Photo: Nina Milnes

If there’s one important thing to keep in mind when you see August Burns Red, it’s to brace yourself. You’ve just agreed to submit yourself to pure, unbridled mayhem, and it’ll be well worth it. Kids in the audience can be seen prepping themselves before the Pennsylvania-based band takes the stage: pacing the room, swinging their arms, stretching for what is about to be a brutal set that will propel the entire audience into a frenzy.

August Burns Red have that kind of effect once they hit the stage; they have a commanding energy that people feed off of and sends them swing-kicking their way into the swirling pits with vengeance. They opened with “Empire,” the first track from their recent effort ‘Leveler,’ and the room practically combusted. Vocalist Jake Luhrs had his way with the crowd, pacing back and forth on stage, and summoning us to rip each other to shreds. We listened. Every blistering line he sent out, we felt it. We sang along to every word without missing a beat, despite the number of people climbing over each other to reach out to Jake as he stuck his microphone into the crowd to join along.

The band followed with “Meddler,” “Internal Cannon,” “Cutting the Ties,” and a favorite of mine, “Marianas Trench.” A slow guitar intro kicked off the song, and before I knew it, the entire room was taken over by a momentous accumulation of energy. There’s certainly not one dull moment during their performance — the band never fails to keep the show moving at an invigorating rate, constantly encouraging circle pits and walls of death. The show pummeled on with “Your Little Suburbia Is in Ruins,” and “Truth of a Liar,” which was no doubt a crowd favorite. Piercing cymbals and melodic guitar riffs were the driving forces behind their show, paired with the immense energy that every band member dispelled onto the audience. Next up was “Meridian,” as well as another favorite of mine, “White Washed,” which was the first song that truly stuck with me the first time I had seen the act almost a year ago. The demanding lyrics “Don’t say another word / You’ve crossed the line” resound through the room, and there’s no denying the force that takes over whenever they play it live.

“Salt & Light,” “Poor Millionaire,” and “Back Burner” carried the group to the title track from ‘Leveler,’ driving the show into its final segment — a killer drum solo. The stage went dark, and cheers of “ABR! ABR!” consumed the place. Not too long after, the band returned for an encore with “Carpe Diem” and “Composure.” As the lights went up, I could see the hoards of kids who fought their way through the entire show, and that’s the kind of dedication that August Burns Red gets from their audience. No one can really escape from being drenched in the sweat of about twelve other people and getting a little bruised by the end of the performance, but those are the battle wounds you proudly wear after an August Burns Red show — you’ve survived. You’ve gone to hell and back, and it was fantastic.


Internal Cannon
Cutting the Ties
Marianas Trench
Your Little Suburbia Is in Ruins
Truth of a Liar
White Washed
Salt & Light
Poor Millionaire
Back Burner
Drum Solo
Carpe Diem


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