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Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Falls Short

Matthew McMahon | Monday, October 7, 2013

Recently, Notre Dame students have been treated to shows after show by our favorite artists during the embarrassing, pre-teen years of our lives. 

This weekend the tradition continued when MTV pop punk outfit The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus hit Legends on Friday.  Most famous for their we-feel-your-pain-more-than-you-could-ever-know single “Face Down,” the band came into Legends on Friday night celebrating their ten-year anniversary and an EP released in March.

The first act of the night to take the stage was friend of Red Jumpsuit, Lonely Roads Records label-mate, Eversay. Under the wing of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’s lead singer Ronnie Winter, Eversay’s recently released EP gives production and co-writing credits to Winter. With a female vocalist and a typical pop metal sound, Eversay falls somewhere between the pop of Paramore and the metal of Halestorm.  For the short stage time they had, Eversay offered solid energy and made their presence known.

During the intermission, people in the crowd sang a capella renditions of “Face Down” while the audience made a few half-hearted attempts at a mosh pit. Then, the second opening-act, War Generation, walked onto the stage.

War Generation’s set consisted of a myriad of power chords and audience participation. The band seemed too old to be playing their post-hardcore, emo, straightedge music. But despite the seeming disconnect between artist and genre, they were able to gain command with some call and respond chorus work that incorporated the audience.

The moment everyone’s middle school selves were waiting for finally came as the members of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus walked out onto the stage to cheers from the crowd. 

Unfortunately, however, lead singer Winter relied too heavily on the familiarity of the band’s songs rather than attempting to build rapport with his audience between songs to excite the crowd.  Throughout the set he the crowd about who had been follow the band for the longest time, and at one point he asked everyone to get out their cellphones to light up the crowd while he played one of his ballads.

It’s a concert pet peeve of mine for bands to say things like, “You probably don’t know this one, it’s a bit obscure,” or, “If you’ve been listening to us since the beginning you’ll remember this track” to introduce their next song.  This makes it seem as though the band has contempt for any fans that came across them after that first big hit, and alienates people who go to a concert because they are interested in checking out the band.

Because they exhibited this condescending attitude, the band did not perform well enough to make up for their lack of stage presence.  Winter’s voice was fairly good live and sounded similar to his studio work, but he was unable to sustain a note long enough to add power to the emotional style of his lyrics.   Likewise, either the growls backing him up were either too low, or they simply lacked the pop of their recorded counterparts to round out the band’s sound.  Along with a pair of weak, unenergetic solos and songs existing in unpleasant, indiscernible cacophony, the concert was rather underwhelming.

For a recent concert here at Notre Dame, the set falls somewhere between the performances of two other acts with similar success.  While Red Jumpsuit did not have the stage presence and command of Flobots at their show last year, they did structure their set list well, saving “Face Down” for their closer. Boys Like Girls made a very different set list for the B1 Block Party: the band exhausted their biggest hits first and subsequently lost their crowd.  Overall, it was nice to experience “In Fate’s Hand” and “Face Down” live, but those two tracks were not nearly worth the amount of time spent sitting through the rest of the night.


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The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.