Concert Review: AFR, Raining Blood at Montage



Dreams don't come true. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want it to happen, make it a goal and just do it. It's all about hard work and focus, pal. Dreams come to those who sleep.

Let me explain what I do, and what prompted this rant. As a music journalist I am a conduit between the mouths of musicians and the ears of the audience. I've interviewed hundreds of bands, asked hundreds of questions, and received hundreds of the same answers back. One point of intrigue is "making it" -- achieving stardom, wallowing in the excess and the spoils of war. Rochester bands: you know I love you, but a lot of you won't "make it." Not because you're not good enough (though let's face it, there's work to be done here and there). But you won't "make it" because "making it" is a dream.

However, I saw one band last weekend that will make it, and in fact did. I was there the moment it happened. AFR -- with members from the uber-frenetic metal-esque Safety Off -- was thrown on to a multi-band bill at the last minute Saturday night. By the time the band was set to go on, Montage Music Hall was a ghost town. The soundman gave the band permission to opt out. But AFR held fast and delivered an energetic set as if the place was choked with bodies. As a musician myself, I know that hollow feeling brought on by an empty room. I know that heavy feeling in the arms, the total lack of sustained energy. I know how it feels when it's uphill, for nobody and for no money. But I also know that's when you know you love music.

And AFR loves its music. The band plays metal core of sorts, with a dynamic trade-off between heavy riffing and everyone joining in on the thunderous one. The vocals are stock scream/roar. And though it's a lonely cry when unleashed in an empty room, it's the best sound in the world when you believe in it and don't just dream about it.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Rochester-based Slayer tribute act Raining Blood, which played before AFR on this Montage bill. I'm not much on tributes or covers, but when you tackle Slayer's whole body of work with its hellacious hyper speed and relentless drive, you've set yourself up for a challenge. Raining Blood met that challenge as it effortlessly whipped out the band's trademark double-kick gallop and its fleet pentatonic scream.

Also, this just in: Rochester rockers JJ Lang, Melia, and Tivoli Skye all won awards at the 2013 Indie Music Channel Awards Sunday night. Could I be wrong? Is there actually something to this dreaming thing?

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