Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
With latest album, ‘I Am Human’ about to hit the streets, the rock act from Las Vegas, Nevada, return to London and to Camden, an area they fondly refer to as their favourite part of the City.
Formed in 2005, the band are signed to Eleven Seven Music and return on the back of a very successful campaign with previous album ‘Hate Me’. Consisting of founder Robert Ortiz (drummer), Craig Mabbitt (lead vocalist), TJ Bell (rhythm guitarist and vocalist), Kevin “Thrasher” Gruft (lead guitarist) and touring musician Erik Jensen (bassist), this was a show not to be missed. Eschewing their earlier metal core , screamo approach to music, the band are gradually morphing into a solid hard rock act, passionate still about what they do but on the cusp, it feels, of making that bold step into arena headlining shows.
‘Hate Me’ was, for me, a pinnacle in the band’s career. An album chock-full of anthems that deserved to be played loud and proud. When the band came over in support of that album, only a handful of tracks were aired. This time and a conversation with Robert Ortiz which suggests ‘I Am Human’ is an album they are most proud of, the band have loaded the set with newer material, with half coming from ‘Hate Me’ and ‘I Am Human’. The lion’s share of course plays to the fans and 2008’s ‘This War is Ours’ gets the best part of 50% of the setlist. A choice that seems to go down well with the band and crowd alike.
The newer material from the last couple of albums does however stand head and shoulders above the older works in my humble opinion and really shows a band that is maturing. I’m convinced they’ll begin to pick up more and more mainstream rock fans where previously they attracted a predominantly young audience. Even now, the band have a core demographic that is early to mid-twenties. Yet the material on the latter albums shows a great maturity, a band that has come of age and finds the likes of me attending the show wanting to see a band in their ascendance.
With Ortiz pounding a double bass drum kit at the back of the stage, it’s left to dynamic guitarist Kevin “Thrasher” Gruft and animated front man Craig Mabbitt to really bring the show home to the crowd. Pairing off like the best and classic front man \ lead guitar partnerships out there, their unique style brings a huge amount of energy to the performance. Aided stage left by TJ Bell who swings his guitar around his body with a fire that makes you wonder if he’s ever lost it and the instrument has flown out into the crowd [one for a YouTube search maybe?]
With (I believe) Erik Jensen on bass as a touring partner, the band look and sound complete once more. Various line up changes that see Ortiz as the sole founding member would be enough to finish some outfits but Escape The Fate rise to the occasion every time and each release gets stronger and stronger.
If you’re an old school rock fan who thinks that a band evolving from the metal core scene cannot offer anything to you, then think again. Escape the Fate, on the strength of the last two releases alone, deserve to be huge.
Hate Me? Love them more like!
Escape The Fate / This War Is Ours / I Am Human / Hate Me / Ungrateful
This War Is Ours (The Guillotine II) / You Are So Beautiful / Ten Miles Wide / Ungrateful / Do You Love Me / Just A Memory / Remember Every Scar / The Flood / Something / I Am Human / Ashley / Broken Heart / Gorgeous Nightmare / Dead ! (My Chemical Romance cover) / One For The Money