While She Sleeps @ Irving Plaza

MANHATTAN, NY—Tour buses flanked the entrance to NYC’s Irving Plaza this Saturday night. Through the front doors and up the stairs stood hoards of tank top sporting guys adorned with illegible script writing, crowding the entrance. Dotted by blood red spotlights, the hardwood floor rapidly lost any wiggle room. As the musicians tuned their instruments, the house lights dimmed and with a bang, England’s own While She Sleeps leapt to life. Flailing furiously, the guitarists played alongside the mess of wild mane and guttural roars from their vocalist, Lawrence Taylor.

The enthusiasm of this outfit was practically tangible, this night being their first time in New York City as well as their first tour throughout the United States. Looking down on the mass of fans from the second floor balcony, the surface of the crowd was broken frequently by the violent motions of the listeners. Beginning the set with the more recently released single, “Death Toll,” the group bounced around the stage to this thrasher as the crowd chanted the lyrics with force. Toward the back of the room, the audience formed a large mosh pit, where guys and even some daring girls rocked around in the most primitive of forms.

Within the flat blackness of the venue, the quality of sound met the expectation necessary for the lead and backing vocals to ring true. Tearing through each song with a fiery energy, the band played several songs off of their full-length, This Is Six, but a track that remained outstanding even after its final notes rang out was “Our Courage, Our Cancer.” The track is an emotional, poetically scripted piece with impeccable arrangement. The heavier riffs of this grief-fueled ballad align with the soft nature of the lyrics to allow for precise balance within the number. The weighted melodies ripping through the speakers nearly matched the volume and impact of the instruments.

The movements and persona of the wild frontman only accentuated the aggression and intensity with which While She Sleeps tackled this live performance. Playing a rendition of the current album’s title-track, “This Is Six,” a fresh surge of excitement swept the attendees of the show. As their time on the stage came to an end, the singer of While She Sleeps literally scaled the wall of the location, belting out his last note hanging upside down off the balcony.

There certainly wasn’t a moment of downtime in this performance. Even for those who were not fans of this band before this show at Irving Plaza, the group held the attention of anyone present with ears and eyes. These guys are hungry and pushing themselves beyond known limits, which may very well be the best attribute that musicians can maintain while climbing the steep ladder of the industry.