By Alyssa Aldrete
A metal barricade crushing your ribs.
The sweat of other people seeping into your own pores.
The instant push of a crowd of people screaming alongside you: these things may not be welcome in the time of COVID-19. But even if some of you cringed reading those words, I know there are some people out there that know what I mean when I say these are the things I miss most about life pre-coronavirus.
The live music industry is one that is suffering tremendously due to the shutdown of nearly everything that invites a crowd, in the effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. Concert venues are doing everything they can to raise funds and stay afloat, with some having already announced the shuttering of their doors.
With the return of live music still nowhere in sight, bands have postponed their tours, or even canceled them altogether, as many had plans for cross-country tours that they no longer have allotted time for in 2021.
To allow music fans a glimmer of hope, many smaller bands or solo acts have taken to the internet to share their music. Some perform shorter sets on Instagram Live, some have tried to turn their acts into a subscription on live-stream platform Twitch. But bands like August Burns Red know that some fans’ needs won’t be met with a webcam, an acoustic guitar and a lead singer in their sweatpants. Live rock shows come with a certain ambiance to look forward to, a connection with all performing members of the band, and of course, the community that comes with attending a show.
August Burns Red rented out the event studio of Hotel Rock Lititz in their hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania on Nov. 14. The band hired six cameramen and pulled out all the stops for the stage production to give their fans what they have grown used to: a gripping, in-your-face rock show.
In celebration of its 15-year anniversary, the band performed their debut album “Thrill Seeker” from start to finish, covering all 11 tracks. In 2005, most metalcore bands trying to get signed to a record label and be taken seriously in the metal world, came in full force with several complicated guitar riffs, unrelenting drums and deep and low growling vocals. Since the band’s debut, August Burns Red has certainly stayed heavy, but have experimented enough with their sound to give fans something to mosh to, to headbang to, and even to dance to.
This throwback performance to their original sound was hard and fast, and it allowed for the band to get through the set swiftly.
“In ’05, we were just trying to be as fast and as heavy as we could be, so I kind of never stopped,” drummer and founding member Matthew Greiner said backstage during the livestream.
Greiner, as well as lead vocalist Jake Luhrs, guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler, and bassist Dustin Davidson were all smiles as they moved across the stage the whole night, completely in their element. Luhrs, who was not part of the band during the original release of “Thrill Seeker,” handed the mic over to Josh McManness during the song “Consumer.”
McManness was the original vocalist for all the tracks on the debut album, but left the band shortly after its release, and just before they made it big with the follow-up album “Messengers” in 2007. However, it was clear that there were no harsh feelings from any party involved, as Luhrs and McManness screamed into their respective mics together for the intro of the song, before Luhrs stepped to the side-stage to allow his predecessor some time to shine.
Halfway through the show, which was complete with rhythmic, flashing beams of light onstage and camera angles that focused on each member, Luhrs took a pause and shook his head somewhat sadly.
“You know, it’s not easy performing music in front of nobody,” Luhrs said to one of the cameras before diving straight into the setlist once again. “It really reminds us how important our fans are to us. This one’s for you.”
As the band closed out the show with some fan favorites from their sophomore album, the live-chat window continued to erupt with comments. Hundreds of fans who had paid the $15 for a ticket praised the band for the more than satisfactory show they had just put on.
To everyone’s enjoyment, August Burns Red had one final surprise. The band announced that they would be back to hold another livestream in just a few weeks, this time moving their annual Christmas show — usually held only for a few nights in their hometown — online.
August Burns Red will be back to perform a livestream of their impressive catalogue of metal Christmas covers Dec. 12. E-tickets can be purchased either with a Christmas merchandise bundle, or at a stand-alone price of fifteen dollars. The link to the livestream will be emailed to the buyer once the purchase has been processed.