Chelsea Grin & Suicide Silence
Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia
November 7th, 2023
Supports: I AM & PeelingFlesh
In a nostalgic revival of the MySpace era’s brutal sonic landscape, two iconic deathcore heavyweights, Chelsea Grin and Suicide Silence embarked on a tour for the ages throughout North America. With both groups having played pivotal roles in pioneering the modern deathcore sounds that we love and enjoy today, this thrilling celebration of the past was also an iconic display of the genre’s finest talents within the modern age of deathcore. So with all this in mind as I prepared to head down to the Vancouver leg of this tour I did what anyone would do, I set my MSN status to “You Only Live Once”, logged out of the family computer and headed to the show.
As I walked through the entrance of Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theatre, I was welcomed by the extreme sounds of PeelingFlesh. The slamming brutal death metal act was performing on a Vancouver stage for the first time in their career, giving the Canadian crowd their first taste of what this group has to offer. As the motionless crowd observed, the quintet carved through their overwhelmingly heavy performance. The abrasive sounds of vocalist Damonteal Harris caught me by surprise. The frontman has a vocal range that knows no bounds as he effortlessly displayed his gut-wrenching highs and his lower-than-hell lows.
As the set progressed, the energy within the crowd slowly increased to the point where circle pits and swinging arms signalled the approval of this international opening act from Vancouver’s heavy music community. Drummer Joe Pelleter‘s talents definitely didn’t go unnoticed either, his demeanour when approaching the instrument and his impressively fast drumming skills places him amongst the drummers within the extreme slamming metal sound. As the guitarists executed a visually pleasing performance by headbanging in unison, Harris took the time to yell ‘hello’ to his friends at the merch booths and encouraged the crowd to do the same, resulting in multiple ‘hello’s’ erupting from the packed out band room.
Texan death unit I AM were next to grace us with their presence. The band member’s energy as they stood side by side at the forefront of the stage demanded each attendee’s complete attention. This act meant business and despite facing some technical difficulties throughout the first song, the group carried on to deliver a performance worthy of a headline slot. In between conducting his own version of the Harms Way Running Man Meme and other on-stage theatrics such as headbanging, vocalist Andrew Hileman had the crowd within the palm of his hand as punters obeyed his every command. It wasn’t long before the intensity of the night’s moshing had escalated with multiple circle pits taking effect.
Hundreds of adrenalized heavy music fans continued to transform the floor space at the Rickshaw Theatre into a violent and cathartic moshing space as the Texan quartet dominated the stage. As the set began to draw to a close, vocalist Hileman made it clear that he was not ready to walk off stage just yet. At the conclusion of the set’s last song, he yelled into the microphone “One more time. Let’s go!” at which point the instrumentalists began to perform a short and slow breakdown, leaving the crowd energized as we stood, waiting for the for nights two headline acts to hit the stage.
It wasn’t long until the almighty Chelsea Grin stepped foot on stage to kick off their performance with ‘Judgement‘. As the four-piece took to the stage, the stages blindingly bright lighting rigs lit the venue up. The production value of this performance was immense. It was obvious that this production had an immense amount of thought put into it. Guitarist Stephen Rutishauser and bassist David Flinn executed a performance with stage moves that were mirrored by one another simultaneously while vocalist Tom Barber maintained an extremely relaxed and nonchalant composure whenever he could. The vocalist, who implements intense energy into his sets seemed to be rather reserved and easy-going throughout the time in between the songs, offering an insightful contrast into the character of Barber.
The ebb and flow between the frontman’s energy peaked when local Vancouverite vocalist Mike Greenwood from AngelMaker joined Barber on stage to feature as a guest throughout the performance of ‘Crewcabanger‘, which was an iconic moment for Vancouver’s heavy music community as they watched their local stars join the stage with some of the biggest names in the genre.
As the Utah based four piece edged closer towards the end of their set by performing old and new favourites such as ‘Fathomless Maw‘, ‘Hostage‘ and ‘Suffer In Hell, Suffer in Heaven‘, the crowd recognised that Chelsea Grin‘s time on stage was nearing the end, as a result, the crowd’s singalongs grew louder and moshing intensified, particularly throughout all time deathcore favourite and closing track ‘Recreant‘.
As the crowd awaited the arrival of the evening’s final act, Queen‘s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ played throughout the speakers in its entirety to the packed-out band room. Unfortunately, this hit-and-miss attempt to energise the crowd was poorly executed. Fans stood still, in silence waiting for the Californian deathcore kings to appear, however, when they did eventually take to the stage, an enormous roar erupted from the crowd and excitement was in the air once again. Opening with 2007 hit ‘Unanswered‘ and the group’s most popular track ‘You Only Live Once‘, everyone in the crowd, including myself, was delighted to see these older hits are still receiving love after all these years. As they concluded, vocalist Hernan Hermida admitted to the crowd that “When you sing those words back to us like that, it feels like Mitch is still with us“. He is of course referring to the band’s original vocalist, Mitch Lucker who tragically died in 2012 in a motorcycle accident. The eleventh anniversary of his death was one week prior to this show, which makes keeping his memory alive all that extra special.
As the set continued, the group gifted the concertgoers with more ‘Mitch-era’ tracks, such as ‘Lifted‘, ‘Wake Up‘ and ‘Slaves To Substance‘. Which, in turn made the electricity in the venue palpable and saw the attendees circle pitting and executing wall of death’s. True excitement wasn’t present until the set’s final track ‘No Pity For A Coward‘ hit our eardrums. Further fueling the exhilaration was the on-stage presence of PeelingFlesh vocalist Damonteal Harris and AngelMaker vocalist Mike Greenwood. The communal effort to present one of the group’s most iconic tracks was a sight to behold and brought to a close this night’s demonstration of old and new age deathcore.
Both Chelsea Grin and Suicide Silence have done well to maintain their importance in the ever-evolving landscape of the deathcore sound. With more than 15 years behind each act, the paths they have walked to get to where they are today have set the road for thousands of other core acts to follow and flourish on their own accord. It is safe to say that the legacy of both of these class acts and their respective ‘MySpace eras’ will live on for years to come.
Suicide Silence Setlist:
2. You Only Live Once
3. Fuck Everything
4. Love Me To Death
5. Wake Up
7. You Must Die
9. Slaves To Substance
10. Fucked For Life
11. No Pity For A Coward
Chelsea Grin Setlist:
2. My Damnation
3. Sonnet Of The Wretched
4. Playing With Fire
5. Dead Rose
6. Suffer In Hell/Suffer In Heaven
7. The Isnis
8. Sing To The Grave
9. Everlasting Sleep
Gig Review by Adam Rice