Despite all of the hype this past weekend over the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia, a select few of us got to witness another memorable event staged by some very talented people.
All month we’d been getting updates from the news, twitter, and even the Voltage Lounge, letting us know that half the city would be gated off and locked down in preparation for Saturday’s “Papal”. Regardless of the announced traffic jams and bridge closings, fans that purchased tickets were still told of the shows happening.
Though the show did get a bit of an early start to try and beat the 10pm shut down, the line-up had plenty of time to wow the crowd. Bellehaven, The Ongoing Concept, Sleepwave, & 68 each got us that much more amped for our headliner Norma Jean. For those unaware, 68 is a duo comprised of Michael McClellan (drums) and former founding member of Norma Jean, Josh Scogin (vocals/guitar).
Of course, getting Scogin in the same building for a 10-year tour, it was bound to stir up some craziness. The best part of 68’s performance was its entirety felt like a personal jam session between the two. With Georgia roots, you wouldn’t expect to get anything other than that classic southern rock experience, a big performance and ear piercing guitars. Full of improvising, solos, drum fills, even a 2-minute freestyle as the stage crew ran in to replace the mic he had thrown out of excitement.
With little time left to play a full-length album, Norma Jean played well into the night without hesitation or calling it quits. From start to finish Cory Putman kept the crowd alive with sing alongs and advocated circle pits. In-between songs they expressed how grateful they were for those that quieted the naysayers and made it a point to be there and celebrate. You could even see Norma Jean glowing as they played, either from the thrill of being there or the really awesome light up kit Clayton Holyoak killed it on. The band kept it amazing all the way down to Scientifiction, which rang out as they exited.
Of course the crowd wasn’t left satisfied, as pounds and chants called out for one more song. What seemed to take a bit too long, leading me to believe they hauled ass out of the city, they made it back on stage with an extra guest. You could’ve guessed they wouldn’t end the night without having its former member chime in at least once. They brought us back with Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste, from Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child and what a crazy turn out. With Josh swinging from amps on one side to Clayton and Jeff Hickey battling it out with their instruments after the set was done. It was definitely worth the trip and a 10-year tour to remember.
If you were still traveling to make the show while things heated up, you may have missed a few bands worth mentioning.
Bellehaven, Australian natives, getting a taste of the US for this tour and showing off some of their work from their march release Everything Ablaze.
The Ongoing Concept, a progressive metalcore band with some Christian morale, had a decent following showing off their HandMade band merch.
Sleepwave, almost indistinguishable from Underoath during Disambiguation, still had some good sounds playing a few songs off their album Broken Compass.