Of Mice and Men are a metalcore band from Orange County, California. As part their Full Circle UK/European tour, I went to see them at the Barrowlands in Glasgow. Supported by Volumes and The Amity Affliction, this gig had something from the softer metalcore fan to the heavier ‘all screaming’ metalcore fan.
Volumes are a progressive metal band hailing from Los Angelezs. Volumes were a great opening act, if you are into heavy unclean vocals (essentially, screaming). They made a thoroughly enjoyable experience but maybe that’s just me as they appealed to my particular music taste, some may say there was too much screaming and not enough singing. However, it was undeniable that their live performance was pretty darn good. I was surprised as to how much support the band had amongst the crowd as I believed they were relatively unknown. However, the crowd roared with excitement when the band came on stage. The energy in their performance was amazing, they couldn’t stop jumping across the stage. At times, I wished they would just stand damn still but I appreciated the energy that they brought, as the audience mirrored it. The band thanked Of Mice and Men for giving them the opportunity to come on tour with them, especially as this was their first show in Scotland and they were excited to be visiting new places. After a pretty amazing performance, vocalist Gus Farias got into the crowd and shook the fans’ hands as a sign of how much they appreciated their support, it was amazing to see how well received the band were.
Upon entering the Barrowlands, I was shocked to see that there were more people wearing Amity Affliction t-shirts than there were Of Mice and Men t-shirts. However, once they came on stage I began to understand why they were so popular among the crowd. The common denominator of this gig was a significant amount of unclean vocals in all three of the bands, however, unlike Volumes, this performance included more clean vocals, appealing to the softer metalcore person. As much as I love unclean vocals, a bit of singing is always much appreciated…otherwise how else am I supposed to sing along?! Ahren Stringer and Joel Birch both had incredible voices, and the contrast between Birch’s unclean vocals and Stringer’s singing made for a fabulous live performance, this was only amplified by the incredible musical abilities of Ryan Burt (drummer) and Dan Brown (guitarist). ‘Chasing Ghosts’ and ‘Open Letter’, two of the bands more well know songs were pretty darn good as the crescendos in the middle of the songs allowed for some heavy head banging. This opportunity was not wasted by the audience, I watched as the entirety of the crowd moved in unison as they head banged along with the band, even I did a little bit! The singer Ahren Stringer was incredible, he could reach ridiculously high notes. During one song, I stood open mouthed, flabbergasted at the pitch he was reaching. The whole band were just fabulous live and I can see why so people were wearing the band’s t-shirts.
I was so excited to see Of Mice and Men, I am pretty sure I was smiling from ear to ear. I had looked at the set list prior to going to the gig so I knew that there was going to a good mix of the stuff from their new album Restoring Force and some of their older stuff. From the get go, the energy of the crowd was incredible, I attribute this to the ability of the first two bands to engage the crowd and get them riled for Of Mice and Men. Whatever the reason, the atmosphere was crazy, the excitement for the performance rippled through the crowd as the lights dimmed ready for the first song, Public Service Announcement. Austin Carlile’s unclean vocals were amazing, his ability to hold a ‘scream’ for a significant length of time is pretty impressive. Coupled with Aaron Pauley’s pretty darn good clean vocals, the live vocals were incredible throughout the entire 25 song set. Things amped up in the crowd after the second song and there began a wave of crowd surfers, a wave that lasted throughout the rest of the set. What was amazing was Austin Carlile’s efforts to touch as many as crowd surfers as possible, it was wonderful that he managed to connect with so many of their fans. There were a few people who were shuffled out so fast by security that when Carlile touched them to get them to turn around, they just kept walking on. Now I know, if I were one of them I would have been gutted but credit to Carlile for trying to connect with everyone.
After seeing Kings of Leon and being shocked by the lack of movement on stage, I am always pleased to see when artists make use of the, sometimes tiny, stage. This was the case with Carlile, unlike other members of the band, he moved around the stage a lot. His efforts to connect with the fans was extended to his gestures on stage, the way he pointed his hands and sang, made it look as if he were connecting with every fan individually. I know when he looked my way, I honestly felt that he was connecting with me as an individual fan rather than the mass collective that was the audience. The excitement of the crowd was only heightened when someone from the crowd threw a Scottish flag and Carlile grabbed it, raised the flag and posed with it at the front of the stage. That moment on stage was electrifying for most, if not all of the crowd. Even though the first part of the set was really good, things really got going on stage and in the crowd with ‘Feels Like Forever’, the roar that accompanied the musical introduction suggested that this was a definitely a crowd favourite. The crowd involvement from this point onward was significant, as a person who doesn’t really ‘’get involved’’ at gigs, the energy around me was so intense, I was compelled to get involved. Side note: Austin Carlile’s voice was impeccable during this song.
Next on the setlist was ‘Bones Exposed’, the entire band was on point during this song. Though I do feel like whilst the vocals shone through on most of the songs, this was a track on which the musical talents of the rest of the band shone through, in particular the talents of rhythm guitarist Alan Ashby and drummer Valentino Arteaga. The ‘’final song’’ (before the encore) was ‘Second and Sebring’, as this is my absolute favourite Of Mice and Men song, I was sceptical about seeing it live, just in case it was a bit naff but it was incredible. The whole song was just electrifying, I hate singing aloud to songs at gigs but I just could not help myself here as the atmosphere during the crowd was just amazing, I was determined to share in the excitement of the entire crowd. Thank goodness for an encore because I needed to comprise myself after the excitement of the last song, my face resembled that of a young child in a sweet shop, a face of utter disbelief and happiness. The encore comprised of two songs, two of my other favourite songs. ‘The Depths’ in which everyone got low before the crescendo of the song and then jumped as the intensity was brought up a notch. ‘You’re Not Alone’ was the final song and we were not disappointed, the entire crowd went just a little crazy during this song as it was incredible. Once again, the whole band was on point, the night definitely ended on a high. Arguably, one of the best moments of this gig was Austin Carlile’s constant thanking of the fans for all their support over the years. The look of genuine disbelief and pride on Carlile’s face that this many people had come out to see them and that they had amassed such a large fan base, was so lovely to see. Artists often say, some of the best moments of their careers are when fans sing lyrics they wrote back at them, and I feel like this was exemplified by the band as they all seemed so happy when the fans sang songs such as ‘Identity Disorder and ‘You’re Not Alone’ back at them. I hope I get to experience them live again in the future, as they were bloomin’ marvellous!