Words by Emilia D’Albero
On Wednesday night, New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom hosted the largest gathering of angsty scene kids in the area, otherwise known as the American Dream Tour, featuring Bring Me the Horizon, Of Mice and Men, Issues, and Northlane. Coontail hair extensions and Vans sneakers came from near and far to line up in the freezing cold outside the venue without jackets, in hopes of getting close to the stage.
Australian band Northlane opened up the show and the audience opened up the pit. Seriously. These kids started moshing during the first 5 seconds of Northlane’s set and didn’t stop until the very end of the concert. Up next was Issues, a band playing Warped Tour this year, who matched Northlane’s energy in terms of volume and heaviness, but added an element of vocal melody and musicality to contrast Northlane’s standard screamo sound. I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, and this show was one of the few shows I’ve been to where nearly the entire audience knows every single song played by every single band. This lineup was a solid one, judging from the reactions of the crowd, so high five to whoever booked it.
The third band was Hot Topic favorite Of Mice and Men, and seeing them perform without knowing anything about them helped me realize why- they’re relatable. They’re angry and determined and their hooks are catchy. They stir up some kind of emotions in their fans that cause them to mosh so hard that I had to fall back a bit to give my arms a break from being in what I like to call “mosh pit battle stance” (does anybody else call it that or just me? Just me? Okay.) Of Mice and Men got the crowd riled and ready for Bring Me the Horizon to take stage, and at last the lights dimmed and the shrieks of scantily clad teenage girls could be hear over the British band’s entrance music.
Opening with “Can You Feel My Heart,” the first track of their latest album Sempiternal, Bring
Me the Horizon kicked into a surprisingly short 11 song setlist comprised mainly of newer songs, with a few classics and older favorites. One of their latest and loudest singles, “Shadow Moses,” was followed by the classic “Diamonds Aren’t Forever,” prompting the loudest singalong of “We will never sleep/cause sleep is for the weak/we will never rest/till we’re all fucking dead” that I have ever heard in my life. My friend has played the song for me through his car stereo but nothing could compare to being surrounded by people screaming the words back at frontman Oli Sykes like their lives depended on it.
The set also contained new songs “The House of Wolves” and “Go to Hell For Heaven’s Sake,” as well as arguably one of their biggest hits, “Chelsea Smile”. One thing that stood out to me about this show, other than the amount of times I nearly got hit or kicked in the face (and my friend actually did take the foot to the face and walked out of the show bleeding) was the level of energy coming from the crowd. Not one person was standing around, and of course you had the typical people who recorded the entire show on their phones, but for the most part the crowd was fully engaged in the performance.
When Oli screamed “Middle fingers up if you don’t give a fuck” at the beginning of “Antivist,” nearly every single person’s middle fingers went into the air as they screamed the words right back at him. Bring Me the Horizon may not have played a long set, but it was packed with energy and as intense as it possibly could be. All the fans seemed incredibly satisfied as they walked out of the venue covered in their own sweat, other people’s sweat, and possibly the bands’ sweat, and isn’t that what really matters?
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