After great anticipation, Thanksgiving break was finally approaching, which meant three things: I would see my family and dog, I would hangout with my friends and I would get the chance to go to NYC for a concert. My concert buddy and I were eager to continue our longstanding tradition of going into the city for shows. When I discovered that Crown the Empire would be in town November 22, I immediately texted her and told her that we had to go. She happily agreed, and when the 22nd came around I could hardly contain my excitement. Our other friend eventually joined us, making the duo a trio.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see Crown the Empire two times at Warped Tour but never experienced a full CTE set. I knew it would be jam-packed with fan-favorites, along with favorites of mine that I never got the opportunity to hear live. This year, CTE released their newest album titled Retrograde to mixed reviews. The main critique is that the album deviated too much from their heavy, metalcore sound — but I disagree. Personally, I love Retrograde and find that many of the songs encompass the same hardcore sound as their previous albums. Even so, I applaud CTE for taking the initiative and changing up their sound — fans cannot expect bands to continue creating the same exact music album after album. Change that produces great music is something to celebrate not bash. My favorites from Retrograde are “Zero,” “Hologram,” “Aftermath,” “Lucky Us” and “Are You Coming With Me.” CTE played all of these except for “Lucky Us” — evidently, I was not lucky enough that night.
Performing at Irving Plaza in New York City, Crown the Empire had four openers: Light Up the Sky, Too Close to Touch, New Year’s Day and blessthefall, in that order. I was familiar with only blessthefall, so my attention was mainly focused on CTE — though the openers energized the crowd, all I could think of was how long it was taking to see the main act. Finally, blessthefall came on and put on an impressive set; at the end of their set, the lead singer jumped into the crowd to the exhilaration of many of the fans that caught him. Blessthefall got my blood pumping and once they left the stage, I could feel in the air the anticipation of everyone in general admission for CTE to perform. After what felt like hours, the lights dimmed and the crowd erupted in screams of excitement. I was ready to lose my mind in the music and shed any anxiety I had about impending finals once break was over.
Crown the Empire opened with the dynamite “Are You Coming With Me” and never looked back — everyone in the crowd certainly agreed to come with them on a powerful musical ride. Following “Are You Coming With Me,” CTE physically killed us by playing powerhouses “Zero,” “Aftermath,” “Memories of a Broken Heart,” “Voices” and “Initiation” back-to-back. Despite exerting immense amounts of energy, I was having a blast. CTE knows how to get a crowd into their music and moving along to their energetic sound. The entire concert was an intense workout, including jumping to the songs, screaming the lyrics, and lifting the constant wave of crowdsurfers; unfortunately, I was squished a few times by unexpected crowdsurfers but didn’t miss a beat (my ponytail certainly did). At times I looked like a hot mess with sweat pouring down my face and my ponytail disheveled, but it was all worth it. My friends and I were in the center and really close to the gate, and for majority of the show my view was unobstructed, so I was able to see lead singer/screamer Andy Leo, guitarist Brandon Hoover, bassist Hayden Tree and drummer Brent Taddie clearly. Sadly, lead screamer David Escamilla was not at the concert for reasons I was unable to find.
Throughout the concert, I struggled to catch my breath between screaming the lyrics to every song and battling the seemingly infinite sea of bodies surrounding me. This fight was one of the best parts of the show — I felt a part of something special, which made the concert experience that much better. Though I loved every part of the show, my favorite moment was hearing the first CTE song that I ever fell in love with, “Memories of a Broken Heart,” live for the first time. Everyone in the crowd knew this song by heart, adding to the intensity and wonder of the song and live performance. We were all so pumped up and super into the music that Andy told us that they would play a couple slower songs to let us catch our breath, which I was thankful for. These songs were “Oxygen” and one of my favorites “Millennia,” and both were played beautifully.
The final two songs of the set, “Hologram” and “The Fallout,” brought the crowd to its feet once again, and knowing that the set was near to a close, we went all-out. Once “The Fallout” was done, we all eagerly anticipated the encore set. “Machines,” one of their most popular songs and another personal favorite had to be played. It didn’t take long for CTE to grace the stage again and begin “Machines.” The beginning was flawless and the entire crowd shouted the lyrics along with Andy. Suddenly, the music stopped, and Andy had us repeat the line, “So let them hear our hearts,” several times before stopping us. It wasn’t until that point that we all realized that the fire alarms were ringing, which had shut off the power on their equipment. To my disappointment and dismay, this meant that the concert was over and that I would not hear the beautiful “Machines” in its entirety. We were all enraged.
To appease the audience, CTE threw drumsticks, guitar picks, and water bottles into the audience for people to take. My one friend managed to snag a guitar pick, but I came up empty-handed. Brandon Hoover even threw his guitar into the audience but the security quickly retrieved it. However, CTE stayed on stage as long as possible in the hopes that they would be able to finish the song – Irving Plaza had to come on stage and tell them the show was over. CTE blew us kisses and left the stage as the rest of us came to terms with the fact that we were gipped out of “Machines.”
Even in New York City, I was unable to avoid the evil Lawrinson fire alarms. I should have known something like that would happen. Still, Crown the Empire delivered a dynamite performance, especially playing with a man-down. I am excited to see them again the next time they come to the tri-state area. If you want to get into the metal/metalcore scene, I highly suggest you begin with Crown the Empire because their music has the ability to appeal to a wide-range of listeners. With its devout fan-base and immense talent, Crown the Empire will rightfully stay in the music business for many years to come.