The Defy tour finally hit the Waterfront last night after Of Mice & Men extensively touring the United States in months previous to this and after their fifth studio album ‘Defy’ was released in January. This is the first album without former front man Austin Carlile who had to leave the band due to injuries to his spine leaving him unable to scream, thus leading the band to release ‘Unbreakable’ and continue with their latest album, sadly without Carlisle.
First up for the evening was New York residents Sylar, in their first ever appearance at the Waterfront. From the get go they didn’t hold back with strobe lighting going off every five seconds, matching every riff and breakdown the band come out with. Although relatively unknown on this side of the pond this band was tight and clearly on the same page, especially when bassist Travis Hufton muted drummer Cody Ash’s cymbal at the perfect time, confirming that these guys are certainly all on the same wavelength.
It was almost a shame that the Waterfront stage doesn’t offer too much space with lead singer Jayden Panesso moving around every inch he could whilst combining his mix of heavy vocals and rap whilst getting the crowd to jump in time with them starting their next song. As with support bands sometimes crowds don’t quite react in the way they would hope straight away, so when the band were about to kick in to their next song, they gradually came to a holt, somewhat unsatisfied with how many people were jumping along. Once they kick started again, however, the majority of the crowd reacted, serving as a good warm up for Wage War to take to the stage next.
Next up were Floridians, Wage War, erupting onto the stage and bringing their heavy vocals and relentless guitar riffs that got everyone head banging from the first breakdown to the last. The band were given plenty of time to make their mark on the evening showing off the best they had to offer from last year’s release, ‘Deadweight’.
Their set served to show off the variety they have as a band from songs such as ‘Alive’ and ‘The River’, with lead singer Briton Bond demanding a circle pit to form despite the small venue. As their set whirred on they were able to perform some of their slower songs as well, such as ‘Gravity’, with a lot of the crowd singing along to the chorus, along with rhythm guitarist and clean vocalist, Cody Quistad, taking the lead and showcasing the diversity that this band were capable off.
Of Mice & Men
Finally it was time for the headliners of the evening Of Mice & Men with the band instantly breaking into the song that named the album and the tour ‘Defy’ and lead singer and bassist Aaron Pauley announcing ‘Welcome to the Defy Tour!’ The band soon went on from the anthemic ‘Defy’ to the more extreme side of OM&M in ‘Warzone’ with mosh pits breaking out throughout the room and crowd surfers making it over the barrier making sure he shook guitarist Phil Manansala’s hand before making his way back to the crowd.
Despite the heavy display, one slight downside for me were the constant pauses throughout their set as most of the band departed from the stage to change guitars whilst atmospheric music played over the speakers. It seemed to disrupt the flow of each song going into the other with each pause seeming like it was lasting a little longer in between songs, this would even lead to drummer Valentino Arteaga doing a little drum solo to keep the crowd pumped. I’m not sure if this was due to the set up they had at the Waterfront or by design but it just made the set feel somewhat disjointed.
However, despite the occasional pause between songs, which made their set feel on the shorter side, the band undoubtedly put on a solid display. Lead singer Pauley ensured a circle pit formed after screaming he wanted ‘to see the room spin’. I feel this may have been one of the smaller stages on their tour with not much up in terms of staging behind them, other then an array of big lights to accentuate their music, and the drum kit having lights built in which lit up in time with the music. Nevertheless, the turn out they received certainly made up for the size of the venue with plenty of phones up in the air recording the action and the occasional fan bringing their record of ‘Defy’ in hope of getting it signed by their favorite.