August Burns Red - O2 Institute, Birmingham 08.12.2018
It's BETRAYING THE MARTYRS who are first up, and they set the tone perfectly for what the night has in store. Front man Aaron Matts does a great job of getting the crowd hyped up nice and early, and it's not every day you get to see an opening band pull off a wall of death. Aaron's vocals partnered with keyboardist's Victor Guillet's vocals go down an absolute treat, I'd even go as far as to say Vic is almost a second frontman, especially as he disconnects his keyboard from it's stand and gets up close and personal with the crowd with it. The band as a unit are all faultless and are just as good at getting the crowd hyped as they are extremely talented musicians. The highlight of their impressive set goes to 'Lost For Words' for me as it seemed to cause the most carnage and get the night underway properly.
Next up is Florida powerhouses Wage War, they pick things right where BETRAYING THE MARTYRS left off, carnage. Wasting no time in bursting right into their fan favourite 'The River'. It's evident even before their set that Wage War have slowly been building quite a following out here in the UK, and that is only demonstrated more as fans go crazy for them. Like the previous band, Briton Bond does a great job of getting the crowd hyped, but he does it effortlessly, his almost intimidating stage presence does it all on it's own. 'Johnny Cash' changes the tempo of the set up slightly but is clearly a special one for Wage War as it is sung back perfectly by the adoring crowd. They close very appropriately with the mammoth banger 'Stitch', as it's opening teasing riff and Briton's equally teasing opening lyrics set the crowd up to roar as one 'PICK IT UP' - chaos ensues, and Wage War leave the stage knowing they've just absolutely smashed it. It's only a matter of time before they are back in the UK for a headline run as it's certainly what they deserve.
Last and certainly not least it's time for the headliners. Not hesitating to show off material from their latest release as they open with 'King Of Sorrow', in fact a fair amount of the setlist is made up from the most recent album, and mixed nicely with a good blend of their back catalogue. Frontman Jake Luhrs not only captivates the crowd with his outstanding vocal range but also his interesting dancing during the instrumental breaks, swinging and waving his microphone around like a magic wand. "I LOVE YOU" screams a fan at Jake from the barrier, in which Jake responds by jokingly dedicating the next song 'Dangerous' in the fans honour.
The crowd have really had their work cut out tonight, and still manage to keep the momentum going all through ABR's set with no problem, pits open up that almost take up the whole of the fairly small sized Institute 2 floor, and limbs are everywhere to be seen, especially in songs 'Marianas Trench' and main set closer 'Empire. The encore starts and it's Matt Greiner's time to shine as he shreds away with an absolute monster of a drum solo before leading into 'Float' and closing on 'White Washed'. Major props to Matt for taking the time to shout out the lighting technician and also their touring photographer Giles, that's certainly something that you don't always see!
All three bands nailed it tonight, the crowd can go home and finally get a rest in after being on top form all the way throughout. I think it's fair to say there's bigger and better things on the way for all of these bands tonight as they all went down a treat with the audience.
August Burns Red - https://www.facebook.com/augustburnsred/
Wage War - https://www.facebook.com/wagewar/
BETRAYING THE MARTYRS - https://www.facebook.com/WeAreBetrayingTheMartyrs/
Photos & Review - Sam Robinson Photography