LIVE PHOTOS: Ice Nine Kills, Currents, Hawk
Review by Greg Maki
After steadily building for the better part of two decades, metalcore monster maniacs Ice Nine Kills have exploded in recent years, first with the breakthrough album “The Silver Scream” (2018) and, currently, with the build-up to the next record, “The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood” (Oct. 15, 2021, Fearless Records; pre-order here). A handful of singles has been burning up SiriusXM Octane throughout the summer, and now the band has made its long-awaited return to the road. The Sept. 11 show at the Lancaster County Convention Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was just its second live performance since early 2020, its first headline gig of the new album cycle and its biggest show in Pennsylvania to date.
The line to get into the venue wrapped around the block, and the line inside to buy merch somehow seemed even longer. There don’t seem to be many casual fans of Ice Nine Kills. INK fans are passionate and borderline obsessive (in the very best way!), and that devotion was on full display all night long. The band rewarded that adulation with a theatrical, arena-worthy rock show highlighting its tremendous growth in the past few years.
Taking the stage slickly dressed in suits and ties, the band opened with the “American Psycho”-inspired “Hip to Be Scared,” with frontman Spencer Charnas adding a Patrick Bateman-esque raincoat and severed head mid-song. I always love when a band opens with a song that doesn’t sound like an obvious opener, and kicking off the show with a current hit single was a brilliantly unexpected move.
For the next 65 minutes or so, Charnas had the wildly enthusiastic crowd in the palm of his hand, on the edge of his knife blade, on the tips of his Freddy Krueger-style claws—whichever metaphor seems best to you. Fully 60 percent of the set list (nine out of 15 songs) came from “The Silver Scream,” with three more coming from the new album. That makes sense given that Charnas is the band’s only remaining original member; in fact, none of the other members of the current touring lineup was in the band prior to 2018.
Especially considering its relatively short time together as a unit, the band sounded remarkably tight and precise, with Charnas as a dynamic ringleader, bringing out a series of masks and props to accompany most songs while delivering a powerhouse vocal performance. Guitarist Ricky Armellino and bassist Joe Occhiuti also shouldered shares of the vocal load, ensuring nothing was missed from the original recordings.
Highlights of the set included the aforementioned “Hip to Be Scared,” the “Halloween”-themed “Stabbing in the Dark” (complete with Charnas-as-Michael-Myers “killing” a young blonde woman), the ode to Jason and Mrs. Voorhees “Thank God It’s Friday” and the Freddy Krueger celebration “American Nightmare.” But truly, there was not a dull spot, no bathroom break moment, in the entire show.
All of 2020 and the first seven-plus months of 2021 were a wash for me when it came to concerts. Even so, there isn’t one in recent memory that I recall enjoying as much as this one. Ice Nine Kills already has achieved a great amount of success, but it felt like this was the beginning of something even bigger.
The openers for the night were a collection of new-to-me bands, including Hawk, featuring INK’s Ricky Armellino on vocals, playing a hometown show, as well as Currents, Gladiators (also from Lancaster) and Enox. Hawk and Currents were the standouts, each fitting into the metalcore category, with Hawk embracing melodic choruses and Currents leaning in a heavier direction. I’m eager to hear more from both acts. (Escape the Fate and Fame on Fire are on the rest of this leg of the tour but did not play this show.)
ICE NINE KILLS SET LIST:
“Hip to Be Scared”
“Stabbing in the Dark”
“Communion of the Cursed”
“Me, Myself & Hyde”
“Assault & Batteries”
“A Grave Mistake”
“Connect the Cuts”
“Rocking the Boat”
“The Jig Is Up”
“Thank God It’s Friday”
“IT Is the End”