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One label, four bands, one stage, and a whole lot of screaming teenagers. Apparently, someone spread word throughout the local New York City high schools that Vagrant was bringing four of their biggest and most dearly beloved acts to the Roseland Ballroom, and, oh did the house fill. No Motiv, From Autumn to Ashes, Reggie & the Full Effect, and The Alkaline Trio all took the stage to present their lives' work to a very welcoming crowd.
This tour was probably one of the most well rounded package tour by one of the most well known, and continually respected independent labels still producing albums worth listening to. There was a little of everything at this show, spanning all the different genres that Vagrant has to offer; No Motiv for the emo kids that like things a little heavier and faster; From Autumn to Ashes for the kids that are too cool for Linkin Park; Reggie & the Full Effect for the older kids that fully understand just how great this band really is; and, of course, Alkaline Trio was there for all the lovers of death, and those who like to wish that death (preferably the long and painful kind) upon a lover that has wrong them in the past.
The night started with the label's least recognizable group of rocking minstrels, No Motiv. The fact that they are one of Vagrant's most recent additions (at least in respect to the other bands on the bill) may have been their most endearing quality as they tried their damnedest to rock a crowd that may have only been remotely familiar with their music. They did quite a good job as the opener in this situation. They rocked as fast, and as hard as they could, for as long as they could (unfortunately only about 20 minutes). The fact that this was, in theory, a label package tour by a label that most of the audience respected, made their set a little easier, in that no one was really that quick to flip them off. Even thought, their set was a bit on the short side, but the still filling Roseland appreciated the effort, and perhaps next year No Motiv might move up ahead of the hardcore hard-to-enjoy, From Autumn to Ashes.
Ah, the hometown gig. Somehow, it is almost guaranteed that at least one band, at a show of more than three bands, will be playing their hometown show in the Big Apple. That means 25% of bands on tour are from the greater metropolitan area. This is just an observation. It by no means, means that that 25% of bands on tour are any good. With that said, playing their "hometown" show this evening was Long Islands's From Autumn to Ashes.
For those that aren't all too familiar with this unique approach at hardcore, it is a very simple concept, with a few tweaks. From Autumn to Ashes are the Linkin Park of the hardcore underground scene, and I really hate to draw comparisons here because it isn't like either of the bands are based on the other, it is simply just to compare them to something floating down the mainstream. Their live set is the visual representation of their completely opposite dynamic. Two vocalists; one, the violently metalcore Benjamin Perri, was the voice of a couple thousand screaming fans. He was the one to really get the crowd going. The other is their drummer, Francis Mark, who kept the crowd from tearing the roof off in a violent rage, with his more soothing, and understandable lyrical support. This is pretty much where the fun started for the night. FATA came on stage and from the very beginning of the set when one of the guitarists accidentally kicked one of the monitors off the front of the stage to the end where the vocalists switched jobs and split the detail out in front and behind the kit. Their set included cuts from both of their albums of their short career. The audience enjoyed, but they were itching to see the two bigger acts.
Now it was time for the most confusing act of the night, Reggie and the Full Effect. This set was not only confusing, but also one of the most explosive and outstanding performances I have seen a single band give in quite a while. As main support Reggie came out, played his keyboards, and sang his little twisted heart out to the adoring fans. They ran through an also rather short set, which was relatively surprising, mainly because they carry only little less clout than the scary kids in The Alkaline Trio. Maybe it was the costume changes, and that had to be it, there were two costume changes in Reggie's set, and that had to take away from their stage time. There was also a Slayer cover, and candy, and, what appeared to be Beelzebub on stage. Most bands can't really say that about their shows. Either way, Reggie and the Full Effect left everyone with their mouths wide open by the time they left the stage, and they played really well too. Rousing renditions of "Thanx for Stayin'," "From Me 2 U," and "Gloves" off of 2000's Promotional Copy were particular highlights, and there was even a cut off the bands forth coming album Lord of the Blings that the crowd most definitely approved of. See, everything The Get Up Kids do is good.
The always premature cheer came up from the crowd as the lights dimmed before the Alkaline Trio actually took the stage; it is one of the phenomenons that are virtually inexplicable. However, the subtle cheers for the miniature ghosts that flew across the back of the stage between the time the lights went out and the band walked out were significant, because, of course it was The Alkaline Trio exiting their coffins to play some happy music to a crowd of 3,000 screaming, disjointed youths. Happy or sad, this was one of the most amazing sets ever.
Wisely mixing in old and new tracks, the Alkaline Trio blasted through their set hitting all the low notes, and spanning enough of their career for even the most hardcore fans to be pleased with their choices. Breaking out of the opener spot that they have been in the last few times they have played Roseland, this was their crowd and they were going to own the night, and they did. It was almost as if the softer solo emo god Chris Carrabba was on stage, the crowd sang along with every word with the same passion as Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano. The energy in the old ballroom was as high as it could be without sending one big electrical shock through the crowd, sending everyone to their graves with smiles on their faces. Some of the most resonating songs they played were their anti-radio hit "We've Had Enough," From Here to Infirmary stand out tracks "Bloodied Up," "Crawl," AK3 classic "Radio," and the solo track from Dan "Enjoy Your Day." Even though The Alkaline boys have been pegged as the darker side of punk, they sure made a whole lot of people happy with their sad music.
Vagrant is one of the best indie labels around, and this tour was their way of sticking their tongue out, and their middle finger up at everyone else (the majors) and saying, "HA,HA… Look at us. We Rock." The Vagrant Tour couldn't have been done any better. The bands were great, the crowd was great, and overall, it was one hell of a show.