LIVE PHOTOS: Falling in Reverse, Ice Nine Kills, Slaughter to Prevail, Crown the Empire
By Greg Maki
It’s no secret that rock music—hard rock in particular—does not occupy the esteemed place it once did in American pop culture. Stop a random person on the street and ask them about any of the four bands on this bill, and they likely will respond with a blank stare. That doesn’t mean there aren’t success stories in the genre—they’re just a lot more under the general public’s radar than they have been in the past. In short, don’t tell me rock is dead when Falling in Reverse is filling arenas across the country.
Fronted by the outspoken, polarizing Ronnie Radke, Falling in Reverse hasn’t put out an album in six years but blew up when “Popular Monster” took over SiriusXM Octane in 2020 and has not looked back, releasing a string of massive hit singles starting in early 2022, each one bigger than the last. Those songs, of course, received enthusiastic reactions when the band brought its Popular MonsTour to Baltimore on a Monday night, but perhaps more impressive was that the fans greeted other tracks just as warmly, singing along loudly whenever prompted.
Spending the entire set patrolling the ego riser spanning the front of the stage, Radke was the clear star of the night, exhibiting an awareness of the public perception of him (see “Just Like You”) and unexpected playfulness. Midway through the set, he had the crowd on the floor split in two, ostensibly setting up the old “wall of death” before launching into an abbreviated cover of “All Star” by Smash Mouth. “I got you!” he laughed, then implored the audience to split again. “This is the heaviest song you’ll ever hear!” he growled as the band played what appeared to be a menacing intro behind him—which turned into “Bad Girls Club,” a decidedly poppy tune from Falling in Reverse’s second album, “Fashionably Late” (2013).
After a somewhat curious break that saw the band’s new cover of Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” played on the big screen onstage—to be fair, the video itself is stunning, as cinematic an achievement as I’ve ever seen from a band—Radke and company returned to assault the audience with its three biggest songs. With flames erupting from the stage and an assist from Slaughter to Prevail frontman Alex Terrible, “Watch the World Burn” brought down the house in dramatic fashion and probably should have been saved for last. It’s hard to argue against closing with fan favorites “Voices in My Head” and “Popular Monster,” however.
FALLING IN REVERSE SET LIST: “Zombified,” “I’m Not a Vampire,” “Losing My Mind,” “Fuck You and All Your Friends,” “Fashionably Late,” “The Drug in Me Is You,” “Situations,” “All Star,” “Bad Girls Club,” “Just Like You,” (“Last Resort” video) “Watch the World Burn” (with Alex Terrible), “Voices in My Head,” “Popular Monster”
Direct support came from Ice Nine Kills, which is continuing to build a bigger and better show with each successive tour. With its horror-themed songs and production, the Spencer Charnas-led band essentially is doing musical theater, each number accompanied by costumes, props, masks and additional characters.
The bloodbath commenced with the “American Psycho”-based opener “Hip to Be Scared,” which saw Charnas-as-Patrick-Bateman committing the first murder of the evening. The set was a tour through classic horror, with songs inspired by “The Evil Dead,” “Jaws,” “It,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Pet Sematary” and more. Two Leatherfaces made an appearance during the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”-themed “Savages,” while two of the band’s signature slasher character, the Silence, stalked the stage for the show-closing “Welcome to Horrorwood.” Fans who go back deeper than the two recent “Silver Scream” albums surely appreciated the inclusion of “Me, Myself & Hyde” from 2015’s “Every Trick in the Book” album.
The band is now a sextet with a three-guitar attack featuring Doc Coyle (Bad Wolves, God Forbid) and Miles Dimitri Baker (Interloper, Voidbringer, ex-Rings of Saturn) in addition to mainstay Ricky Armellino. Backing vocals by Armellino and bassist Joe Occhiuti proved to be invaluable as always, while drummer Patrick Galante should be in the discussion of the very best of his craft. As the ringleader of this macabre circus, Charnas has grown into one of the best frontmen in the genre, owning the stage with a dynamic vocal performance and unparalleled showmanship.
ICE NINE KILLS SET LIST: “Hip to Be Scared,” “A Rash Decision,” “Ex-Mørtis,” “Rocking the Boat,” “IT is the End,” “The American Nightmare,” “Savages,” “The Shower Scene,” “Me, Myself & Hyde,” “Funeral Derangements,” (“Opening Night”) “Welcome to Horrorwood”
Far and away the heaviest band on the bill, Russian deathcore act Slaughter to Prevail must have shook the building to its foundation with its thunderous set. Whether he was wearing the signature “Kid of Darkness” mask or not, frontman Alex Terrible was an intimidating presence onstage with his muscled, tattoo-covered frame. (Given his wicked facial scar, he might be scarier without the mask.) If this ferocious performance was typical of the band, Slaughter to Prevail is going to be huge very soon.
SLAUGHTER TO PREVAIL SET LIST: “Bonebreaker,” “Bratva,” “Viking,” “Baba Yaga,” “Demolisher”
Crown the Empire kicked the evening off, supporting its recently released “Dogma” album. Frontman Andy Leo’s playful attitude set the tone for the set, which got a little heavier than I was expecting, serving as an appropriate lead-in to the rest of the night.
CROWN THE EMPIRE SET LIST: “Dogma,” “The Fallout,” “Black Sheep,” “Blurry (Out of Place)”, “Superstar,” “In Another Life,” “Dancing with the Dead”