Murray Hill Theatre was a bustling venue on Friday night, with national touring rock bands We Came As Romans and The Word Alive stopping by Jacksonville, Florida; on an off-night from their Rage On The Stage Tour, with headlining band I Prevail. Local fans of rock and metal swarmed the scene, and local bands Young Ghosts, Puzzles To Pieces, and End Archaic helped kindle the crowd’s energy into a frenzy.
End Archaic was the first band to take the stage; traveling from neighboring Ocala, Florida, to share their progressive metal sound with a willing crowd. With powerful drum rolls, rhythmic accompanying guitars, brutal breakdowns, and a lead vocalist quite fond of screaming, the crowd were toe-tapping and head nodding in no time. The band recently released an EP titled “The Glass Box”; you can pick up a copy on Bandcamp, or find many of their new songs on YouTube!
Second to take the stage was Jacksonville, Florida local band, Puzzles To Pieces. The band wowed the crowd with their signature, aggressive metal sound, and vocal style oscillating between melodic tonal notes and brutal screams. Their set list included popular songs “Dmgd” (damaged), “We Happy Few,” a song titled “Catch Me Outside” (that brings up memories of that petulant child from the Dr. Phil show), as well as a few others that I honestly don’t know the title to. But I should, because they were right up my alley!
After Puzzles to Pieces wrapped up an impassioned set, another Jacksonville, Florida local band, Young Ghosts, took to the stage. Living up to their Facebook “About” section mantra of “stop living like you’re already dead,” the 5-piece band brought a GHASTLY amount of energy to the stage; the members’ dancing and jumping about, piercing guitar riffs, and rhythmic perfection, inspired the formation of several to mosh pits (much to the dismay of my camera gear). Headed by another versatile singer, capable of switching effortlessly between screams and fluid, clean notes, Young Ghosts rounded out the lineup and created a great segue to the first national touring act, The Word Alive.
Phoenix, Arizona-based heavy alternative band, The Word Alive, was the first national touring band of the night to take the stage at Murray Hill Theatre. Currently traveling the country with I Prevail, We Came As Romans, and Escape The Fate, as part of the Rage On The Stage Tour, The Word Alive is no stranger to the tour life, and took a moment, after the first few songs, to address that they want to see as many fans as they can while they are on the road; playing off-night shows (such as this one) in surrounding towns. The Word Alive’s set list included several of their hits, including “Misery,” “Light House,” “Life Cycles,” fan favorite “Trapped,” among others. While exchanging some banter the crowd, frontman Telle Smith was reminded that profanity is not permitted at Murray Hill Theatre; much to his credit, he took it in stride. At one point, Telle Smith made the statement “this stage isn’t just for us; this stage is for all of you!” Encouraged by this notion, several fans took the opportunity to climb or crowd surf their way on stage; true to this statement, Telle Smith helped lift several fans to accompany him during several of their final songs of the set. Watching a band that cares about forging these kinds of genuine connections with fans was heartwarming and inspirational. The Word Alive is signed by Fearless Records; a large record label based in Southern California, and recently released their fourth full-length album, Dark Matter. Check it out! You won’t be disappointed!
Closing out the night was We Came As Romans; another national band participating in the Rage On The Stage Tour. Originating from Detroit, Michigan, We Came As Romans are currently signed to SharpTone Records; a label headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with satellite offices in the UK, Germany, and Australia. The only band of the night with two separate clean and dirty vocalists, We Came As Romans used this powerhouse vocal duo, as well as their talented instrumentalists, to deliver a stunning live performance. With an expansive set list reaching back to their first full-length album, the band played several of their greats, such as “Wasted Age,” “Lost In The Moment,” “Present, Future, and Past,” “Misunderstanding,” a cover of The Wanted’s “Glad You Came,” “To Plant A Seed,” and “The World I Used To Know,” before being called back on stage for an encore; during which the band performed the song “Hope.” We Came As Romans recently released their fifth full-length album, Cold Like War; another great new collection of music!
It is nights like these that truly make our River City a music lover’s dream home.
Review and Photos by Garrett Stroup