Escape the Fate at the Fillmore

LA based hard rockers Escape the Fate perform at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland. Photo: Escape the Fate

WASHINGTON, August 6, 2013 —Most of the people in attendance at the Fillmore in Silver Spring probably aren’t aware how close they were to never seeing Escape the Fate perform again. This isn’t an entirely rare occurrence in the band universe. Numerous bands are on the brink of breaking up more often than people realize, whether it’s from tensions within the band to general fatigue from the grueling daily rehearsal, performance, touring and recording grind.

The very nature of a band though, especially one such as Escape the Fate, is its tenuousness, based on clashes among strong personalities. Based on the way Escape the Fate present themselves, both with through their sonic profile and their visual presentation, the basic perception is that this band is about five seconds away from breaking apart at any moment. 

Of course this is the posture that is normally assumed by almost any hard rock band worth its weight. The pact is made with the fan base that they’ll play the roles and presumed life styles people generally associate with hard rock and the fans go along with it because it fits the ideal perception. When Escape the Fate is up on stage, they play this role perfectly.

With bands like Escape the Fate, there’s the constant push and pull of perception versus reality.  They’re not necessarily the band they are up on stage or the one they craft through their recordings. It’s not an act, it’s just that different facets of the band exist when they’re on stage vs. backstage or in private life. These facets do have a tendency to mirror each other, although when a band is spinning out of control, it’s usually different from the way the members’ personas are perceived on stage, which is actually true for any a hard rock act.

Touring for their last album Escape the Fate in 2012, Escape the Fate was clearly coming apart at the seams and the chances of them breaking up was a very real proposition. A vast majority of tensions within the band were pinned on founding member and original bassist Max Green for a variety of different reasons. As a consequence, he was subsequently kicked out of the band.  Since then Michael Money (brother of the band’s guitarist Brian Money) was officially included as the band’s rhythm guitarist and TJ Bell was added to replace Green as their bass player.

After this shakeup, the band regrouped, recorded, and released their fourth studio album Ungrateful.  The album signaled a change in the band’s overall outlook, which became increasingly more positive – even if the band’s material does still embrace an identifiable range of common ideas from time to time.

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The breakup and regrouping, ironically, didn’t significantly change the sound of Escape the Fate for the most part. At their core, they’re still a hard rock that takes cues from several different iterations of west coast rock. They owe a lot to the Los Angeles metalcore scene, with their heavy metal riffing highlighted by alternating singing and screaming vocals. While their sound borrows a lot from bands similar to Atreyu and As I Lay Dying, they’re equally indebted to the glam metal bands of ‘80s like Mötley Crüe, not only for their outward appearance and stance, but also for their undeniable catchy pop hooks.

This is what Escape the Fate is and primarily what they always will be. It’s also essentially what makes them popular no matter what their current lineup may be. Seeing them on stage recently at the Fillmore, especially when they’re playing the new material off Ungrateful, it’s easy to see that this is a band that’s clearly finding pleasure in performing once again. That’s not to say that it would be easy to tell if Escape the Fate were simply going through the motions or if its members shared a particularly cold personal relationship. But it is easy for audiences to notice their energy when playing live in their current incarnation, and it’s relatively easy to connect the dots after that.

This is a band that really doesn’t do anything special for their live show. There’s no elaborate stage set up. It’s just Escape the Fate up on stage, playing their mash-up style of glam metal and metalcore with very few frills attached, which is actually surprising considering how much their look and style is descended from the in-your-face heavy metal scene of the ‘80s. What you get instead with today’s Escape the Fate is just a band playing a straight up rock show and leaving all their previous baggage behind.

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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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