Butcher Babies & Nonpoint
Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ – 5/20/18
Review & Pictures: Tara Lakatos
The Kings and Queens tour stopped at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on May 20, 2018. This a co-headline tour shared by Nonpoint and the Butcher Babies with Islander and Sumo Cyco as support. There were also two local bands that hit the stage to kick off the night, Another Day’s Armor and For the Crown making for an incredibly long night of rock and metal.
This show was on a Sunday night at a venue that typically sells a lot of tickets. I arrived at the venue two hours before doors because I had a meet and greet with the Butcher Babies. Often there are long lines hours before the show and I was one of the first arrivals. This was odd to me since I thought this show would be a big draw. When I walked inside several sections of the venue were closed off, meaning they did not anticipate a big crowd. By the time the venue filled there were only a few hundred in attendance. Area rockers missed quite an amazing show.
First up Sumo Cyco, I had never heard of them before this show but they had quite a few fans sporting their t-shirts. Sumo Cyco consists of Skye Sweetnam (vocals), Matt Drake (guitar), Kenny Corke (bass) and Matt Trozzi (drums).
They played a 30-minute fast paced set of rock and roll that was infused with reggae and Spanish rhythms. Skye’s vocals were clean and crisp while she was running and jumping around the stage, she’s got a bit of the Gwen Stefani vibe. They are out supporting their 2017 release “Opus Mar” and stand-alone single for 2018 “Undefeated”.
Next up Islander, consisting of Mikey Carvajal (vocals), Chris Carvajal (keys, vocals), Erik Pedersen (guitar) and Andrew Fleming (drums).
I’ve seen Islander a few times before at festivals and in opening slots. They always bring a super high-energy performance especially from Mikey, this guy clearly enters another universe while performing. I nearly lost my camera lens to his mic stand that he was flailing around.
Islander is out supporting their 2016 release “Power Under Control” and their 2018 single “I Want Sushi” which is what they closed the set with. This song has a ripping metal riff, hard-hitting vocals and tight rhythms. The song hits upon how rock and metal bands really struggle to stay on the road with little or no money, the hook line is, “rock and roll don’t pay like it used too”. Hopefully Islander can stay on the road and entertaining fans for years to come.
Nonpoint and Butcher Babies switch up who’s closing each night of the tour and on this night Nonpoint was in the first slot of the headliners. Nonpoint consists of Elias Soriano (vocals), BC Kochmit (guitar, vocals), Rasheed Thomas (guitar, vocals), Adam Woloszyn (bass), and Robb Rivera (drums).
Nonpoint is out supporting their soon to be released “X”, it has a tentative release date of August 24th. Fans that attend their meet and greets during this tour are getting to listen to new tracks with the band before the show, which is a really cool experience for diehards. Concertgoers were treated to 2 new tracks, “Dodge Your Destiny” and “Wheel Against Will”. Both songs are true to Nonpoint form, “Dodge Your Destiny” is a very heavy track with metal riffs and heavy hitting drums. “Wheel Against Will” is much more melodic in nature but, Elias’ vocal style carries through both songs equally.
They played a jam packed 14-song set killing it with some of my favorite including “Breaking Skin”, “Bullet With a Name On It”, “Alive and Kicking” and “What a Day”. One highlight of the night was Nonpoint’s cover of Phil Collin’s “In The Air Tonight”. I only mention this as a highlight because several other artists have recently covered this song and are including it in their live set, and Nonpoint’s version is far superior to others that I have recently heard.
As far as the band goes they are all amazing, BC and Adam take over stage right with high energy, hair flying, in your face rock and roll. BC is also high flying while ripping out solos. Rasheed, solo stage left, has his own brand of suave while rocking out; I believe Smooth should be his middle name. Last but not least Robb, the sideways drummer. His kit is literally facing stage right but he spends most of his time looking towards the crowd. I am not sure how he doesn’t have a stiff neck every night but it does definitely make him stand out. This band has been around a long time and their new album should prove their staying power. I am looking forward to seeing them out on the road again.
Closing out the night, the Butcher Babies; the hard hitting, heavy metal force led by two fierce vocalists, Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey. The band is rounded out by Henry Flury (guitar), Jason Klein (bass) and Chase Brickenden (drums). I have a huge affinity towards female fronted rock and metal bands, I love watching women kick ass in a genres that have been typically dominated by men. Carla and Heidi dominate the stage with raging, hard metal vocals that most wouldn’t even try.
Butcher Babies are out supporting their 2017 release “Lilith” which is where the bulk of their setlist came from. They opened their set with “Korova”. I’m always impressed by their vocals and their ability to sound like they have been possessed by the devil, which they pull off in this song but there are also clean vocals, which are equally amazing. Many people write Carla and Heidi off as screamers but with this track you can hear their clear vocal talent. “Headspin”, is a super cool track that starts out with slower, quiet, haunting vocals that lead into a more poppy vibe. This song is purely rock driven by Henry’s guitar playing and Chase’s back beats. This is one of my favorite tracks that they’ve put out due to the diversity of it. The “Contoller” is led by Jason’s chugging bass and is definitely a heavier track that shined.
One thing lacking due to the audience size was the normal slew of crowd surfers and mosh pits that are a usual part of a Butcher Babies show. The crowd in attendance was very much into the show and moshed in the open floor space, but it definitely felt like a normal part of their set was missing where Heidi would usually invite the audience to crowd surf up to her for high fives. All in all, their set was outstanding and being able to meet and hang out with them prior to the show was a bonus. Their meet and greet experience is top notch in this day and age compared to most of them that are cattle herds with a photo op. They took photos, played games, gave out cool prizes, signed autographs and took the time to talk and mingle with fans.
There are two weeks left on this tour in the western part of the U.S. My advice: Get out and support this awesome tour. It was energetic and fun, filled with an amazing variety of rock and metal. Always support your favorite artist on tour, it keeps them making great music for you to enjoy.