All That Remains brought the 15th Anniversary of their incredible breakout album Fall of Ideals to The Observatory North Park in San Diego; with a support system like Miss May I, Varials and Tallah, it was truly a headbangers ball, to say the least! Opener Tallah, a numetal band from Pennsylvania, was one of the most powerful performances I’ve seen in the longest time. Honestly, this band was immediately put on my ‘bands-to-watch’ list after seeing the crowd scramble to the front after a single song. Vocalist Justin Bonitz brought such a transparent emotion and rawness to his performance that was equally balanced with Derrick Schneider on lead guitar, while Alize “Mewzen” Rodriquez was slaying an array of instruments like keyboards and turntables. All that, not to mention Alex Snowden on rhythm guitar and Max Portnoy bringing it all together on the drums.
Up next was Varials, a hardcore punk band also hailing all the way from Pennsylvania.
Lead vocalist Mitchel Rogers kept the energy going with the night’s first circle pits appearing. The already deep crowd was captivated by guitarist James Hohenwarter, bassist Mike Foley and drummer Sean Rauchut’s stage presence. A seven-song setlist that really felt like it was only one, we definitely needed more! Luckily, soon after, Miss May I stormed the stage to give the warmed-up crowd a performance of a lifetime. Miss May I is an American metalcore band, neighboring the openers coming in from Ohio. The guys aren’t new to the game, as they’ve also got hits dating back 15 years, making them an excellent open for All That Remains. Frontman Levi Benton exudes all that is metal, running from one side of the stage to another, making sure to get up on the risers placed in front of the stage so the entire audience gets a show. Following suit in a dynamic performance was B.J. Stead on lead guitar, Justin Aufdemkamp on rhythm guitar, Ryan Neff on bass and Jerod Boyd on drums to ground it all down. Mosh pits, circle pits, flying beers and crowd-surfers commenced in full effect, and it was full rage mode (with that incredible pickup policy to any who fall — such a safe mosh). We were blessed with an array of hits like “Casualties”, “My Sorrow” and “Under Fire”. After the band concluded with an epic performance of “Shadows Inside”, the band exited and the crowd got ready for the long-anticipated headliners.
After the crowd got hydrated and got a fresh wind, All That Remains stormed the stage one-by-one, and kicked off their set with “Indictment” the moment that frontman Phil Labonte walked out front and center, giving the crowd a smile that indicated he’s been anticipating this moment just as much as we have. The crowd doesn’t skip a beat, immediately breaking out into multiple pits throughout the show-goers. The way Jason Richardson shredded his guitar solos flawlessly was so crazy to watch — it’s probably one of the only things that took me away from the pit! The insane double bass drums (provided by the so talented Jason Costa) were felt throughout the entire Observatory… and probably down the streets of North Park (sorry not sorry, neighbors). Matt Deis on rhythm guitars and Mike Martin rounded out the stage, never missing a beat when it came to those synchronized head-banging moments. It was truly a metalhead’s dream. Don’t miss your opportunity to see these guys! It was truly one of the best metal shows of my time.
Photography by Franny Kovacs