I heard of Black Veil Brides for the first time about four years ago – and sadly, it wasn’t in the positive light I wish it would’ve been. What I recall was a friend (a fellow music connoisseur and someone who’s music taste I usually aligned with) describing them as a “teenage KISS rip-off,” and to be honest, I didn’t give the band a second thought after hearing that. I never looked them or their music up to even give them a chance, and they’d pretty much faded from my mind. That was, until they were a supporting act for Bullet For My Valentine on Monster’s Outbreak Tour last year. And honestly, I was some combination of surprised, impressed and a little bit afraid to go home after catching one of the dates on that tour and admit that I liked Black Veil Brides as much as I did.
The show drew a similar crowd to The Fillmore Charlotte then just as it did at the sold out Friday night show on the current Hot Topic Sponsored Black Mass Tour. Doors to the venue opened at 6:00 PM, but the line outside the building was so long that barely half the patrons made it inside by the time the sounds of opening act Drama Club drifted out. The crowd filtered in and were quickly intrigued by the masked duo on stage. Masks aside, there was a pretty stellar light show, plus they more than catered to the largely unfamiliar crowd with a remix of “They Don’t Need To Understand” featuring Black Veil Bride’s frontman.
Set It Off took the stage next and continued to fuel the crowd. Though the band is just six years old, they seem to have already garnered a tight niche and it was great to see so many fans singing along. The band released their second full length album Duality in October and closed their set with the first single “Why Worry?” off it. Drama Club made a short reappearance to distract the crowd while backdrops and stage props were being set up for Falling In Reverse. Despite his trouble past, there was no lack of screaming fans when Ronnie Radke commanded and entertained throughout Falling In Reverse’s set. Ronnie has clearly made a complete turn around, easily powering through an extremely catchy set of songs.
While I was entertained and enjoyed watching the sets of the opening acts, I was most excited for the headliner. The young crowd, littered with diehards sporting black lines of face paint, seemingly shared my anticipation. The air between sets was filled with chants of “Black-Veil-Brides, Black-Veil-Brides!” and “Andy, Andy, Andy!” climaxing in a shrill scream when the lights finally dimmed. Christian “CC” Coma took place at his drums with Ashley Purdy (bass), Jinxx (guitar) and Jake Pitts (guitar) filling out the stage. Vocalist Andy Biersack (also known as Andy Black and previously as Andy Six) walked on stage flashing a signature smile that’s surely stolen the hearts of many fangirls.
In the first few years following their inception, Black Veil Brides were noted by Lava Records president Jason Flom as being, “…Rock heros that are truly larger than life.” Back then, each member wore leather, had dramatic jet black hairstyles and over-the-top makeup ala KISS (hence my friend’s original reference). In recent years, they dropped most of the make up, though continue to keep the long hair and black clothing traditionally representing metal around the world. Aside from the more mature look, they’ve also matured in sound. Their fourth studio album Black Veil Brides IV dropped in October, and really hones in on blending the heavier metal sound from their first two albums with the emotional lyrics and melodic tones from their 3rd album, Wretched and Divine. They kicked off their set ripping straight into “Heart of Fire,” the first single off the new album, and I was hooked from that point forward.
It’s a rare occasion for a band to be able to construct a setlist that grips an entire audience throughout, especially when the set largely consists of songs off an album that’s barely a month old, but Black Veil Brides pulled it off. Fans belted out every word to “Faithless” (another song off the new album) just as flawlessly as Andy did. A high point for me was “Wretched & Divine,” which had come on randomly through my iPod’s shuffle on the way to the show. It must have been some subconscious precognition, but either way, I was all the more amped up when they played it live, then followed it up with their first ever single and fan favorite “Knives and Pens”.
About 2/3rds of the way into the show, Andy delved into a short speech about how the security guards get the best “seats” instead of the paying fans that are truly there to support the band. He proceeded by ensuring that at least six fans would leave as diehards after personally selecting them from the crowd to come on stage for a song. While they were on stage, he walked around to hug, high-five and even take selfies with them. Most of the band then went backstage for a moment, leaving CC to his own devices at the drumkit. Though he started off somewhat slowly, the crowd quickly egged him on until the solo built into an impressive display of footwork and what had to be a killer leg workout!
The band returned to play another handful of songs, but it was obvious the show was coming to a quick close when “Fallen Angels” was performed… though as soon as the guys disappeared offstage again, the demanding chants for “Black-Veil-Brides, Black-Veil-Brides!” immediately returned and an encore was only inevitable. I have a tendency to look up setlists before the show, so I already knew that they were saving the best for last… and “In The End,” it was just as glorious as the day it received Revolver’s Golden Gods Award for Best New Song of 2013.
Going in, “In The End” was what I was looking forward to hearing the most, but ultimately “Last Rites,” from the new album stole the thunder for me. Though I have listened to said album multiple times in it’s entirety, the catchy guitar intro and Andy’s resonating baritone lyrics somehow caught my ear more live than the recorded album version. I have probably listened to “Last Rites” at least once an hour since the show!
All that said, let me digress back to the opening of this review where I mentioned I was a little afraid to admit to liking this band. To clarify, I’m not exactly the stereotyped teenage fangirl… in fact, I was feeling a little bit aged at both Black Veil Brides shows I went to. I’ve been covering shows as a music journalist for a while now, and most of my colleagues align more with bands akin to Five Finger Death Punch or All That Remains – ones that have publicly criticized Black Veil Brides. I’m certainly not embarrassed by what I listen to, but I figured I’d receive the same backlash I always receive when I tell people, “I like Nickelback” (yep, I said it. I like Nickelback. I also like Five Finger Death Punch and All That Remains. If you can’t agree with me on any of those, then at least we can align on being anti Justin Bieber, right? right?)
Anyway, after seeing Black Veil Brides the first time, I did my due diligence to give them a fair chance. I listened to their music and researched the band. In that research, I read an interview with Andy and was shocked to discover how well spoken he is and how many things he said that I could personally identify with. If that interview hadn’t already earned my respect for the band, the new album eventually would’ve.
So, to all my friends that have bashed the band in the past, or to all those that are unfamiliar yet, I urge you to check out Black Veil Brides IV or catch the band on the Black Mass tour. And to all of you that are already fans, keep on rocking on – I’m right there with you.
• Heart Of Fire
• I Am Bulletproof
• Wretched & Divine
• Knives & Pens
• Shadows Die
• Last Rites
• Rebel Love Song
• Drum Solo
• Sweet Blasphemy
• Perfect Weapon
• Fallen Angels
• In The End