As it Is, Sharptooth, Hold Close, Point North, Mother Mercury
Vinyl, Hard Rock Hotel
February 21, 2019 - Las Vegas
I must admit I was very excited for As it Is (UK) to embark on their literal circle of the U.S. with their Great Depression tour. With support from Sharptooth, Hold Close and Point North, (along with Vegas local support Mother Mercury for this date) this was sure to be a BANG of a tour. The Vegas date was the second to last date, and it was talked about by every band who hit the stage at Vinyl.
This tour was put together in support of As it Is’ third album release, The Great Depression. Which was released August 10, 2018 on Fearless Records. Fearless is one of those labels notorious for putting out some of the best in pop punk, post hardcore and metalcore/other alternative genres of the rock scene.
Kicking off the night were local band Mother Mercury. To be frank, this is part of why I really like to get to these shows early. The local support. Vocalist Teddi Tarnoff has incredible tone in her vocals. First thoughts that come to mind is soulful like Amy Winehouse, but gritty like Courtney Love’s work with Hole in their early days. I could also throw in some Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil in there for a more deeper comparison as well. Anyway, girl’s got some pipes, and I’ll be keeping tabs on their plans heading into this year. Awesome moody rock & roll!
Next up was Point North from Los Angeles, CA. Their bio on Facebook says “WE ARE TRIUMPHANT.” That’s a pretty accurate description, if you ask me. One of those bands who are jumping up and down with smiles all around. Explosive and catchy music fitting for anyone who is a fan of the pop punk genre. Point North just had an album released while on this tour titled, RETROGRADE. (I really dig the colors of the album art…) If you happen to be into bands like Capstan, who we covered not too long ago on their run with Silverstein and Hawthorne Heights, you’ll likely be into them as well.
A Voice for the Innocent
Midway through the set they talk briefly about the non profit organization, “A Voice for the Innocent.” This organization is a safe online community for victims of sex abuse and rape. Every band on this bill is a supporter of this organization; (as the tour flier has the organization name on it.) For more information, stories, and an overall great community trying to make a difference in people’s lives, check out their website and their Facebook.
Springfield, MO’s Hold Close hit the stage next, and they were probably the most calm performance of the night. However, they had a Super Smash Bro’s projection screen and that’s pretty fucking cool. (If you for some reason don’t know what Super Smash Bro’s is, SERIOUSLY. Live a little. Ha!) I was immediately drawn to the lights on the vocalist’s keyboard set up, as well as the twirling backlights that they had for their set per the house. A nice addition to the previous two bands, I’d say. They remind me of a more modern version of The Starting Line, to give you all some comparison. Suitable for any of those poppy rock/pop punk playlists you’ve got hanging out on your streaming apps.
Honestly, Sharptooth (Baltimore, Maryland) are what caught my eye on this bill more so than anyone upon this show’s announcement. I had stumbled over to the Red Mutant stage at Warped Tour last June and had no idea what I was in for. Upon falling in love with Lauren Kashan’s energy and raw emotionally driven performance, I was excited to see them play a full set in a more intimate setting. This band is the obvious outsider when it comes to sound when you compare them to the rest of the bands they shared the stage with that night.
Musically, Sharptooth are classed as melodic hardcore. Going back to the “A Voice for the Innocent” organization, it makes sense that Sharptooth is on this bill. Lauren often talks about her experiences in regards to rape and sexually driven violence, and she is busting her ass by putting her story out there in hopes that it can help someone-anyone feel like they are not alone. This band is also nothing short of controversial as well… Feminist driven lyrics, with a jab at our current political atmosphere. It’s definitely not for everyone, and that’s okay. You don’t have to listen if you don’t want to. It won’t stop them at all.
Sharptooth’s set ends with Lauren UP ON THE BAR screaming into the microphone and commanding your energy and attention. Girl! I will say that I really wish I had a band like this in my view during my youth. It’s always refreshing to see people like her in the hardcore scene just doing what they do, and pushing the boundaries that need some pushing.
As it Is
And the final headliner, As it Is. This band is partially based in the US, and partially based in the UK, which is kind of cool. As an added pre-warning, I had only heard these guys’ name prior to this show. I hadn’t actually gotten around to listening to their music. (Shame on me, really…) They formed in 2012, which is likely why I had only heard the name and not the actual music. Anything that came out between 2011 and 2014 ish I’m a little lost on. It was my own slight disappearance from the scene. I digress.
Their biographies via Wiki state bands such as Taking Back Sunday and The Starting Line as major influences in their overall sound. This makes sense. And it’s very apparent in their musical composition in general. So if you’re an old school post hardcore/emo fan circa 2004 like myself, you just may dig the sound they provide; assuming you’re good with the growth that those specific genres have endured.
One of my most favorite things about shows like this, (and you can find this in some of my other articles covering similar genres…) the fans in the very front rows at these venues. The ones who are belting out every word. The ones who are so connected with the musicians on the stage. It just provokes a nostalgic feeling within myself every single time I see it. I was that young girl at 15, singing every song.
You are not alone...
Patty Walters (vocals) made it a point to play songs new and old for the crowd that night. Again, it was all new for me so I didn’t know anything otherwise… But I definitely found myself a bit more connected when he took a second to really speak to the crowd… I won’t ever stop pointing out these kinds of talks. Simply because for some of these kids in the crowds, some of those kids need to hear the words, and this is the only place they’ll hear them and actually take them in.
He spoke about mental illness, depression, self harm and other things some of us deal with on a normal basis. Pointing out that all of their songs are sad songs; all of them. But the more upbeat tone and pop punk sound is strategic in the sense that when you listen, it just takes you away from the bullshit that can go on in our lives. You can relate to them, but also just get lost in them for those moments, even if it’s not for long.
I will always have a love for this kind of music. This pop punk emotionally driven sound. Part of me will always find a special comfort while listening. Even as an adult (and maybe on the older side compared to some of the kids at these shows…) I won’t stop going to see bands like this.
As it Is is currently back in Europe for the final runs of the touring that supports this latest album release. I hope that they continue on this journey as musicians, and I look forward to see what’s in store for them moving forward.
All photos taken by Courtney Ware for ZRockR Magazine, 2019. All Rights Reserved.