FACEDOWN FEST 2012, Night 2, The Glasshouse, Pomona, CA, April 7, 2012
At The Glasshouse in Pomona, CA, Night 2 of Facedown Fest 2012 was about to commence. This would be the Main Event, featuring a staggering 11 bands delivering various styles of spirit filled music to the near capacity auditorium. Hardcore, metal, indie, and even some acoustic songs were to enrapture the audience, as well as ministry and thoughtful contemplation. Some of the band members took the stage to acknowledge their own fights with drugs, alcohol and pornography, showing that they were struggling just like many of the other concert attendees. The set up times in between were amazingly fast, making for an extremely well paced, highly organized event that will surely be remember for some time to come. Presenting the very best of what Facedown Records has to offer, the event was headlined by the mighty War Of Ages – a band who has toured with the likes of Soilwork, Underoath, As I Lay Dying, Between The Buried And Me, and Throwdown. And now onward towards the sonic happenings at this year’s triumphant edition of Night 2 at Facedown Fest…
Launching the event like a swift kick to the noggin was The Burial from South Bend, Indiana – whose high octane heavy metal compositions surely impressed all of the early arrivals who made it out to the Fest at the 3:00PM start time. Performing songs from their recently unleashed Facedown effort Lights And Perfections, highlights from the set included Salt And Wrath, Pearls; The Frailty Of Matter, and Wisdom; The Gateway Of Liberty. With influences ranging from The Black Dahlia Murder to Mastodon, The Burial’s whiplash inducing metal songs had a decidedly technical edge that was thrilling to the ears. The Burial’s skillful artillery of musicians include Elisha Mullins on vocals and guitar, Todd Hatfield on guitar, Jake Neece on bass, and Kaleb Luebchow on drums. And for those seeking compact disc treasures, the band was selling their hard-to-find debut EP Age Of Deceit, which was released in 2009 on Sancrosanct Records!
A HOPE FOR HOME
Just why A Hope For Home was playing so early on in the Fest was anyone’s guess, but this compelling, highly imaginative Portland, Oregon based collective definitely delivered a highly memorable performance. Who else would kick off their shows with such graceful, intricate songs at an event filled to the brim with hardcore and metal fanatics? Performing tracks from their various albums, included 2011’s absolutely mesmerizing In Abstraction release, A Hope For Home went from blissful serenity to all-out musical rage with a fiery sense of conviction. Delivering proof that you do not need to play at a breakneck pace to pummel the senses, A Hope For Home’s live artistry was dazzling, tranquil, thoughtful, and divinely intensive. Here’s hoping this band plays out on the road more within the months ahead, because their live sets are not to be missed! If you are into such magnetic acts as Thrice, Sigur Ros, and Isis and have no idea who A Hope For Home is, your mission at hand is to check out In Abstraction and the other amazing releases the band has on Facedown Records!
HOPE FOR THE DYING
The most adventurous entity of the night was definitely Hope For The Dying from Jonesboro, IL. Delivering an exhilarating brand of progressive metal that would do bands such as Opeth and Porcupine Tree proud, Hope For The Dying is the type of band that impresses as many musicians and they do audience members. The set was highlighted by The Awakening, a three-part masterwork from their recent Facedown Records magnum opus entitled Dissimulation. And much to the surprise and delight of the audience, Hope For The Dying unleashed a wondrously heavy rendition of the Journey classic Don’t Stop Believing, which had everyone rapturously singing along. Demonstrating technical brilliance in an almost casual manner, the resourceful membership found within Hope For The Dying includes Josh Ditto on lead vocals and keys, James Houseman on guitar, Jack Daniels on guitar, and Brendan Hengle on drums. If Hope For The Dying invade anywhere near your hometown, do whatever you must to check out their standout live shows!
“Wake up” was the rallying cry from Your Memorial to all of the hardcore dancers just aching to burst out into the massive Glasshouse pit. Igniting the entire venue into its first all-out mosh frenzy, Your Memorial played a wicked set of inspiring tunes from their Atonement CD as well as premiered some new songs from their forthcoming musical venture. Redirect was a standout expected to appear on the forthcoming album, and Endeavor For Purpose really had the crowd taking notice with it’s powerhouse “What are we here for?” chorus. This was a classic Facedown Fest performance that will go down within the memory banks of this year’s attendees. It will be exciting to see what the future has in store for this dynamic up and coming band on the rise. An explosive performance from a highly impassioned band on the road to sonic greatness.
At the beginning of the set, Hands announced that this would be the last Facedown Fest they would be playing. Planning to tremendously scale back on their live activities and recording output, Hands gave a farewell performance that was as mesmerizing as it was poignant. Songs such as Give Me Rest and Water were wondrous to behold, showing a band clearly embracing both their love for indie and hardcore music. It was obvious that the audience did not want to show to end, and were shouting for an encore the moment Hands left the stage for what is presumably their final time. The band has touched both the hearts and minds of music fans everywhere, and will definitely be missed for their intelligent, spiritual based tapestries that often times defies genres and musical conventions. But as we all know in this world gone wild, truly great rock and roll bands never really die – so we shall see what the future has in store for this talented band and their loyal fan base…
ONWARD TO OLYMPAS
A band that has grown tremendously since their inception is Onward To Olympas from the musical mecca of Charlotte, North Carolina, who performed selections from their pair of Facedown releases The War Within and The World Is Not My Home. Highlights from the set included Hidden Eyes, Sink Or Swim, and especially their anthem like refrains of Unstoppable. Relentless touring has rendered Onward To Olympas a force of nature to be reckoned with, and the hardcore dancers were out in full force for the entire duration of their show. The Onward To Olympas assault team consists of Kramer Lowe on vocals, Kyle Phillips on guitar and vocals, Andrew Higginbotham on guitar, Justin Allman on bass, and Mark Hudson on drums and vocals. Expect these guys to be headlining future editions of Facedown Fest.
“If you didn’t know you were going to a Christian concert tonight – surprise!” mused Aaron Stone, lead vocalist and guitarist for My Epic during his persuasive testimony. Always a highly anticipated presence at Facedown Fest each year, this time Stone was accompanied by half of the A Hope For Home membership, presenting a shimmering set of inspired indie rock compositions. Acknowledging the ironies of having an acoustic album released on a hardcore metal label (entitled Broken Voice – check it out now!), Stone and his band presented an exquisite set of tunes that transfixed the audience. Songs such as Lashes, Untitled, and Deathbed demonstrated just how profoundly moving the My Epic experience can be. Towards the end of the set, a second drummer joined in the proceedings, making for a full sound that penetrated the senses. My Epic continues to prove why they have become a much-revered band within the Christian rock scene and beyond. Kudos to My Epic for such reflective work as well as for Facedown Records who introducing the world to these thoughtful artists.
After their surprise three song set at The Stronghold the night before, Gideon return to the Glasshouse stage with an all-out vengeance ready to devastate the event. Gaining a substantial fan following since the unveiling of their Facedown Records debut Costs, Gideon slammed through a heavier than hell barrage of songs. The pit erupted into a ball of sheer chaos and mayhem as Gideon raged through such fans favorites as False Profits and Kingdom Minded. A new song entitled Gutter proved to be an empowering moment, signifying an even heavier direction for the band’s future. The relentlessly persuasive Gideon lineup consists of Daniel McWhorter on vocals, Daniel McCartney on guitar, Blake Hardman on guitar, Timmy Naugher on bass, and Jake Smelley on drums. Another band who could easily claim a headlining slot at the future Facedown Fest celebrations.
From Bel Air, Maryland, XLooking ForwardX is spirited filled hardcore band in the grand tradition of the much revered genre, making a raging comeback at Facedown Fest 2012. Already playing a way too short surprise set at The Stronghold in Chino the night before, XLooking ForwardX certainly has lost none of their power and drive over the years. Performing their classics as well as some brand new tunes, the collective was in top form (even if vocalist Justin claimed to be a bit out of shape due to lack of touring). We haven’t see the band at the Fest since 2008, and XLooking ForwardX’s lively show for 2012 was nothing short of extraordinary. Here’s hoping they blast back into the scene they originally exploded upon at the dawning of the new millennium. New recordings are on the horizon, so watch for them!
IN THE MIDST OF LIONS
The show must go on, even if three of your main members appear to be missing in action. In The Midst Of Lions still roared its lethal assault of metallic hardcore, with Lazarus Rios of Leaders and Kramer Lowe of Onward To Olympas standing in on the lead vocal positions. The crowd sang along to each and every song the Lions unleashed, featuring such classics as The Machine and Fearless. We were ten bands in at this point, and no one in the crowd appeared to be tired in the least, showing their grand appreciation for a lively, wildly unpredictable set. In The Midst Of Lions is based out of St Louis, Missouri and have been gaining a good amount of fans worldwide with their impressive albums and consistent touring. No explanation was given regarding the absent members, but the set was definitely a lot of fun to witness.
WAR OF AGES
For Today, Comeback Kid, Impending Doom, Sleeping Giant, No Innocent Victim, Overcome – these are the names of past label legends who have been on the stage at the annual Facedown Fest, presenting shows that are still fondly remembered today. Add War Of Ages to the fabled legacy of festival headliners, presenting an unforgettable performance that will linger within the minds of many of the attendees for the years to come. In spite of all the fame and acclaim this band has received over time, War Of Ages remains humble, honest, and absolutely relentless in their approach to music. Fans of famed European bands such as In Flames and Soilwork have discovered than the States can indeed launch a heavy metal force that is nothing short of mesmerizing when encountering the sonic battalion known as War Of Ages. Opening with the mighty strains of Strength Within, the rallying cry of “We will fight” sent the pit spinning into supersonic high gear. New songs from War Of Ages’ upcoming masterwork Return To Life were also premiered, with Arise and Silent Night clearly demonstrating that the band has another big and glorious hit album on their hands. Vocalist Leroy Hamp is the classic heavy metal front man, delivering the fiery lyrics with a sense of urgency and conviction. The rest of the lineup was on fire, consisting of standout performances from TJ Alford on bass and vocals, Steve Brown and Branon Bernatowiz on shredding guitars, and Alex Hamp on drums. What a dynamic way to close out Facedown Fest 2012!
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND LINKAGE
Congrats goes out to Jason and Virginia Dunn, and Dave and Shannon Quiggle for another wildly successful year of Facedown Fest! See you all in 2013 and in the meantime, be sure to support all of the Facedown and Strike First bands on tour! What a glorious way to spend Easter weekend!
(Reviews and Photos by Kenneth Morton)
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