By Matt “Rabit” Martinez, Red Hare Images
As my interest and discovery of more metalcore bands increases, I have friends that would continually recommend new and great bands that I need to check out. One bands name that would continually be given to me was that of Issues. Their music has come across my Spotify radio quite often, and their latest album Beautiful Oblivion has been getting some rave reviews. When I found out they were going to be playing Beautiful Oblivion in its entirety along with a slew of their other hits, I had to make my way out to the Mayan Theatre in LA to see them. Bringing with them the prog metal band Polyphia, a rapper known as Lil Aaron, and the masked musicians known at Sleep Token. The latter of which I unfortunately missed. The patrons of the Mayan Theatre were in for an interest blend of music, but they packed the venue early and were ready for what was to come.
The first artist I got to see that night was the rapper known as Lil Aaron. Now I will be the first person to admit I am not the biggest fan of rap. Especially with the new trend of sound cloud mumble rappers that have been cropping up over the last couple years. I did not know what to expect when I heard this tour had a rapper on it. But I will admit Lil Aaron won me over a bit. Not only was he getting the crowd bumping to the music, he was just fun to watch, and you could actually understand what he was singing. Bonus! Backed by a guitarist and drummer, Lil Aaron was a rapper there to bring a real show with live music to LA. Playing songs from his two albums like “808 Rock,” “Dangerous,” “Fucked Up,” “Dark Matter,” “Warped Tour,” “and “Hot Topic.” During the song “Vans Untitled” he prompted everyone in the crowd to pull out their phones and light the venue up, which the audience happily obliged. On the final song “Drugs” Lil Aaron told the audience to sing it if you know it, and a good chunk of the audience could be seen singing along and jumping around the venue. Though a rapper still seems like a weird fit to this bill, Lil Aaron himself fit perfectly into the night of music.
Full Lil Aaron gallery below:
Up next was a band my buddy Jamie had been hyping up to me for the week before the show. They are a progressive rock/metal four piece called Polyphia. Playing a whole set of just instrumental songs, this was another band that seemed like a curve ball to add to the bill. Opening with “G.O.A.T.,” and as soon as guitarist Tim Henson’s fingers weaved across the neck of his guitar I was in awe. The ease and speed that Henson can riff at, while keeping the melodies melodic and upbeat was jaw dropping. As bassist Clay Gober came in, he added such a deep sounding bass groove to the song that countered the high notes that Henson was playing perfectly, while matching the timing of drummer Clay Aeschliman’s bass drum hits to give a powerful 1 2 punch. Blending his own melodies and fill riffs into the song, fellow guitarist Scott LePage helped accent the prog style of Polyphia. By the third song Gober wanted to see more excitement from the crowd and said they would not continue the set unless 10 people crowd surfed right now! And before you knew it, people were coming over the barricade. This became a bit of a safety hazard as the venue security got tired of catching people and instead started pushing them to the floor through the crowd. Gober went off on security about this, but sadly it fell on deaf ears as they continued to push the crowd surfers down. None the less, Polyphia presented a jaw dropping instrumental set consisting of songs like “Saucy,” “Goose,” “Champagne,” “LBDT,” “The Worst,” and ending with the song “Euphoria.”
Full Polyphia gallery below:
Finally, it was time for the Issues. As the lights were turned off, a giant LED screen in the background illuminated to display what looked like an digital rendering of the singer. The band was doing something special this tour, to help promote the new album they weren’t just playing a few songs off it. They were playing the entirety of Beautiful Oblivion from start to finish. As lead singer Tyler Carter walked on stage to get things started, the crowd erupted as the band opened with “Here’s to You.” Bassist Skyler Acord is just majestic to watch and listen to. He’s able to float between metalcore bassist riffs, to full on funk grooves without missing a beat, all the while dancing and jumping around the stage. He almost steals the show from the rest of the band. Guitarist AJ Rebollo adds a nice mix of metal riffs and djent guitar to add a nice crunch to Issues’ sound and picking up the slack on the unclean scream vocals. Positioned 10ft above the rest of the band, drummer Josh Manuel could be seen wailing on his kit. It was amazing to get to hear Beautiful Oblivion in its entirety, and the crowd was eating every song up like “Downfall,” “Drink About It,” “Flexin,” “Rain,” “Second Best,” “Tapping Out.” Of course, Issues had to throw some other classics from their last two albums in like “Never Lose Your Flames,” “Stingray Affliction,” “COMA,” “Hero,” “Slow Me Down.” But the biggest surprise had to be when Carter brought out original band member Tyler Acord for the song “King of Amarillo.” Though Tyler Acord seemed very reluctant to stay and sing with Carter. Ending the night with their biggest hit “Mad at Myself,” Carter walked out on stage wearing bright neon yellow platform heels, while every person in that room sang along and pushing through the crowd to get just a little closer to the guys before they walked off stage.
Full Issues gallery below:
Issues is a band I’ve been hearing my friends talk about for the last two years with growing praise and that night I finally got to see them. And I will tell you, they lived up to everything great I’ve heard about them. The tour was crafted as a weird mix of avant garde metal, rap, prog rock, and nu metal, but it all some how came together perfectly. Each band had the crowds full undivided attention throughout their whole sets. I did catch the last song of Sleep Tokens and will keep my eye out for the next time they come through as I am very interested in seeing more of them. Lil Aaron did win me over by the end of his set. But the biggest surprise to me was Polyphia who had me mesmerized for their entire 45-minute set. This was a show I have been waiting to see, and Issues pulled together an amazing show.