I arrived at The Masquerade at 3:45 because I had an interview scheduled at 4pm. I did not know however, that The Masquerade now has this policy that once you enter ‘Kenny’s Alley”, you cannot leave. Obviously the only thing in Kenny’s Alley these days is the concert venue that houses Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, all three located in different areas of the once thriving Underground Atlanta business district. It’s quite odd that even though you are not yet entering into the actual venue itself, you cannot leave the area. What’s the purpose of this exactly? I’d like to know because up until the point in which concert doors open and you are admitted in with your ticket, you aren’t technically “inside” yet. So, as my luck would have it, waiting outside in wet and windy, 46 degree weather, unprepared, was how I spent the remaining 2.5 hours until doors opened and I was allowed in. I am a huge fan of The Masquerade and always have been but I hope they will revisit this requirement as it seems quite unnecessary. Nonetheless, I was there for a great show and the excitement of that completely overpowered how frozen my body might have been.
Tonight was the last night of the Unstoppable Screams Tour and it promised to be one heck of a show. With Red and Lacey Sturm co-headlining, bringing with them supporting acts Righteous Vendetta and Messer, there was no way it could be anything less than stellar.
First up was Messer who hail from Dallas, Texas. They hit the stage with “Everything Beautiful”, giving us a peek into what’s in store on the album. As they continued with “Simple Man”, the boys of Messer were clearly here to make the fans fall in love with their music. The talent behind each member is undeniable. They command the stage like seasoned tour veterans, flawlessly delivering each song, musically and lyrically. The crowd was excitedly receptive and enjoying every minute of their show. They ended their set tonight with “Fight of My Life” and their current single, “Make This Life”. I’d never seen Messer live, and have only recently been turned onto them, but these guys sure know how to blow up a stage and set the show on fire from the get go. I have several personal favorites from the upcoming album but time constraints tonight did not allow for those to be a part of the set list. Hear me when I say that their album is a must. Their self-titled album was released on Friday, April 20th, and their tour with Shallow Side began April 18th. If you haven’t ordered the album yet, please do yourself a favor and make sure you pick up a copy. This is surely going to be a crazy/wild time for Dereak, Javier, Maddox, Donnie, and Kenny.
Coming to us from Cody, Wyoming was the next band, Righteous Vendetta. I last saw Righteous Vendetta almost four years ago at The Masquerade when they opened for Trapt, alongside The Veer Union and Shallow Side. These guys have come a long way in four years. The energy they have on stage has not diminished at all, in fact, it seems that Ryan just may have added even more spring in his bounce as he leapt back and forth across the stage, at times, defying gravity as if the whole concept of “feet on the ground” was nonexistent. Keeping up with his never ending motion was almost impossible but in a most awesome kind of way. They certainly know how to keep the attention of the fans.
Lacey Sturm is no stranger to the stage. She has consistently proven that she is a force to be reckoned with. Her voice, pure and flawless. She can scream, growl, and switch right to an amazing smooth and comforting tone without any noticeable vocal tension, almost in the same breath. She came on stage, six months pregnant, glowing, and literally a ball of energy as she commanded the stage like the experienced pro that she is. She started the show off with “Rot”. Part the way into the concert, around the end of her fifth song, “Cassie”, she introduced the band, her children who attended as well, and told the fans that baby Sturm was due July 4th. She told a story about how she didn’t think she’d come back to music after she left Flyleaf but that over the years, people would tell her how Flyleaf inspired them and how she didn’t want to miss that connection, so the wind, inevitably, led her back to music. She missed the audience. She also explained how she fell into creating a song for the Underworld movie. Her story stretched to about 13 minutes. It seemed to go a little astray from beginning to end as she started with the movie synopsis and spoiler for those who haven’t seen it to how she went from a sad, depressed, child who didn’t believe in the power of God to finding Jesus again and realizing that all things are possible when you have faith. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a concert that involved what I’d basically consider a semi-sermon of that magnitude. It was insightful. It was enlightening. It was brave to incorporate that into a concert. The story was her preempt into “Heavy Prey” which was well received by the fans as they cheered and screamed. In yet another short story, we learned how “All Around Me” came to be. She was an atheist and felt existence was meaningless. She hated people. She felt that even the nature that was dying around us was mocking us. Then she realized how much she loved the arts and she knew that if she could get close to the arts, she could get close to the artists, and close to music. She then encountered God and realized that God created this world around us in his image and she began to feel God, all around her, and realized how beautiful the world really is. The last three songs of the night were “I’m so sick”, a hit that will never get old, “Call You Out”, and her cover of “Forever” originally by Kari Jobe. It was a beautiful interpretation. In total, she performed 12 songs that encompassed her solo career, her time with Flyleaf, and a few covers that included songs originally by Nine Inch Nails, Cory Asbury, and Kari Jobe. This was my first time seeing Lacey and her band live and even though it was a bit wordy, it was an outstanding show. Not many people this far along in a pregnancy could pull off the things Lacey did, impeccably.
Red is a band that I’ve come to truly enjoy and appreciate over the years. Their music is always inspiring with some of the deepest and most heartfelt lyrics ever placed within a song. Michael Barnes has always been a beast on stage, never standing in one place too long, yet giving the fans the full portrayal of emotion as he sings each lyric. The Armstrong twins, Anthony and Randy, always move back and forth across the stage, welcoming fan involvement, beckoning for their full attention and involvement in every song. It’s been a few years since I saw Red live, but they have not slowed down their game. Even in the dark lighting, never did they stagger or misstep on stage. They are a well-oiled machine that just keeps going and going, providing the fans with the most memorable experience possible. Their set list was amazing as they performed songs from multiple hit albums which included “Step Inside the Violence”, “Shadow and Soul”, Death of Me”, and “Still Alive” before introducing the band and explain that they had all known each other since 3rd grade and that they were from a one stop light town, with one gas station, and one cop. They proceeded with several more songs including “Already Over” and my personal favorite, “Feed the Machine”. A drum solo was magnificently positioned to close the original set. Once the lights went out and the band left the stage, the encore chants began. They reappeared on stage and performed a full-bodied four song encore that gave them the chance to highlight their current hit single “Gone”, as well as “Breathe Into Me”, and finally, “A.I.”. They truly brought the house down with their influential and powerful performance. Every face was lit up in ecstasy as they exited the show.
Set Lists are posted on https://www.setlist.fm/
Band page links below