabinets on either side of the drums and Adrian jumping with them in unison. As the song continued, Adrian eventually jumped off the stage and stood on the security rail. The second 3-way jump came at the end of the song. This time Vassilios was on a far left stage speaker but all three guys again took turns jumping off the equipment. Never a dull moment.
Next up were Red, a Christian rock band from Nashville, TN. Their 45-minute set consisted of songs from their last few albums including their newest, Release the Panic. The stage set up consisted of two large wall panels of random graffiti, including the band name in red, on either side of the drum kit along with three small risers at the front of the stage, also covered with graffiti. They opened with Death of Me and singer Michael Barnes came out like a tornado. Whether he was moving around or jumping on stage, standing on or jumping off the riser, the intense look on his face while singing commanded the attention of the audience. This lead into new song, Perfect Life and Faceless from their 2011 release. Off and on during the set, drummer Joe Rickard was tossing sticks over one of the tall wall panels or off to the side of the stage. Well, during Let Go, someone out of view side stage chucked a stick out to him. He caught it and continued to play using the stick. I guess band members like to entertain themselves on stage as well as the audience!
Check out my Red photo gallery here
If anyone thought bassist, Randy Armstrong and guitarist, Anthony Armstrong looked strangely familiar, they were not seeing things. There are not many bands that have twin brothers, but these two do a hell of a job in this band. Not only are they proficient players, they both contribute to backing vocals. They also play with an intensity that matches Michael’s. The band played another new song, Hold Me Now, before playing another somewhat familiar song from their 2011 Until We Have Faces album, Feed the Machine. For portions of the song, Michael used a second mic to distort his vocals. They continued with their current single Die for You before slowing things down a bit with Lost from their 2006 release End of Silence. They ended their set with title track, Release the Panic before closing with what is probably their most recognized song, Breathe. Some on the main floor of the House of Blues took part in moshing as Michael and the rest of the band played with as much energy as they started.
The stage was cleared for Filter, leaving a pretty wide open space for the band to move around. Lots of fog was pumped on stage, the lights were set and they opened with We Hate It When You Get What You Want from their 2013 release The Sun Comes Out Tonight. I personally was pretty excited to hear a lot of new songs since I feel this album is pretty damn awesome. Seriously, there isn’t one bad song. They continued with The Take from 2008’s Anthems for the Damned before playing the first of two songs from movie soundtracks, Jurassitol, from The Crow: City of Angels. While other bands didn’t have mosh pits until the end of their set, Filter’s first one came with new song Self Inflicted. Once the song was over Richard told the crowd, “Glad you guys are representing the Rock and Roll fans.” They continued with (Can’t You) Trip Like I Do from the Spawn movie soundtrack. Always a great live song and I loved the funky bass part played by Tim Kelleher. In fact, his energy level was set on high all night. Between spinning around on stage and head banging, to the intensity with which he played, he was a lot of fun to watch. During this song, Richard also jumped off the stage down to the security rail while the crowd was moshing.
For anyone that has seen Filter before, you’re aware of Richard’s facial expressions as he sings. That night was no exception. With his screaming vocals, his face takes on an almost evil appearance. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in watching his stage performance. His aggressive stance while holding onto the microphone and stand brings you into his moment, his space. During those times when he’s hunched over, crouched down and singing so hard you think he may burst a vein, well, that’s just Richard giving it his all. At one point during the night he mentioned guitarist Jonny Radtke was from Chicago and a couple times both Jonny and Richard spoke to Jonny’s Mom, who was in the balcony, asking if she was having a good time. I couldn’t see her, but based on Jonny’s reaction, she was. To me, Jonny’s demeanor that night was sort of reserved at times but his playing was nothing short of loud and clear. He roamed the stage from side to side and even played facing drummer Jeff Fabb a time or two. Jeff’s playing, with his big monstrous hits, and steady groove all night, flowed perfectly in and out of each song.
Check out my Filter photo gallery here
Before Take A Picture, which also had Richard on guitar for the first time that night, he spoke to the crowd about the meaning behind the song. He mentioned while he was writing, his subconscious must have been coming to grips with getting sober. Before the next new song, Surprise, Richard commented that this song was a lot like the previous one, but this time it was from a mother’s point of view. Once the song was over, he asked if there were rock stations in Chicago anymore. I heard a few people yell out a couple. He went on to say that Mumford and Sons and banjo players were taking over rock radio. He told everyone to call their radio stations and request Surprise. This lead into another new song, What Do You Say, with its super catchy chorus that the crowd was happy to sing along to, “Hey! Hey! What do you say? It doesn’t really matter, Cuz it’s all the same. Hey! Hey! What do you say? They’re just gonna blame us anyway.” Again, Richard spoke to the crowd thanking older rockers like Mick Jagger for keeping rock alive well into their older years. He then spoke about how the band had been to the Middle East five different times and to Iraq once. He said they had rockets shot at them and it was pretty intense. He commented that Soldiers of Misfortune was about a friend that unfortunately did not come back. Before they started the song he blurted, “Yeah, we’re doing some heavy shit.” referring to the topics of the night. At end of the song, I saw a fan holding up two fingers in a peace sign. Another very cool moment that night.
Again, Richard spoke to the crowd, “Before we learned how to write songs like the last one, we wrote songs like this.” Again he played guitar during Dose, from their 1995 release Short Bus. They continued with The Best Things from their cleverly named 1999 release Title of Record that also included guest guitarist and former band member, Geno Lenardo. With Geno on guitar, this allowed Richard to once again jump down to the security rail. This time though, he crowd surfed during the song. Back on stage and ready for the next song, Richard asked, “Do you want to sing our favorite word? Hey. Hey Man Nice Shot. Hey there, motherfucker.” With air quotes, he mentioned it was their last song. With Geno still playing guitar, they went into Hey Man Nice Shot. With the loudest reaction from the crowd by singing and of course more moshing, the band nailed it. I have to say, Geno was a madman on stage. Running all over the place, jumping off of the equipment, he looked like he was having a blast. Although, I think he got a little too excited at the end of the song. I think he tried to jump off the bass drum, but took a little tumble instead. Also during the song, Richard grabbed the camera of a fan filming and proceeded to continue filming, while still singing on stage. I’ve seen him do this before and find it’s a cool way to interact with the fans. I’ve since seen the video online and it turned out pretty damn cool.
The band left the stage for a couple minutes, but came back out for what turned into a three song encore. Richard told the crowd, “I want to play fast, heavy shit.” They played one final new song, It’s Got To Be Right Now. Since none of these songs were on the set list, I was pretty happy with their choices but also wondered if they were making it up as they went along after gathering for a small huddle on stage. Appearing to not be ready for the night to end, Richard went on to say, “Let’s play some more Short Bus. I’m starting to get my punk rock on again.” They played Under, with it’s heavy tones and fast beat before playing one last song for the night. Richard told the crowd that Welcome to the Fold was one of his personal faves. WOW! What a way to end an hour and a half long set! At the end of the song, he concluded with, “That was the Filter rock concert. Thank you very much for coming.” then one by one introduced the other band members while Jonny introduced Richard. Richard went on to mention they had shirts and stuff in the back and asked everyone to support small little fucker bands like them.
Support bands indeed. Whether you’re buying a ticket to a show, a CD, a T-shirt or what have you, every penny counts. In return, you get a kick ass show, awesome songs, maybe even a cool shirt to show “you were there.” Whatever you do though, don’t stop supporting your favorite bands. Keep Rock and Roll alive and well!