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Although a small figure on a big stage, Of Mice & Men’s frontman Austin Carlile commanded every inch of it with his presence. He continuously switched between prowling the stage, eyeing the audience hungrily, and beaming at them, a huge genuine smile stretched across his face. The vocalist’s focus stayed on the crowd for the entire show, making sure to connect on a personal level with each and every person in the room, while even looking a few right in the eyes in the first couple rows. Throughout the show he continued to stare throughout the venue in awe as if it were the first time these Californian metalcore veterans had played to such a large crowd.

What could have been an excellent first show of Of Mice & Men’s Full Circle Tour was sadly dampened by the live sound quality. While the rest of the band was loud and evenly distributed, Carlile’s vocals were much too quiet. His screams were obviously powerful but sounded weak and far away when projected through the amplifiers as if underwater. It was easy to tell that the engineer was having trouble, as the vocalist kept pulling out his ear pieces and putting it back it the entire performance.

The show really started when the riff to ‘Bones Exposed’ began about halfway into the band’s set. The ‘&’ banner decorating the stage dropped dramatically revealing another sheet displaying their Restoring Force album cover. Carlile’s vocals were also, finally, fixed during this song massively hyping up the energy of the semi-calm crowd.

Stage lighting usually goes unnoticed, but the light operators took every opportunity to create a lighting effect that would support the band’s performance. Between the eerie blue ‘calm before the storm’ effect and the five spotlights beaming down on drummer Valentino Arteaga, it’s safe to say the show was enhanced simply through the moods created by the multi-color changing lights.

While it’s been nearly three years since former clean vocalist Shayley Bourget was replaced by Aaron Pauley, the older tracks played such as ‘Second and Sebring’ and ‘Let Live’ seemed virtually unaffected by the switch. Pauley seemed at ease with his role, yet demonstrated the same demeanor that Bourget used to exhibit, simply staying in the background and letting Carlile run the show. The set was full of songs off the band’s latest record Restoring Force, but were balanced out by a few older songs. They also included one of their latest singles, ‘Broken Generation’, in the set.

The encore consisted of a powerful performance of ‘The Depths’ that had Carlile commanding the audience to their knees before allowing them to jump up during the breakdown. One audience member refused, choosing to heckle the vocalist until he yelled, “I see you! Sit down!” The band then finished out the night with the heavy-hitting ‘You’re Not Alone’. Of Mice & Men has shown growth since releasing their latest record, and their sharpness of performance has definitely been enhanced from an all out mosh-fest to a clean-cut on-point show.

Kaitlyn Ulrich

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