Last Thursday night, fans packed the intimate Warfield Theatre in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District to bear witness to the kickoff of one of the spring’s most anticipated tours: a co-headlining venture between Boston’s Killswitch Engage and Australia’s Parkway Drive. Add in supporting slots from Minnesota metalcore act After The Burial and hardcore hybrid Vein, and you’ve got one hell of a lineup. Given the fact that Killswitch Engage hadn’t been in the Bay Area since their 2017 tour with Anthrax, as well as the fact that Parkway Drive hadn’t made any kind of presence in the Bay Area for a number of years, this tour already had a great tone of hype surrounding it before the tickets had even gone on sale.
Up and coming act Vein opened the show, introducing the burgeoning San Francisco crowd to its chaotic brand of hardcore and death metal. It was a strange hybrid, to the point that I wasn’t really sure what was happening throughout the first song or two. But by song three, the audience was locked into their set and fully in tune with their style of hardcore/metal/whatever heavy genre title you want to stamp into it. I’m curious to see where Vein goes in years. The blueprint is there, but given the thirty minute set that I saw, there are so many different directions their music could go in.
Part Minnesota, part Bay Area, After The Burial took the stage for a semi-homecoming set on the eve of the release of their newest studio album, Evergreen. Bassist Adrian Oropeza and vocalist Anthony Notarmaso are both Bay Area natives, so any time After The Burial plays a show within the vicinity of the Bay, it’s a bit of a homecoming affair. Backed with intense strobe lighting, a visceral brand of metalcore, and several new tracks from Evergreen, After The Burial sufficiently prepared the crowd for the onslaught of metal they were about to encounter.
The Warfield was the most packed I’d seen it in the last five years when Parkway Drive took the stage, and that statement isn’t an exaggeration. It was so packed to the point that I could only see the stage by standing behind a sea of people in an aisle-way that was to the side of the stage, and even that was a challenge in and of itself. But even so, the energy was rampant throughout the air as Parkway Drive brought forth an onslaught of metalcore with a sound that they’ve grown and cultivated all of these years. A good majority of the tracks came from the band’s 2018 (and most recent) studio album, Reverence, and a number of others came from their release before that, 2015’s Ire. The band didn’t leave the diehard fans high and dry, though; tracks from Atlas (“Wild Eyes”), Deep Blue (“Karma”), and Horizons (“Carrion”) were all welcomed with the rowdiest of mosh pits and crowd-surfers. It’s unclear when the next Bay Area Parkway Drive show will be, but one hopes it will be sooner rather than later.
Close to 10 PM, the long-awaited closing set from Killswitch Engage began, and they wasted no time diving right into a bonus track, “This Fire”, from As Daylight Dies (which acted as the theme song for wrestler CM Punk in the WWE). This was followed by both “Rose of Sharyn” and “The End of Heartache” from the album of the same name. The energy never faltered during the opening five songs, and it managed to keep the bar pretty high throughout the remainder of the evening. The band’s set spanned an eclectic catalogue of tracks, ranging all the way from their self-titled release from 2000 to their most recent effort, 2016’s Incarnate. Crowd surfers toppled over the barricade while the band did everything they could to connect with their fans, whether it meant giving high fives from the stage, or holding their guitar/bass out for fans to touch mid-song. Every member of Killswitch is vibrant with energy (shoutout in particular to guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz) and when you’re watching them power through a set, you really get the sense that there’s no place that they’d rather be. That feeling spreads to the crowd, and it’s infectious. It makes you that more tuned into a performance from a band like Killswitch Engage.
Watching a show like this can make you feel like you’ve just gotten a workout. These are the best kinds of shows, though; the heat makes the walls drip with perspiration, watching the crowd react on the general admission floor is its own separate show, and every band emanates a feeling of authenticity translates incredibly well. This will indeed be one of the most talked-about tours of the spring, particularly when fans reflect back on the kind of performance they saw that evening. They’ve got a lot of dates coming up on this run, so if you find yourself in a situation where you can attend, go score some tickets.