November 29, 2023 August Burns Red returned to Las Vegas for the second time this year, this time performing at the Brooklyn Bowl inside the Linq Promenade. This tour brought special guests, Crystal Lake from Japan, Brand of Sacrifice from Canada, and Spite from Southern California. An interesting yet intense lineup left myself and other fans eager for the evening to unfold on this chilly evening in the city of sin.
I wanted to get to the venue early, which is not unusual for me. I’m a sucker for really great openers on these kinds of lineups. This was no different. Crystal Lake were already on the stage when I walked in, and these guys already had the crowd all the way pumped up right out of the gate! The guys could be seen jumping and thrashing around, while vocalist John Robert Centorrino could be seen hyping the crowd up in true hardcore fashion, inciting about half of the floor to push through to the barricade and crowdsurf and sing along. John is a new vocalist with citations saying he’s been performing with Crystal Lake for less than a year, but with the energy I saw on the stage, I would have never guessed that he was as recent as he is. He definitely has a great stage presence and chemistry with the rest of the band. While Crystal Lake are classed as metalcore, they definitely have more of a hardcore vibe to them, and I’m interested in seeing where they go in the future with their new vocalist and after playing such a big tour such as this one.
Brand of Sacrifice
I was pretty eager to see Brand of Sacrifice. The first time I saw their name was on the last As I Lay Dying tour where they played the second half of dates. Arguably the heaviest band on this bill, Brand of Sacrifice are classed as a technical brutal deathcore band. While the band is listed as being from Ontario/NY, drummer Chason Westmoreland is from right here in Vegas and vocalist spoke about how it was one of Chason’s goals to be able to play Brooklyn Bowl here in his hometown. (Last time I had seen Chason play was with Oceano sometime last year, I believe and he seems to have been a bit of a hired gun up until this point. As a fellow Las Vegas native, I am proud that he has broken through with Brand of Sacrifice!)
Brand of Sacrifice are everything I love about the progression and development of the deathcore genre. They’re brutally heavy, while also bringing some intense elements on the technical side which really helps them live up to their technical deathcore branding. Heavy chugs and breakdowns and drops had me absolutely elated during their set. This was their first time performing in Vegas and goddamnit, I hope they come back soon!
While Brand of Sacrifice were probably the heaviest on this bill, SoCal’s SPITE were absolutely the rowdiest! This was my first time seeing them despite them coming to Vegas pretty consistently through the years to play the smaller all ages venues in and around the hardcore scene. These guys have energy that is easily just unmatched. Vocalist Darius Tehrani can be seen visibly inciting the crowd and commanding their attention. Up until this point we had seen crowd surfers pretty consistently, but they escalated almost to a dangerous point for us in the photo pit during Spite’s set.. I remember looking back and forth at my peers and smiling because it was so rowdy, but it was also very fun to watch. Spite absolutely put the Brooklyn Bowl security team to work! Several times you could see people floating over the crowd from all angles.
I only point out that being dangerous because of the fact that there typically aren’t enough guards to catch everyone, and there were a few people that almost landed on their heads. Oh, hardcore.
August Burns Red
It’s crazy to think back at my own history with August Burns Red. As I’ve mentioned over and over, this band has been a constant in my life for the last two decades. Of all the hundreds and hundreds of bands I’ve seen through the years, they are easily one of my most seen. Earlier this year we saw ABR celebrate twenty years of being a band, but this time around we were there to see them perform RESCUE & RESTORE, as this year marked one full decade since it’s release.
I think this is the second time I’ve seen ABR perform a full album, and in full traditional fashion, they performed this entire record front to back.(Only pointing that out because I’ve seen an interesting deal lately where bands are playing albums out of order.) A gorgeous lighting rig was set up behind them, with their trademark flame in the middle, and this time, like in most recent years, there was an elaborate light show with those bursts of smoke in the most intense parts of the set.
August Burns Red always performs with such intensity and passion and this set wasn’t really any different. I found myself feeling the same enjoyment and happiness that I’ve always felt while watching them perform. On this run though, after playing the entire Rescue & Restore album they came back out and played Carol of the Bells. Which was just perfect as we head into this winter Christmas season. I recall an interaction with a friend over this and we were so blown away by this rendition of that song. It was beautiful and intense, and I wouldn’t have expected anything less from the ABR guys.
It wouldn’t be an August Burns Red show if they didn’t save those big heavy hitters from the rest of their catalog for the end! Bloodletter, Revival, Composure, and White Washed were the final songs from this set. This always leaves myself and the rest of the diehard ABR fanbase happy. I don’t think I saw one disappointed face the entire evening, and as I mentioned already, I was overwhelmed with happiness.
Time after time these guys have shown that them and their live show will stand the test of time. These guys are so dialed in with their material and with each other’s energy and I hope to see August Burns Red continue to expand on their production and stage show, as it is notably impressive just how much they’ve grown year to year, each set seeming bigger than the last.
Until next time…
- Spirit Breaker
- Count It All as Lost
- Creative Captivity
- Fault Line
- Beauty in Tragedy
- The First Step
- Carol of the Bells
(Mykola Leontovych cover)
- White Washed
All photos by Courtney Ware for ZrockR Magazine 2023. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.