20 Watts

Concert Coverage: The Chariot at The Westcott by laoppedi

Photography by Rhéma Hill

Where were you Sunday evening? About 40 students and Syracuse natives would say they attended the Tours and Rumors of Tours show at the Westcott Theater to see Georgia natives, The Chariot, backed by Greeley Estates, Inhale Exhale, Memphis May Fire, The Color Morale and local band Murder She Wrote.

The night began slowly as people trickled down the slant of the theater floor to claim their positions at the stage. Without warning, Murder She Wrote stepped up, plugged in and began wailing through their twenty minute set. Their sound was for the most part controlled and concise, but what set them apart from most local metal bands was the way they incorporated the keyboard sound. It wasn’t overpowering, but lightly mixed into the overall melody. While their performance was decent, Murder She Wrote lacked the interaction needed to get the crowd focused on what was happening before them.

Memphis May Fire brought down the flares of metal to a softer core. After an introduction sampling, vocalist Matt Mullins bounded to the front, beckoning the crowd to move in closer. “I’m so happy you guys made it before the show sold out,” Mullins joked to the sparse crowd. “I feel sorry for the guys standing outside.” Flanking him on both sides, guitarist Kellen McGregor and bassist Cody Elder stomped on foot-activated light boxes, setting them in a ghastly light of appeal. This Dallas, Texas band pumped southern riffs, highlighted with technical guitar layers and low beats. Eric Molesworth kept a persistent backbone to the sound at his little black and white drum kit. With duets of singing/screaming, combined with sinister to smooth tones of the guitars, each solo not only shone through, but added to the overall frame of the music.

The lights dropped to dark red and sampling about God and the Devil played on as The Color Morale stepped up. A chopped up and chilling version of the Lord’s Prayer bridged the silence between songs. The scene was set for chaos, but it was a shame that they didn’t have the numbers in the audience to match the level of explosiveness permeating from them. “If there are five people in the room,” panted Garrett Rapp, “then we know those five people mean everything. We are thankful for you guys so much.”

Despite initial lack of audience participation, Rapp’s hefty vocals melded with the backing vocals of John Bross and Justin Hiesa eventually riled up the concert goers into fits of hardcore dancing and loose knit mosh pits.

Inhale Exhale took their cue from a sampling reminiscent of the 20s, preaching: “I am here to turn up the volume.” Ryland Raus clinched his fist, beat his chest and stood in gorilla stances that gave him ground to force out screeching vocals from deep within. The group jerked and lunged their way into an array that kept the crowd watching and dancing. Transitioning from thriving to transcendental, they sustained their command of the sound.

Greeley Estates started dancy then blew up in the blur of strobe lights and banshee vocals from Ryan Zimmerman. Brandon Hackenson and Alex Torres’ fingers flew across their fret board while each member flailed around, individually brining their own method of brutality to the stage. Zimmerman’s mop of shaggy hair masked his face, but the rattles of his body proved his viciousness. Some of bassist David Ludlow’s slides of his strings went deep, but the double kick and crash cymbals of Chris Julian kept the piece moving.  Their song “Desperate Times Call for Desperate Housewives” was clearly a crowd pleaser with the audience cheering in the first 10 seconds of the take off.

Each band finished harder than they began, but The Chariot’s love for disorder ceased to stop. Anticipation mounted during their trademark start off of a backwoods track of the song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Mixing their southern upbringing to their command of the hardcore nature, they lived up to their reputation with a set that can only be described as calculated calamity. Even their set list was a whirlwind beginning with tracks off their latest’s album Wars and Rumors of Wars, to their second release, The Fiancé, and even a few songs from their debut, Everything Is Alive, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead, and Nothing Is Bleeding. There was rarely a moment when guitarists Bryan Taylor and Stephen Harrison were not flailing or spasming about to the drive of their mathcore sound. Both vocalist Josh Scogin and Jon “KC Wolf” Kindler helped tear apart David Kennedy’s drum set, taking a piece for themselves to play as Kennedy set up his bass drum and symbol at the very edge of the stage. Even the crowd refused to allow silence by stomping the ground and slamming beats against the stage between tracks without sampling. Between the strobe light, the color effects and Scogin swinging a flood lamp around in periods of pure darkness, the band kept an atmosphere of pandemonium for the hour they played.

Story and photography by Rhéma Hill



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