Los Angeles-based metalcore act The Ghost Inside made a stop at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, Calif. for the second show of the Out of Control Tour, supported by Massachusetts deathcore stalwarts The Acacia Strain, Tuscaloosa, Ala. Christian metal quintet Gideon and newcomer Aussie metalcore outfit In Hearts Wake. Since the ShadowBox crew would be remiss to miss out on a great concert, I cruised down to The Catalyst to check out the show.
Located on Pacific Avenue, The Catalyst is a concert hall that draws many different artists (upcoming shows include OK Go and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony). After a local act by the name of Aethere got things warned up, In Hearts Wake took the stage around 8 to get the show going. The Byron Bay-based band had just wrapped up the Disobedient Tour in support of Stick to Your Guns and also put in an appearance at the Self Help Festival in San Bernadino, Calif. Luckily for us, they enjoyed their first North American tour so much they decided to stick around awhile longer.
As they did on the Disobedient Tour, In Hearts Wake sandwiched their set between the two biggest songs off their latest album, “Earthealker:” the adrenaline-inducing title track and the cathartic “Divine.” “Breakaway” and “Skydancer,” two new tracks off In Hearts Wake’s upcoming May release (also called “Skydancer”), sneaked their way into the set list to change things up a bit. Frontman Jake Taylor hung back at the merch stand after the set, so I wandered over to say g’day and was pleasantly surprised when he recognized me, as we had previously met at the Disobedient show at Ace of Spades in Sacramento.
The show started to hit its groove when the second act, Gideon took the stage, and immediately worked the crowd into a frenzy with the title track off their newest album, “Calloused.” The first crowd surfers of the night went up during this set, and frontman Daniel McWhorter directed the crowd masterfully, even getting the pits to alternate between standard moshing and the more frenzied circle pit. Things got especially wild with “Survive,” and then we were halfway through the show.
Among the openers, The Acacia Strain had the most fans at the show, since everywhere I looked, I saw at least a couple of people wearing their merch. Being the oldest band on the lineup, this was hardly surprising, they’ve been kicking around since 2001, and their first album dropped a year later. Being at the top of the opening act totem pole, The Acacia Strain got the second longest set (10 songs) and used that time to build off the momentum Gideon and In Hearts Wake had accumulated.
To those who have never experienced them live, to refer to the Acacia Strain as a blitzkrieg of noise utterly falls short of doing their shows justice. Vocalist Vincent Bennett just about melted every unprotected pair of eardrums in the venue with his visceral, gut churning screams, and he didn’t let up from “Human Disaster” all the way up through “JFC.” Bennett was a maniacal stage presence, squirting the moshers with his water bottles (given the heat of the pit, this can be seen as a public service) and at one point even taking a few verses off by tossing his mic down to a lucky audience member who gladly filled in.
While waiting for The Ghost Inside to take the stage, I was starting to feel the burden of being a tall person at a concert. In addition to constantly feeling horrible for whoever is unfortunate enough to be standing right behind me, I suddenly found myself being the recipient of multiple boost-up requests (made with sometimes confusing sign language, because of the noise) from crowd surfers, who came out in full force once the headliners finally took the stage, blasting The Catalyst apart with the title track off their 2014 release “Dear Youth,” and only cranking up the intensity from there.
It was during this set where it actually took a great deal of effort for me to stay on my feet in the mosh pit, made more difficult by the crowd surfers who were suddenly everywhere. Venue security had their work cut out for them intercepting all of the surfers before they could get to the stage. That entire night, I saw exactly one guy make it to the stage, which he took an artful dive off of. Frontman Jonathan Vigil took breaks between songs to engage in playful trash-talk with a couple of Sharks fans in the crowd, reminiscence about the first show he ever played in Santa Cruz (back when The Ghost Inside went by the name A Dying Dream) and, of course, to thank the fans for coming out.
The Ghost Inside ripped their way through their dozen song set list, including hits like “Out of Control”and “Move Me,” before closing with “Dark Horse.” Due no doubt to the conspicuous absence of the pair of monstrous headbanging anthems that are “Avalanche” and “Engine 45,” Vigil and the gang slipped back out to give the crowd what they wanted, before closing up for good.
Scrapes and bruises aside, the show was a blast, and I highly recommend anyone fortunate enough to be in the Out of Control Tour’s path to check this show out. Pack some ear plugs, put on some shoes with strong arch support and throw on some clothes that won’t induce heat death and you’ll be well equipped. If you’re not into that sort of thing, don’t worry; you’ll have a great time either way.
PERSONAL REVIEW BY KYLE – MVMNT REPORTER
THE GHOST INSIDE
IN HEARTS WAKE