Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming
The Bourbon was shaking Tuesday (5/10) with a killer line-up of bands including Wage War, While She Sleeps, Gideon, and Chamber all brought to you by Lincoln's best rock station 104.1 The Blaze.
Before the first note was played the Bourbon was already filling in nicely. With the weather outside already in the 90s the Bourbon staff did a great job handing out waters to make sure everyone was hydrated. As far as I could tell no one passed out or had any issues, but yea, it was a scorcher inside.
The first band on the bill was Chamber from Nashville. They were really heavy, bringing the pounding drums, alarm clock riffs, and growling screams. As Jamey Jasta would say "Caveman music". The crowd was into it and the small circle pit started early. As you can see from the gallery photos, the lead singer was a wild ball of energy with his hair flying in his face the majority of the set. One of the guitarists and bassist on stage right had the frat bro look, which made me think of this meme:
Chamber played for a solid 25 minutes and got the crowd moving.
You can check out their stuff here: https://www.facebook.com/chambertn/
After Chamber was a band I've been wanting to catch for a while, Gideon, from Alabama. I first heard Gideon when they did a track "Freedom" which had guest vocals from my hero Jamey Jasta. Jasta of course plugged the song on his podcast so I checked it out and really liked what I heard. In the song "Freedom" singer Daniel McWhorter talks about being from the deep south, but nothing could've predicted what I saw when they hit the stage.
Before Gideon came on the house music switched from random radio rock songs to all country. I wasn't sure if the tour did this playlist in every city or if they figured being in the heartland it would go over well with the Bourbon crowd. Either way, it was a good choice. The crowd went full volume singing along to "Sold (The Grundy Auction Incident)" by John Michael Montgomery. You can be the most hardcore metal head, but there's something cool about singing along with your peers to some good old fashioned country every once in a while.
After the house music died down Gideon stepped out and started to slay the crowd with their powerful brand of hardcore tunes. I looked up and saw a very tall Daniel McWhorter in full denim, cowboy boots, and a ten-gallon hat. The juxtaposition of country singer look with hardcore vocals was an absolute trip, but the dude knows how to throw down! He wasn't messing around about being from the deep south.
Daniel told the crowd it was his birthday and that being on stage doing what he loves was the best way to celebrate. After the set the crowd chanted Happy Birthday and Daniel walked off with a giant smile. He spent the next hour greeting fans and signing autographs. I told him about how Jasta introduced me to his band and Dan said he was really grateful for Jasta and the guest vocals he provided. There's a good chance I would've caught Gideon sometime down the road but the fact that I knew about them ahead of time through Jasta was really cool. Definitely check out Gideon, they have a new album coming out soon. They're similar to Hatebreed in that the vocals are really heavy but they're fairly decipherable.
You can find out more about Gideon here: http://gideonal.com/
By now the room was sweltering and the crowd was really starting to squish. With only two more bands to go I pushed forward trying my best to find an open spot of floor with just a little social distance.
As I waited in the photo pit I noticed there was a lot more security on hand than usual. With each band, the crowd surfing and moshing had been picking up. Chamber kicked things off and gave the crowd a nice warm up. Gideon came out and turned up the heat a little more, sending a few people into the air and over the barricade. Well, While She Sleeps said "Let's just turn things up to 11, shall we?"
Within the first 30 seconds bodies were flying and the band was raging. Their lead singer reminded me a bit of Bert from the Used. If you're unfamiliar, the Used really borrowed a lot of their sound from The Refused from Sweden. In that same vein, While She Sleeps reminded me of The Refused as well. They had a good mix of really heavy drop tuned guitars, industrial electronic layers, and melodic vocals.
In addition to sounding really awesome, the band had energy for days. By the second song their bass player hopped over the barricade and started playing inside the circle pit! The lead singer later climbed to the perch where crew and band members watch from above. He jumped back down onto the stage, which had to have been over 10 feet down. It was just absolute madness!
Before the last song the lead singer surfed into the crowd while the bass player stood on top of the bar at the back of the room. The energy level was just unreal!
While She Sleeps expressed their gratitude for the Bourbon crowd and vowed to return. If you love fast-paced energetic bands then make sure to check out While She Sleeps so you don't miss it next time.
You can find more info here: https://whileshesleeps.com/
After While She Sleeps melted my face I stepped outside for some air and ran into my favorite Midwest bass player, Willie from Saul! We had a good hang with the boys from Evandale while we waited for Wage War.
After pressing my way through the now-packed floor it was time for the final act. Wage War came out swinging with "Relapse", the first track from their latest release Manic. Right away, the crowd was singing every word and the bodies were flying over the barricade.
I was glad I could finally catch Wage War on a headline run. My experience at Knofest in Omaha was less than ideal and I only got to see two songs before being shuffled into a waiting area. Arena shows seem like they're really glamourous, but I'd much rather be at a place like the Bourbon hanging with friends, meeting new people, and running into my favorite Midwest bass player Willie, haha.
After the first three songs I moved to the back to try and get some wider shots and stay out of the way. I tell you, this was one of the hardest shoots I've had in a while. Wage War was packing quite the laser show when it came to lighting. Hopefully everyone in the crowd enjoyed getting hit in the eyes with green and purple light blasters.
Wage War did a great job mixing things up playing a lot of new tracks from Manic, but also pulling out older songs and crowd favorites like "Alive" and "The River". The crowd was raging from start to finish. The circle pit was strong and the crowd surfing was at an all time high. There was even a the kid flying a Wage War flag as he made his way to the front.
Wage War is riding some great momentum coming off the Knotfest tour. The show at The Bourbon shows that they have some staying power in the radio rock world. Make sure to check out their latest album Manic wherever you stream music.
I had a great time hanging with everyone Tuesday. Shout out to Willie, Evandale, and my new buddy Justin, thanks for following my guy!
A big thanks to 104.1 The Blaze for bringing this show and to Bourbon Theatre for photo access!
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While She Sleeps
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