“What’s the matter New York? Past your bedtime? WAKE UP AND MOVE!!” screamed Winston McCall to a sold out New York City crowd. As dozens of bodies had already flew over the barrier, hoping to gather even a touch of the Irving Plaza stage that Parkway Drive stood on, Winston proudly exclaimed, “Alright! Now THAT is some chaos!“
Going into this show, I thought I knew what to expect. I was ready for crowd surfing, moshing, hardcore dancing, and much of the standard metalcore fair that a band like Australia’s Parkway Drive typically bring to the table. But this night would be any more than typical, with “heavy song countdowns” and “crowd voting”, I was surprised with what Parkway Drive, and all three of the opening bands, had in store.
Touring in support of their album Atlas, which arrived in the fall of 2012 to some stellar reviews, Parkway Drive has been hitting city after city, hitting the US like a freight train these past few weeks.
As show opener While She Sleeps took a NYC stage for their first time ever, those in attendance were asked, “How the hell is New York City tonight?” The metallic hardcore band earned quite the positive reaction, with front man Lawrence Taylor constantly gathering those who arrived early into a frenzy. Towards the middle of their set, Lawrence yelled to the moshing crowd, “My friends in the pit, you know Parkway Drive is watching you right? They are probably disappointed with what they see so far, so wake up and let’s party!” Shortly after, he lunged himself into the pit, crowd surfing and singing, without missing a note. For an opener in New York for their first time, they certainly won over the crowd of first arrivals.
The constant battle cry of Veil of Maya front man Brandon Butler, “Move this place!” echoed throughout the room with great results. As the “djent” masters from Chicago tore up the stage, there were very few still bodies in Irving Plaza. Guitarist Marc Okubo was a pleasure and a delight to watch, as his fingers slid up and down his guitar at impeccable speeds. He pranced around the stage, jumping, hopping and head bobbing with the greatest of ease. Bassist Dan Houser was no slouch either, spinning his head clockwise with his long hair flowing everywhere as he plucked away, keeping tight with Marc’s frenzy of fretwork. The smiles radiating on all the band members faces showed they loved playing music, and the crowd certainly loved seeing and hearing them.
Next in line for the barrage was metalcore monsters, The Word Alive. When I saw the stage being prepared for TWA with a 3 foot tall stool, I knew I was in for something wild.
The constant barrage of metal had just as many people moving and jumping for The World Alive as the bands prior to them. During the song, The Wretched, front man Tyler Smith climbed to an elevated platform stage right, and during the middle of the song, flung himself into the crowd, floating on hands and fingers back to the stage. Room 126 and Life Cycles gained massive reactions from the fans, with Tyler telling the New York crowd, “You guys have been the loudest, jumped the highest, and maybe even been the sexiest crowd so far!” A massive “wall of death” was the highlight of their set, with many of the those caught in the mosh left bruised and battered, but still hungry for more.
Chants of “Parkway Drive!”, “Parkway Drive!“, were common as the stage was prepped and sound was tested for the headlining band of the night. Just as I heard someone on the guardrail say, “Only 5 more minutes!“, the lights went black and the intro, Sparks began to play. Fans sang along to the slow, moody song, as each band member entered on to the stage to massive cheers…a full 5 minutes earlier than they were set to!
Firing through, Old Ghost/New Regrets and Sleepwalker, the band swept around the open stage. Vocalist Winston McCall perched himself stage front and center, often getting down all the way to the ground for his bellowing screams.
As I left my spot at the photo pit, I could see the security fighting to keep the guardrails from moving, three of them pushing their entire body weight into the rails that constantly moved as the mosh pit grew larger and larger. Shortly after also, bassist Jia O’Connor removed his sweat-filled shirt, much to the enjoyment of many of the females in attendance. “Oh look, Jia went and pulled off his shirt! He’s like the ginger hulk!“, joked Winston.
After the brutal assault of the revenge drenched Karma, up came one of my personal favorite Parkway songs, Wild Eyes. Opening with a simple sing-a-long chant of “woh oh ohh, woh oh ohh, ohhh“, and quickly jumping into heavy bass hits led by drummer Ben Gordon, the song had every head in Irving Plaza banging up and down for its entire duration. Certainly a tune that sounds just as great live, if not better than its studio recording counterpart.
Following the crazed motions brought from Boneyard, Winston informed the crowd of a treat they were in store for. “Depending on how you look at it, this could be good news, or it can be bad news… THAT, was just the warm up!” Trying to catch their breath, the crowd cheered as Winston continued, “These next 3 songs are HEAVY ones! If you’re not sweaty yet, now is the time to get moving!” They quickly led into Dead Man’s Chest, which included a pause half-way through the song where Winston shouted, “FOUR words New York! ALL, HELL, BREAKS, LOOSE!”
The lights faded down for a bit and chimes could be heard throughout Irving Plaza. Nearly all those in attendance knew up next was the leading single from Atlas, Dark Days. The jumping shook the building, as even those all the way to the bar in the very back of building were stomping up and down during the the song’s heavy breakdown.
“You’re not off the hook yet,” Winston exclaimed. “I said there were three heavy ones, and that was only number two.” Deliver Me was the final piece of the promised heavy assault. As the crowd sprung to their feet, he exclaimed, “Bring that crazy shit back New York!”
“I could go for a swim about now,” a sweaty Winston joked, finally taking a chance to towel himself down. Asking the crowd, “We can either play for you now a new song, or an older song. If you want to here Swing, let me hear you!” The crowd replied with a cheerful reaction. “Alright, if you want to hear Romance Is Dead, prove it!” The crowd erupted, and their choice was clear. As guitarist Jeff Ling tapped away at the solo for Romance Is Dead, numerous fans raised their hands up and gave “spirit fingers” in the air alongside his solo.
After a massive circle pit of moshers spun along with Idols and Anchors, and finally, Blue and the Grey, the bright white lights covering the band went pitch black as they exited the stage. Upon returning, they fired into Home Is For the Heartless. They began to play their final song of the night, Carrion, but ended it abruptly after Winston first shouted the opening lyric, “Carrion!” Disappointed, Winston told the crowd, “Here’s the deal, I hate to break it you New York, but this is your LAST CHANCE! It’s now or never!” This time, the decibel level was nearly tens times it was before, with nearly every person screaming, “CARRION!” People rushed the stage for one last taste of the intensity brought from the heroes of the night.
With stellar performances from all four bands on the tour, I can say with full confidence that not a single person that attended the sold out New York show left disappointed. For their first time ever in New York, While She Sleeps earned a very positive reaction and set the tone for what was a great night to come. Parkway Drive brought their all, and certainly some incredibly memorable moments for those dying for some hardcore metal at Irving Plaza.