It should bear no repeating, yet I’ll do so once more for those in the back: modern metalcore is in safe hands. Bands come and go, trends rise and fall, but the genre is a resilient one; a slew of acts have come to prominence in the past decade, each one eager to carve out a slice of the heavy music listening base. After an arduous day of stress, responsibilities and other such clutter, there’s no better release than a masterful breakdown or sudden barrage of discordant riffs. It’s an adrenaline rush that continuously defines the classification in a unique manner. Rest assured, this new school has officially taken up the mantle in their own ways, be it unabashed chaos, groovy swagger, or genuine emotion. Essentially, whatever one desires out of a -core package, the genre can quickly offer an appropriate escape. Combine all three approaches and a wondrous idea is formed: a tour across the nation featuring some of the hottest names mentioned in the underground. There’s always an audience hungry for the unrelenting pandemonium live metal shows can provide — something evident in the frantic mosh pits and equally energetic stage antics. Thus, the Beautiful Coma Tour was constructed: an epic union of Limbs out of Florida, Kentucky’s own Greyhaven, and The surprisingly-not-from-Dallas Callous Daoboys. As could perhaps be predicted, it was a match made in heaven.
Fans of the expanding Columbus underground scene gathered themselves on June 8th at the Big Room Bar: a retro-styled venue nestled in the brewery district on the edges of downtown. There was plenty of room cleared out on the checkerboard floor for a crowd to amass, and amass they did: plenty of attendees arrived despite the gloomy skies overhead and the pouring rain that erupted. The bar provided plenty of drinks to sustain the party, a nearby merch station was stocked to the teeth for fans, and there was a dedicated water cooler for the hydro homies out there. It doesn’t take much to impress me, in all honesty; if a space can hold instruments and people that desire to appreciate said instruments, then everything is perfect. The venue’s aesthetic certainly added an engaging appeal, as did its cozy patio — something all could eventually enjoy once the precipitation faltered. Arguably the greatest asset was the sizable parking lot, allowing me to finally avoid employing my commendable (read: horrendous) parallel parking skills.
The arriving fans would be treated to local act Rejoice, and they’d waste no time in concocting their dark, Converge-esque output. Much of the audience at the time brought themselves closer and closer, slowly brought under the spell of the dizzying riffs and commanding vocal performance. The Columbus natives raced through a brief set that delved into their demo and older works. Performing as bassist and resident high-kick expert was Knox Fields, the very man responsible for booking the show and several others across the city. As was the case for many others present at the event, music was his chosen route of escapism and expression — a way he could cut loose and forget about everyday life. Rejoice definitely earned many admirers for their strong presence and similarly robust songs. The life of the opener can be a trying one due to how nobody likely intends to see them, yet their clear passion swayed the crowd, undoubtedly attracting more eyeballs to the thriving Columbus scene.
Ohio’s faithful would be rewarded with another treat from the state: For Your Health took the stage as the second feature of the night. Although scattered across the nation nowadays, the band still consider themselves as Columbus denizens through and through, and it definitely showed in how well some in the audience had memorized their material. Lead vocalist Hayden Rodriguez laid out the ground rules in no uncertain terms: it’s a hardcore show, so you better move. The audience became more energized as the collective launched headfirst into their dizzying, violent take on screamo, the music almost imperceptible once the sheer power of the set took hold. It was as if the band constructed the very essence of unpredictable hardcore, tossed it in a blender, and amped the tempo to warp speed. A nascent mosh pit brewed as For Your Health blazed through their tracks and refused to let up on the intensity. Towards the conclusion of the memorable display, Rodriguez beckoned for the crowd to come ever closer to the front, promptly diving into a sea of hands that carried him around the floor. All told, the group demonstrated exactly why their name is appearing more and more in conversation, combining admirable musicianship with enthralling showmanship. Each member was always animated, furiously attacking their instrument or captivating the crowd with their motions. It was a perfect prelude for their own headlining tour, which was kicking off the very next day and cutting through the Midwest and East Coast. Fellow Columbus locals En Love will be joining for specific dates as well.
Impressively, the entirety of The Callous Daoboys managed to fit onto the Big Room Bar stage. It wasn’t that cramped of a space, but having a good seven people together made it appear relatively cozy. Though initially delayed by a small technical issue — nobody seemed to mind, as the band’s charisma was infinitely delightful — it would be the Georgia collective that would ultimately set the crowd into a frenzy, capitalizing on the zaniness of For Your Health’s performance. Anchored by an excellent vocal performance, both in its ferocity and in its intense physicality, the Southern squad delivered a quick series of songs that accurately recreated the bombastic technicality of Die On Mars. The gang would also treat the audience to their two lead singles off of their upcoming sophomore record, both of which carried significant grooves and their trademark devil-may-care attitude. Their newer slant involved creating more space for their eclectic elements to thrive, with the synth and violin contributions achieving a higher prominence. Despite having so many players involved, everybody was able to shine and freak out alongside the fans.
Something evident about this particular Ohio crowd was that they had studied; when the Daoboys entered into the memorable satirical portion of “Contrail Crucifix”, the entire audience seemed to have it down to its precise wording and delivery. The reaction to “Flip Flops at a Funeral” was similarly potent; with the utterance of the opening “Could it be any more obvious?”, the attendees ran amok. And, just as they had with For Your Health, the crowd later dutifully fulfilled the second stage dive of the night as their frontman flung himself into their awaiting arms. It was an epic prelude for the oncoming set of Greyhaven, who had already built a noticeable following at the front of the stage (myself included). After everyone recovered from the onslaught of the Georgians, it was straight back into the action for the surging Louisville quartet. Emerging on stage with the more atmospheric “Ten Dogs – Red Heaven”, the band slowly drew the audience in, bracing them for the explosive breakdowns and chaotic outbursts laced throughout the song. As had been previously demonstrated, the Big Room Bar venturers did their homework; the soaring chorus had the entire venue shouting. Meanwhile, the devastating conclusion to the song plunged the site into a state of awesome delirium. This may have been when I got a bruise or two. But, c’mon, it’s worth it at that point.
Admittedly, as I was positioned about as close as possible, much of what I inevitably felt was unadulterated adrenaline. A tune would start, I’d know it, and the rest was beautiful noise. Vocalist Brent Mills held the venue in the palm of his hand, captivating the audience with his stunning range and stage persona. The included tracks were a splendid blend of new and old, ensuring that the latest cuts off of This Bright and Beautiful World were highlighted while also paying homage to the classics. A trip down memory lane to Cult America was inserted too (and the crowd still knew the words!). A rare moment of respite arrived in the long-anticipated debut of “White Lighters” to the live stage. Mills stressed this would only happen on condition of everyone nailing the words — hardly a challenge for these Columbus appreciators. The somber tune united the horde of metalcore fans as they brought their arms around each other, lightly swaying and proudly belting out the lyrics. The highlight of the set and of the entire concert came when Greyhaven unleashed “Sweet Machine”. Although finale “Echo and Dust pt. 1” was an absolute hit, the swagger, pulverizing riffs and infinitely quotable lyrics incited a massive pit, drawing in listeners from all sides of the floor. The entire experience felt like a winding rollercoaster, its path constantly twisting and turning throughout imposing peaks and valleys.
Limbs functioned as the headliner to close out the concert. What set them apart from the rest was made clear fairly early; they were entirely untethered to the stage and roamed about freely. At multiple points during their performance, the guitarists would actively prowl about the floor, spreading around their emotionally-charged madness. There was no such thing as being away from the action, since the riffs would inevitably patrol the perimeter and engage anyone regardless of their position. Leading the charge was Austin McCauley, whose soul-bearing honesty provided a unique mood to the concert. Much of Limbs’ recent work was on display, including two singles off of upcoming EP Coma Year, each of which drew heavily from deeply personal experiences. The chorus to the title track was stunning to behold in a live setting, with its lyrical roots in McCauley’s life struggles and realizations generating a sizable emotional response; it was almost impossible to not sing along. While those instances of catharsis were fabulous, they were far from the collective’s only asset, and the Florida gents demonstrated as such with reverberating grooves and some of the heaviest passages laid down for the concert. This balance between atmosphere and intensity created an impressive range of tracks, and McCauley’s remarkable vocal abilities could maneuver through any passage. The intimate nature of the material was a perfect bridge between the different methods displayed prior, and it was an appealing change of pace.
The Beautiful Coma Tour continues to rampage across the United States. If anyone happened to be on the fence, I can only recommend it so much before I devolve into hyperbole. For those that possess an interest in this particular music scene, it’s one of the best opportunities available to witness some of the hottest bands work their magic throughout the country. There’s something special that the individual groups specialized in, allowing for audiences to appreciate a diverse package that can deliver thrills around every bend. Take only a few words of advice: come prepared to throw down, brush up on your “White Lighters” karaoke skills, and enjoy the madness. —MarsKid