If the size of the crowd on Grant Street wasn't a great enough testament to the talent of emerging band Armor for Sleep, its show Saturday certainly proves the band's place at the forefront of the indie scene. The Invisible Sideshow Tour, also featuring ActionReaction, Chiodos, and Boys Night Out, hit the Showplace Theater with all the force of a proverbial hurricane.
ActionReaction opened with "March On", an upbeat anthem that perfectly exhibits their percussion-driven and stylistically eclectic sound. ActionReaction seems to pride itself in its originality, mixing mainstream influences like U2 with raw vocals and heavy beats from the keyboard, woodblock, and -- during one song -- cowbell and tambourine. Unusual and certainly exciting, ActionReaction was well-received by the sold-out house.
It wasn't until Chiodos took the stage, however, that the show truly warmed up. A hardcore outfit from Davidson, Mich., Chiodos alternated sincere and even gentle melodies with their signature chaotic breakdowns. The crowd, in the words of vocalist Craig Owens, went absolutely "nuts" during Chiodos' best-loved songs, including "The Words 'Best Friend' Become Redefined", "There's No Penguins in Alaska" and "Baby You Wouldn't Last a Minute on the Creek." Chiodos is truly unrivaled in its intense and near-violent artistry, and the crowd at Showplace certainly knew it. Screaming, moshing, and singing along, fans were disappointed to see Chiodos leave the stage, especially since they were followed by Boys Night Out.
Energetic but comparatively uninspired, Boys Night Out filled the Showplace with largely conventional pop-rock choruses and catchy tunes that, while likable, lacked the live performance power of Chiodos and Armor for Sleep. Their best number was undoubtedly "Medicating" from the new CD "Trainwreck", which finally drew a reaction from the crowd. "Relapsing", a slower and more poignant duet between singer Connor Lovat-Fraser and keyboardist Kara Dupuy, was also a good number.
By this time, however, everyone was waiting for Armor for Sleep, and after an agonizingly long set change, vocalist Ben Jorgenson appeared alone on stage. It was a mellow, reflective and certainly unexpected opening from AFS as Jorgenson accompanied himself on keyboard for the song "A Quick Little Flight." The rest of the band entered halfway through, provoking an immediate reaction from the crowd with their well-loved song, "Car Underwater."
Armor for Sleep doesn't experiment, and their songs don't represent any extraordinary artistic undertaking. Yet what they do, they do unbelievably well: catchy melodies, provoking lyrics, and danceable rock rhythms all figure heavily into their original and refreshing sound. Sunday's set drew primarily from their latest CD, "What to Do When You Are Dead," and as a result, had an almost storybook feel. The crowd rallied behind favorites like "Very Invisible" and "Stay on the Ground." The show truly culminated in the encore act, however, when band members reappeared on stage to play one of their most beloved new songs, "The Truth About Heaven," as well as the emotional "The End of a Fraud."
Fans can definitely expect to see more of all four bands, especially Chiodos and Armor for Sleep, in the future: if their Buffalo show was any indication, they're sure to become prevailing talents on the indie scene.
Caitlin Dewey is a a junior at Sacred Heart Academy.