Music Fans Fall “In Love With The Rhythm” As Issues Rolls Into Charlotte
The Beautiful Oblivion Tour 2019
Ever since the release of their 2012 debut EP Black Diamonds, Atlanta rock band Issues has been turning heads all over the music world. Ushering in a new era of nu-metal music, one that mixes the heaviness of metal not with hip-hop beats but with glorious pop melodies and soaring choruses, Issues is in a class of their own. To celebrate the release of their latest offering Beautiful Oblivion, they have been on a headlining run with a lineup so stacked that venues across the country have been sold out as fans clamored to snag a coveted ticket. Thankfully, for Charlotte area fans, The Beautiful Oblivion Tour made a stop at The Underground affording music lovers the opportunity to check out what all the fuss is about.
Listening once more to the title track “Beautiful Oblivion” as I approached the venue, I couldn’t help but feel that overwhelming sense of excitement that the night was going to be amazing in so many ways.
“Symphonies in my head keep me alive. I feel my pulse pumping like a beat I can’t deny. Beautiful oblivion.”
It was raining cats and dogs again as has been the norm here in the Queen City or shall I say the Seattle of the East? Anyway, I decided to wait until the line had dwindled down as to not become a soaking, saturated mess and since the show wasn’t scheduled to start until 6:30, I had plenty of time. That is until I made my way inside a few minutes before six and was informed by another photographer ( Thank you Daphne!) that the first band was going on at six. Skipping my normal bathroom first protocol, I strapped on my camera and headed into the pit.
First to go on was Pennsylvania rock band Another Day Dawns. These guys impressed me right from the start as they possessed a wild abandon on stage that carried the energy throughout the venue. The vocals of lead singer Dakota Sean were full, sweeping over you in waves while bass guitarist Josh Mercado worked the stage like a seasoned veteran. All in all, it was a short but thoroughly enjoyable set and I’m glad I made it in time to catch them. They will be releasing their debut EP Strangers in January so be on the lookout for some amazing things from them in 2020.
Next to hit the stage was Sleep Token. I was completely unfamiliar with the band and wasn’t sure what to expect. I chose not to do any pre-show research on them because sometimes I think it takes away from the live experience leaving you with some preconceived notions that may or may not be true. What happened next was interesting, to say the least.
Taking the stage in masks and long black robes, the band looked a lot different than their music sounded. I was totally expecting some sort of hardcore, death metal type vibe but instead, I was quickly enveloped in lush almost orchestral sounds. Both the guitarist and the bass guitarist were moving about a lot, kicking their feet up and spinning their instruments as if something was going to happen. I braced for the attack, musically, of course, anticipating that the song at some point would get harder, faster, meaner but it never did.
Needless to say, this is definitely a case where the old adage of don’t judge a book by its cover was true. Their set was heavy but in a calm and peaceful way, very hard to describe. Afterward, I did some internet googling and garnered a little more information on the band, although there wasn’t much out there. Apparently, the band takes its name from an ancient deity called “Sleep” and describes their music as worship. Their latest “offering” is available now via the Spinefarm/Universal label so I suggest you check it out if you wish to dive further down this rabbit hole.
One thing for sure is there was a lot of variety on this tour and to drive that point home, we had rapper Lil Aaron cranking things up next. He came out decked out with a baseball cap, glitzy belt buckle spelling out Gucci, and holding up a blue can of something that I’m pretty sure was a Bud Light. His style is fairly laid back and fans were singing along throughout the set. 2018 saw two releases from Lil Aaron with Rockstar Famous and Worst Christmas Ever featuring a host of guests including Travis Barker and Kim Petras. Probably the most poignant moment of the show occurred oddly enough during his set when he slowed the pace down and urged the audience to light up their phones and wave them back and forth to the beat.
Lil Aaron was more than entertaining and his music works with a variety of genres so expect to see a lot more of him in the near future.
The mesmerizing sounds of Polyphia were about to surround us as the band took the stage to a cheering crowd. They are for the most part an instrumental band and their music has been described as everything from math rock to progressive metal but the reality is they truly should be a genre of their own. Polyphia’s sound is a unique amalgam of metal, rock, funk, jazz, classical, and maybe even the kitchen sink. Each band member is a technical wizard and I could literally watch guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage work their fretboard magic for hours. Bass guitarist Clay Goober occasionally addressed the crowd, urging them on and telling them to crank up the crowd surfing.
The first time I ever saw Polyphia play live, I thought he was joking when he said he wanted to see every single one of us up in front, but to my surprise despite the mellow vibe of much of their music, Polyphia fans are intense crowd surfers and tonight was no exception. Along with all the technical wizardry is a deeply intense mood that is at times hypnotic in its madness as the music takes a firm grip on your inner being. It’s beautiful, it’s powerful, it’s Polyphia.
After a short break, the lights go down again and it’s time for Issues. The lights come on, flashing waves of bright white and deep, dark blue as lead vocalist Tyler Carter runs out, fist in the air to the opening notes of “Here’s To You.” The band is energized, ready to go and the crowd knows it. They can taste it on the tips of their tongues as they wait for it, wait for it. Bam! Pow! The chorus kicks in and all bets are off. Drummer Josh Manuel is a beast behind his massive kit, sticks held high in the air at every available opportunity, driving the beat and pushing the pace. Skyler Accord is all over the stage, his hair flowing behind him as he jumps and spins, swinging his bass guitar around like a child playing with a yo-yo. The inner mom in me is thinking to be careful, be careful, as he lands safely on his feet from a huge split-jump that had him soaring over the amplifier stacks without missing a note.
Guitarist AJ Rebollo is taking a much more disciplined approach as he stays calmly near his mic stand letting his fingers do the talking as he growls his unclean vocals into the microphone. Meanwhile, Carter has been the master of ceremonies, challenging the crowd to give him more and more. Of course, the fans respond in kind, taking the energy to new heights. It seems that it would be impossible to maintain this high for the duration of the set, but somehow we all do. The band and the fans gave it everything they had, letting the music take hold and allowing them to escape with each other if only for a brief amount of time.
This was a tour that will never be forgotten and as I made my way back to my car, thoughts, and pieces of the evening were spinning in my head.