This Friday night I found myself in slightly unfamiliar territory, covering a live performance by The Birthday Massacre, Army of the Universe and Sumo Cyco. I had not seen live performances of any of the genres that these bands are a part of, let alone the bands. My musical preference is usually harder, heavier, darker, abrasive and loaded with blistering guitar work. I have wanted to explore reviewing works of other genres for a while now. This Friday night after the end of a frenetic work week was a good one to buck this trend. Largely due to my lack of supreme expertise with these styles of music, this review is an assessment of the bands’ overall feel of the music, the live performance and the interaction with the crowd.
When the tour was announced Ludovico Technique was scheduled as one of the opening acts. Unfortunately, they had to drop out of the tour due to health issues of one of the band members. Sumo Cyco, a female fronted band from Toronto replaced them and played the first set of the night. I am not sure how well publicized this lineup change was, for a few guys in the crowd mentioned to me that they did not know about this lineup change. Catchy vocals, short guitar riffs and an energetic performance were the highlights of Sumo Cyco’s set. The antics of the front woman Skye Sweetnam was the central attraction of the performance. Midway through the second song with the microphone in hands Skye Sweetnam jumped in to the photo pit, waltzed through the crowd, then jumped on top of the bar counter to have a drink, all the while singing and occasionally conversing with the crowd. This was the kind of much needed adrenaline shot the evening badly needed; the largely subdued crowd suddenly erupted with all eyes being on the front woman and her antics. The Sumo Cyco merch booth had a long line of customers during Army of The Universe’s performance, with people queuing up to speak and have selfies with Skye who was happily obliging the fans. I think the band is still finding their sound but they have definitely conquered their stage show and it’s a must see for any live music fan. I will be closely following them in the years to come.
Army of the Universe, the industrial band hailing from Milan (Italy) was the next to take the stage. Lord Kalidon, the lead singer with Elvis Presley’esque stage stunts, led the band from the get go and provided opportunities for some of my best close-up photographs of vocalists. His impeccable interaction with the crowd, along with the silken moves around the stage drew wild raptures from the crowd. Of all genres of music, industrial dance/rock is what I’m least familiar with. I cannot tell you how the music of the band compares to that of their contemporaries in this genre. All I can tell you is that they did sound good, and that is all that matters to me. Though I don’t have a great comparison for this band I feel they would be one of the top acts in their style of music and put on a nearly flawless set and got the crowd pumped and ready for the headliner. This, to me, was hands down the most visually captivating set of the night.
The Birthday Massacre played a relatively long set of 20 songs. They had a huge fan base among the crowd, with tons of folks dressed in their merch with The Birthday Massacre proudly across their chest, and certainly got the most applause when they took the stage. They recently released the album ‘Under Your Spell’, which the current tour is named after. I like the melodic singing style of vocalist Chibi on the album. The opening track of this record “One” was also the opening song of their set. Chibi’s vocal performance was spot on and sounded exactly like she did on the album, and she certainly is one of the strongest assets of the band. The live performance was graceful yet energetic, and Chibi totally nailed the interaction with the crowd. It was a night that seen vocalists trying to be personable with the crowd and each band upping the ante. Chibi’s unique approach not only with her vocal prowess but her demeanor on stage and with fans made her and The Birthday Massacre one of the best performances of the night. Overall an excellent night in Baltimore, and I could not have asked for more. This tour is nearly over, but you should check them out on their future tours if you have not had a chance to see them live yet.