Escape the Fate, blessthefall, Islander
El Club – Detroit, MI – 9.22.19
Photographer: Jeff Mullins
Southwest Detroit venue El Club got hit with a night of pure nostalgia for alternative rock fans last week when both veteran acts Escape the Fate and Blessthefall took over the stage for an evening.
The co-headlining tour is in celebration of both bands’ influential albums both hitting the 10-year milestone since their release. Escape the Fate’s This War is Ours was released on October 28th, 2008 and Blessthefall’s Witness was released on October 6th, 2009. On this night, both bands showcased just why they have stayed incredibly relevant both in the scene and on the rock circuit all over the country over the years.
From older to newer fans of both bands, the intimate venue was packed wall to wall with people singing every word to their favorite songs that they’ve been jamming to for the past decade. These songs and both entireties of these albums hold great importance to both bands’ careers as well.
Both albums featured brand frontmen: Craig Mabbitt for Escape the Fate (replacing Ronnie Radke) and Beau Bokan for Blessthefall (ironically replacing Craig Mabbitt.) The excitement to see both of these bands play the same stage in a single night was palpable in the crowd, especially with the attendance of both current vocalists.
Back during the releases of these albums, fans always wondered if they would ever see Mabbitt reunited with Blessthefall, but the future held a bit of a relevant opportunity for that. Ergo, this wonderful, dual anniversary tour.
Accompanying Escape the Fate and Blessthefall on this trip down memory lane was the alternative metal band Islander from South Carolina. Packing the venue with excellent energy, vocalist Mikey Carvajal emersed himself and his band with fuel from the roaring crowd during every song. With his stylist mic stand tricks to literally jumping in the middle of the crowd to perform their last song amongst the crowd, Islander brought the energy that the headliners needed to have when they hit the stage.
Taking the stage next was the veteran metalcore group Blessthefall. In celebration of Witness, they weren’t shy to showcase nearly all the songs from the decorated body of work. From hard hitting tracks like “What’s Left of Me” and “To Hell and Back”, to the more poppier single “Hey Baby, Here’s That Song You Wanted”, the band delivered such a wonderful experience to the loyal fans.
The band also took their set a step further and played tracks both off their newest album Hard Feelings and their 2013 album Hollow Bodies. Bokan seemed to never run out of energy, engaging the crowd, and making sure to give as many high-fives to the crowd as he could, and even borrowing different hats that were handed to him during the set.
He took a moment during the set to reminisce about the song “Hey Baby, Here’s That Song You Wanted”, as that song was the first song he had ever wrote the lyrics and vocals to when joining the band. The crowd loved the band’s enthusiasm and creative display of their discography – leaving them embed for Escape the Fate.
With unforgettable tracks like “Ashley”, “You are so Beautiful”, “Something”, and the wall-of-death inducing “This War is Ours (The Guillotine II)”, El Club was about to face a 2008 styled, Warped Tour-esk crowd rowdiness.
The band alsodecided to also take that additional step to cater to both their older and newer fans, playing tracks from their self-titled 2010 album, Ungrateful (2013), and even some from their latest I Am Human (2018).
Exploding with chants and singing from the audience, vocalist Craig Mabbitt knew exactly how to work the crowd in his favor. Intentionally making sure to always keep a goofy and carefree mood on stage, Mabbitt made sure to not only give emphasis on favorited lines from the songs being played, but he went the extra mile to engage each fan that he possibly could.
From singing one on on with fans, to handing the mic off to a fan for a screaming part, to taking front row-occupying fan’s phone and taking a selfie-video with it involving the entire band, Mabbitt was by far a wonderful showman of the evening.
Crowd-surfers were coming from all directions, and with no barricade on this particular stop of the tour, the stage was shared not only by the members of the band, but as well as any fan that wanted to stage-dive to their favorite song. Picking a song was a bit of a task, since the group played an impressive 17-song set. It’s no wonder why these two hard-hitting groups paved their way on the circuit, and still continue to crush shows like this nightly.
With the nostalgic atmosphere and fierce energy from the crowd, El Club definitely got pretty toasty with there being bodies from wall to wall. With the exception of Escape the Fate’s famous wall of death during their “This War is Ours (The Guillotine II)” track, the venue packed like sardines and was doused in heat and sweat, even making the AC units above the musicians’ heads leak from condensation.
It felt like a true rock show, and an intimate one for better mention. Having heard these timeless songs back in a live format years after their release was definitely one for the books.