Although it may be a tough pill to swallow, there are times in this new era of technology where things don’t always work out as planned. For instance, maybe you went to take a once-in-a-lifetime photo on your new smartphone and instead it decided to freeze up. Or how about, while out on a road trip, your GPS chose to take you to the wrong address. That’s always fun, right? These types of piss-poor electronic malfunctions are extremely unfortunate and can definitely put a damper on one’s day. Nonetheless, no matter the disappointment we experience with our “new generation” devices, we’ve all heard the saying, “a good craftsman never blames his tools.” So, as hard as it may be, we’re going to let the pitiful performance of our camera’s brand new SD card slide and persist forward to explain our adventurous evening with the post-hardcore Jonny-Craig-fronted act, Slaves.
Last Friday, we hit the road and headed out towards the historic Chain Reaction in Anaheim, CA to cover Slaves on their headlining tour. Accompanying the Sacramento natives were the up-and-coming bands Youth in Revolt, Tonight Alive, Nightmares and Myka, Relocate.
Before the show began, we were able to catch up with the man of the night, Jonny Craig, who had a lot to say. Everything from how grateful he is for a second chance at music to what it’s been like living with his Slaves bandmates. Craig, after he was asked how he remembers all the lyrics from his past projects and dozens of features, playfully noted that he’s just very blessed and pretty sure he could go up on stage with the guys from Dance Gavin Dance and still remember a good amount of songs. Oh, and not to mention, the well-known frontman also made a point to tell us he’s very excited to return home to Sacramento to see his cats.
As the night progressed, and the young and energetic opening acts that were Youth in Revolt and Tonight Alive finished up, next up was Nightmares. Having never seen this Atlanta, Georgia group before the night began, we left their set extremely excited to see them again on the upcoming Journeys Noise Tour with Issues, I Killed the Prom Queen, Marmozets and Ghost Town. Their energy on stage was excellent and the intensity they portrayed gave us an unexpected reminder of fellow Atlantans, Norma Jean. After speaking briefly with frontman Carter Hardin, he told us they’ve gotten the Norma Jean comparison quite a bit and while they appreciate the observation, he’s always surprised to hear it as Nightmares’ sound is crafted a bit differently. However, after a listen to their album Suspiria, the track “Carnival of Souls” definitely has a Norma Jean vibe in there somewhere.
Up next after Nightmares, was an act plenty in attendance were extremely excited to see. Greeted with a youthful exuberance as they took the stage was the metalcore act, Myka, Relocate. These breakdown warriors had the crowd going nuts as they ripped into the head-jarring tracks off their debut full-length, Lies to Light the Way. After witnessing songs like “Something to Dream About” and “Playing it Safe” live, it was no surprise that the youthful Chain Reaction onlookers were so pumped to see them play.
Now that all the openers were done shattering ear drums and creating pools of sweat in the crowd, it was finally time for the act we were all waiting to see, Slaves. Filled to the brim with audience members, the Chain Reaction patrons went into a frenzy as the Artery Recordings signees opened with “The Upgrade PT ll.” As passionate and heartfelt as ever, the former Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa vocalist, Jonny Craig, was completely on point. Mesmerizing concertgoers with his incredible vocal range has always been Craig’s calling card, but that night he took it to another level. The same can be said for his bandmates Christopher Kim, Alex Lyman and Tai Wright. After watching their presence in the spotlight, you can really see the emotion and passion put into this new project.
As the set continued with, “This is You Throwing in the Towel” and “The Fire Down Below” – which was referred to as the redheaded frontman’s pubic hair – Slaves ultimately slowed things down with an acoustic performance of “There is Only One God and His Name is Death.” This intimate moment really allowed for Craig to open up to his supporters and fully display his God-given singing talents. Rounding out the set with other gems like “Ashes.Dust.Smoke.Love.Stars.The One” and of course “My Soul is Empty and Full of White Girls,” Slaves, from beginning to end, absolutely put on a show. Expecting somewhat of a less-animated performance due to the slower songs Slaves has to offer, we could not have been any more further from the truth. Jonny Craig has been doubted before, but when it comes to his new band Slaves, we have no hesitation in anointing them as one of the best new bands of 2014.