Before I get to reviewing this show proper, let me just elucidate on the importance of having designated drivers for concerts. The show, with openers Stars In Stereo kicking things off with an extra-long set, due to the early departure of Bullet's regular touring buddies Halestorm (who, despite going around the horn with Bullet for two months, decided to cut short their run on the tour to play a state fair with All That Remain that night) didn't start until 7 PM. My concert buddy (a metalcore show vet himself) and I were both legally intoxicated by about 1 PM. By 4 we were hitting up a gas station and a Burger King. Thanks to a gullible (or perhaps just ambivalent) cashier, I was able to take my last few beers on the road in the disguise of a large Burger King Coke.
That being said, by the time our crew hit America's biggest little city, I was completely trashed. Confession time; Previous to this show, I'd caught Bullet once before at a larger festival. They played in a non-headliner capacity and didn't exactly impress me. I figured, even if they weren't good, I'd at least be drunk enough to enjoy the noise and the couple songs of theirs I already legitimately enjoyed.
That being said, I hardly needed it. After walking a staggering eight blocks from a meter-less parking spot (our buddy and DD was nice and accommodating, but still pretty damn cheap) down to Buffalo's "legendary" (and currently under construction) theater district, we hit on the fairly indistinct Town Ballroom. The only indicator of any kind of event there was a line of black t-shirted, shorts wearing, teenage mosher d-bags. Indeed so, my buddy and I were probably the only alcohol legal guys there.
The lack of alcohol-legal patrons helped as soon as we got inside. The Town Ballroom isn't a huge place, but its large enough to cater to a big crowd. But, lucky for us, the bar was all but deserted.
A beer and some standing around bullshitting later, we were inside the venue proper. The venue itself is fairly standard. Painted black stage, walls, and stairs. Not a huge lighting rig above the stage, a floor (later made into the obvious giant mosh pit) and no seats. Its come as you are. Luckily, despite showing up just a few minutes prior to the advertised start time, we had plenty of time to hang around and just shoot the shit. My favorite thing to do at a concert, besides the obvious.
Finally, after seeing the same ads projected on the mini-screens (apparently, Limp f'n Bizkit sold the place out just two days before, and Tegan And Sara and Social Distortion are scheduled for appearences in July (!!)) Stars In Stereo finally hit the stage.
Not knowing anything about their act, Stars In Stereo came as a bit of a surprise. A four-piece outfit out of Los Angeles, Stars In Stereo has a female singer/guitar player and a sound reminiscent of a slightly harder-edged Paramore. Despite a lot of energy, they didn't seem to really connect with the audience there (myself included). Their only real notable song was a fairly heavy cover of Aerosmith's "Dream On" which got a sing-along only for being recognizable. A couple more songs and things were over.
Finally, after a quick changeover it was time for the real reason everybody was there.
Bullet hit the stage, following a pre-recorded intro using Slayer's "Raining Blood" (a tribute to the late Jeff Haneman) and an instrumental track similar to the one Metallica uses as an intro for their shows.
Hitting the stage, with little theatrics (aside from the intro tracks) Bullet tore the place open with a stunning rendition of "Breaking Point" from their newest album "Temper Temper" to a stunningly loud reaction. Singer Matt Tuck sounded in fine form, as the band pounded along behind him, never missing a step. Say what you will about metalcore as a genre, but these guys are fantastic live musicians. Continuing, without a break in the action, was "Your Betrayal", an early-days classic and a great sing-along song. The show continued, mixing more classics; "Waking The Demon" with some solid new stuff; "Riot". The set continued in a similar vein with the crowd favorite classic "Four Words (To Choke Upon)" and the uproarious title track "Temper, Temper" before hitting on the obligatory run of "stuff off the new album" in the form of "The Last Fight", "Take It Out On Me", and "P.O.W."
Following a short guitar solo (that oddly, didn't include the obligatory covers seemingly every other band does during this segment of their set) things settled back in, with the full band hitting the stage again for "The Poison" a song not performed since Bullet's tour for the same-named album. Following the shocking return of "The Poison", Matt Tuck even acknowledged its odd placement by saying "we haven't done that one in a long, long fucking time" before the band launched into another old-school hit. Seeing Bullet previously, "Scream - Aim- Fire" was the only song I recognized at the time (courtesy of its inclusion Guitar Hero 4). It impressed then and it impressed here too. "Scream- Aim- Fire", with its orchestration, with the "clean verses and growling chorus"- helped to cement what popular metalcore sounds like right now and it sounded amazing live, its booming drums and blast beats having no place to go in the ambient and small Town Ballroom.
Following "Scream - Aim- Fire" the lights went down and the crowd began getting antsy. And creative. After the obvious chants of "Bullet" and "One more song" failed to rouse the band back to the stage, the audience resorted to a booming "We're not leaving" chant as the band once again strolled back to the stage.
In a moment of humor, the band even started a small "Let's go Buffalo" chant (a reference to, for those of you who don't know, Buffalo's perennial losers The Buffalo Bills.) before launching into their second to last number "Pleasure And Pain". A lyrically simple song, "Pleasure And Pain" was fun to sing along to, but not what I'd consider an appropriate near show ending song. It lacked the punch of something really heavy or well known and fell slightly flat.
Following that, Bullet ended things the way everyone in our crew suspected they would, laying into us with one of their biggest hits "Tears Don't Fall" leading to another great sing-along to the chorus "Your tears don't fall/ they crash around me" and an extended jam to end things.
Following the usual "Buffalo's been great, we'll be back as soon as we can" routine, the show ended with little fanfare.
In all, my first "real" Bullet For My Valentine show was pretty damn awesome, featuring a good mix of classic early-days stuff and (for the most part) the best tracks off of "Temper Temper".Bullet's set was a short, concise affair, hitting all the expected marks and nailing everything they needed to. It wasn't what anyone would call an ambitious show, but it was what we wanted. In the coming months, as the need to heavily promote the new album subsides, I can see Bullet leaving some of the "Temper Temper" tracks off the live set and maybe reintroducing some of the more popular material from "The Poison" just to shake things up.
Following a long wait to meet Stars In Stereo (who despite my not liking their music, seemed nice enough) we hit the road.
Good stuff all around. Nice venue, solid band, good atmosphere, and a good time all around.