What a big night and tour for, Of Mice & Men! A huge round of applause for Aaron Pauley, Alan Ashby, Phil Manansala, Valentino Arteaga, and newest bassist on tour, Raad Soudani from Volumes.
EARTHANDSKY is the best album to date by OM&M. We had the pleasure of attending the album release party where you can hear first hand our thoughts on the album before it came out. Check out our review of the party HERE.
First stop of the Earth Tour began at The Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles California.
The tour consists of openers, For the Fallen Dreams, Thousand Below, and Bloodbather. I personally enjoy that this huge headliner band brought out smaller artists. This is how touring should be done. Exposing new music to a dedicated following. Growing friends and fans on the road. That's what music is about.
I was really excited for the show after a great run with the guys at their album release party.
I personally did not enjoy the choice of venue or how the stage was set up. The venue is not in the most friendly or safest side of LA to begin with. The venue is beautiful until you walk into the stage room. It's a giant dead space with a stage, nothing too special or inviting.
While concert goers waited for the show to start, we were left in a pitch black space with no security guards around or entertainment. It's not up to the band to entertain before shows since they offer a VIP package for a reason, but it does make it hard for concert goers to get in the mood for a show when their hour long wait after doors is boring and mellow.
I was honestly surprised to not see fans lined up down the street to get into the show. Which left me concerned for where OM&M fan base is at. As I walked into the showroom, I was underwhelmed by the crowd of maybe fifteen people standing around.
As BloodBather approached the stage, the crowd still stayed the same. BloodBather truly fought the first night show jitters and everything bad that could happen to you before getting on stage and while on stage.
Lead singer, Jeffrey Georges, spoke about how their transportation failed on the way to the venue, and out-of-pocket expenses they had to pay for new transportation for the tour. It was truly heartbreaking to hear about their struggles.
For their performance, there was an abundance of lights on stage with poor lighting choices for all the bands. Most of the audience complained about the lights and sound for the majority of the show.
As BloodBather performed, fans stood around bored on their phones not moving. A few people stood in the center to mosh and make the most of their time with the BloodBather.
The crowd began to grow as their set continued on. I ended up having to miss half of their performance because a mosher decided to punch his way through the standing crowd, upset, because fans were not moving.
Rowdy Fans & Security Issues.
Pit etiquette is very important to me. If you do not know the unspoken rules of the pit, then you should not be moshing. We pick each other up in the pit and stay within our boundaries for safety of all. I watched a pit goer punch an underage girl in the head who then ran to the front of the stage afraid. I was pretty upset and had to find house security to come do their job inside the venue where they should have been at to begin with.
This is not Of Mice & Men’s fault, nor is it their management;s. However, I've noticed in the last few months that venues are not holding their security at its highest standard and more and more fans are starting to get serious injuries at shows.
Injuries are not apart of the show experience and fans should never feel scared to go to a concert.
Security eventually came out to see what was going on as more moshers began to hit on the standing crowd in the front even more. I was really baffled to see how the crowd was acting.
BloodBather didn't let this ruin their performance at all and still hit hard on stage. I really enjoyed hearing their sound for the first time and how well their growls and screams were done for a newly formed band.
As I moved back to my secured spot held by friends, Thousand Below got ready to hit the stage. Yet again, this was a band I’ve never heard of or seen live which left me excited for my ears to be exposed to new sound.I must say, they are extraordinary.
They have a heavy sound with an equal mix of clean soft lyrics. I fell madly in love with them off the bat.
The crowd was still small and a bit non responsive. It was for sure an odd night mainly due to it being Monday. I tried my best to enjoy the show, but as I mentioned above, we couldn't hear anything for the entire show. We could only hear the drums and a small amount of lead guitars.
Fans were verbally complaining out loud and nothing was being fixed. I decided to go with the flow and put my camera down at this point.
There were a few moments where lead singer, James Deberg stole my breath away on stage. They have a wonderful stage presence and really know how to capture the attention of the crowd when the hype starts to calm down.
For the Fallen Dreams.
The crowd was still half-size by the time final openers, For the Fallen Dreams hit the stage. The same problems from earlier with sound and lights were still occurring.
All the openers were outside at their booths hanging out selling merch to fans. Fans were able to have personal photo ops with members and intimate moments which was really humbling to see.
During this transition to the last opener, I got to take a moment and share words with Aaron Pauley's father (lead singer of, OM&M) who I met the day before. We spoke about my work of the guys, his beautiful paintings, and where his son gets his natural talent from. It’s a special moment to watch a father and son bond over something this big of an achievement in life, and I’m glad I got to be there to witness it.
For the Fallen Dreams jumped straight into, “New Beginnings” which was a fitting song name for the night I kept trying to make better. They definitely changed the night around. I was moving around and discovering songs by them that I didn't even know were by them. I guess you could call me a secret fan.
The crowd was shouting back and having fun. The pit was at full action with air kicks, spiralling arms, and laughter.
For The Fallen Dreams was one of the heavier openers that's been around for a while in the music scene. Over ten years to be exact. They really knew how to rock the crowd despite all the technical difficulties going on. They performed crowd favorites, “Hopeless”, “Never Again”, “December Everyday” and countless other songs. It was a nice build up for the night. My adrenaline was pumped and geared to go.
Of Mice & Men.
Before I knew it, Of Mice & Men were finally hitting the stage. The crowd completely lost it and the room was finally at its full capacity. The room was dark and a small white light was casting an aura onto the stage from Valentino's drum kit.
The guys started the show with, “Gravedancer” and allowed a slow build up for the crowd to really get going. The violin on the speakers went over everyone's heads as Aarons notorious hair hid his face. He stood their still and calm while the crowd discovered the opening song to their new album for the first time before its release to the public.
I completely geeked out over their opening since it was now the second time in twenty-four hours that ive been able to see it performed live. I can proudly say this, it gets better every time live.
The Sound Issues Continue...
At this point of the show, the crowd was done with the sound guy and started complaining over not being able to hear anything from the stage.
Aaron Pauley took a minute to yell out to his sound guy to fix the issue, and they finally did. It really changed the mood of the night.
The lighting was still really harsh, but I had to accept it and move on past my own personal issues. The crowd was super respectful and allowed photographers to walk around freely and return back to their spots they left. We had no barricade which worried me, but it ended up not being an issue.
The entire night was calm. There wasn't a single crowd surfer which left me astonished, but the pit went hard the entire time. Of Mice & Men is known for their famous Wall of Death, but sadly the venue said no and the band respected all the rules and stayed professional.
Raad Soundani really carried the band on stage with his energy. He had a smile from ear to ear while he played his base as if he was the center front man on the guitar. He moved around the entire stage and hyped up his new band members and had them laughing the entire time.
The crowd loved him and really accepted the new change the band made to accommodate for Aaron Pauley's new health challenges. Despite Raad’s successful band, Volumes, I really enjoy him with OM&M and hope for a permanent stay with the band. For those that are not aware, Raad is taking over for Aaron on the Bass during this tour.
As the night continued, the guys played, “Gravedancer”, “Warzone”, “Defy”, “Would You Still Be There”, “Earth & Sky”, “Taste of Regret”, “Unbreakable”, “Bones Exposed”, “O.G. Loko”, “Public Service Announcement”, “Mushroom Cloud”, ''Pain”, and ''How to Survive”.
I loved every single song they chose for this tour. It was a nice intro to their new album before their next tour, The Sky Tour, next year.
“Mushroom Cloud” left the audience going nuts. The guys have this bad ass build up in the song that left everyone jumping up to scream “3, 2, 1” when, Aaron screams it. I was living for the entire moment and placed my camera away to get down with the crowd.
Aaron Pauley has really outdone himself with his vocals. The new change of sound from the band is everything!
Wrapping Up the Night.
As the night was coming to an end, the band shared an intimate moment with the audience. Everyone on stage went down on their knees and the audience did the same. Aaron sat still with his head to the ground thinking. I can only imagine what was going through his head.
Before I knew it, Aaron was jumping up to start their song, “How to survive”. It was honestly a surreal experience to see fans all doing this at the same time.
As the night was finally coming to an end, the band really went into full gear. Raad started handing the crowd his bass and allowing them to play it during the sets.
The entire band killed the night with their smiles and exchanges with the crowd. First bumps and guitar pics were flying all around the entire time. At one point, Raad and myself thought his bass was going to be stolen by the crowd. Thankfully nobody got too risky with their once in a lifetime moments with the band.
As the night came to an end, the guys all came up front and started passing out everything from on stage. They stole my respect at the end of the night. As I was walking out, all the band members were outside with their merch talking to fans and taking photos.
They stayed true and humble to their craft. Catch the rest of their tour until October 19th.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos by Nikki Marie Kephart for ZRockR Magazine, All Rights Reserved.