CI Records X-Mas Show!

Last Sunday I went to the Lancaster County Convention Center to check out one of the CI Records Christmans shows. Evert year, CI Records hosts two shows that showcase some of the finest and fastest rising bands around the area and around nation. This year’s bill included many hardcore icons including the ever-growing letlive from California, the conceptually unique group Defeater from Boston, and hardcore powerhouse Every Time I Die from Buffalo, NY. The show was also headlined by August Burns Red, a fitting conclusion for a show in their hometown. The other CI Records Christmas Show is on December 29th at the Chameleon Club and features many more local acts including  ConQuest, Beneath the King, Armory Infirmary, Gladiators, Amateur Theory (who I thought stopped playing shows, but I guess not so check them out because they’re amazing), and Albert React. The show will also have Carousel Kings headlining.

When I went to the show, I came late and missed out on some of the local openers like The Road t Milestone, One Year Later, and Code Orange Kids. They’re great bands and I’ve seen them before at other local shows around the Lancaster area before. I went to the concert with a friend and we got there just as the Code Orange Kids had finished their set and were getting ready for letlive. I’ve been a huge fan of letlive for a long time now and I wouldn’t miss any opportunity to see them live. They’re exciting unpredictability is incredibly captivating and dangerous that you can’t help but fall in love with them. They played a few tracks from their newest release and included some classic cuts from Fake History including “Muther.” The best part of the whole show was that Jason (singer) had recently had surgery and his arm was in a sling. So here’s a man already notorious for having no boundaries on stage; running and jumping around and practically killing himself onstage from the sheer intense emotion of the music and then add the sling, which of course didn’t stop him at all. It was very cool to watch him go nuts on stage and always will be.

Next we have Defeater, one of the first more modern hardcore bands that I fell in love with (when I say modern I mean post-Refused hardcore acts that have come around in the past decade) and hadn’t gotten a chance to see live yet. I missed them when I went to the warped tour this season, which  was very regrettable, but I was glad to have redeemed myself by seeing them this past weekend. What I love about this band is that they have an over-arching concept that gets broken down with each record, but still translates beautifully. I can’t think of another band that incorporates a concept into their sound in the same way as this band either. The concept itself isn’t even all that complicated (not like Coheed and Cambria), but the deliverance of the music and lyrics on each record is so fueled with the emotions that I don’t think it would have nearly the same effect if performed any differently. Going into the show, I admittedly was a little skeptical of how the concept would translate to the live show. I assume they wouldn’t play an entire record front to back, which they didn’t and I was glad about, but i wasn’t sure of what would happen. They ended up playing songs from albums all across their catalog including the newest record Letters Home. I realized right then and there that a lot of their songs could be taken out of context from the albums concept and allow themselves to be played just like any other song and still have the same effect, which to me speaks volumes about the talent of this band. The softer guitar parts held everyone’s breath while the drums were absolutely relentless. Really great show and I was so thrilled to have finally seen them.

Next up is Every Time I Die, easily the best band on that bill with the largest back catalog of any of the aforementioned groups. They’re at  point where they simply don’t play bad shows because they are all greatest hit sets. Tracks like “Wanderlust” and “Werewolf” ignite the crowd like no other and the band themselves are extremely tight. They were also incredibly heavy that night. I had seen them twice before on previous warped tour sets, but they just sounded 10 times heavier that night, almost as if they were Lamb of God. The band also played a brand new track that they had only been playing for about a week called “Thirst,” a short bout of hardcore fury that was very well-received. I already can’t wait for the new record. Their set was spanned across their whole catalog and didn’t have a dull moment. It was easily the best show of theirs that I have seen and I’m confident that they will just get better as a live act.

Finally, we close the show with the hometown heroes playing on their own turf, August Burns Red. Now before that show, I wasn’t the hugest fan of this band. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re amazing, but I have a much stronger love for the other three bands that have not been matched with many other bands in their respective genres. That being said, I was completely blown away by ABR’s performance. From the moment they took the stage until their final note, I was completely hooked and couldn’t wait to get home so that I could stay up all night and listen to all their records (which I did). I forgot how good their guitar harmonies were and being a drummer I’ve been here long enough to realize that Matt Greiner reigns as the king drummer in Lancaster. That whole band is extremely talented and it was something I knew, but didn’t fully realize until seeing them live. It just clicked for me and I really loved their show. They finished their set and then came back to play two of their Christmas tracks that they recorded (they have a whole album of christmas songs that they recorded and made very heavy with no shortage of killer breakdowns). The band played “Frosty the Snowman” and “Carol of the Bells” while Jake Luhrs (singer) was throwing presents out into the crowd.

Twas a great show through and through. I enjoyed every second of it and can;t wait for next year’s show.

Luke Helker

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