Pop-Live: Chiodos (Starland Ballroom)

Words and Photos by Erin Mathis

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On Sunday August 17, I excitedly headed over to the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ. One of my all-time favorite bands, The Chiodos, were playing a show, and there was no way in hell I was going to miss it.

When first I arrived, I hopped in line, and casually looked around while I waited for the doors to open. I was surprised to find myself among an overwhelmingly younger crowd. Of course there’s always the chance that I was exposed to an inaccurate sampling pool, but if I had to take a swing at the median age of the event, I’d guess it to be somewhere around 16 or 17 years. Considering the fact that I began listening to Chiodos seven years ago, I thought there would be more people my own age in attendance. However, I wasn’t put-off by the generational distance, but instead found this observation to be a pleasant one, knowing that Chiodos will have a dedicated fan base for years and years to come.

Now let’s get into the concert itself. The show had two openers: Capture The Crown and I Killed The Prom Queen. The crowd was fairly responsive to both bands, singing along, and moshing when asked. And though I did not know these bands prior to the show, I enjoyed their sound, and will definitely look them up when I do my monthly music downloading binge. Next up was Blessthefall, the co-headliner. Their set was all about energy and crowd engagement, initiating both a running circle pit and a brutal wall of death (being 5’3” and 95 pounds, I of course looked on from a safe distance).

Chiodos got on stage last, but were well worth the wait. Craig Owens gave a powerful performance, pouring his heart out to the audience through his intense vocals. Bradley Bell was a mad man on the keyboard, jumping about and full-on head banging while playing the intricate, beautiful compositions that he is so well known for. Most of all though, Chiodos’ newest member, Thomas Erak, became the center of the crowd’s attention more than once during the show, as he raised his guitar up in the air, offered his middle fingers for all to see, and overall proved himself to be a true showman on the stage.

Musically, their set had an even balance of old and new, which I was quite thankful for. They started strong with two songs off their most recent album, Devil: “Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now,” and “3am.” They also threw it back to Alls Well That Ends Well with crowd favorites like “There’s No Penguins In Alaska,” “The Words ‘Best Friend’ Become Redefined,” and “Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek,” which yes, I crowd-surfed to. Other memorable songs included “Two Birds Stoned At Once”, which Craig prefaced with a speech about not settling for mediocrity, Bulls Make Money, Bears Make Money, Pigs Get Slaughtered”, which provoked a good amount of moshing, and finally, “Expensive Conversations In Cheap Motels,” which had the whole venue screaming along to the lyrics “I, I fucking hate you!”

Overall, it was an incredible show, one full of anger, passion, and love. They made honest connections with their fans (young and old), and left the crowd feeling inspired and satisfied as they headed to the exits.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.