Just a few years ago Black Veil Brides were playing basement venues with solid red wash lighting to crowds who barely knew who they were, now with their fourth album (Black Veil Brides IV) recently released they have embarked on the Black Mass Tour which sees them hitting some of the biggest venues they have played in yet including the Sherman Theater in Pennsylvania. The bands last tour, The Church of The Wild Ones, saw them slowly start moving out of the small club sized venues and into larger ones that hold 2,000 – 3,000 people on average, a pretty large jump in audience size. Last Friday’s show packed the Sherman Theater to near capacity (as stated by the venue’s Facebook) and there was very little room left to move around in the historic venue by the time Black Veil Brides were set to take the stage.
As the lights darkened across the venue the crowd began to chant Black Veil Brides, over and over again for quite a few minutes until the band’s introduction music began to play. At that point the chant dissipated and was replaced with screams, roars and cheers of anticipation from a crowd that wanted nothing more than to see their music heroes hit the stage. The stage was illuminated with oranges, reds and yellows as the band marched out to the sound of lead singer, Andy Biersack, screaming the introduction to “Heart of Fire” after saying hello to the Stroudsburg crowd.
The band fed off the crowds energy starting with this first song and you could see the excitement in their faces that the crowd was singing along so intensely to a new song off of Black Veil Brides IV. Ashely Purdy was making eye contact with everyone he could see while playing bass as well as making a few funny faces at fans in between his backing vocal parts on the song. Needless to say the rest of the band was in just as good of spirits with Jake Pitts and Jinxx going back to back often for guitar parts and thrashing their hair towards the crowd to show huge smiles on their faces. The third song, “Coffin.” came as a treat to the crowd because as Andy Biersack explained they have never played it in this state before which meant it was the first time for a lot fans hearing it. This was surprising to me because the track is easily one of their best so to exclude it from a live setlist for so long is an interesting choice but it did come out in between album cycles so I can see how it might have gotten over looked. Each song was met with a roar of approval from the crowd as they sang along with the band and became color washed in their sea of lighting that was positioned all across the stage.
The performance as a whole was very well delivered and from a critical stand point there is only so much that can be said. Starting with their stage set up I thought the incredible amount of lighting and production was a great addition because the majority of the time it really complimented the band’s performance and added so much to it theatrically. However if you weren’t directly in the middle of the Sherman Theater it was unbearably blinding and you actually couldn’t see much of the band’s performance to the positioning of the lights, not really anyones but for some that had to be annoying.
Vocally Andy Biersack was very solid, delivering the majority of the songs with flawless execution and the ones that were less than stellar were covers (Mother by Danzig) and a couple of the older songs where he really used to scream like a banshee. It might be time to start leaving a few of those songs out of the list and focus again on the newer songs that have truly brought them the most success. There were also times that a group vocal track could be heard playing in the background but it was never too obvious and was only noticeable at times when the band seemed to want the crowd to be participating in a song. Is this the end of the world? No lots of bands do it at strategic points in songs and it usually helps bolster a performance because it motivates the crowd to be more involved in the song. Black Veil Brides have truly matured as a band musically and in the process they have really amped up their live performance for the larger venues and crowds they are playing to. This isn’t the same band that played Warped Tour in 2013, sure it might be the same people but since then they have truly found their live sound and have crafted a stage show to match. The full setlist for the Sherman Theater show is listed below :
Sherman Theater 11-21 Setlist
Heart Of Fire
I Am Bulletproof
Wretched and Divine
Knives and Pens
Mother (Danzig cover)
Rebel Love Song
CC Drum Solo
In the End
I want to give Black Veil Brides a lot of credit, very few bands are selling the number of tickets to shows and albums that they are right now. This success is much deserved and earned but it doesn’t come without the bit of criticism I had towards them. The band is currently in a very tough period of transition in their career and I think that they will come out of it very strong leaving a lasting impact on rock music. However they may have a few speed bumps a long the way still but I don’t think it is anything that they can’t get past as a band. Do yourself a favor and go check out Black Veil Brides on this Black Mass Tour because it is the tightest and well tuned that they have ever been live. As long as they keep the focus they have now the band will be playing even larger venues on their next album cycle tour.