IN THIS MOMENT AND OF MICE AND MEN AT THE RAVE ON 11/10/17

On a brisk Milwaukee evening, Los Angeles natives In This Moment heated up around 1,000 adoring fans at The Rave, along side tour mates Of Mice And Men.

I had never seen, nor had I heard Of Mice And Men (yeah, yeah, I know), so when I had a very interesting and cool interview with Aaron and Valentino, I was pleasantly surprised (you can check out my interview here). They are some of the coolest guys in the world, and REALLY believe in their home scene. Aaron is a polite, composed guy who doesn’t talk at length about any one thing, while Valentino is this really happy, upbeat kind of person, and the two made for an interesting show.

So when they went on stage, and I saw what Aaron is REALLY good at, I was blown away. Mind, splat, floor. With a name like theirs, I had expected an emo type band, but what I got was fist pumping MET-TAL. They opened up with “Unbreakable,” which really kicked off the show. This was a brand new song for the audience (to be released on their forthcoming album Defy), because it had just been released the day of the show, which was sort of a risk for them, but it mattered very little in this instance. A lot of people there must’ve been huge fans, because on beat one, the place went nuts. It was very clear to me at this point, when I was up in the front barricade, that my photos were going to be interesting, and, had the lighting guy done his job, they’d have turned out much better.

First of all, if you haven’t heard of them (which would surprise me), Aaron, the singer, plays bass. And generally, I’m not a fan of singer’s playing instruments on stage because they get tied to the mic stand like a leash, and having to concentrate on two things at once pretty much means the singer has to concentrate on playing rather than engaging the crowd. But the way Aaron did both reminded me immediately of Slayer’s Tom Araya, because the guy can throw the fuck down.

I was also very impressed by the rest of the band; all of them knew how to put on a show. Where many bands either will stand there noodling or, in the case of the local opener, will go so insane that it looks totally fake, Of Mice And Men know where to put it, and how to move it around.

Can’t say it enough, I was super impressed. By the time they railed through “Public Service Announcement” and “Pain”, I was already a huge fan. After a litany of statements praising the fans, and – and this was really cool – local bands, they finished their 45 minute set with “The Depths,” which was off their album The Flood, and in my opinion, Aaron sings it much better than their original singer.

If you ask my opinion, they stole the show.

By the end of the set, I was hooked. I tried to buy a copy of their vinyl, but for some stupid reason my bank flagged the purchase and it wouldn’t go through.

Fuck me, right?

Forty five minutes later and ample time spent staring at moving shadows though the band’s giant shroud preventing fans from the stage being set, In This Moment took the stage in a smokey, larger than life kind of way.

Now, In This Moment is a band that has become synonymous with grandiosity. Their stage shows have become known the world over, being on par with the likes of of one-name pop singers like Beyonce or Madonna. While they’ve always dressed up for the occasion (a method I have ALWAYS respected the hell out of) they have, in their last few album cycles, REALLY ramped up the stage show to the point where they began tailoring their albums to specifically fit certain parts of the show. And while this has meant a steady decline in the album reviews, it has been no less than a huge boost in their performance.

Think of In This Moment like a rock opera; they’ve taken what Marilyn Manson has done in his heyday, and turned it up a few notches. This means everything about the show is choreographed, and the costume changes are more robust. Not only does Maria Brink and her dancers change their outfits, but the rest of the band does too. So it ended up being a full stage performance that just doesn’t let go of you. And to say that their fans were hooked from the get-go would be an understatement.

It gave me hope actually, because if a bunch of gothed out fans with 20 piercings can enjoy something like this, then maybe there’s hope that on- stage touring plays and other productions of culture will reach a more mainstream audience.

They opened up with one of their huge hits, “Blood,” and just rip- roar- rammed through a good hour of their flamboyant, vaudevillian style of metal, throughout which Maria would break into these poetic and intense moments where she’d engage the crowd in her sultry and scary manner.

Halfway through the set, she left the stage, and the band went into what they call “Monster Jam,” where they proceeded to do a medley of Metallica riffs, shredding soloing, and some intense bass and drum stuff. It went over pretty well, but I’m not entirely sure why it was there. For a band of this caliber to play Metallica on stage kind of sticks out like a sore thumb, especially when In This Moment has already done so many covers on their albums – their newest being Phil Collins‘ “In The Air Tonight” and re-writing of Billy Idol with “Black Wedding”.

It didn’t stop it from being epic however, and it was pretty fun to watch.

When Maria returned to the stage, she was again in a different outfit and with her and her dancers doing a dance with light- up balls during “Oh Lord”. It continued the band’s intensity while bringing the beat down a bit.

For the next 20 minutes the band ran through a few more hits and said goodnight- as if the crowd would let them end it like that! They came back out and did their song “Whore”, which, although it’s not my all time favorite, is still up there and I regularly listen to it in my car, so I put the camera down finally and enjoyed the show.

All in all it was a stellar performance in the very definition of the word; while I balk at the band’s decision to write songs that cater to their stage show verses just writing just a good metal album, I can’t deny that it looks and sounds really good on stage! I do wish they’d played some of their older, non-costume related songs, but maybe they’ll do a scaled down tour and ditch the theatrics in a couple years!

 

 

Written by Hobbes Caltous for Bloodrock Media on December 1, 2017