Four bands in, and New Brookland Tavern feels like a sold out summer time show. Energy is high, even as people scatter quickly to the bar for water, or out into the January night for a breath of fresh air before I See Stars takes stage. Drake plays over the loud speakers, a handful of tattooed, skinny jean wearing merch guys singing along. Considering the use of auto tune, and synth I See Stars is known for, this intermission doesn't come as a surprise. There is a calm before the storm, a tension building as the main floor begins to fill once more. Everyone standing still, not yet pushing their way forward until the lights dim. With no introduction other than a subtle synth, dub-step quality beat, I See Stars floods onto stage. With the recent release of "Filth Friends Untie" earlier this month and the promise of their third studio alum Digital Renegade, set to be realized on March 13, I See Stars is a band to be on the look out for. Until recently, all I knew that they were young (lead singer Devin Oliver only 19) and had been gaining a lot of attention. Quickly, I knew the attention was well deserved.
Leading up to this moment there had been some doubt. New Brookland Tavern has seen the likes of Underoath, Paramore, New Found Glory, Circa Survive, and other household names. Could I See Stars be the next band I saw come through only to move on to bigger and better things? An intimate space that, on a hot August day at a sold out show, you might want to make sure you have a water bottle hand if you are up front. I've been going to shows at New Brookland for the past nine years. I've seen a lot of shows, and a lot of bands. A lot of different crowds from sold out shows to the ones where only five people showed up by the time the opener took the stage. Needless to say, I wasn't sure what to expect as I arrived a little after doors, I See Stars recently sold out their New York City stop on January 14th. While there was a line, one girl behind me asked her friend "Is this gonna happen?", with slight doubt in her voice that maybe, just maybe, it would sell out giving me some sort of idea what I was in for. But the line quickly moved, hustling kids in five at a time. Familiar with the venue, I settled myself at the bar with a view of the stage, people watching and getting ready for the first of five bands. Only familiar with I See Stars, the supporting acts were new to my ears. Make Me Famous, Our Last Night sticking to the formula of battling growls and spot on singing overlaid with heavy metal guitar riffs and electronic beats. Memphis May Fire, while bringing it just as hard, had a pop-punk feel - lead singer reminding me of Soupy from The Wonder Years as he screamed into the crowd. Finishing it off, Stick To Your Guns, classic hardcore, nothing put striped down rock and roll and rough vocals.
"Welcome to the end of the world party/Your first move might be your last" greets each and everyone’s ears as I See Stars, without skipping a beat, break into their first song of the night. This weird stylistic mixture of post-hardcore and electronica seems to be the new trend from the genre of screamo I grew up listening to. Devin, lead vocals for the band, takes turn singing melodies similar to those of Craig Owens (formally Chiodos, more recently D.R.U.G.S.) and Anthony Green (Circa Survive), battling against the unclean, throaty screams from Zach Johnson as they perform in sync at the front of the stage. For such a young band, they made it clear that they know how to catch your attention, and keep it there. As each poppy chorus came in waves over the speakers, the entire audience was on their feet, jumping to the beat until the breakdown forced a shift into a violent frenzy. Nothing about this band screams young as they perform with spot on vocals, a solid instrumentation, and the array of screams, displaying Johnson's versaitly, varying from bellowing, thunderous growls to ear-piercing highs. Mid set, I See Stars slows things down with an acoustic cover of The Outfield's "Your Love," barley giving you time to breathe as every person sings a long, quickly amping the crowd back up, full band, with Britney Spears' "Till The World Ends".
Ending with "The Common Hours," Oliver thanks the crowd before the band exits stage left to cheers and chants for one more. From where I stand, I can see the group behind makeshift merch tables, iPhones in hand, checking texts and smiling, letting the chanting go on for the right amount of time before they take the stage once more, ending with "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World." This time as they leave the stage with promise of a next time, adrenaline still high, everyone has a satisfying craving for more.
If you're a fan of the gene, and looking for a fun time, I suggest marking it out to the last few dates on the Leave it 2 The Suits tour.
Leave it 2 The Suits Tour Photos
These are photos taken from the I See Stars set during a stop on the Leave It 2 The Suits Tour!