On November 3, 2019, the relatively quiet college town of New Haven, CT welcomed a five-part, earth-shaking line up to their prized venue, Toad’s Place. Back-to-back headbangers, Santa Cruz, Tempting Fate, He Is Legend and Whitechapel, all supported Atreyu on their 20th-anniversary tour and packed out the intimate venue. None of the “do not mosh” signs stood a chance against the excitable and enthusiastic fans who could not resist a circle pit.
Jumpstarting the night was the Helsinki-born act, Santa Cruz. A logical bookend for the headliner, Santa Cruz combined pop-hooks with metal-inspired breakdowns and flamboyant guitar solos. With punchy energy and throwback style, both musically and fashion-wise (bandanas and flowing locks), Santa Cruz cruised through a fun set, including songs from their latest album Katharsis.
The evening seemed to progress to heavier acts, including Tempting Fate out of Los Angeles. The quartet took advantage of their short set, blasting through selections from their debut Illusions to one of their newest singles, ‘Sik,’ heightening the energy and grabbing the crowd’s attention with groovy and piercing riffs.
Flowing into a sludgier realm, He Is Legend graced the stage. Weaving in and out of hypnotic stoner rock undertones that erupted into catchy choruses, the Wilmington, NC-born act have been on tour in support of their 2019 LP, White Bat, their first album in five years. Raucous yet cohesive, He is Legend took the audience down memory lane with favorites, ‘The Seduction’ and ‘Everyone I Know Has Fangs,’ while lead vocalist Schuylar Croom floated across the stage with interpretative dance moves and hair whips.
The apex of the evening arrived when Knoxville, TN’s deathcore kings, Whitechapel, snuck on stage in a veil of darkness. Aside from being the loudest, heaviest, and most precise band on the bill, the quintet also created an atmosphere with their stage presence and lights that perfectly matched their melancholy yet frenetic energy. Whitechapel’s tour with Atreyu was sandwiched between their appearance at Exit 111 Fest and a European tour that takes them into the holidays. A busy 2019 saw the release of their new album The Valley (Metal Blade), which straddles their signature, aggressive sound and a much more melodic and balladic side. Whitechapel showcased their polarity live with tracks like, ‘Forgiveness is Weakness,’ ‘Hickory Creek,’ ‘Black Bear’, and ‘Brimstone’. A hard act to follow, Whitechapel brought the house down with a razor-sharp set.
After being properly warmed up by the opening acts, Atreyu hit the stage with bubbly and cheerleader-like spirit. An all-out production, the setup featured an extra-high rise drumkit and It was a jarring contrast to Whitechapel’s darker vibes and themes, and bordered on too much of a mood shift. Nonetheless, diehard fans sang and danced along to the twenty-song setlist (a song celebrating each year as a band), including selections from their most popular albums Deathgrip on Yesterday, Lead Sails Paper Anchor, and The Curse.
Though a long line up, the event featured various sides of the metal genre that created an enjoyable night of music for the eclectic New Haven crowd. Keep your eye on the five acts who are sure to have exciting announcements coming as 2020 approaches.”
WORDS BY MEIJIN BRUTTOMESSO