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Smile Empty Soul Review

This past Saturday the PB crew loaded up and went to St Joeseph, MO on a drive and a mission to finally see Smile Empty Soul on the live stage, and pick up a few locals bands from the north that we never get to see in the KC area very much.

When we arrived at Tremors; a very new venue in town; at first glance it seemed like your typical venue that was very well put together.  There is nothing extremely flashy about Tremors that hits you when you first walk in, but the patrons that the venue already has as “regulars” are amazingly welcoming and not your typical “bar crowd”.  The downfalls of the venue is there is very little to no ventilation for smoke (smoking indoors is still allowed in St. Joe) and even being a smoker, I could feel the nicotine scraping against my eyelids as the night went on.   The other major downfall for me was the presence of a supporting pole dead center of the stage right in the front.  Talking to the owner of Tremors, Pat Jonas, he not only acknowledged both of these issues, but even pointed them out as he knows these are issues, and stated that it is a new venue and he is still working on making it better.  The presence of these two things still did not undermine the show or make anything less enjoyable.

Till The World Ends:

Opening the night was a young band named Till The World Ends.  This group showed a lot of talent all in the right areas, and the sound that the band strives for is amazing.  This band still needs some development as any young band does, but is mostly lacking in stage presence.  I felt myself almost getting frustrated at the fact the lead singer would look into the lights, then look at the stage, rinse and repeat.  He also spent a lot of time with his back facing the crowd.  This one issue made it very hard to relate and be absorbed into the show, and I almost felt as if I was in their way by being there to watch them.  Despite some timing issues, as said every member shows amazing talent to their craft.  The drummer was keeping time amazingly, the bassist showed decent energy, and the guitarist shown flashes of some mad skills at being able to play.

Sober Overdose:

Sober Overdose by the second song had the group I was with looking at each other and saying “they got what it takes”.  The band was impeccable about timing, the sound was full and rich, and the vocals were dead on.  I personally did not know this band even existed until they made the ballot for the 2012 Midwest Rock Awards for drummer of the year, and he showed why he was on that ballot.  The performance was amazing, but the stage presence was lacking.  There was not that much movement, and the band projected tons of energy into the crowd but there was just something missing to allow the crowd to reciprocate back to them.  Sober Overdose is without a doubt a “must check out” for people that like that mainstream rock with a blues type feel to it.  The sound is unique but very enjoyable.

One Headlight High:

This is a band that I did not know existed until this performance.  While I was still washed with being impressed by Sober Overdose, One Headlight High hit the stage running.   Their sound is along the Green Day sound for me, but still unique enough that if I heard it on the radio or something, it would define them.  This is another band that shows amazing talent at each position in the band, and the stage presence was second to none.  This was the first band of the night to energize the crowd and pull them into their show.  The rifts that the guitarist ripped up are still something I am hearing in my head as they were catchy, unique, and solid.  The one thing that took me off is the vocalist seemed to sing in a higher key way above the band.  After the first song this became part of the uniqueness of One Headlight High and it worked for them very well.  Toward the end of the performance there seemed to be stamina issues particularly with the vocalist, but I can not hold this against him as the massive amount of energy that the band used to draw the crowd in for the 20 minutes before this.  I will catch up with this band again and check them out to see if this is a real performance and normal, or just a fluke.  It was just that good.

Injected Element:

While I would love to put up a review about Injected Element, I am going to refrain.  This NOT a sign that they were not good, because in my mind they killed it honestly, but I am friends with several members in Injected Element and I feel that I would be biased in providing them a review.

Smile Empty Soul:

This is the first time I have ever caught Smile Empty Soul live.  I have been a fan of theirs since I first heard “Bottom of a Bottle” on radio.  Since hearing that song I can not stop listening to their CD’s.  With that said it was actually scary for me to go to St Joe to watch them, as I had such high expectations of them.  All of that went away the minute that they took the stage.  Smile Empty Soul was outright amazing.  The performance was energetic, commanding, and dead on accurate to the music.  There was absolutely nothing that I can pick at from their performance that I wish was better.  They left it all on stage, and afterward came down to the merch booth where they are promoting their new CD “3′s”, and took pictures with fans and just hung out with them for lack of other terms.  It is not very often that I go to a concert a prior fan of an artist, and leave with a higher level of respect and “fanship” of them, but Smile Empty Soul without a doubt did it.

Their performance of “Bottom of a Bottle” was amazing, and the crowd (which was pretty damn big) was pushing forward harder and harder to get to the stage.  People were going absolutely crazy by this point with happiness like you do not see at many concerts.

The memory of the night was without a doubt when they played “Silhouettes” and the place erupted.  The band performed with an emotion with that song like I have never seen before.  Looking through the crowd it was amazing how commanding the band was being for their attention.  I have reviewed many National acts over the years and have only seen this type of presence and performance a handful of times.  The sound was second to none, and I can not stress how amazing watching the performance of this song was to so many people.

What made the Smile Empty Soul show even more memorable was the fact there was no flashy lights, no drowning effects, no fog machines, no pyrotechnics.  It was a stripped performance where it was just the 3 of them on stage, with nothing to back them up, and they had to do it.  They did it without a doubt, and beyond what I think anyone in the venue expected.

Frank Arena

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