Sunday, January 28th, the Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios had a crowd of people lined up around the building an hour before show time. In This Moment was on The Witching Hour Tour with P.O.D., New Years Day, and Ded on this tour stop. In This Moment was making a return appearance to the Hard Rock Live since their last appearance there in 2016.The band is well known for their unique metal music and their astounding live theatrical performances. So it was no surprise for the number of fans that were already waiting and the large media presence reviewing the show that evening. As the doors opened, people flooded inside to get as close as possible to the stage. It was a large crowd already in wait when Ded was ready to come on stage.
The band from Tempe, AZ was quick to hit the music scene with their release of “FMFY” in December 2016. The nu metal band quickly caught listeners by storm and followed up with the single “Anti-Everything”. The single had over 7.4 million audio streams and peaked at #18 on the Mediabase Active Rock Chart. The band toured the majority of the Danny Wimmer Presents festivals in 2017 including Carolina Rebellion, Rock on the Range, Rocklahoma, and Chicago Open Air. They released their debut album ‘Mis-An-Thrope’ on July 21, 2017. The album peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Heatseeker Album charts. And the band has been going strong ever since. Ded is Joe Cotela (vocals), David Ludlow (guitar), Kyle Koelsch (bass), and Matt Reinhard (drums).
The band walked out with confidence and cheers from the crowd and you could hear there were Ded fans ready for them to rock. They opened up with “Architect” and from Joe’s opening scream to David’s first ripping riff, the crowd knew they were in for a ride. Ded was intense on stage and definitely not holding back. Joe stalked the stage and he sang to the crowd. Matt knocked out thunderous sounds on the drums while Kyle and David played out hardcore riffs and moved around on stage.
Ded followed up with “Disassociate” once again keeping things hard and heavy and then played “I Exist”. It’s easy to see why the band is getting the recognition they’ve received with solid music and performances. Joe literally had the crowd jumping up and down during their set. Ded played a strong set and finished off with “Anti-Everything” leaving the stage to screams and applause. Ded is a must see band and I was looking forward to interviewing them later in the evening.
New Years Day was next to the stage. The metal band from Anaheim, CA has been rocking stages since 2005 and are no strangers to Orlando, FL. The band worked on their own to build up a very solid fan base before they released their first self-titled EP with TVT records in 2006. They quickly followed up with their first studio album ‘My Dear’ in 2007. During their career, the band has been on multiple Warped Tours that included stops in Orlando, FL. The band released two additional studio albums with ‘Malevolence’, released in 2015, as their most recent. They’ve also released three additional EPs with ‘Diary of a Creep’, released on January 26, 2018, as their most recent. The band also recently played at the Danny Wimmer Presents festival Louder Than Life in 2017 and will be playing Carolina Rebellion and Rock on the Range in 2018. New Years Day is Ash Costello (vocals), Nikki Misery (rhythm guitar), Max Georgiev (lead guitar), Frankie Sil (bass), and Zac Morris (drums).
As soon as they walked out on stage, the crowd screamed in approval. As I said, they were no strangers to Orlando and the crowd was definitely showing them some love. Ash took her spot on top of a small staircase they had on stage so she stood taller over the crowd. The band opened up with “Left Inside” from ‘Malevolence’. The song has some haunting riffs from Nikki and Max and a matching bass and drum beat from Frankie and Zac. It was a good choice to get the crowd rolling. They followed up with “Kill or Be Killed” also from ‘Malevolence’. Once again, the song starts out with some amazing riffs from the guitarists and Ash’s vocals are so haunting. She has a phenomenal range and switches ranges with ease.
The majority of their set was from ‘Malevolence’, but they surprised the crowd with something new. They performed their cover of Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile”, which is on their ‘Diary of a Creep’ EP. The song is as hardcore as you’d expect from a Pantera song with New Years Day sound. It was unreal, amazing, and the crowd absolutely loved it. When they finished their set the fans were cheering and applauding loudly. The Hard Rock Live band was definitely behind them and with good reason. Chalk them up as another must see band.
Right afterwards, I met up with Ded’s tour manager who led me into the bowels of the Hard Rock Live to Ded’s dressing room. The guys were very nice and we had a great interview that evening. You can see the interview in its entirety here.
By the time I made my way upstairs, I had missed my opportunity to photograph P.O.D. But, I did witness something very special. Right towards the end of their set, Sonny Sandoval (vocals) was asking for the crowd to form a mosh pit around Jesus. For those who don’t know, go find Moshpit Jesus on Facebook and you’ll understand. He’s well known for coming to metal and rock shows in the Tampa and Orlando, FL and crowd surfing and moshing in his Jesus garb. One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and definitely worth saying hello to him at a show. I even ran into him last year at the Louder Than Life festival.
P.O.D. formed in 1992 out of San Diego, CA. The nu metal band released 9 studio albums over their career with their 2001 album, ‘Satellite’, being certified as triple Platinum. From what I did see, P.O.D. played a good set and the crowd was definitely rocking away with the band. Their set included “Soundboy Killa”, “Boom”, “Alive”, and “Youth of the Nation”.
Finally, the band everyone was waiting for, In This Moment, was getting ready to take the stage. The metal band from Los Angeles, CA formed in 2005. The band worked on their own to form a fanbase through MySpace and caught the attention of Century Media Records who signed them to a record deal. In 2007 they released their first studio album ‘Beautiful Tragedy’. The band started touring with artists such as Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach, Mudvayne, and even was invited to the Ozzfest tour with Megadeth, Rob Zombie, and Ozzy Osbourne. When they released their fourth album, ‘Blood’, the band decided to record a show live at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, WI. It was known as Blood at the Orpheum. Their set included choreography, set props, and dancers and appeared to be the start of the theatrical performances they are so well known for today. In 2014 the band signed with Atlantic Records and released ‘Black Widow’. The shows from their tour were all theatrical performances and they went on tour for nearly two years on the album. After a short break, the band hit the road again and in 2017 released their most current album, ‘Ritual’. The band also made an appearance at Danny Wimmer Presents Louder Than Life festival and on ShipRocked 2018, which ended right before their performance at Hard Rock Live. In This Moment are Maria Brink (vocals), Chris Howorth (lead guitar), Randy Weitzel (rhythm guitar), Travis Johnson (bass), and Kent Diimmel (drums).
Before they came out on stage, Hard Rock Live started playing “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey over the speakers. It’s not the first time the band has used this to get the crowd in the mood, which worked because everyone in the venue was singing along. Right after the fog started to roll and the musical intro titled “Salvation” started to play. The crowd went crazy waiting for their first glimpse of the band. As they all stepped out to their places and Maria came out from a curtain in center stage, she began to talk to the crowd, and something sounded wrong. I noticed right away she didn’t sound like herself and when she started to sing the lyrics to “Blood”, I knew something was wrong. She sounded sick. Of course, the crowd didn’t seem to care or notice because their favorite band (and one of mine) was performing for them live once again.
Randy and Kent were heavily covered in makeup. Chris had some eye lining and symbol painted on his forehead. Travis had on his pale colored contacts and intricately designed half face mask while Maria came out in flowing robes and a painted symbol on her head. The lighting on the show varied from song to song with at times some very heavy reds, oranges, and blues. The band was kind enough to allow all the photographers to photograph their entire show that night. Maria continued on with “River of Fire” and “Roots” from ‘Ritual’ and then “Burn” from ‘Blood’. Right after they went back ‘Ritual” with “Lay Your Gun Down”. The songs from ‘Ritual’ focused a lot less on the sexuality and sensuality from Black Widow and more of raw emotions and music. The crowd was absolutely loving it.
At this point, Maria stopped to talk with the crowd explaining that she was performing with the flu and a 103 fever and chills. They had the option to cancel, but Maria refused as she said how much she loved the Orlando crowd and did not want to disappoint them by not performing. I seriously commend her for making the decision to perform that night. She also said the set that night would be shorter. Maria announced to the crowd that one of their Production member’s son was celebrating their 21st birthday. They brought him out on stage with a cake and Maria had the crowd sing Happy Birthday to him. After he blew out his candles and gave Maria a big hug, she then told the crowd she was leaving us in the hands of Chris, Travis, Randy, and Kent as part of what they call the “Monster Jam”. It starts out with the band playing music from Ozzy and mixes in “Beat It” from Michael Jackson. It then swaps over to “Back in Black” by AC/DC mixed in with “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees. It then goes over into some Black Sabbath. Then Chris, Randy, and Travis left the stage as Kent went monster on the drums performing his own amazing drum solo. The crowd was eating it up and the emotion on his face showed clearly he was having a great time.
Maria came back out on stage they got back into the show with their cover of Phil Collin’s “In The Air Tonight”. It comes off the ‘Ritual’ album and is a beautiful rendition of the song. She went backstage as the instrumental intro called “The Infection” was played and walked back out in her big black hat and black flowing dress so beautifully portrayed on the cover of ‘Black Widow’ to perform “Sick Like Me”. They followed that up with “Oh Lord” from ‘Ritual’ before she changed again.
Before she came back out, from behind the curtain she asked the crowd what they wanted. They all screamed “WHORE!”. When she came back out once more she had on the infamous dunce cap with the word “WHORE” in red tape for the song “Whore” they were about to perform. As usual with this song, she talked to the crowd telling them how she will take all their negativity, guilt, and pain and for the crowd to unleash it on her as she would be their whore. And right as the music started balloons dropped down from the ceiling over the crowd, who started bouncing them around everywhere. When Maria went to start her intro to the song, she started to sneeze multiple times. She glanced over at Randy with this look of “Really, right now this happens” and smiled and then got into the song. She absolutely gave it her all and the crowd loved it.
When they finished, they turned the stage lights up as she thanked the crowd saying how she loved them all and loved her family on stage with her. The band took a bow and then Blood Dolls came out with plastic red roses. They gave them to Maria who asked a stagehand to hand them out to various people in the front row. As I took pictures of this going on, I caught Randy’s eyes as he was looking at the photographers who were still in the pit taking pictures. I smiled and mouthed “Thank you” simply for the show they put on and for allowing us to be there. He smiled back and mouthed “Thank you”, bent down towards me and handed me one of his picks. Needless to say, I was humbled and stunned, because it wasn’t what I expected.
The Witching Hour Tour was an amazing show at Hard Rock Live. Ded, New Years Day, P.O.D., and In This Moment all gave the crowd the show that they wanted and expected for being there. Much like the show when I saw In This Moment in 2016, this was a show I will not forget. I look forward to the next time In This Moment comes around to visit us again.