Review / photos: A Day To Remember, Bring Me The Horizon scale new heights at Jannus Live
Ever been to a concert where so many wild things happened, you’re not sure where to begin?
Do you start with the man in the inflatable hamster ball rolling over the crowd like a pinball? Or the naked man in a pink jockstrap and Darth Vader mask, shooting T-shirts into the crowd? Or the band throwing hot dogs from the stage? Or the guitarist climbing a tree during his band’s final song, straddling a limb 25 feet above the audience?
Monday’s sold-out concert by A Day To Remember at Jannus Live brought all those things and much more. It proved that the Ocala metal band deserves its status as one of this summer’s Vans Warped Tour headliners. And it proved that following a weekend of breathlessly hyped concerts in Tampa Bay — Lady Gaga, Iron Maiden, Jimmy Buffett — it’s still possible for a little group from Central Florida to put on a stellar live show of their own.
A Day To Remember has risen steadily since its founding days in Florida horse country, signing to Chicago’s Victory Records and relentlessly touring the country. They are not a household name yet, but they’re getting there — their latest album, What Separates Me From You, debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard charts, and their current tour, of which this was the final date, has been selling venues out coast to coast.
Few bands these days do a better job of mixing melodic punk hooks with steamroller riffs and napalmlike metal vocals. Songs like Sticks & Bricks and You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic start off as powerful mosh-pit soundtracks, then easily slide into catchy singalong choruses, a la My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy. Singer Jeremy McKinnon flexed and banged his way through a punishing set, including highlights like All I Want and The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle.
Judging by their show, the band is clearly preparing for bigger stages. Their set began with a giant curtain dropping, and an explosion of confetti above the crowd. Later on, McKinnon and company tossed toilet-paper rolls and beach balls into the crowd. And as heavy and hardcore as the band can get, they never forget the importance of fun during a live show. A tattooed stagehand came out naked, but for the aforementioned pink thong and Lord Vader helmet, firing a T-shirt cannon into the crowd. And immediately thereafter, McKinnon entered a giant human hamster ball and rolled around the audience.
These sound like moves you’d expect from veteran bands like Blink-182 or Flaming Lips, but A Day To Remember? Gotta be honest, we weren't ready for it. It makes you wonder just what sort of spectacle they’ll cook up for the Warped Tour, which hits St. Petersburg on July 31.
McKinnon’s hamster-ball stunt would have been the highlight of the night, had it not been for the man in the tree. His name was Jona Weinhofen, and he’s the guitarist for British screamo band Bring Me The Horizon. For the final song of a deafening, throat-searing set — during which the band emptied their backstage party platter, tossing hot dogs into the moshpit — Weinhofen dove into the audience, and began surfing the crowd to the giant tree in the courtyard.
Security was already there, plucking adventurous fans from the trunk, but when Weinhofen arrived, he slung his guitar around his back and scrambled up like a monkey, shaking off a security guard and shimmying 15, 20, 25 feet into the air. With the band still playing onstage, Weinhofen — now at eye level with the fans in the balcony — resumed strumming his guitar, legs wrapped around a branch.
On a night filled with “Did you see that?” moments, Weinhofen’s tree-climbing stunt might have been the best. Do not decry the death of heavy metal just yet — A Day To Remember and Bring Me The Horizon are planning to make sure it remains fun and relevant for years and years to come.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photos: Luis Santana and Jay Cridlin, tbt*