From endless mosh pits to crowd surfing, Anaheim was torn asunder.
All photos by Heaviest of Art at the House of Blues in Anaheim, October 13, 2019.
Hardcore, a genre currently known for it's massive breakdowns and exhilarating crowd, made it's way to the House of Blues in Anaheim by way of KNOCKED LOOSE and supporting bands STICK TO YOUR GUNS, ROTTING OUT, CANDY, THE WARRIORS, and SeeYouSpaceCowboy. When you round up a bill of the like, you're expected to level a venue, regardless of it's policies and reputation. Despite attempts at maintaining safety and proper code of conduct, it wasn't long before people were flying into the photo pit and onto the ground. Adding this space may have been of great benefit to me as a photographer, however, it's inclusion defies the rebellious nature of the genre, sparking comments throughout the crowd and by various performing vocalists. Photo pit and venue policies aside, this A Different Shade of Blue Tour stop offered audiences the opportunity to engage with the new KNOCKED LOOSE material the way it was meant.
Following blistering sets from each of the tour and local openers, the stage was set and the bar was set high for Kentucky's own. As high as the bar may have been, frontman Bryan Garris and co. knew they were there to conquer. From the moment that venue lights dimmed to welcome the start of the set, KNOCKED LOOSE wasted no time to turn the Anaheim crowd into a frenzy.
Opening with Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory, Garris erupts into a frenzy and begins pummeling eardrums with signature screams perfectly paired by the menacing fretwork of guitar duo Isaac Hale and Kevin Otten. The track defines the better qualities A Different Shade of Blue, that being earth shattering production and crisp musical performance. The House of Blues sound was definitely on the band's side from the start, making new offerings sound incredibly well to those lucky enough to bare witness.
Running across the stage was Garris letting out scream after scream as drummer Kevin Kaine battered away against the colossal soundscape of A Different Shade of Blue album opener Belleville. The breakdowns on Belleville are twice the animal live as the ones you hear on those air pods during your daily commute. Like with Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory, Belleville defines the KNOCKED LOOSE sound as pure hardcore, needing no external musical elements and sources to incorporate. Both tracks have also proved to be heavy crowd favorites following the album's release, giving indication that their return to future set lists is imminent.
As strong as the Garris performance may be throughout the record and it's live interpretation, it's not the only thing worth highlighting, for the musicianship present throughout the band's axemen is one to appreciate. This is noticeable throughout the set as the band expand the setlist from beyond the new record to tracks from their debut Laugh Tracks (2016) and EP Pop Cultre (2014). Following Belleville was Oblivion's Peak, a heavy crowd favorite and Laugh Tracks album opener. This is where the frets shine.
As Oblivion's Peak comes to an end, Hale's sinister guitar tones make an entry, paving the way for a pain to follow. These are the tones that welcome new album standout By the Grave, again stirring people ablaze. From the menacing triplet breakdown to Garris' guttural growls, the track packs a punch and proves to be one of the heaviest in the band's discography. The slow, heavy hitting pairing of Kaine's drum work with Kevin Otten's bass lines is one that resonated with many, launching bodies into the air with every rumbling vibration and hit of the skin.
Though the acoustics at the venue played a big factor in the band's bombastic aggression, the precision and energy present on stage by each component of the KNOCKED LOOSE mind was at an all time high, demonstrating that the band would succeed regardless of sound support. Mind you, this is a band going from playing in front of dozens in backyards to a sold-out, 2,200 capacity venue. The jump in production, crowd size, and overall support is massive with this tour and the overall success of A Different Shade of Blue being a result.
KNOCKED LOOSE continued to lay it down one track after the other, ripping through new tracks Denied by Fate, ...And Still I Wander South, In The Walls, Guided by the Moon and more, all of which again charged up the House of Blues in true hardcore fashion with each providing a flurry of pain one riff after the other. Aside from Road 23 and Misguided Son, every track from the new KNOCKED LOOSE chapter saw an appearance and heartwarming welcome, that welcome being crowd surfing, mosh pits, and stage dives.
One can judge an album's quality and sustainability by it's ability to successfully transition onto the touring life. It's often said that band's always consider how well will the crowd react to the new songs and how well they'll be able to play them during the writing/recording process of new music. With A Different Shade of Blue, KNOCKED LOOSE do more than prove album quality; they set the standard. From start to finish, the tracks on the new composition spark a flame in one's inner self, one that thousands across their current trek have felt upon experiencing the first Garris scream.
It goes without saying that A Different Shade of Blue is a different shade of beast in the live setting, one that must be experienced before you age out of your ability to stage dive and crowd surf with the best of them. Despite the pressures associated with providing a worthy follow up to a successful debut record, KNOCKED LOOSE deliver on all ends and break through any and all musical expectations on their own terms. They don't reinvent the wheel or introduce any illustrious new musical techniques, but they do raise the bar on intensity. With the tight grip that the band have on the hardcore scene, A Different Shade of Blue ups the pressure just a notch and further cements the unit as one of the genre's more prominent newcomers.
Enjoy the slideshow of additional images from the madness below.
A Different Shade of Blue is available now via Pure Noise Records. Get yours HERE.