Parkway Drive Take Over Starland Ballroom

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On Friday night, Parkway Drive, with We Came As Romans as direct support, brought their Unbreakable tour to Starland Ballroom in Sayerville, New Jersey. The show was highly anticipated, and hoards of fans lined up circling the building, waiting to enter hours before either band was set to perform. PWD and WCAR are two of the most exciting live acts in the rock genre, and in putting on an incredible show Friday, they exceeded already high expectations.

By the time WCAR took the stage the venue was packed out with fans from the pit to bar, stretching even to merch area near the entrance, and the air thrumming with energy and anticipation. The band, featuring dual front men Kyle Pavone (clean vocals) and Dave Stephens (unclean vocals) exude a constant frenetic energy on stage. They opened with the title track from their 2013 album Tracing Back Roots, a heavy jam that set a vigorous pace for the rest of their set. A performance “Tear It Down” from the groups self-titled 2015 album was an obvious highlight of WCAR’s set. The track’s aggressive rapid fire unclean vocals had pits opening up in the crowd, while its anthemic chorus had fans singing along emphatically.

The catchy and upbeat “Fade Away” with its irresistible sing along hook and killer guitar riffs was also a fan favorite, and “Ghosts” from the same album kept fans jumping and yelling throughout the middle of their set with its dark tone and roaring unclean vocals. Other tracks like “Mis/Understanding” from the band’s 2011 album Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be, and “Wasted Age,” released this month also satisfied fans in attendance who preferred a heavier sound. WCAR ability to combine heavy and light, and unclean and clean vocals, blending them seamlessly into a unique sound gives them a wide range of appeal, and makes them accessible to fans of many different types of rock and metal music.

We Came As Romans closed their set on a high note with a performance of the anthemic “Hope,” an inspiring track from Tracing Back Roots. The enthusiasm the band had during their final song had fans on their feet one last time. By the time they left the stage those in attendance knew they had experienced first hand how talented WCAR are as live performers.

Parkway Drive took the stage to a considerably warmed up crowd chanting their name and yelling in anticipation. The band is known for their heavier sound, front man Winston McCall’s talent as an unclean vocalist, melodic guitar riffs, and the way they absolutely shred onstage.  They opened with the roaring “Crushed,” from their 2015 album Ire, a haunting track that allowed the group to begin on a high note. PWD’s set featured stellar production throughout, starting with Co2 cannons punctuating their already stunning performance of “Dedicated,” which was a clear highlight in a set that contained many of them. The song brings together themes of of resilience, loyalty, and toughness that are bolstered by mind bending guitar work and vocals by McCall that are equally evocative and aggressive. “Vice Grip,” a single off of Ire, was another highlight. The songs inspiring nature and anthemic chorus allowed fans to sing along with all of their energy as McCall called upon them to form a raging circle pit in the middle of the venue, Co2 bust from the cannons on stage, and colorful confetti rained down on the crowd.

About mid-way through their set, Parkway Drive played their new single “Devils Calling,” which so far has been received very well by both fans and industry. Like “Vice Grip,” the new track features a chorus with a huge hook that is easy to sing along to, and fans in attendance were thrilled to hear new music from the band. Parkway Drive filled out the middle of their set with “Wild Eyes” and “Dark Days,” two songs from their 2012 album Atlas. The former is a fan favorite that has been a staple in Parkway Drive’s setlist since its release.

The group slowed things down a bit (at least by their standards) with “Writings on the Wall,” a chilling track from Ire, that brims with pent up emotion. The short respite from the usually frenetic pace PWD sets gave fans a small breather before the band picked up the pace once again, and dove right back into the depth of energy, emotion and passion they generally immerse themselves in while on stage. Parkway Drive showed respect and appreciation to longtime loyal fans in attendance when they threw it all the way back to 2006 with a performance of “Gimme AD,” from their album Killing With A Smile. Another older song “Boneyards,” from their 2009 album Horizons that McCall had recalled being requested of them the last time they had played at Starland was included on their setlist this time around. Little offerings such as this one are a prime example of the ways PWD goes above and beyond as live performers to make their fans feel appreciated and valued.

Parkway Drive closed their set with the title track from Horizons, a performance which once again featured confetti and Co2 cannons bursting color and smoke into the crowd. The band briefly left the stage, but returned to the renewed chants of their name and enthusiastic requests for an encore that included just one song, but perhaps the one that fans were anticipating the most. Parkway Drive’s performance of “Bottom Feeder,” off of Ire proved to be one of the most entertaining and exhilarating songs to watch live in any genre. One last pit opened up in the crowd, and almost every person in attendance was screaming along to the aggressive, lyrics which hold little back and moderately resemble a full frontal verbal assault on a despised enemy or rival. The passion displayed by both the band and the crowd during the song reached an unrivaled fever pitch that left fans breathless after PWD finally left the stage.

Dubbed by McCall as the “best show on the tour so far,” both Parkway Drive and We Came As Romans gave existing fans a reason to eagerly anticipate their return to New Jersey, and new fans a reason to continue listening. Both bands seem to have set themselves apart from many of their peers as live performers on the Unbreakable tour thus far, and there is no doubt that each will see continued success and support as it continues.

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