Saturday, December 3, 2011
Concert review: How the Edge Stole Christmas at Verizon Theatre (December 2)
Holiday cheer meant a raging mosh pit and pumping fists.
How the Edge Stole Christmas, the annual Christmas showed hosted by KDGE-FM 102.1 The Edge, continues to fill seats year after year with an eclectic lineup that can satisfy any rock fan. This year’s lineup brought together the veteran punk rock group Rise Against, the youthful and delightful Taking Back Sunday, and indie sensations AWOLNATION, Naked and Famous, and Joy Formidable. The Verizon Theatre filled up early for the full evening of shows.
Joy Formidable swept onto the stage in an excited frenzy. Front woman Ritzy Bryan appears as a sweet platinum blonde guitarist ready to deliver a predicable performance, but she flipped that stereotype upside-down, taunting the audience and closing the show by shredding her guitar during “Whirring,” while lying on the floor alongside bassist Rhydian Dafydd. This North Wales indie rock group is going places with their catchy choruses and glittering combinations.
Always entertaining AWOLNATION picked up right where the Joy Formidable left off, enticing the excited pit with jumping and crowd surfing. This LA band seems like they’ve been at this for years due to lead singer Aaron Bruno’s natural maestro abilities with the audience. The five-piece is a must-see band of the season.
It would be challenging for Taking Back Sunday to continue serving up their addicting array of angst driven rock music considering their frequent lineup changes. But, former members of the original group recently re-joined the band, and front man Adam Lazzara helped hold it all together. Lazzara opened with a gritty-yet-sweet version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” promising a rousing set.
They sang tracks from their legendary freshman album, Tell All Your Friends, without skipping a beat, and original back up vocalist John Nolan is now back in the lineup, helping to deliver the necessary screaming and rage. The reunion of past members was the best thing they could’ve done. Lazzara performed his classic stage trick of throwing the microphone across the stage, and also tossing it around his neck like a yo-yo, swinging and catching it without a glance. This set came close to stealing the show’s spotlight -- Rise Against (but we'll get there).
The unusual pairing of pop punk and hardcore somehow came together for Florida group A Day to Remember, whose fan base has erupted in recent years. They seemed to be the most choreographed act of the night, regularly coming together in a unified line just to disperse to their separate posts. “My Life for Hire” kick-started the set, and later, the toilet paper rolls were flung during “All Signs Point to Lauderdale.”
Lead singer Jeremy McKinnon not only delivered gut-wrenching roars, he also sings noticeably well. (Hardcore acts sometimes hide behind their screaming front man.) But ADTR doesn’t settle, and their sound thus became more appealing to a wider audience.
After hours of sets and stage setups, Rise Against finally took the stage to a substantially full theater. The group has been together since 1999, which explains their unending catalog of singles with impeccable writing -- songs that carry political-driven messages such as war heroes returning home and bullying. Tim Mcllrath’s distinctive chords gave genuine emotion to his heavy words.
Their layered guitar work didn’t go unnoticed in “Help is on the Way,” a knight in shining armor song built up by abrupt chord segments and riffs. Most of their songs have an unforgiving up-tempo pace, and group didn’t slow things down at this energetic show. Mcllrath brought out his acoustic for “Swing Life Away” and “Hero of War” -- one of the best moments of the night. Mcllrath has a sincerity that comes alive in his music, making listeners feel the pain or comfort in his words. It also helped that Verizon has a remarkable sound system that separated each string of his guitar strums.
The diverse set list at How the Edge Stole Christmas proved to be a hit with the DFW audience, perhaps giving a reputation boost to the radio industry’s capabilities. Given the diversity of the bill, fans arrived early and stayed late, showing little favoritism to a certain band or genre. It was a great jumpstart a successful holiday season.
Electric Touch and Naked and Famous also performed earlier in the evening, but we were not able to see them.
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