When you head out to a co-headling tour featuring two of the biggest names in modern rock music, you know you’re in for a good show. When those bands both get to select an opening band for the tour, you know you’re in for a great show.
Such is the case for 2015’s Papa Roach & Seether co-headlining tour, featuring Papa Roach’s pick, Islander- a band who’s been making waves since their slot on last summer’s Mayhem Festival tour, and Kyng, an up-and-coming metal band, handpicked by Seether.
The tour kicked off with a sold-out show in South Carolina on January 9 and has been slaying rock fans all across the east coast as the tour makes its way to the mid-west, selling out shows left and right. Recently, the tour made a stop in Chicago, Illinois at the 100-year-old Riviera Theatre.
First up were relative new-comers Islander. The group signed with Victory Records in 2013, and have been making massive waves in the rock scene after their one-two punch of dropping an album in July and taking part in the 2014 Mayhem Festival with Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Asking Alexandria, Mushroomhead and others.
Drummer Eric Frazier made his way to the stage and was soon joined by the rest of the band who launched in to their song Counteract. The song has a brutal Rage Against the Machine vibe, and started the night with an undeniable force of energy. Midway through the song, lead singer Mikey Carvajal stepped to the edge of the stage, motioned to the crowd a bit, and stretched across the pit to stand on the barricade. This is where most artists would stand for a few seconds, maybe throw a few high fives, and then head back to the stage. Not so for Carvajal. Instead, Carvajal opted to go deeper into the crowd and he gestured for people to raise their hands to help support him as he literally walked across the crowd.
If you thought that would be the most unique/memorable part of the set, you would be wrong. That title belongs to guitarist J.R. Bareis, who you might know from his tenure with Brian “Head” Welch’s solo band Love and Death, which he joined when he was only 15-years-old. Bareis is hardly recognizable from his Love and Death days, having adopted the dreadlocks and eyeliner donned by his mentor, but he’s still making sure to stamp out a look all his own…which comes in the form of donning a giant dinosaur tail on stage.
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But even Bareis was nearly upstaged towards the end of their set when Carvajal spotted someone in the crowd dressed up as Spiderman, summoned him to the stage, and dedicated their next song, Coconut Dracula, to him. Spiderman remained on stage throughout the first half of the song, which made for a comical sight as he sparred off with tail-wielding Bareis. Carvajal led Spiderman to the edge of the stage, encouraged him to stage dive, and then joined him in the crowd for another round of his signature crowd-walks throughout the remainder of the song.
After a short break, Kyng made their way to the stage. As they were ironing out any last kinks before starting their set they made small talk with the crowd, with lead singer Eddie Veliz quizzing fans in the front row on their rock history, offering one in particular a prize of $2 if he correctly guessed the song that was playing overhead (he did not). The band started their set with very little hype on their end. In some ways they appeared to be the total opposite of Islander. The guys in Kyng are a bit older, lean more towards the classic rock/metal end of the spectrum, and were pretty straight shooting throughout their set, displaying little interest in theatrics.
This made perfect sense though. Kyng was Seether’s pick for opening band, and that style of “come out and rock- nothing more, nothing less” is very much in line with the style of Seether, while Islander’s penchant for taking their stage show to the next level is a trait that can be found in Papa Roach.
The addition of Kyng to the bill initially seemed a bit perplexing, since stylistically they’re so different from the other three bands on the line-up, but when I saw their stage show all of the dots kind of connected.
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South African-natives Seether picked up right where Kyng left off as Shaun Morgan and company walked on stage playing the hype-building opening riff of “Gasoline,” and then imploring the crowd to “Jump the fuck up!”- an order the audience wasted no time in attending to.
In typical Seether fashion there was nary a moment of silence, as lead singer Shaun Morgan often opted to record a small guitar loop on his pedal to fill the silence as he and the band swapped out their gear between songs. This only added to the relentlessness of their set- there’s minimal talking from the band members and silence is nearly non-existent…you’re just left with a band that is ripping through hit after hit after hit for well over an hour.
To say that this was a hit-filled set would be an understatement, but it also had its fair share of surprises sprinkled in along the way.
Up until the Chicago show, Seether’s setlist had remained pretty consistent for this tour, but when they started playing the chords to one of their lesser-known singles, “Breakdown” (not to be confused with their chart-topper “Broken”) it was clear Chicago was going to be in for a few extra treats that night!
After “Breakdown,” drummer Jon Humphrey and touring guitarist Brian Wickman left the stage as bassist Dale Stewart emerged with an acoustic guitar to accompany Morgan on previously mentioned “Broken.”
The second surprise of the night came on the heels of Broken, as Morgan played the opening chords to “Change (In The House of Flies)” by Deftones.
This was probably the highlight of their set for me, not because their original material can’t hold its own- it certainly can- but rather because it was completely unexpected. Morgan and company do the song justice in a way that Deftones never seemed to be able to achieve- something about Chino Moreno’s vocals just never seemed to transfer live. Listening to vocal powerhouse Shaun Morgan belt out the chorus in his signature grungy voice, the performance packs a much stronger punch than the somewhat weak performances Deftones gave over the years.
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By the time Papa Roach was slated to come on it was clear they would have their work cut out for them. The first three bands brought their A-game, and Papa Roach was going to have to bring something really special in order to continue to raise the bar.
Fortunately for the Chicago crowd, that’s exactly what they did. Frontman Jacoby Shaddix exploded on to the stage with their latest single, the anthemic “Face Everything And Rise” off their latest album F.E.A.R., which released days after their stop in Chicago.
Papa Roach has had incredible success when it comes to sales, but they truly shine as a live band. Whereas Seether’s Shaun Morgan probably didn’t move more than 3ft away from his mic stand the entire night, Shaddix had covered the entire stage within the first 30 seconds of their first song, and the crowd was eating it up.
When it comes to their older material, it seems as though it was made specifically for the pit experience. The crowd went wild when the band started playing Between Angels and Insects, and had a pretty impressive mosh pit going, much to the delight of Shaddix. Every ten seconds or so a new body would fly across the barricades to be caught by the security who had moved into the photo pit, anticipating the increased crowd activity during Papa Roach’s set.
The audience was fully engaged throughout the entire show- screaming every word of every song back to Shaddix and the band, especially during the latter half of the show during tracks like “Forever,” “Scars,” and “Kick in the Teeth.”
As the night came to a close the band played the escalating intro the their breakthrough single Last Resort, forcing whatever microscopic specs of energy that remained in the room to immediately spike with adrenaline and anticipation. As the intro reached its peak, Shaddix howled out the first few words of the song, with the crowd joining in for the second line, “this is my last resort”.
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After that moment it was clear the band was intent on draining every last piece of energy from every person in the room, refusing to let up until the very last note of the song.
All in all, it was a night of contrasts that somehow managed to fit perfectly together. From the youthful energy found in Islander sparring off against the classic rock sounds in Kyng, to the ever-flamboyant and outspoken Jacoby Shaddix contrasted with the man of few words found in Shaun Morgan, you were getting both ends of nearly every spectrum imaginable, making for an incredibly fulfilling night that had something sure to please everyone in attendance.