From The Pit To The Crowd: Atreyu with Memphis May Fire, Ice Nine Kills, and Sleep Signals – Tampa, FL – November 17, 2018

I love when you see a band line up where you absolutely know it’s going to be a great line up. This is exactly how I felt with the announcement of Atreyu’s In Our Wake tour. I had the opportunity to photograph them this past April as part of Welcome To Rockville. And there was no way I was going to miss them headlining a tour, especially with the support lineup. The closest tour stop was in Tampa, FL over at The Ritz Ybor on November 17th.

Driving 2 hours to review a show isn’t uncommon for me as it’s a straight shot across the state to get there. What I found strange was the start time of 6 PM that night. It was the first time for me over at The Ritz Ybor and I was very impressed once I stepped inside the venue. Though it looks small from the outside it is fairly large on the inside. Plenty of standing room for people and a small balcony upstairs for those willing to pay for those seats. And their security staff was on the ball that night ejecting people who had gotten too rowdy and keeping the crowd surfers from getting tossed over the barricade and into the pit. Already by 6 PM the venue was packed and it was a completely sold out show. First, up to the stage that night was Sleep Signals.

The hard rock band formed in 2014 and is based out of Minneapolis, MN, though the band members most live outside of Minneapolis. The band hit in the road in 2015 touring heavily to build up their fan base. In 2016 they released their 2nd EP titled ‘Transitions’ and went back out on the road to tour again with Screaming for Silence and Lydia Can’t Breathe. The band has shared the stage with Seether, In Flames, Letters From the Fire, and many more. They’ve also played Northern Invasion and SXSW. The band is still touring off their 2017 album ‘At the End of the World’. Sleep Signals is Robert Cosgrove (vocals), Sean Fitz (guitar),  Cody Hess (guitar),  Alex Nikolas (bass), and Clay Barnum (drums).

The band started off with “Means” from their album ‘Transitions’. It was the first time I’ve heard them live so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I found off the bat is this band is absolutely dedicated to ensure their fans get the performance of a lifetime. “Means” is a hard-hitting song that has catchy guitar riffs between Sean and Cody. Clay’s rapid drumbeats in between gives it a great pace. They followed up with “The Harbinger” from the same album. I loved this song right off the bat with its rapid pace and Robert’s energetic singing and movement on stage just added to it. And the fans were loving Sleep Signals hollering and cheering for them at every song. They followed with “I’ll Save You” from ‘At the End of the World’. Another solid song from the band this time where I could really hear Alex’s bass riffs shine. They followed with “Suit & Tie Suicide” and “Edge of My Sanity” from the same album. And then they did something I certainly never expected.

Robert announced they were going to do a cover song. While that’s not uncommon at live shows, it is when the song was Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose”. Though I love my rock and metal I absolutely love that song. So needless to say I was a bit concerned how this rock band was going to handle this song. And to my surprise, they handled it wonderfully. Though it was definitely different than the original, Sleep Signals made it their own and gave it a good homage. They wrapped up their set with “Welcome to the Masquerade”, which I also really liked as a very haunting sounded song. Sleep Signals had a great performance and kicked off the night the right way.

Ice Nine Kills was next to the stage. The metalcore band from Boston, MA formed in 2002. They originally started off as Ice Nine with a ska-punk style of music. They changed their name to Ice Nine Kills before the release of their first studio album ‘Last Chance to Make Amends’ released in 2006. The following year they released their first EP ‘The Burning’. The band then went on tour in 2008 with various bands including A Day to Remember and Paramore. In 2010 they released their second album ‘Safe is Just a Shadow’. In 2013 came the release of their second EP ‘The Predator’. The next year the band released their third album ‘The Predator Becomes the Prey’ which started to show their horror icon theme styled music. It was also their first break on the Billboard 200 as the album came in at #153 the week of its release. In 2015 their fourth studio album ‘Every Trick in the Book’ was released. Each track was inspired by a piece of literature including books “Animal Farm”, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, and “Dracula”. Ice Nine Kills released their current album, ‘The Silver Scream’ on June 20, 2018. Each track was inspired by a horror movie including “IT”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, and “Saw”. Ice Nine Kills is Spencer Charnas (vocals), Justin DeBlieck (lead guitar), Justin Morrow (bass), and touring members Ricky Armellino (rhythm guitar) and Patrick Galante (drums).

The crowd seemed to be holding their breath for Ice Nine Kills. There was a hush and when the lights dimmed an outright roar. The energy was as sharp as a knife and these fans were ready to let loose with Ice Nine Kills. The band came out one at a time, each of them wearing a tribute to a horror film. Spencer as Freddy Krueger, Justin D as Jason, Justin M as Jigsaw, Ricky in his raincoat and red balloon tied to his mic stand representing “IT”, and Patrick representing a horror victim splattered in blood. The fans loved it. Heck, there were a number of fans dressed the same way. My favorite was a family all wearing the same Freddy Krueger sweater Spencer wore. They started off with “The American Nightmare” from their current album ‘The Silver Scream’. The song is a tribute to “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. Bathed in red light on stage, the band had the crowd jumping and singing along. From the first song, they had the crowd wrapped around their fingers. They followed with “Stabbing in the Dark”, a tribute to “Halloween”, “A Grave Mistake”, a tribute to “The Crow” (one of my favorite films), and “Thank God It’s Friday”, the tribute to “Friday the 13th”. Their movements on stage were purposefully creepy which just added to the atmosphere. Spencer jumped into the pit with us multiple times and then jumped into the crowd and sang being held up by them. They also played with “Me, Myself, and Hyde”, a tribute to The Strange Case of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde, and “Communion of the Cursed”, a tribute to The Exorcist the novel. Both songs appear on ‘Every Trick in the Book’. The wrapped up with a chilling version of “IT is the End” the tribute song to “IT”. Ice Nine Kills is an amazing band live and they provide such a great energy along with their phenomenal songs.

Memphis May Fire was next to the stage that night. The metalcore band from Dallas, TX formed in 2006. They released a self-titled EP in February 2007. The reviews were very positive and the band was signed to Trustkill Records who re-issued the EP in December 2007. After touring on the EP the band was working on releasing their first studio album. Due to lineup changes, the album was delayed. ‘Sleepwalking’ was finally released in July 2009. The band wasted no time in producing new music and released their second EP ‘Between the Lies’ in November 2010. They signed with Rise Records in January 2011. Since signing with Rise Records they released 5 studio albums with their latest being ‘Broken’ which just came out on November 16th. Three of those albums charted on both the Billboard 200 and the U.S. Rock charts.  Memphis May Fire is Matty Mullins (vocals), Kellen McGregor (lead guitar), Cory Elder (bass), Jake Garland (drums), and touring member Samuel Penner (rhythm guitar).

They started out the way people would expect, hardcore and heavy, with “Sever the Ties” from ‘This Light I Hold’. The crowd was all over the place jumping and singing as the band took over the stage. Kellen was focused playing and Samuel was ripping off chords while spinning around on stage during the song. Matty’s vocals were unreal that night. It blew me away how he could so easily flex his voice from clean singing to guttural screams in a heartbeat. They followed up with “Prove Me Right” from ‘Challenger’ another great mosh-worthy song. Jake was killing it on drums here and Cody was ripping off bass notes right in tune. Personally, I was loving what I was hearing and the fans seem to as well. The fans truly appreciated when they went into “The Old Me” from their new album ‘Broken’. Though this has more clean singing I find than other songs from Memphis May Fire, it is an absolutely great song. The crowd went insane when they played “Carry On” from ‘This Light I Hold’. I literally think everyone on the floor was bouncing up and down for this song. The band wrapped up with “Vices” from ‘Challenger’ and received a huge applause from the crowd when they walked off stage. If you were at that show and weren’t a fan of Memphis May Fire, you should have been after their performance.

Finally, it was time for the headliners, Atreyu, to take the stage. The metalcore band from Orange County, CA formed back in 1998. Their name came based on the character in the movie “The Never Ending Story”. The band released two EPs independently before being signed by Victory Records in 2001. Their debut studio album ‘Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses’ was released in 2002 and followed up with ‘The Curse’ in 2004. Their second album peaked on the Billboard 200 at number 32 and hit number 1 on the U.S. Independent Album chart. They followed up with 3 more studio albums (signing with Hollywood Records for album 4 an on) before going on hiatus in 2011. The band came back to working on new music in 2014. They released ‘Long Live’ in 2015 peaking at number 26 on the Billboard 200. Atreyu is now touring on their latest album, ‘In Our Wake’, which was released on October 12, 2018, through Spinefarm Records. Atreyu is Alex Varkatzas (vocals), Brandon Seller (vocals, drums), Dan Jacobs (lead guitar), Travis Miguel (rhythm guitar), and Marc “Porter” McKnight (bass).

The crowd’s roar was deafening the moment Atreyu took to the stage. The cheers were overpowering you could barely hear the band starting up to play. Brandon started off the drum beats for “In Our Wake” the title track from the new album and sang out the chorus right as the rest of the band jumped in. I truly love this song and Brandon’s lead on the song. It was a great way to start off their set. And then they followed with probably my favorite song from them, “Becoming the Bull” from ‘Lead Sails Paper Anchor’. I love how Alex puts so much of himself when he sings out his parts of the song. They followed up with “Right Side of the Bed” from ‘The Curse’.

Dan, Porter, and Travis were having lots of fun on stage. Raising guitars high in tandem or simply smiling and joking with each other as they passed by on the stage. Alex joked around with them too at times looking over Dan’s guitar neck as he played and smiling. Alex was absolutely enjoying the energy from the crowd and from his fellow bandmates. At one point even deciding to jump into the crowd to perform. Porter did the same leaving the stage to play at the back of the arena before making his way on stage. Alex took one point to stand on a bar and perform. The band could do no wrong that night it seemed.

The crowd just about lost their minds when Atreyu played “The Crimson” from ‘The Curse’. Some of the other songs performed that night included “Do You Know Who You Are?”, “Bleeding Masacara”, “When Two Are One”, “House of Gold”, and their last song was “Blow”. After they walked off stage, Dan and Brandon came back when they “Rick Rolled” the crowd with their own version of “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. The crowd appreciated the song and sang along with every word. A bunch of metalheads singing Rick Astley was definitely something you don’t ever expect to hear. The rest of the band came out afterward to perform their cover of “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi. They recorded that version for the movie soundtrack of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. And once again, the entire crowd was singing along to every word. Atreyu wrapped up the show with “Lip Gloss and Black” from ‘Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses’. Hearing those first guitar notes come out had the crowd in a frenzy and when Alex started singing it the crowd was beyond amped up. The band thanked the crowd after they were done and left to the crowd cheering and still wanting more. It was an amazing performance from Atreyu and the perfect way to cap off the night.

As I had felt months back, the four band lineup provided an amazing night of music. The venue, the energy from the crowd, and the bands all added up to a perfect night. This show is definitely in my Top Ten best shows of 2018. Don’t miss this tour if it comes to your area. You will not be disappointed.