In my time writing reviews for Bucketlist there has been more than one occasion where I found myself going into a show completely blind, not really knowing any of the bands aside from just their name and possibly their members’ preferred hairstyles from promo pictures. In uncharacteristic fashion for me (but probably standard for most writers), I decided to do a little homework and actually listen to the bands before seeing them play live. This experience left me with a sense of dread heading to the Corona Theater on Wednesday to see I Prevail, Starset, and Cover Your Tracks, as I was certain I would be spending the show wading through an estrogen sea of teenage woman and men with questionable fashion sense. Despite being right on the money with those predictions, I was wrong in my assumption that I wouldn’t enjoy the show.
Atlanta’s Cover Your Tracks opened the night to an already fairly full venue. The band play a rather standard blend of emo and rock, somewhat in the vein of 30 Seconds To Mars which, granted, is not a style I regularity partake in, but they’re certainly good and write some damn catchy songs. There was not a lot of movement from the band in general, and during the set I had the impression that the singer looked a little uncomfortable on stage. Their show was surprisingly short, lasting only four songs or so, but as it turns out my previous impression was justified when I discovered that the man fronting the band wasn’t their singer, but one of their guitar players filling in. Their actual singer wasn’t there for whatever reason, hence the short set. But much respect to their guitarist, who killed it despite being a little shy on stage.
I genuinely enjoyed discovering Starset’s music the day before, but nothing I listened to could have possibly prepared me for the spectacle I was to witness. Starset have, hands down, one of the most visually extravagant live set ups I have ever seen in my entire life, let alone for a band who isn’t even headlining. The six-piece band (which includes a cellist and violinist) filled every inch of the stage, with everything from giant LED screens to a massive see-through projector touchscreen desk that looked straight out of Star Trek. The technological and space-themed props and costumes accentuated their ethereal brand of electronic infused modern rock, making for a otherwordly show.
Given the spectacle everyone was just treated to, I had a hard time believing that I Prevail were going to put up much of a fight. That sentiment was quickly dashed, and it became very clear who everyone was there to see. No fancy props were going to steal their thunder. I Prevail tore onto the stage with dramatically more energy than the preceding acts, both musically and physically, which immediately shifted the vibe of the show. I.P’s front men Brian Burkheiser and Eric Vanlerberghe were incredibly engaging from start to finish, expertly working the crowd and moving about the stage in an impressive feat of cardio endurance. Certainly one of the more entertaining moments happened closer to the end of the set, when they decided to play a medley of covers that included Blink-182, Slipknot, Linkin Park, and Eminem, and ended with the full version of “Blank Spaces” by Taylor Swift which they had recorded for the Punk Goes Pop Vol. 6 album.
What I took from this show more than anything was just how important giving a visually pleasing live performance is, and how it dramatically alters the experience. It’s good to see some bands making the effort and even pushing this facet or performance further, because this is what’s going to bring the people out again and again.
Written by Paul Ablaze
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson