After a month of crazy weather in New York, the sky let loose a nasty wintry mix that made roads slippery and dangerous the night before The War of Change Tour came to Rochester, NY. I was looking forward to seeing Love And Death and The Letter Black perform but wasn’t even sure I would still be going until a half hour before I left. A friend and I then met to ride to Water Street Music Hall together.
The War of Change Tour was a line-up of four Tooth & Nail Records bands which were The Wedding, The Letter Black, Love And Death and Thousand Foot Krutch. At this particular show, there were also three local bands that opened the show, Battle Beneath, Cry To The Blind and Melia.
I arrived late to the show and totally missed the first of the three local bands, Battle Beneath. I only got to see a little of the second local band, Cry To The Blind, which was a little disappointing cause I actually know this band and wanted to be there for their whole set. They sang their songs Angerfly and From Now On an announced from the stage that they would be selling CDs out of their backpacks. What I saw of their set was awesome and I got to hang out and talk with a couple of the guys in the band later during an intermission. I even got my picture taken with Cry To The Blind vocalist Jon Lamanna with their drummer in the background.
The third band to perform was Melia, a female-fronted alternative twist within all the hard rock of the night. I loved their set and was glad for a tasty blend of genres. Melia is a 3-time 2012 Indie Music Channel Award Winner. They performed their song Just A Bride which won both best rock song, and song of the year.
The Wedding, which is a band that our punk sister site covers, was the first of the four Tooth & Nail bands to perform. The vocalist was very energetic and interactive with the audience. A few times during their set, he would jump towards the crowd, landing on stools that were holding up a thin wooden wall between the audience and the pit in front of the stage. I had expected them to be more pop punk or at least a little more punk than what they were. Instead they were more like a mild rock band. This was the most mellow of all the bands that performed. They sang for about a half hour and then watched the other bands perform. Some of the members of the band mingled with their fans too. Overall, it wasn’t a bad set, but I just couldn’t get into it.
The next band up was The Letter Black, another female-fronted band. Sarah Anthony’s beautiful and powerful vocals showed that a female can rock just as hard as the males. They sang My Disease and introduced a few newer songs as well. This was one of my favorite bands of the night. I really like their hard rock sound.
That brings me to Love And Death, which was the sixth band of the night. They were the very reason I was at the show. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Love And Death, let me tell you who they are. This is Brian “Head” Welch’s (former Korn guitarist) new band. Welch is the vocalist of this band and this is great position for him. His voice has a low, slightly-eerie metal sound to it at times which blends very nicely with their hard rock. He does play guitar too, of course, but he’s not the lead guitarist. That position is filled by 17-year-old JR Bareis. You can read more about the band in my interview with bassist Michael Valentine. I’d been listening to a bunch of their songs and watching their videos on YouTube since early February in anticipation of this show and they did not disappoint. They were just as awesome live as they are on their album, Between Here & Lost, which was just released near the end of January. Love And Death rocked the faces off their fans with their songs Paralyzed, The Abandoning, Chemicals and their cover of Devo’s Whip It, which Welch sang with a Devo-inspired flower pot on his head. The musicianship and vocals were above expectation for me. Sometimes a live performance just doesn’t do a band any justice, but that was not the case for Love And Death. The band seemed to be very supportive of the other bands on tour with them, giving a shoutout to each band during their set and watching each of the other bands perform. They did talk about God in the middle of their performance, but it wasn’t offensive or overdone. Besides, anyone who goes to a show where all the touring bands are known as Christian bands should expect at least one of the bands to say something about their faith.
After Love And Death finished, there was at least a 20 minute intermission. At this time I went to find the guys from Cry To The Blind. Up until this point, the show was actually really good. It started to go downhill for me once I found out that the local bands weren’t allowed to sell their own merchandise so as not to take away from the sales of the national bands on the tour. I felt it was ridiculous because the venue was a bar that definitely made money that night that might have gone to buy merchandise from one of the national bands if the show wasn’t at a bar. When Cry To The Blind sold a few of their CDs out of a backpack, TFK’stour manager threatened to have them kicked out. The band was also not allowed backstage after a certain point in the show, not even to get their gear which was still there. About a day later, the headlining band, Thousand Foot Krutch, issued a statement on their Facebook page in response to several complaints from Cry To The Blind fans. Apparently, communication got messed up somewhere and the local bands were all supposed to know from the moment they were picked to perform that they weren’t going to be allowed to sell their merch. According to Cry To The Blind, they did not know until the day of the show otherwise they wouldn’t have agreed to do the show. After all, they have families to support too. Local bands don’t make a huge amount of money but every amount counts. Thousand Foot Krutch stated that they didn’t mean any offense and that their intention was not to rook the local bands out of their sales. If I didn’t know any of the local bands, I probably would have just thought “Wow, that sucks!” However, I do know the band that felt offended and seeing how upset they were just upset me too.
When the intermission was over, the fans started chanting “TFK! TFK!” and the headlining band, Thousand Foot Krutch took the stage. They sang mostly songs from their latest album, The End Is Where We Begin, which was released in April 2012. They did sing Rawkfist and Puppet off their early albums but I would have liked for them to have played more of a mix of older and newer songs. Most of the audience seemed to really enjoy their show. I wasn’t really into it though. I have seen this band perform before and I didn’t think they were as good this time around. TFK’s set ran about an hour and a half with an encore which I felt was too long.