Five Finger Death Punch and Killswitch Engage, Comerica Theatre, 8/26/12

See also: Five Finger Death Punch's Jason Hook on Giving the Fans What They Want See also: Lamb of God's Randy Blythe Set Free; Five Finger Death Punch Weighs In See also: The full Trespass America slideshow.

Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, and More @ COMERICA THEATRE|8/26/12

The Trespass America tour, featuring a veritable who's who of modern heavy music including Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, and more, came with roaring noise and flashing graphics to Comerica Theatre Sunday night, delivering on the promise of pure, visceral entertainment.

See our full Trespass America slideshow.

The crowd started streaming in around 5 p.m. It sounds too early for rock 'n' roll, but you wouldn't know it judging by Battlecross' set. Though they were the first act and there wasn't much of a crowd in the venue yet, they rocked it with a wall of growling vocals and pounding drums. New Jersey metallers God Forbid followed, promoting their newest album, Equilibrium. God Forbid is made up of real road warriors, constantly out on tour, and one of the hardest-working, most underrated bands on the current scene.

God Forbid's label mates at Victory Records, Emmure, followed. The band's hardcore mentality helped get the crowd moving, which was already becoming heavy with humidity from outside, still damp with monsoon air. The festival vibe meant plenty of opportunities to see varied acts, like Michigan's Pop Evil. I've always been intrigued by the band's sound. They've cultivated a loyal following of those who cherish grassroots hard rock, and they tore up the stage.

Trivium was a big favorite among the crowd, which is no surprise. But although they ran around the stage, headbanging and swinging their instruments around like a couple of banshees, they did not come near to how great the last two acts took on the stage. What they did do was amp up the crowd properly for Killswitch Engage and Five Finger Death Punch.

I've been a Killswitch fan for a long time, falling in love with their sound around Just Breathing and The End of Heartache. I must admit: I was disappointed about Howard Jones not being in the band anymore, but his replacement, frontman Jesse Leach, put on a hell of a performance, delivering genuine passion into such anthems as "End of Heartache" and "Rose of Sharyn." There was a sense of real chemistry on the stage. Added bonus: the band also played a new track titled "No End in Sight" off of their upcoming 2013 record.  

Although Five Finger Death Punch has nine consecutive top 10 radio hits, which is impressive for a modern heavy metal band, I wasn't sure what to expect out of their performance. I had seen the band a couple times before, and they've usually performed the exact same show: Vocalist Ivan Moody calls kids up on stage (which is admittedly sweet and provides a serene vibe to the crowd, but it seems a little scripted each and every time); and at some point he always screams out to the crowd that the last time 5FDP was at that particular venue, security shut them down early because they asked fans to rush the stage. Ditto for that.

But this time they truly stepped it up. 5FDP always brings raucous energy, a positive vibe, and extreme talent, particularly guitarists Jason Hook and Zoltan Bathory, but the set-list (selected by fans via Facebook) and a brand new stage setup, attempting to make it a show that incorporates every corner of the venue, made this show a stand out.

Moody performed with his usual gruff, somehow charming, rockstar persona, and the chosen light show was dramatic and intense. Plus the audience was super into it, eager to participate and sing along. He sang the usual favorites as "American Capitalist," "Bad Company," and "White Knuckles."

It was during the latter song that Ivan asked kids to come up onstage to play a little game of "Ivan Says" as he introduced the children as the "future generation of heavy metal." The majority of the front row during this time was the band's beefy, Chinese symbol-tatted, bandana-and-Affliction-wearing fans, pumping fists towards Ivan's brass-knuckle microphone.

But I must say that my favorite part of the show was the fact that all the members of Five Finger Death Punch truly enjoy what they're doing. They all seemed to be smiling from ear-to-ear, making eye contact with the crowd and dedicating themselves fully to the performance.

Five Finger Death Punch Set List: Under and Over It Burn it Down American Capitalist Hard to See Coming Down Bad Company White Knuckles [Drum Solo] Far From Home Never Enough War Is The Answer Remember Everything No One Gets Left The Bleeding

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Trespass America Festival with Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Pop Evil, Emmure, God Forbid and Battlecross.

The Crowd: Tattooed, dread-locked young parents toting bewildered punk rock tots, beefy, spiky-haired, bandanna-bedecked jocks.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Is that the dude who sings for Journey? Like, did he switch to heavy metal?" (referring to Trivium's singer Matt Heafy)

Random Notebook Dump: Is it just me, or are Affliction shirts becoming more and more bedazzled?

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Comerica Theatre

400 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003


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