Killakoi Unveils “The Kage” To A Sell-Out Crowd At Amos’ Southend
Sweet, Sweet, Sweet Victory
It started out a night like any other night but by the end of the evening, Charlotte area band Killakoi would be on top of the world. The band had been teasing something “big” coming for months, something that would set them apart from the crowd and show the rock world exactly what they’re made of. In anticipation of this auspicious event, Killakoi fans from near and far would pack Amos’ Southend to capacity rife with anticipation at what was to come.
Sharing the spotlight with Killakoi was a solid bill of some of the area’s hottest bands as the evening kicked off with an opening set by Den of Wolves. The metalcore trio always gets the crowd moving and tonight was no exception as they hammered through a short but killer set of tunes from their debut album Lovesdead along with a few new songs. If metal is your mantra, then you absolutely need to check these guys out! The lights may have been dark and eerie but the music was sizzling with guitarist Khalil England laying down some serious fretwork while vocalist and bassist Tristen England and drummer Savien Davis drove the unrelenting pace. Den of Wolves is a staple on the local scene and with their commanding stage presence, they are definitely an act to keep an eye on.
Next up was American Theory. These guys have come such a long way in such a short time with the release of their debut album Your Local Politics and their song “The Lion and the Liar” being featured on the NASCAR Heat 4 Soundtrack. They’ve got a fresh sound with songs that aren’t afraid to explore uncomfortable topics and skills that musicians twice their age still haven’t achieved. Vocalist and guitarist Devyn Byrd is already an excellent showman, pumping up the crowd at each and every opportunity. The crowd was having a great time and so was the band. The future definitely looks very bright for American Theory and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to accomplish next.
In case there was ever any doubt about the size of the musical talent pool in this area, let me present to you Falling Through April. The alternative rock act is an area favorite that is looking to take the rock world by storm. When not playing in area venues, FTA has opened up for some of the biggest and best including Theory of a Deadman and Pop Evil and have performed at huge festivals including Vans Warped Tour and SXSW. The band has won numerous awards and their Zodiac album has really rocketed them to the top. With the smooth and luxurious vocals of Mikaela Pena, it’s easy to get lost in the music and let it wrap around you while guitarists Dan Candia and Jim Siani will have you bouncing and jumping to the beats.
Bassist Dave Piontek provides a rock-solid backbone to the lush landscape that is Falling Through April. Always a crowd-pleaser, the band knows how to put on a great show and make sure everyone is having a good time. If you don’t enjoy yourself when Falling Through April is on the stage, you may want to rethink some things. They played my favorite “Recover//Relapse” which has a special meaning to so many that are dealing with and have dealt with addiction in their lives. It was a phenomenal set and a great way to leat into the main event.
After a short break, it was finally time for the unveiling of the secret “Kage” that was covered by a white curtain throughout the evening. The audience was amped up beyond belief and when the venue lights dimmed, everyone was primed and ready to go. The rock ballad “Sweet Victory” by David Glen Eisley began playing and yes that’s the song from the famous SpongeBob episode. As the song went on, I could envision SpongeBob anxiously taking the microphone before a packed stadium and thought what a perfect way to start things off. After a few moments, there was a slight glitch and it appeared that Killakoi’s lighting gear was not functioning properly. The band and their crew tried to fix it, but unfortunately could not so they did what any professional band would do, go on without it and not let it affect one single aspect of the show. Some musicians who shall remain nameless (cue Marilyn Manson throwing a mic stand meme) could learn a thing or two about professionalism from these guys.
As soon as the first notes of “Not For Nothing” began to be heard, nobody gave a damn about the lights anyway. It was clear that Killakoi was pulling out all the stops for this show and bringing nothing but their “A” game as they pulled the audience along for what would be one incredible ride. Finally, it was time for the big reveal and the white curtain was dropped to reveal newest band member Ethan Gibbons kicking ass inside “The Kage.” What an incredible idea this was! The Kage was absolutely the coolest thing that I have seen at any show in a very long time.
Built with what appears to be metal piping, The Kage serves as a way to hold various instruments including a wall of drums, floor toms, a keyboard, and a microphone all within a jungle gym apparatus that allowed Ethan to swing like a monkey and hang upside down to play.
National bands stand up and take notice! This is how it’s done! But as awesome as The Kage is, this wasn’t just some circus act, Killakoi rocked the crowd harder than they ever have. Guitarist Robbie Reimer continues to quietly dazzle and amaze me with his skill set and bassist Sam Ocheltree has totally come into his own, handling his bass and hamming it up for the crowd.
Drummer Michael Russo was in his normal spot behind his kit amazing us with his stickhandling skills as always and Ethan was in beast mode all night on the Kage. Vocalist and guitarist Jordan Mattachione is right where he belongs, front and center in a rock band, leading the charge. He is always entertaining to watch whether he’s standing behind his mic stand fist in the air or on his knees shredding his guitar in a type of silent prayer to the rock and roll gods.
The set had everything one has come to expect when Killakoi hits the stage with expert musicianship, killer songs, and an energy level that could raise the venue roof itself. Tonight, there were a few surprised thrown into the mix as well. Of course, we had the unveiling of The Kage and the introduction of Ethan as an official member of the band but Killakoi didn’t stop there. They had a few more tricks up their sleeve. None other than Morgan Riley of Blackwater Drowning came out to assist the band on the vocals for a cover of Lamb of God’s “Laid to Rest.”
The result was a crowd that went nuts, banging their heads and opening up a mosh pit on the floor. The band also teased us with a full-length album to be coming soon, something that Killakoi fans will be looking forward to with much anticipation. After a rousing version of “Wasted,” Ethan escaped from The Kage for just a little while to take over vocals as the band surprised us with a little bit of “Spirit of Radio,” the Rush classic and totally awesome especially with the passing of one of if not the best rock drummer of all time Neil Peart. In fact, there are a few videos circulating on social media that claim you can hear Ethan whisper “can you hear us Mr. Peart?” before they begin the song. A great moment in Killakoi history was made right there and something that undoubtedly the band members will be telling their grandkids someday when they talk about the old days.
This show was proof beyond proof that the Charlotte area is overflowing with musical talent. Killakoi just put on a show that would put a lot of big-name bands to shame and fans came out in droves to show their love for the band. Who knows what these guys will do next? They have already been announced as an artist at the Blue Ridge Rock Festival this fall and with performances like this, there’s simply no doubt that they are about to become the next big thing in rock. Tonight was in many, many ways a sweet, sweet, sweet victory indeed.