All Stars Tour @ Starland Ballroom

SAYREVILLE, NJ—There was a monster on stage, conducting the crowd below in a venue that was sold out for the day, and even hotter inside than the summer heat outdoors. I walked in on the All Stars Tour at its stop at Starland Ballroom with Motionless In White still onstage. With a quick pep talk about unity in the music scene, their lead singer regained his creepy demeanor and with black body paint, fit for a young Marilyn Manson, “Abigail” begun. The venue shook and a dark, menacing vibe ran through the crowd—but this was only the start.

The All Stars Tour really packed quite the line-up, with 13 bands playing back to back, I was surprised I made it out alive. There were short set times and the change between was super quick in order to fit the large bill and have things run smoothly.

It was great having shorter set times to really give just a taste of these bands, especially since I was unfamiliar with some, like After The Burial and The Ghost Inside. Both had a similar metalcore style, with breakdowns and screaming. I enjoyed both, but The Ghost Inside really stuck out with catchier hooks and a stronger reaction from the crowd. To upstage both was For Today, who sounded great and I was even more impressed when singer Mattie Montgomery started talking about Christianity and there was no opposition from the crowd, which was very cool. Still, I loved After the Burial’s neon green and pink guitars.

Then it was time for the ladies of the tour to take over, starting with Maria Brink of In This Moment. It was a quiet, haunting start with the spotlight on Brink as she showed off a softer side of her vocals before barreling into the set with screaming and singing to rip right into you. They only played a few songs before ending on “Daddy’s Falling Angel,” with Brink taking to the crowd. A small platform was brought out for her to stand on in the middle of the venue and after asking the audience not to kill her while moshing around her, the music started and it was quite the sight.

The second frontwoman to challenge the crowd was Krysta Cameron of Iwrestledabearonce. The majority of the set she spent running around the stage, letting out sinister screams contrasted by angelic vocals. Not to be upstaged, was bassist Mike Martin, who encouraged fans to be like him and only use their “Batman voice.” IWABO is strong musically live with a mesmerizing light show, but they also know how to have fun with the audience. Fans went crazy over new material off their album, Ruining It for Everybody, but went even crazier over the last song, “Tastes Like Kevin Bacon.”

I found humor in the contrast between Born of Osiris and Blessthefall. Born of Osiris came out strong, with lead singer glaring down at the audience and bassist creeping around the stage. It was early on that they played “Bow Down,” and I could feel the audience explode into riot all around me. When Blessthefall took the stage, vocals lightened up and the music was simpler along with their stage presence. I found more interest in the crowd below, where fans were enjoying the music, but I was eager for the last two bands.

Alesana is one of those bands that just keeps going, and even though they have retired their old material, I still love their live shows. Singer Dennis Lee struts around the stage while guitarist Shawn Milke incorporates his unique dance moves alongside playing and singing. They played tracks off their current release The Emptiness, including my favorite, “The Thespian.”

Last but not least was Emmure, whose drum and bass shook the venue. Singer Frankie Palmeri actually had me a little scared with the monstrous look on his face as he snarled and growled. With mosh pits opening up all throughout the venue, I have a new found respect for Emmure. As the only band to have an encore song, they finished things up right with “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.”