Since it’s debut, One Center Square in Easton has been picking up where Allentown’s Crocodile Rock Cafe’s legacy has left off. One of the constant reoccurring acts to come through the Lehigh Valley is Mushroomhead. For nearly 2 decades, the band has been a touring behemoth bringing along with them acts in the metal/ metal-industrial spectrum.
When I arrived at the venue, I was delighted to be greeted with a familiar scene. As usual, the local show promoter was busy flexing his muscles and recording fight challenge videos with a few others at the entrance and scattered amongst the outside were a bunch of music fans with masks on. Once I got in, I headed upstairs to where the merch was located and made acquaintances with the guys from Vyces. I asked them “Why were doors at 5pm!? Shows here normally don’t even start until 7-8pm.” I was told there were A LOT of openers.
This lineup was massive! With over 9 bands on the bill (4 openers and 5 on the tour package), I knew this was going to be a long night.
As the afternoon grew later, crowds began to fill the room as Blood Sun took the stage. They were one of the first bands from the tour to perform and they were not what I had expected sonically. They were very “shreddy” and actually reminded me more of bands I’ve seen in the local DIY places around the Lehigh Valley. With only a 3-piece, these guys were LOUD.
I’ve heard of Ventana before (I even owned a copy of American Survival Guide, Vol. 1 from a while back) but have never seen them live. Their energetic stage performance had fans pressed against the barricades screaming to every song. There were a few in the crowd that even brought their own customized gas mask with glowing LEDs.
Gabriel and the Apocalypse:
Now Gabriel and the Apocalypse was a band that I have not heard of prior to tonight. I honestly did not know what to expect from them. Being a huge fan of the metal-industrial sound, they satiated my love of the genre. Frontwoman Lindy Gabriel is definitely a force to be reckoned with once she’s on stage. But when she’s off, she was incredibly warm and receptive with several newfound fans who were giddy to meet her.
Now came the band I was here for. I had only familiarized myself with Vyces just a few days prior to the show. When I was reading up on the band’s bio, the one thing that caught my eye was bassist Mark Klepaski. He was a member of the original lineup of Breaking Benjamin. Breaking Benjamin fans (or Ben-Heads as they call themselves) tend to have this rabid following of the band and it’s various band members in the area. You can call it regional pride but the number of fans that came out to watch Vyces perform was not far off from those that came just for the headliner.
Sonically, the band leaned more towards the hard rock/ metal genre compared to the rest of the acts on the tour. The bands were still touring in support of their Devils EP as well as pushing their current single “Thin Luck.”
As day turned into night, the long-awaited headliner takes the stage. Throughout the whole day, we saw glimpses of the band’s drum kits and stage skrims tucked away into the background. This was Mushroomhead’s third time at the venue. They were, in fact, one of the first acts booked here when it opened it’s doors a year ago. As the smoked filled the stage the members were greeted with rabid fanfare. In no time at all, the 7-piece act from Cleveland, Ohio laid waste to the packed room starting their set off with “43” and “Kill Tomorrow.”
This was a LONG night. What surprised me the most was that throughout the whole night, I was, for the most part, been the only photographer here. There were a few that floated around but I think they were just friends of the openers because after their friend’s bands were done, I never saw them ever again.
With such a diverse lineup I was eager to see and hear what the next band sounded like. I have been a long time listener of Mushroomhead but the whole point of them bringing other acts on the road with them is to expose them to those that might never have even heard of them outside of their own region.
Photos & Words: Henry Chung