How does a band with music that is heavy, chaotic, with lots of growling, and screaming appeal to such a diverse crowd? I personally can’t put my finger on why, but Asking Alexandria, certainly does just that. Catching them on their Huntington, NY stop at The Paramount for the Don’t Pray for Us Tour, I was hoping to gather some answers as to why.
Opening up the night was a metal group coming in all the way from Australia, I Killed the Prom Queen. They started a little bit before their planned set time, which is typically a good thing; but for me it wasn’t, as I was running a bit late. To top it off, they only had about 25 minutes to play, making my time seeing IKTPQ extra short.
However, for the short 10 minutes I was able to see I Killed the Prom Queen for, I was left quite impressed. With a sound and style very similar to fellow Australian metal core titans Parkway Drive, many fans who arrived in time were treated with something that was heavy, fast and energetic. I was left wishing they had a longer set, because with the short time they had, they were on fire for every second of it.
“A blast from the past“, is how one of my friends at the show described the next band on the bill, Chimaira. While they may be the “oldest” band on the bill, they certainly were not slowed down by their age. Personally, they were the band I was most excited to see, and they did not disappoint. While vocalist Mark Hunter is the only remaining original member of Chimaira, all six members of the band have been playing live music for quite some time, with many coming from a metal band of a similar groove metal style, Dååth.
Chimaira dove in to a short but heavy set, with a few new songs, and a few old ones. The heavy breakdown of “Severed” had much of the moshing crowd moving relentlessly. The two new songs, which will be on their upcoming album Crown of Phantoms, Eye Despise and All That’s Left is Blood, both had great receptions as well.
“This song is called Pure Hatred, and the words are really easy, I Hate, Everyone! Say it with me!” yelled Mark to the crowd, as Chimaira played their final song of the night. Fists flew to the air as fans screamed the three simple words along with Mark. Headbanging along the entire song, I was left wanting more from Chimaira.
Next in line was death-core band, Whitechapel. Having caught them twice before, I had a good idea what to expect, but what they do just doesn’t gel with me. Tuning down to Drop A for many songs, Whitechapel is death-core at its finest; if you like death core that is. While vocalist Phil Bozeman has decent stage presence, as he growls and screams relentlessly around the center of the stage, musically I just couldn’t find anything that interested me.
My group of friends in attendance however, did quite enjoy it. Towards the center of the set, Phil spoke to the crowd, saying, “If you’ve seen us before, you know what to do. If you haven’t, you’ll learn quick. This one is Possession.” With that, a small group, my buddies included, began to run in a small circle, which grew to a medium circle, which erupted to a massive circle. I could see the security at The Paramount become incredibly paranoid, as more than 150 fans ran circles around the three muscled gentlemen. While not my cup of tea, Whitechapel must be doing something right to generate such an immense release of energy over so many people.
The theme from the hit zombie series, The Walking Dead, began to play as the stage was set for the main support of the night, Motionless in White. Around me, I could see young fans dressed in black and white makeup, almost reminiscent of the KISS Army. As the band took the stage, they too, all wore makeup, but also had on clothing reminiscent of black metal bands of Norway with a modern twist.
This was my first time catching Motionless in White, and while their gimmick may come across as somewhat silly, it works fine for their music, which seems to blend metal-core with an industrial and black metal twist. Opening with a song titled, “Devil’s Night“, MiW instantly received a huge reaction, with fans at the stage barrier constantly screaming and reaching their arms out for an attempt at getting closer to front man Chris “Motionless” Cerulli. For their second to last song, “America“, Chris went on to say, “The lyrics for this one are really easy, so once you catch on, I want you to sing along!” “A, M, E, R, I, C, A!” was shouted, for a very catchy yet heavy song, which even had keyboard player Joshua Balz on vocal duty during the chorus, jumping and screaming the 7 letters along with the crowd.
“Don’t get mad at me, but between the two New York hockey teams that are in the finals, I’m cheering on the Rangers for the cup this year“, spoke Chris, which generated mixed reactions (as of the time I’m writing this, the Islanders were eliminated from the playoffs, with the Rangers still going strong). Even so, MiW finished their set with “Immaculate Misconception“, with Chris jumping to the front of the crowd to sing most of the song. I found myself quite satisfied with what Motionless in White does live, and look forward to seeing them again soon.
Cheers of “A fuckin’ A, A fuckin’ A” grew louder and louder before Asking Alexandria stormed the stage. With drummer James Cassells perched at the back of the stage on a drum riser, pillars of smoked blasted near him, and guitarists Ben Bruce, Cameron Liddell and Sam Bettley ran to the stage. Shortly after, vocalist and front man Danny Worsnop walked to the front, equipped with a beanie hat, glasses, dressed in a clean suit, grabbed his microphone, and began to scream “Welcome” and “Closure“.
As the night drove on, Danny slowly removed pieces of his wardrobe, starting with his beanie, then his glasses, and eventually his undershirt. With their black pants and jackets filled with holes, Ben, Cameron, and Sam ran circle around the stage, trading positions nearly every minute, and reaching their arms out to fans when they could. Even with The Paramount having signs posted on the entry doors saying, “We do not encourage crowd surfing“, the security at the front of the stage had their work cut out for them, with fans flying over the barrier at rapid speeds.
“This next song is a love song, ” Danny began to explain, “There is nothing more beautiful in this world than love, this song is called Not the American Average“, as Asking Alexandria broke in to one of their most popular songs.
One of the tricks of an AA song is to start out clean, with simple singing from Worsnop, only for it to go into a heavy breakdown mid song. When playing “A Prophecy“, these breakdowns caused the mosh pit to explode. However, by this time in the night, there was more than 8 large Paramount security guards monitoring the pit area, even kicking a few folks out if they got what they declared as “too rowdy”. This was a bit of a let down, and obviously not the fault of the band, but on a few occasions, I did see kids get kicked out of the show for unintentionally hitting another person during a breakdown.
A banner displaying the album cover of Asking Alexandria’s upcoming album, From Death to Destiny, proudly draped behind the band as Danny told the crowd, “We’re going to play a few new ones for you, and I want to see every one of you jumping!” New songs “Run Free” and “The Death of Me” both received a positive reaction.
For “Morte et Dabo“, Danny teased the crowd, “Allow me to spin this entire room right fucking now!” An exhausted crowd still humbly obliged. Leaving the stage momentarily, cheers of “One more song” were yelled, and AA returned shortly after, with a new banner in place behind them, and played not one more, but two more songs; “Alerion” and “The Final Episode“.
The thing that I just find bizarre is how Asking Alexandria’s main crowd, or at least the crowd that was all over the barrier close to the stage, was teenage girls. Maybe the girls that picked up on AA are just sick of having boy bands and teen pop crammed in to their ears, and became tuned in to music with more aggression and context. Maybe its just because Asking Alexandria are young, British, and handsome. Or maybe its because they put on a great live show. Whatever it is, if they keep doing things they way they are, Asking Alexandria should be around for a while.