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ATP! Live Review: Underoath - Irving Plaza, NYC (01/17/2013)

Desolate Earth: The end is here. Metalcore pioneers, Underoath, are in the last quarter of their farewell tour. It is a bittersweet time for the band and their devoted fans, but their last show in New York City was certainly an unforgettable one. The walls of Irving Plaza could barely endure the four and a half hours of pandemonium that transpired. Similar to a typical Underoath show circa pre-disbanding, when the band comes to a city, they do not leave quietly.

Support came from mewithoutYou, As Cities Burn, and letlive. The latter, who scored a spot on this year’s Vans Warped Tour, set the bar high for the remainder of the show with an unceasing set, which consisted of songs from their 2010 release Fake History. There are no rules when letlive. is performing; their members, but mostly vocalist Jason Aalon Butler, use the monitors and venue equipment as makeshift monkey bars and bring new meaning to the word “chaotic.” Even Underoath keyboardist Chris Dudley could not keep away from the action, who was watching alongside the fans in the crowd. Butler proved to be the product of showtime versions of Taking Back Sunday vocalist Adam Lazzara and Underoath vocalist Spencer Chamberlain, but on steroids. Butler will scale the balcony of the mezzanine, jump all over the band’s equipment, and cannonball into the crowd numerous times during a set. His energy is ubiquitous; it would not be a surprise if the lighting crew use it to make the stage lights move. This progressive metal band, whom Underoath has taken out on tours in the past, also featured a new song, ‘The 27 Club’ - a "homage to circle pits” - as per Butler. And almost immediately, a circle pit formed across the length of the venue. New and old faces in the crowd were obviously stunned by the band’s passion and power, and there is no doubt that their run on the Vans Warped Tour will be just as, if not more, memorable.

As Cities Burn was on next, opening with ‘Clouds’ from their 2007 release, Come Now Sleep. Guitarist/Vocalist Cody Bonnette held down the fort until older brother and Vocalist TJ Bonnette ran on stage to finish off the song, which resulted in a riot on the crowd’s part. Not as much chaos ensued during their set in comparison to letlive.; however, the band brought enough to the stage to get the crowd entertained and energized for a decent forty-minutes. mewithoutyou took the stage after As Cities Burn, and led a more subdued set. At Underoath shows in the past, this would seem a bit odd; but during these farewell shows, a break is highly needed in between the insanity of the two previous sets and the impending disorder that will arise during Underoath’s performance. The band really shined with the great instrumentals laced in each song, keeping the crowd at bay and intrigued. They closed their set with ‘All Circles,’ featuring a guest appearance by Kevin Devine.

Then the kings took the stage in New York City for the very last time, opening with ‘Breathing in a New Mentality’ from their 2008 release Lost in the Sound of Separation. Chamberlain has previously tweeted and then later mentioned on stage that he had been fighting an inopportune bout of food poisoning from the night before, and begged the crowd to give him the strength to perform his best for them. And he certainly did; he absorbed the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm and performed with as much heart and power as he would when he is one-hundred percent healthy. Underoath’s set consisted of a split between mostly Disambiguation (2010) and Define the Great Line (2006) songs, including one of the two songs from their final recording session, ‘Unsound’. Not much was different from a typical Underoath show; complete and utter disorder and mayhem, only this time with a lot more heart and sentimentality. Dudley did his job as keyboardist and crowd-leader, cheering with the fans and getting them revved up as Chamberlain gave an overpowering performance while trying not to pop a blood vessel in his neck.

About three-quarters of the way into the set, Chamberlain made a small farewell address, vaguely detailing the reason behind their disbanding. Overall, the vocalist insinuated that most of the members spent their lives “growing up on the road” and that now was the time for some of them to focus on their families while the rest of the band experimented with other musical endeavors. The serious matter ended quickly and it was back to the music. As anticipated, the crowd and band lost control during songs from their 2004 album, They’re Only Chasing Safety (‘Young and Aspiring’, ‘Reinventing Your Exit’, ‘It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door’). The venue exploded during Chamberlain’s moving delivery of the march-like anthem in ‘Who Will Guard the Guardians,’ done with a megaphone, as in years past.

After a fourteen-song setlist, the band came back on stage to perform three encores. Out of respect and genuine concern for a fan, the band immediately halted one-third of the way into ‘A Boy Brushed Red...Living in Black and White’ to ensure that someone’s safety was not in jeopardy after a fall. And just like every past Underoath show since 2006, ‘Writing on the Walls,’ which was the final encore, made waves across the crowd and prompted one last fit of anarchy before Underoath walked off a New York City stage for the very last time.

No, Underoath did not play ‘When the Sun Sleeps’ and Dallas Taylor did not come out to sing it. Nor did Aaron Gillespie make a guest appearance on ‘Writing on the Walls’. But who is to say that those are what make a great Underoath show? The band has proven since Disambiguation that they could successfully go on without certain members. Anyone who has kept an eye on the alternative rock/metalcore music scene over the past fourteen years knows that Underoath are at legendary status and will continue to inspire musicians for years to come. The band has redefined the cliché, “Going out with a bang,” with their farewell tour. The shows are anything but sad and mournful, but encapsulate their impact on fans and music in the most sincere way.

Melissa Jones

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