August Burns Red
Angry Music for Happy People
Article By: Sean Moore/ Photos By: Kenneth Coles
If music had a smell, last night’s August Burns Red show at Aura would best be described as, hockey locker room after a long, hard-fought game. I don’t think lead vocalist Jake Luhrs would mind that analogy, as he told the crowd he was “an avid Boston Bruins fan” as he strutted out onto the stage donning a Bruins jersey for the first song of their set, before ripping it off to reveal a black V-neck t-shirt that by night’s end was soaked in sweat. There was sweat flying in the air, clothes lost by many in the mosh pit, a few bloody noses, quite a few guys limping away, hoarse voices from screaming along to every single song, gasps of breath trying to be caught while taking a break from the ruckus on the floor. There wasn’t a single song that the crowd did not react to, but I would say the obvious fan favorites were “Invisible Enemy,” “Mariana’s Trench” (which appears on this writer’s running playlist), “Empire,” and the last song of the night, saved for obvious reasons, “Whitewashed.”
Jake Luhrs looks like one of the happiest guys, doing the thing he absolutely loves, until the first chords of any of their songs. He gets into a zone, as if something deep inside of him takes over and becomes unleashed as he growls and screams every word, while the crowd pumped their fists in the air and screamed along with him to every song from their latest album Phantom Anthem. Luhrs is the perfect frontman for this Pennsylvania-based metalcore band that got its start in 2003 (putting out 8 albums in that timeframe) and has seemingly outlasted many of their comrades in the same genre. Luhrs knows and delights in encouraging and inciting the crowd to mosh and thrash, jump and scream every minute of their songs. He orchestrates the band through breakdown after breakdown like a maestro, often turning to face the drummer and/or guitarists, while moving his fingers in an almost “come on, now” fashion, begging them to bring the heat. The corded microphone is often an extension of his arm, as he swings it rapidly side-to-side, front-to-back between verses, in such a fluid and “elegant” motion.
Watching guitarist JB Brubaker’s fingers glide effortlessly across the neck of his guitar is nearly mesmerizing and drummer Matt Greiner is simply one of the best in the business, playing with an intensity and aggression, but with a precision nearly unmatched in the metalcore genre. His abilities behind the drum kit are the life force of the band. I love that the encore started with a five-minute drum solo that showcased Greiner’s talent, before the rest of the band came out and blazed through their incredible rendition of the recently recorded “The Legend of Zelda” theme.
They showcased an unstoppable amount of energy that often left the crowd and myself catching our breath. It made me wonder how bands like this can go so hard night after night, without seemingly missing a note. Sure, their songs may sound very similar- hard, loud, and fast- but they are clinically precise and technical to a masterful point, to be studied and appreciated. Speaking of the band as a whole, where others in the same genre often rely on power chords and just playing as fast as they can, ABR makes it feel like every note is meaningful, along with the time signature changes, sometimes at multiple points in the same song. Every chord feels as if it demands you to bang your head, throw your body without mercy to the wolves of the mosh pit, with a near-reckless abandon for the world around you. August Burns Red has the innate ability to craft songs in such a way that they envelope your entire being, at least that’s what it felt and looked like amongst the crowd who clearly came with one purpose- to rock unbelievably hard, all night.
Along with my previously mentioned analogy of the locker room smell, I’d have to say the best description of the night was also found on August Burns Red’s t-shirts being sold at the merch table. They simply said, “Angry Music for Happy People.” I could not think of a better way to describe it, so I will leave it at that.