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Underoath at the Westcott Theater 7/22/11, Review (Syracuse Blog)

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Underoath at the Westcott Theater, Review

Underoath's Spencer ChamberlainThe first time I saw Underoath perform live was almost seven years ago at the Vans Warped Tour in Buffalo, NY. I walked through the gates of Darien Lake Center equipped with a disposable camera, a pad of paper (in case I encountered someone famous), and a black, red, and white Underoath tee-shirt sticking to my back from sweat. At the age of 13, there was nothing I looked forward to more than seeing Spencer Chamberlain’s hair whip as he threw his head back and forth to the heavy chug-chug-chug sound of blasting guitars and bass. Despite the whirlwind of embarrassment and appreciation I felt from my father being there to chaperone my friends and I, seeing Underoath play was a childhood experience I would never forget.

When I got the chance to see the Florida-based band play seven years later in my hometown of Syracuse, the whirlwind of embarrassment and appreciation returned once again. This time I was thankful they were playing so close to me, but a bit embarrassed that I was actually going to go – to some this experience may be equivalent to attending a Backstreet Boys concert in your mid-twenties. To my knowledge, Underoath’s time in the spotlight was over, and as I walked into the Westcott Theater around 8:30pm on Friday night, the attendance overwhelmingly confirmed that thought. About 300 people huddled around the front of the stage, leaving a vast amount of space open to darkness in the 700-plus capacity venue. The size of the theater made it almost look as if no one was there. No matter what touring artist is playing, 300 people for a Friday night at the Westcott Theater isn’t anything special. Be that as it may, the show that Underoath put on for those 300 attendees was a notable one.

The backdrop projector screen behind the band played video footage of cells dividing, amoebas moving, and a girl dressed in 1950s style clothing screaming, walking on stilts, and doing other arbitrary things. The choice to play these videos was a good one – it gave the viewer something interesting to look at without going over the top. There was a perfect mix of songs on the set list from older records and the newest release titled Ø (Disambiguation). The kids seemed interested in the new songs but went wild for the old stuff, especially the songs played off of their most famous album They’re Only Chasing Safety released in 2004. When one of the singles on They’re Only Chasing Safety (titled “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door”) was played, I found myself still knowing most of the words from playing the song so many times during my freshman year of High School. The band looked as if they were happy to be there, and the sweat dripping from their faces wasn’t just from the 90 degree weather. Underoath played hard and gave it their all, just like I remembered it seven years ago. I sang along with the crowd, and tried to follow the whimsical tone of Chamberlain’s spot-on voice as he sang the words “my knuckles have turned to white/ there’s no turning back tonight/ kiss me one last time.” This is what my early teen years were all about.

However, I was not as impressed with the songs off of the new album. Although I did lose touch with the band after my phase with their breakout album, the song structure and choice of melodies were nothing new for a band like Underoath. These tracks still had Chamberlain’s mix between screaming and singing, harsh guitar parts and strong drum patterns, but they lacked the hook-like appeal of the older songs. This is the same way that I would describe the rest of the bands on the tour package, which included Times of Grace and Stray From the Path: less-impressive and strikingly-resemblant of Underoath, almost too resemblant.

The crowd that filed out of the theater after Underoath finished their forty-five minute set did not look dissatisfied. I followed the single-file line outside, and pictured myself trying to fight my way through a thousand people to get a better view of the band that hot summer day at Warped Tour. I thought of how different the atmosphere was, how strong the band’s following was back then, and how I was disappointed that I went home without Chamberlain’s signature on my pad of paper. This time around I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t get a signature, I was simply disappointed.

–Elise Miklich is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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