By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor
As 2019 approaches, The Devil Wears Prada knew that they better have something prepared to celebrate the 10th anniversary for their metalcore magnum opus, With Roots Above & Branches Below. The band delivered with a setlist of 17 songs, which included four from their post-Zombie EP era, a cover of Julien Baker’s “Sour Breath” and even an encore, but most importantly, With Roots Above & Branches Below in full.
When I first heard the tour announcement, I was excited to hear my one of my favorite albums of all time be played front to back. This was an album that helped shape metalcore during its peak period as well as my musical influences. I can still play over half of these songs on the drums, and I can vocalize every breakdown, riff and lyric in detail to the point where I mimic Mike Hranica’s odd lyric intonations and lisps.
It was on a busy weekday, but I knew I couldn’t miss this. Upon arrival, I felt at home with fellow fans wearing old, ridiculously vivid shirts that had crazy graphics of colorful dinosaurs and monsters, which was accompanied by a funky font that obviously read “The Devil Wears Prada.” Fans of all ages scattered in the venue in anticipation for a night of good music, from small children to college kids to parents who were the guardians of the pit.
The calm before the storm was not very calm so to speak, as the opening acts went hard. ‘68, a noise-punk duo that fronts former vocalist of The Chariot and Norma Jean, gave a fascinating performance with plenty of energy and stage antics. The drummer gave a new definition to showmanship, as he barbarically smashed his cymbals with his sticks to the point it was painful for me to watch the cymbals amount to such force. But it was all part of their quirky performance, and I genuinely enjoyed their set.
Fit For a King also performed very well, moving immense waves of crowds with every song. At this point, however, I couldn’t wait for TDWP to get on stage and start playing. When TDWP was about to get on stage, my heart sank as the butterflies in my stomach started to mosh.
They started off with a cover of Julien Baker’s “Sour Breath,” which was pretty heavy, but also quite emotional. I didn’t like the cover when it first came out, but the live experience captured everything so fully, and I was able to get the lyrics out of my mouth just in time to chant along with the crowd. After a couple of staple singalongs from their newer albums paid their dues, I heard a guy near me say, “Okay that was five songs. Next is Sassafras.”
The album had officially begun with the iconic stick countdown from “Sassafras”, and the crowd exploded into a total death machine. It was brutal out there, and so was Mike Hranica’s vocals; they were better than ever with no signs of difficulty or hoarseness. Jeremy DePosyter’s clean vocals were also still viable since the whole setlist was tuned down to drop B, though a majority of the songs are originally played in drop D. The key change gave a different feel for the songs, but it still didn’t fail to bring the same visceral energy it did back in the day.
The crowd was bouncing as a collective in “I Hate Buffering”, and the ending breakdown to “Assistant to the Regional Manager” was definitely the moment where you should’ve been in the pit, but also shouldn’t have for safety reasons. However, “Dez Moines”, my favorite song from the album turned out to be a little disappointing due to the fact that the guitars were overshadowed by the loudness of the drums and the vocals–and my favorite part about the song is the guitars. Regardless, the band powered through the first six songs (technically 11 at this point) effortlessly, absolutely dominating the whole venue with the anthemic chorus in “Danger: Wildman”; even the parents were rocking devil horns with their fellow PTA circle. My neck was aching, and I wished I had my old long hair to help me through all the headbanging.
Things slowed down a little after “Wapakalypse”, as every band should at one point. But once again, they picked it up ruthlessly for their underrated closer, “Lord Xenu”. I screamed with my absolute best for the chorus as I rejoiced the past hour and a half. But just when you thought they were done, a chant for an encore summoned the band back to the stage, and we did it one last time in the killing floor for “Mammoth”.
Even after the show, I could still feel the burning energy, the pure urge to jam out to more music. I was beyond elated and impressed by their performance, and the memories I had with this album also struck me. Although it’s never the same when a band like TDWP abandons their sound and goes through line-up changes, With Roots Above & Branches Below is still well and alive–all it took was the spirit of celebration and appreciation and some dizzying circle pits to revive it. All in all, it was worth every second.