Last night at the Ogden Theatre, the fist-pumping, black-shirted, skinny jeans-wearing contingent was out in full force. As the England-via-Dubai outfit Asking Alexandria performed for a capacity crowd, mosh pits formed and quickly disappeared. Kids were throwing devil horns in the pit or ambling around texting in the back, and more than one couple was spotted taking advantage of the relative darkness in the waning hours before the impending curfew inevitably intruded on their stolen moments. Frontman Danny Worsnop, wearing a fringed leather jacket and no shirt, kindly requested -- nay, instructed -- women to bear their breasts. Some did. One, in fact, threw her bra on stage as a souvenir. If that ain't rock, what is?
Texas metalcore act Memphis May Fire and the more synth-oriented I See Stars opened the evening, along with Atlanta outfit Attila. As I Lay Dying took the stage surprisingly early and began rocking in earnest. Frontman Tim Lambesis looked like a tattooed action figure, all muscles and hair. His band played a succinct, exceedingly well-executed set that included a number of tracks of their new album Awakened ("Cauterize", "A Greater Foundation"). There were plenty of blast beats and fist pumps to go around. By the time the distortion stopped ringing from final song, "The Sound of Truth," you had to believe this was the heaviest bunch of Christians you could ever hope to hear on stage.
Then came Asking Alexandria, a barely four-year-old group whose stock in trade is metalcore spiked with sleazy 1980s Los Angeles-style rock. Any of these guys could have easily passed for younger versions of Izzy Stradlin or Nikki Sixx. Apparently irony, given enough time, turns into sincerity. In our recent interview with him, guitarist Ben Bruce described Asking Alexandria's music as "pretty balls-to-the-wall." Case in point: the first three songs. "Welcome", "Closure" and "A Lesson Never Learned" kicked off the set, giving audiences barely room to breathe between the razor sharp guitar riffs. This was devastating music. Songs for the next apocalypse.
Frontman Danny Worsnop uttered the same platitudes we've all heard ad nauseum at rock shows. "How you guys doin'?" "Are you with me, Denver?" "I like turtles!*" The set was expertly executed but didn't showcase much diversity. Dynamics is a foreign concept to Asking Alexandria. "Someone Somewhere," "Dear Insanity" and "Morte et Dabo" constituted the mid-set offerings.
Asking Alexandria continued their assault with late-set entries like "Alerion" and "Final Episode," which sounded much like the rest of the earlier songs. It was a night for full-throated gutteral screams and angelic choruses. While Asking Alexandria may still be coming into their own stylistically, last night was a reminder of times when rock music still felt unsafe and unhinged.
*Kidding, obviously, but how freaking awesome would that have been?!
Personal Bias: As someone who grew up listening to many of the acts that clearly inspired Asking Alexandria (see: Motley Crue, Guns n' Roses, Ratt), I wasn't too impressed with this band's impersonations of those grandaddies of '80s hard rock.
Random Note: Asking Alexandria's stage backdrop was mostly hidden, but it appeared to be a replica of the Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen.
By the Way: The following T-shirt logos were spotted: "Pull the trigger, bitch," "I (heart) Mosh Pits" and "666 Bitch." Gloria Steinem was nowhere to be found in this crowd.
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