Monday, October 24, 2016

Red at the Highline Ballroom

Michael Barnes
Vocalist Michael Barnes and two twin brothers, guitarist Anthony Armstrong, and bassist Randy Armstrong, grew up together in a small one-gas-station town in Pennsylvania. They wanted to form a hard rock band of national stature, so they relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. There, they formed Red (also stylized R3D or RED), a band that gained traction first in Christian rock circles before developing a wider audience. To date the band has won six GMA Dove Awards. Red's fifth album, Of Beauty and Rage, was released in 2015.

With no new album to promote, Red toured as a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the release of its debut album, End of Silence. The band's core trio was joined by touring musician Dan Johnson. Playing that album and the best songs from the band's other albums, Red found the rare balance of metal and melody. Whether the musicians leaned towards hard-hitting alternative metal or post-grunge, Barnes' vocals were clear and hearty, a fiery centerpiece piercing the band's thick wall of sound. Between songs, he occasionally introduced the songs by describing the pain or the victory that inspired the lyrics. As a result, the songs were strikingly framed with both emotional vulnerability and unabashed passion, two engaging elements often missing in metal. If there was any weakness at all, it was not in the music but in the production; the blinding, flashing light system, perhaps designed for larger venues, grew quickly annoying within the confines of such a small room.

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