Words by Nick Hodgins | Photo by Jonathan Weiner

It was a beautiful evening for a rock show in Sayreville, NJ on Wednesday May, 10 as Sum 41, Emarosa, and Pierce the Veil teamed up to throw down at the Starland Ballroom.

Emarosa is coming off the heels of their latest album, 131, which released last July. This is just their second album since frontman Bradley Walden signed on in 2014, and first since adding Matt Marcellus (guitar), Ryan Kienie (bass & backing vocals), and Brent Caltigirone (drums). Despite the lineup changes, after watching five minutes of these guys on stage you’d swear they’ve been playing together for years. The set was packed full of energy, from Walden performing somersaults across the back of Kienie, to guitar playing out in the center of the crowd. These dudes left it all on stage.

Following Emarosa was multi-platinum punk-rock metal-heads Sum 41, doing what they do best, melting faces and playing hits. It’s been over a decade since the band’s debut album, All Killer No Filler, dropped, and at this point it’s getting closer to two. Since then the band has seen insurmountable success in six studio albums, Grammy nominations and a dedicated fan base standing by them every step of the way. In 2014 things took a dark turn as frontman Deryck Whibley faced alcoholism, leading to trips in and out of the ICU before ultimately seeking help. In the end he came out stronger, finding purpose in the band and his songwriting. In October of 2016, 13 Voices was released.

Their set featured a solid blend of songs from all albums, coming out to “Introduction to Destruction” blended into AC/DC’s “TNT.” The band made no effort to disguise their metal roots, letting loose and shredding solos left and right. Displaying their uniqueness from other punk rock bands, you’d have thought James Hetfield and Kirk Hammet stopped off at the Starland Ballroom last night before hitting East Rutherford on Sunday.

“Name any metal song, they’ll play it,” said Whibley as Tom Thacker and Dave Brownsound broke out into Slayer’s “Reigning Blood.” The band of course played their own shred numbers such as “We’re All to Blame” and “Fake my Own Death” as well as old-school favorites like “In Too Deep” and “Fat Lip.”

Pierce the Veil capped the night with lead vocalist Vic Fuentes stepping out fully masked, detonating a streamer bomb into the crowd before unleashing a set full of head bangers, circle pits and enough energy to shake the house. The stage production was top-notch with a full LED screen behind the band featuring different animations and impressive lighting. The crowd didn’t miss a beat, singing along to favorites like “Hell Above” and “Caraphernelia,” all while crowd surfers kept the bouncers busy before the night finally came to a close.


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