Toronto, Canada – Of course, the headliner at a concert is typically the main attraction. And sometimes, the supporting acts are a little bit of an afterthought. Often, the supporting acts don’t get the love they deserve. But then, The Devil Wears Prada, a metalcore band out of Dayton, Ohio, tours as a supporting act for Lancaster, Pennsylvania metalcore band August Burns Red. And then a guy like me comes along and says “This band needs some coverage on this tour!”.
The Devil Wears Prada was formed in 2005. Having released seven studio albums, the band has maintained their original lineup aside from keyboardist Jonathan Gering who joined after the band’s original keyboardist departed. With the band members’ Christian faith, they didn’t shy away from content based on their religion, and had become known as a Christian metal band. As the band has evolved, their music has also taken on a different approach, leaning more to just having fun with what they do. Their faith however, has not waned and continues to be a big part of their lives.
On February 15, 2023, August Burns Red hit the road in North America to celebrate 20 years. With them, they brought The Devil Wears Prada, and Bleed From Within. It’s another heavy as hell tour that has been making the rounds here in North America so far this year, and on May 9, they arrived in Canada’s largest city, in one of the city’s best venues, The Danforth Music Hall.
Bleed From Within
Ahead of the opening band here in Toronto, Bleed From Within’s band members are offstage left. From my vantage point, drummer Ali Richardson is bouncing gently on his toes, arms dangling, and shaking to warm up and loosen the muscles. Something you might see a boxer doing ahead of a big fight. He heads on stage, climbs in behind his kit, the rest of the band in tow, and it’s showtime!
After the band’s first three high paced songs, vocalist Scott Kennedy, in his thick accent, shares that they are from Glasgow, Scotland. It’s the band’s first time here in Canada, but he doesn’t shy away from telling the crowd that he is not impressed with the moshpit. He says that the other bands on the tour tell him that Canada is the best place to play… and he yells out “NOPE!!!!!” With this little shot at the not so energetic crowd, the fans give a raucous “Booooooo” and Kennedy yells “THEN FUCKING COME ON! Make this the best show of the tour!!”
With his push, the crowd gets into the action. Our first surfer cascades over the threshold, getting fist pumps from the singer, and at the last song Kennedy himself jumps into the crowd as he blasts out his vocals, being held high by the fans below. The crowd was definitely a little lethargic at the start, but Kennedy and the rest of Bleed From Within did an amazing job getting the crowd into the action with their cutting metalcore sound.
The Devil Wears Prada
A blue glow, and white lights splash upon the stage. A female AI-esque voice over comes over the speakers. She advises on what is about to take place and advises the crowd to get prepared. It’s a really cool visual with the flashing lights and blue glow, and the voice is soothing, despite the warning. The band comes screaming out onto the stage, blasting into “Watchtower”. It’s immediately a great choice to want to provide coverage for this band. The energy is intense. Insane! Aside from the drummer, all the band members are running back and forth, jumping up and down, and burning at both ends. Even keyboardist Jonathan Gering is moving back and forth and side to side. As cool as the introduction was, the band has definitely cranked up the “Cool” level ten-fold.
I’ve noticed over the past number of month’s that there are a lot of first time visits to Canada from shows that I’ve attended. Vocalist Mike Hranica shares that The Devil Wears Prada has actually been here a lot, and they love it. Ahead of the band’s 4th track “Salt”, Hranica grabs a guitar. Clearly, not just a singer with insane energy. With Bleed From Within having roused the crowd from their slumber, the surfing kicks off immediately, and continues as the band’s set intensifies.
Despite the band’s metalcore genre placement, I do get a feel of alternative rock, with a heavier edge from them through their first four songs. The tempo slows as the beat drops for the band’s 5th track “Dez Moines”. But once the vocals kick in, the band highlights their metacore prowess. During the track, a dude walks past me, through security, and heads backstage. This same guy appears on stage shortly after, sings the last verse of the song, and then there he was…. gone!
Although the crowd was much more engaged during Prada’s set, Hranica thinks they can do better. “Toronto, are you fucking awake? Come on, are you guys sleeping??”. I reflect at the comment, and realize that yes, the crowd seems a little less energetic than many shows I’ve attended recently. I’m a huge believer that the band and the crowd play off each other during a concert. The energy flows back and forth. In this case however, The Devil Wears Prada and Bleed From Within earlier, were full of power and energy. Unfortunately, it was taking a little nudging from the respective leads, for the crowd to wake up.
“Noise”, the band’s 7th song of the set, starts a cappella. Gering climbs onto the platform behind drummer Giuseppe Capolupo. The crowd joins in the vocals, sans instruments, for a very cool acoustic sound within the concert hall. This track doesn’t last long in this manner though, as it explodes into its typical ferocious energy, and Hranica’s vocals kick in. The band then starts into “Broken” and after a little more coaxing from guitarist/vocalist Jeremy DePoyster, its send the crowd into a frenzy as bodies continue to pile over the security barricade. I’m located at the point where body surfers leave the pit area and head back into the crowd. They are all smiling, but I notice one girl feeling frantically for her cell phone. But just like that, she heads back out into the crowd for another round.
Without a doubt, The Devil Wears Prada brought their raw energy as the leadup to the evening’s headliner. The fans were a little off and on with their engagement, but were able to turn up the heat at the drop of a dime, to give back some love to the musicians up on the stage. Maybe the fans in Montreal the following night were able to bring the heat from the beginning. It’s something the Toronto fans will not appreciate, but sometimes, you reap what you sow!
August Burns Red
Of course, this is an August Burns Red tour. It’s been almost four years since the band has played in Toronto, and they made up for it as they start strong and heavy. As would be expected, the band sounds great, as does vocalist Jake Luhrs, despite being under the weather. He tells the crowd that he will give it his best, and personally, I would never have guessed that there was anything wrong.
I look to my right, into the crowd, and I see a young fan, perhaps 8 years old at best. She is there with her mother, and she is nodding her head and moving her feet side to side. Something I’ve noticed over the past year or so, is that metal is alive and well. At least here in Toronto. And the fans aren’t just a bunch of 50+ metal heads from the 80s.
The August Burns Red set actually did have the fans riled up from the beginning, and throughout the whole set. Bodies piled over the wall as the band continued their onslaught. As they exited, they high fived, fist pumped and patted each other on the shoulder. One dude stops and yells to me “They’re fucking grooving!”, and I’ll admit, they were kicking ass!
Perhaps that’s another story, for another time.
The Devil Wears Prada Setlist
Born to Lose
Show Date: May 9, 2023