FACEDOWN FEST 2011, Night 2, The Glasshouse, Pomona, CA, April 9, 2011
Upon arrival to Facedown Fest 2011 at the Glass House on Night 2, it was announced at the box office that the show was completely sold out. It was a Saturday night in Pomona, and the venue filled up fast. Amongst the nine bands slated to play were Call To Preserve, who were making their final West Coast appearance. Overcome was playing the Facedown Fest stage for the first time in eight years, supporting a well-received comeback album. And then there would be the headlining band For Today, who had gained quite a fan base since the last time they performed the Fest two years ago. Unlike the previous night where the acts were more varied, this evening would feature explosive hardcore entities that would ignite some fairly heated mosh pit action at the venerable Glass House. The time to celebrate spirituality though musical fellowship was upon all, and there was definitely an excitement that permeated throughout the club from both the attendees and the various bands.
Kicking off the night on a wildly intensive note was LA’s own Dynasty – the very latest signing to Strike First Records. The band started off with a prayer and then slammed in a fiery set of old school hardcore that surely won over the early arrivers in a big and glorious way. One could easily see why Strike First took such an interest in Dynasty – they are tighter than hell and bring the mosh with an all out vengeance. Fans of classic bands such as Madball, Terror or even Throwdown are sure to discover a brand new favorite when encountering the inspiring tunes these talented musicians from the City Of Angels has to offer. In addition to their own thunderous songs, the band launched a fierce cover of the Beastie Boys tune No Sleep Till Brooklyn that really brought down the entire house. A star making performance from a band destined for a bright future. Dynasty’s Strike First debut Truer Living With a Youthful Vengeance will be available on May 24th!
Although the next band may have been called The Burial, there was nothing deceased about their live performance. Based out of South Bend, Indiana, The Burial performed their blasting set with deadly precision. With musical references such as As I Lay Dying and Living Sacrifice, The Burial unleashed their own brand of hardcore tunes that shook up the entire room. One of the most impressive songs in the set was Reconciliation, destined to become a genre favorite. The title track from their Strike First Records debut The Winepress was also played, showing just how wondrously effective The Burial musical experience can be. A truly stunning presentation! By the way, the band is currently on the Young Bloods Tour with Sovereign Strength and label mates Saving Grace, and will be unleashing their fury at the Cobalt Café on May 8th.
Based out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Gideon was on the Young and Wreckless tour along with label mates Onward To Olympas and Your Memorial. And while the other two bands played the previous night, Gideon stormed onto the stage and presented a powerful set of spiritual hardcore tunes on Night 2 of the Fest, performing tracks from their recently released Costs effort. One of the most powerful songs in their set was Virtue, which had many in the crowd singing along. The lyrical content was overpowering and impassioned, and the performance with right on par with many of the classic Facedown bands. The Gideon membership includes the participation of Daniel McWhorter on vocals, Daniel McCartney on guitar, Timmy Naugher on bass, and Jake Smelley on drums. Destined to be an important band in the Christian hardcore arena, the message Gideon conveys through their music is profound and inspiring and their live performance hits it all home with a vengeance.
The rambunctious Take It Back! may always be counted upon to deliver a rousing set of punk inspired hardcore, and Facedown Fest was certainly no exception. Slamming through the songs with a strong sense of conviction, you could see influences such as Stretch Armstrong and even Social Distortion coming into full play. Take It Back! has a personality of their own, as well as a whole collection of winning songs that really had the crowd jumping up and down and singing along. Top tunes in the set included All The Keeps Us Strong, The Skies Are Empty, and a brand new song entitled Deceit. The Take It Back! lineup consists of Keevan Merrill on vocals, Daniel Hawkins on guitar, Cody Bradley on guitar, Devin Henderson on bass, and Josh Huskey on drums. Currently on the Take Down and Over Throw tour with Change Today and Messengers!
Although it’s been a while since we’ve heard from A Hope For Home (9 months since their last show), this Portland, Oregon based band has returned and their set at Facedown Fest 2011 was nothing short of a triumph. One instantly notices the three guitarists in the band and their dynamic interplay throughout their set. Starting off with a wondrously ethereal introduction, A Home For Hope exploding into a thrilling brand of post hardcore indie rock that enveloped the walls of the Glasshouse. Performing songs from their devastating Realis magnum opus, A Hope For Home very successfully won over the audience with both their sincerity and compelling musicianship. Going from peaceful reveries to stratospheric heaviness all within the confines of a song, the dazzling compositions are sure to elevate the senses. Fans of bands such as Thrice and Isis are destined to meet a beloved favorite when encountering the hypnotic strains of A Hope For Home. Definitely the most adventurous band of the night!
Facedown Fest 2011 would mark the grand return of Overcome to the Pomona stage after a 9-year absence. Not a reunion but a full on touring band with the strength and passion of an all new entity, their set was extremely well received by all in attendance. Not only was the crowd treated to Overcome epics spanning their entire career, a few songs from their death metal band Indwelling were also unleashed upon the crowd. Front man and main songwriter Jason Stinson and the entire membership were on fire, delivering the lyrical messages and sonic assaults with a crucial sense of conviction. Their comeback Facedown release entitled The Great Campaign Of Sabotage is a grand and glorious return to form, and Overcome deliver the goods with fierce precision in a live setting. A blistering set that was another infinite highlight for many in attendance.
Is Call To Preserve really breaking up? I saw them at the Cobalt Café a few months ago, and they seemed weary and uninterested, presenting a lackluster performance that quite frankly was a disappointment. Since then, the original lineup reunited, announced their final tour, and were now presented a mesmerizing, thoroughly unforgettable set at Facedown Fest 2011. Instead of performing like a band on their last breathe of life, Call To Preserve were passionate and intensive, delivering songs from the various stages of their career as well as newer efforts – and their sheer energy had the crowd rapturously singing along. Talk about going out with a bang and not the whimper that a few San Fernando Valley hardcore kids witnessed at the Cobalt. Judging by what was witnessed in Pomona, Call To Preserve’s final tour is an absolute must see! Unfortunately, this was to be their last performance on the West Coast. Bands who are breaking up rarely perform with this much vitality and enthusiasm.
Going on right before the Saturday night headliner, In The Midst Of Lions from St Louis absolutely destroyed the stage and ravished everything within reach! The sound level was up to a ten, the musicianship was in sonic overdrive, and one could clearly see these guys meant serious business. Coming a long way since their humble beginning on Strike First Records, In The Midst Of Lions’ music reverberated throughout the Glasshouse, causing some destructive mosh pit action. Performing deathcore anthems from their recently released The Heart Of Man, songs included within their rip roaring set were The Machine, Field Of Blood, and Fearless. The musicians responsible for the beast of a set were Matt Janssen on vocals, Ryan McAllister on guitar, Sam Penner on guitar, Jake Mitchell on bass, and Alex Livingston on drums. Destined to be the next great Facedown band ala War Of Ages and For Today.
Speaking of For Today, the fog machine went into high gear and the audience was ready to explode with excitement by the time the Sioux City, Iowa band took to the stage. With three albums on Facedown including their latest release Breaker, the band has witnessed a meteoric rise within the Christian metalcore music scene and beyond. Vocalist Mattie Montgomery is not only a charismatic speaker and impassioned vocalist, he has also recently released an inspiration spoken word album entitled When The Sons Become Fathers. Montgomery spoke in length from the stage, spreading the word of God and how it applies to a modern age. Amongst the songs performed were opening number Seraphim, The Advocate, White Flag, and many other crowd favorites. A tremendous way to end Facedown Fest 2011, with the leaving audience fully inspired ready to take on the world!
Congrats are in order to Jason and Virginia Dunn of Facedown Records for signing and supporting their bands and the overall scene. Greetings are also in order to publicist Shannon Quiggle and artist extraordinare Dave Quiggle, whose hard work has assisted to make Facedown a respected force within the music industry. See ya at Facedown Fest 2012!!!
(Review and Photos by Kenneth Morton)
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