Friday, November 15, 2013

I See Stars at the Gramercy Theatre

Zach Johnson and Devin Oliver
Starting together in 2006 as teenagers in Warren, Michigan, the members of I See Stars are a rarity among metalcore bands in that they have pretty much maintained their original line-up. The band’s music has changed several times over four albums, however, at times lighter and more pop-oriented and at times heavy and aggressive. The band’s fourth album, New Demons, was released in October 2013. The band consists of Devin Oliver on clean vocals, Zach Johnson on unclean vocals, keyboards and electronic programming, Brent Allen and Jimmy Gregerson on guitars, Jeff Valentine on bass and Andrew Oliver on drums.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, the band balanced its hard-edged approach often with pop vocal melodies, while also throwing in fair amounts of scream and electronic. The two vocalists were energetic and sometimes worked the songs and the audience independently, sometimes in harmony. They turned nearly every song into an anthem. The music was somewhat innovative as well. If metalcore is a sub-genre of heavy metal music, then I See Stars showed itself to be at the forefront of the sub-sub-genre referred to as electronic hardcore music (EHM) or electronicore. The band played metalcore breakdowns at times followed by unusual touches of techno/dub-step/electro music. The songs occasionally even mixed clean and unclean vocals with synthesized vocals. Like the evening’s co-headliner, The Word Alive, I See Stars’ youthful exuberance and high-energy performance did a masterful job of engaging a younger Warped Tour-type audience.