"O.G. Loko" from 2011's "The Flood" opened the set with palpable energy and a streak of violence. Carlile squatted on a platform as he screamed the song's heady chorus into the microphone. Drums clattered and cymbals smashed like a murder of crows taking off. Carlile emphasized the song's final chorus: "Meet my dedication, inspiration. It may be smothering you, but you know it's the truth."
"Product of a Murder" offered an excellent breakdown and a melodic chorus. The drop-ins and drop-outs of the verses gave the kids in the pit the chance to jump in unison, as the five piece Of Mice and Men head-banged over the proverbial metaled-out chug of the razor wire guitars and deafening drums.
"Ohioisonfire" stood out and found many-a-fan crowd surfing. After the song, Carlile informed us that he had spent $145 on BBQ earlier in the day and was regretting feeling weighed down by all the dead animals sloshing around in his belly.
Carlile explained that "The Flood" was being filmed for a live DVD. After the audience heard that, shit exploded. Kids tumbled head-over-ass in the mosh pit and one of Of Mice and Men's two guitarists walked out on one of the Pageant's long, wood top tables.
On "Second and Seabring" Carlile offered front-row-fans a microphone, independent from the one he used, swiping the stand through the air like a mad-golem roasting marshmallows, or a reaper cutting down the living.
I loved Of Mice and Men's breakdowns, but I found their lyrics to be seriously lacking. Upon looking them up (I understood little through Carlile's screams), I found most were concerned with self-mutilation, pain, poison, fire, skin and hatred for some lost other. I found this puzzling, as a band with such a literary allusion to Steinbeck's famous book ought to have more moving lyrics.
A Day to Remember took the stage after a host of roadies erected the band's complex stage set up, which utilized two ramps on either side of the stage and the drum set on a high-riser in the center with an alley way snaking behind. Two large banners with the ADTR logo unfurled as the opening beats of "Violence (Enough Is Enough)" began and the crowd lit up like a fireworks display in July.
"2nd Sucks," from 2010's "What Separates Me From You" began with pulsing, heavily effected guitar, scoping background screams from guitarist Neil Westfall and McKinnon's self-affirming lyrics. "I'm Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?" from 2009's "Homesick" featured a clean chorus with a crusade of poppy "ah, ah's" cascading beneath. Drummer Alex Shelnutt pushed the tempo with skill and precision.
During "Better Off This Way" a person clad in an Angry Birds costume ran across the stage, shooting t-shirts at the crowd with a pneumatic t-shirt gun. Meanwhile, another person leapt into the mosh pit in an inflatable raft, riding the waves of hands and heads. A fan jumped in the boat and was quickly kicked out by a bouncer as the boat "docked" on the stage.
A Day to Remember screamed and blasted through "Have Faith In Me," "Another Song About The Weekend," "Fast Forward to 2012," Right Back At It Again" and "The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle." As each song passed, the crowd's frenzy grew. Soon, bouncers were tossing people out of the pit as the excitement neared pandemonium.
A Day to Remember encored with a heartfelt and acoustic rendition of "It's Complicated." McKinnon's vocals were clean and serene as he sang, "You're not the person that I knew back then," which oddly conjured comparisons to New Found Glory. "If It Means A Lot To You" followed suit with its acoustic mode and introspection.
"All I Want" and "The Downfall Of Us All" closed out the evening with grandeur and power. After the song, McKinnon gave a quick "Thank you," as the Pageant's lights came up and the bouncers set about the task of booting-out all the youths in anticipation of the Loop's 11:45 p.m. curfew. I didn't stick around to see if they were successful or not, but saw how much of a task it would most likely prove to be, wishing them luck under my breath as I smoked my last cigarette on the way back to my car.