Black Veil Brides at House of Blues : Houston, TX Concert Photogrpahy
Quick! What do you get when you cross the Bay City Rollers with Motley Crue?
Forget it. It's an exercise in futility that's sure to produce metal fatigue. Just remember the name, Black Veil Brides.
This five-piece band out of L.A. brought out all the mascara wearing, emo-worshipping rock crowd of 13-17 year olds to the House of Blues in Houston this rainy Saturday night, and packed the place until it was ready to explode. Chaperones, (i.e. parents), dutifully stayed in the shadows as they watched their offspring literally relive - and it was safe to assume - their own youthful musical past when they yelled, screamed and dressed up like their heroes of the day, KISS. Yes, folks, this was one of those deja vu experiences parents actually had no problem watching their own kids enjoy.
Ear plugs were absolutely mandatory for this ear-piercing event. From the moment lead singer and band founder Andy Biersack stepped on stage with his brothers-in-arms, until they walked off two hours later, the noise inside the H.O.B. was deafening. I seriously can't even remember any time in my extensive past covering concerts where high pitched screams literally drowned out the sound coming from the stage. To say this audience was overly excited would be a gross understatement. These kids were ready to rock, and BVB had no problems delivering the noise that made them shake, rattle and roll.
I'll be the first to admit the reaction to this band by their fans took me by surprise. Though I had seen various theatrical rock performances attempted by other groups in the past, as the night wore on, you could sense there was something different about this outfit. This was no flash in the pan created to capture a specific moment in time. No, this band was carefully thought out with a definite blueprint in mind. Biersack had assembled a group of musicians that knew what it was doing musically, how to market what itself effectively, and most importantly, how to effectively communicate its message. Maybe Black Veil Brides is the KISS of their generation.
The genius of BVB starts with its founder, and lead singer, Andy Biersack. Hands down, this 21-year old is a star. He exudes an air of confidence under the exterior of black clothing, hair, make-up and eyeliner he sports on stage. He's in full command of his surroundings at all times. Whatever wisdom Biersack's rock musician father imparted on his son has been dutifully noted, carefully dissected, then recreated to appeal to appeal to a new generation of rock fans. Most importantly, this artist knows exactly how to work a crowd and put the kids in the audience through the paces until they are totally exhausted by the end of the show. And that my friends, is no small feat.
Equally important to Biersack's success is the powerhouse band he has assembled to walk Black Veil Brides down the aisle. Every great front man is backed by an equally brilliant guitarist. In this case, young Andy is blessed to have two outstanding musicians who understand the nature of the beast they are carefully creating. Lead guitarist Jake Pitts will be a name to be reckoned with in the future. His equally talented, classically trained battery mate is Jeremy Ferguson. Together, these two have brought Biersack's words to life by creating a unique style of guitar playing that adds a unique dimension to the music. Couple that with the equally talented rhythm section of bassist Ashley Purdy (a teen dream to the girls in the crowd) and drummer Christian Coma, and you definitely have an engine that's built to last.
As I alluded to earlier, the bar in the back of the building was fairly inactive, but the front of the house most definitely was not. Though the crowd felt every ounce of energy pouring forth from the stage, there were times I'm sure, where the adults in the crowd sensed they'd witnessed this type of scene before. The Black Veil Brides could have very easily torn a page from the playbook of the Hollywood glam bands of the '80s and updated it to the social media world their peers grew up in. This crowd knew the words to all the songs, even those tunes performed from their recently released album a few days before this performance. They even sang along to the one cover song of the evening, "Rebel Yell." I wouldn't have been surprised one bit if the kids in the crowd were clueless to the fact they were singing a Bill Idol tune and not a BVB composition.
Again, I should point out that social media has played a very important role in breaking Black Veil Brides around the world. Their hit single, "Knives and Pens" has been viewed over 32 million times on YouTube. That's right, I said 32 million times. Judging by the crowd reaction to the song when the opening chords were played by Pitts and Ferguson, I'm sure everyone in this adoring crowd contributed to the view count.
Despite my somewhat contempt for these Hollywood rockers to start the evening, I'll admit that by the end of the night, they had done an excellent job giving this crowd what it wanted. BVB opened the show with "Exordium" off their new Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones album. Like I said, the crowd pretty much knew all the words to the song. The same situation applied to other tunes from the record like "Perfect Weapon" and "Set the World On Fire" which the crowd also enjoyed singing with Biersack. This crowd eagerly let Biersack and company know they had eagerly consumed the music they had just released.
I'm not going to predict the future for this band. Do they have the staying power of KISS? It's way too early to tell, but if they graduate to arenas in the next three years, then the slow burning fuse trailing BVB may explode into the mainstream in a very big way. Until that time, I'll reserve judgment. This is a safe band for teen age girls to go crazy over. It's a band teenage boys can respect. That right there is a powerful combination.
It's often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Black Veil Brides have taken all the elements that made rock and roll exciting in the '80s - a punk attitude, a glam look, a dynamic stage presence coupled with excellent musicianship - and parlayed it into a promising career. How long it lasts is anyone's guess. In the meantime, the Black Veil Brides will be a very interesting adventure to follow. Whether their fan base grows with the band, or simply outgrows them is the million dollar question only time will tell.