Hail the Sun, Strawberry Girls, Royal Coda, VIS
The Loving Touch – Ferndale, MI – 10/3/19
Photographer: Jeff Mullins
The progressive post-hardcore, sui generis band Hail the Sun took the stage at the Loving Touch in Ferndale, MI on October 3rd. This was their 17th stop of their headlining tour, in celebration of their 4th studio album Mental Knife.
The bill for the night contained a whole array of acts that complimented one another, as opposed to having reaches from each bands’ genre. Each band aided in bringing a Hail the Sun fan a show that resonated with their tastes in progressive rock, and memorable performances. All of the acts were cohesive with one another, and led a truly entertaining night.
Kicking off the night was LA-based band VIS, performing songs from their previously released EPs, as well as new songs off their upcoming debut album Lost Light. With progressive influences to the melodies flooding through the speakers, VIS complimented their overall sound with their tasteful uses of punk styled stops, within poppy beats at times, which left every member of the audience bobbing their heads to the wavelike grooves.
We would come to find out that we would be seeing the drummer for this act, Allen Casillas, appearing to play with Hail the Sun for a portion of their set later on in the night. When singer/drummer for the Hail the Sun Donovan Melero would take a frontman position for the performance, Casillas stepped in, killing both of his sets for the evening. VIS had set the stage very well in anticipation for the rest of the night.
Up next was the illustriously casted, post-hardcore act Royal Coda. With members diverging from associated acts such as A Lot Like Birds, Dance Gavin Dance, Stolas, Sianvar, and The Fall of Troy, the band always happens to bring a fresh, yet nostalgic vibe seamlessly to their audience. The chemistry of comfortability amongst the musicians was visible.
Their set was delivered with very little break-time, while also performing two brand new songs that night off their upcoming album Compassion. It was a great way to leave the fans of the band even more excited for the next chapter of the band’s legacy.
Following up as direct support was the groovy, hard-hitting instrumental act Strawberry Girls. Delivering ear candy for all of the concert-goers to enjoy, Strawberry Girls brought the grooves and hits that kept the crowd moving.
Guitarist Zachary Garren took to the mic seldomly, but when he did, it was only to introduce the next songs and to continuously thank the crowd for their support of the Mental Knife tour. Even without vocals, the act had the crowd so enthused that they started their own mosh pits on their own accord.
The packed venue had a near visual of a punk show, and Strawberry Girls were giving the crowd tunes to bounce to. Just for flavor, during one for their songs, they had a one second instrumental stop as the indistinguishable scream introduction scream from Disturb’s song “Down With the Sickness” blasted through the speakers. Leaving the crowd with a bunch of excitement, Strawberry Girls concluded their set in anticipation for the headliner.
The crowd was awaiting the commencement of their favorite act of the night, before they even knew they had seen it. Hail the Sun is known for their energetic performances, and this night was no different.
Having already passed the halfway point of the tour, the band was fully warmed up to entice and get rowdy. Consisting of members Donovan Melero on vocals and drums, Aric Garcia rhythm guitar, Shane Gann on lead guitar, and John Stirrat on bass, this group of talented musicians brought an intimate venue like the Loving Touch to a rumbling tremor of sensation.
Pulling out the introduction track, “Rolling Out the Red Carpet”, they built up the suspense in air, following that with the intense wall of noise their album title track “Mental Knife”. This intensity and calculated execution was just a taste of what their impressive 17 song set would entail. They played songs from all across their discography from the past several years, including both their studio albums and EPs, which added a tasteful diversity to newer and older fans alike.
They also played their newest single “Devastate and Recalibrate”, which was a notable fan favorite of the night. To hear these songs played wonderfully as if hearing them played straight off their respective albums was a treat, especially with Melero taking the position of simultaneous vocals and percussion for a decent portion of their set.
The versatility of the band members only added to their antics on stage like throwing the mic and stand around, doing guitar spins, and nearly being erratically acrobatic during each heavy-hitting track, to bringing it full circle with lower tempo, singalong songs that had the entire venue singing back to the band, it was a night attending fans of Hail the Sun will never forget.
Take a look at the photos from the show below, and if you like to hear more about Hail the Sun, head over to their website hailthesun.com, and also check out Melero on the Lead Singer Syndrome podcast hosted by Shane Told of Silverstein for their 196th episode.
You can also find the music video for Hail the Sun’s newest single “Devastate and Recalibrate” below.