It was only fitting that the temps for the week soared into the 90’s. The Central Florida music scene has been heating up and tonight it was Kraken Music Fest’s turn to toss a log onto the proverbial fire. This would be Kraken Music Fest’s first Orlando event and making things even better, was the fact that it was going to be a sold-out show! We the Kings, Hawthorne Heights and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, definitely conjured up images of Warped Tours gone by. Although I’ve covered several concerts at Ace Cafe, this was my first sold-out show so I was curious as to how the event was going to unfold. Rather than make you wait until the end of the review, I’m just going to go ahead and put it out there now. Ace Cafe and Kraken Music Fest teamed up to present an event that can best be described as a well-oiled machine. The fans came out for a night of fun and great music, and they were not disappointed.
I was fortunate to locate one of the last on-site parking spots and hurried in to grab my pass and meet with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus for a pre-show interview. Jesse Carroll the guitarist for Astoria State, is also the tour manager for Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and was gracious enough to escort us in for the interview (check in with All Music Magazine next week for the complete interview). Once finished, there wasn’t much time to spare. I was able to navigate the long line of waiting fans and got to the pit about ten minutes prior to Astoria State taking the stage.
As a band, Astoria State is relatively new with its creation coming only a little more than a year ago. The members however, are an accomplished group of musicians with more than a decade in the music business. Lead guitarist, Jesse Carroll has played with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and currently serves as their tour manager. Lead vocalist and guitarist Danny Resnick also plays keyboards with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Bassist Cameron Horst rounds out the band and has known Resnick since high school. Led by Resnick clad in a vintage MTV t-shirt, Astoria State enchanted the crowd with a spirited set punctuated by their recent hit single “Nobody Knows.” The track for this song was produced by Ronnie Winter of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and the accompanying video was shot on location in Hemet, California. The experience and desire these guys bring to the table has resulted in a cohesive band that is sure to please fans for many years to come.
Danny Resnick (Lead vocals, Guitar)
Jesse Carroll (Guitar)
Cameron Horst (Bass Guitar)
Joel McDonald (Drums-Touring)
Next up was a band that really piqued my curiosity over the last few weeks. Straight out of South Florida, We’re Wolves is a hard-hitting metalcore band that’s sure to make your ears bleed. Dressed in black and covered in tats, these guys were definitely there to rock. Throw in a dab of face paint and any questions you might have had as far as what was coming, were quickly erased. From the onset the band brought it and brought it hard. The near 90-degree temps didn’t faze the crowd as they banged relentlessly to the unyielding metal assault that was being unleashed upon them. The melodic verses of the recently released single “Wasteland” were accompanied by thundering vocals and heavy riffs and the crowd showed their approval. A performance of their debut single “Dissonance” was also well received and if that weren’t enough, a cover of Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” was thrown in to seal the deal. If high octane high energy metal is what you desire, then We’re Wolves is for you. Be sure to check them out, especially live.
AJ Diaferio (Lead vocals)
Jeremy Matthew (Guitar)
Jesse Secatello (Drums)
Andrew Salazar (Bass)
Tony Cardillo (Guitar)
Hailing from Middleburg, Florida, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus was in town to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of their debut album “Don’t You Fake It.” The band has a reputation for producing thought provoking songs that address social issues such as domestic violence and teen suicide. Last year’s EP “Emergency” has continued that trend with songs like “Don’t Buy Into It” which reflects on current issues involving the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBTQIA community.
As the band prepared to kick off their set, lead vocalist Ronnie Winter addressed the crowd as if each and every person was a long-time friend. He made mention of how their music used to get pirated off sites like Napster and Limewire and this drew laughter from the crowd. The first song of the set was “False Pretense” which is from their debut album “Don’t You Fake It.” The band then went on to play the entire “Don’t You Fake IT” album including their hit anthem “Face Down.” Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is no one-trick pony and showed their diversity by slowing things down with the hits “Cat and Mouse” and “Your Guardian Angel.”
Rhythm guitarist Randy Winter has been in the spotlight lately and for an entirely different reason. Earlier this month he became aware that first responders were searching for a missing man near his Middleburg home. Winter joined the search and relied on his audio training and expertise to help locate the man and bring him to safety. After the performance the band members could be seen hanging out and talking with concertgoers and friends. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is as down-to-earth as you can get. Be sure to check back for our sit down with bassist Joey Westwood and drummer John Espy.
Ronnie Winter (Lead vocals)
Randy Winter (Guitar)
Joey Westwood (Bass)
John Espy (Drums)
Josh Burke (Guitar)
Daniel Resnick (Keyboard)
As 8 pm rolled around, the sun had finally started to drop out of the sky, and everyone was enjoying the reprieve from the heat. Hawthorne Heights made their way on stage and was greeted with enthusiastic applause. The band, formerly known as A Day In The Life, was formed in Ohio in 2001 and released their debut album, “The Silence in Black and White” in 2004. The band’s most recent release was 2019’s “Lost Frequencies” which they described as “a collection of B-Sides and rarities.”
As the emo/hardcore quartet took their places, singer and guitarist JT Woodruff announced how happy they were to be in Orlando. This sentiment was repeated by all of the bands throughout the event and really seemed to strike a chord with the appreciative crowd. Woodruff toting his purple guitar, got things going with “This is Who We Are” from the 2006 album “If Only You Were Lonely” and was flanked by guitarist Mark McMillion and bassist Matt Ridenour. Hawthorne Heights proceeded to knock out hit after hit including “Niki FM,” “We Are So Last Year,” and “Decembers.”
By this time, the crowd surfers were out in full effect and security had their hands full. Chris “Poppy” Popadak was a monster on drums and his expressions resonated with pure energy and adrenaline. As the green neon stage lights permeated the venue, Woodruff proclaimed that for one night only, “Florida is For Lovers.” Hawthorne Heights then closed out their remarkable set with the fan favorite “Ohio is For Lovers.” These guys have been grinding it out for 20 years and show no signs of taking their foot off the gas. One thing is for sure, the fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
JT Woodruff (Lead vocals/ Guitar)
Matt Ridenour (Bass)
Mark McMillon (Guitar)
Chris “Poppy” Popadak (Drums)
As I glanced at my phone, I saw that it was 9:30, and in 15 minutes the roof was going to come off of this place. Well, if we were inside that would have been true, but since we were in the awesome backyard at Ace Cafe I was pretty sure we’d be okay. The overall vibe and excitement of the crowd had been building all afternoon and had finally reached its peak. As the crowd sang along loudly to the house music, security started rearranging the stage-side barriers and the band’s family members were ushered to an area that would provide optimal viewing. Enough said, it was finally time.
We The Kings was born in Bradenton, Florida, back in 2005 and exploded onto the charts with their 2007 self-titled album and platinum selling single “Check Yes Juliet.” The group’s recent EP, “SAGA,” was released earlier this year and contains the infectious “Turn it Up” and the piano-driven ballad, “The Light.” A quick Google search turned up close to a dozen different descriptions of the band and their music, but there would be no labels tonight, just a rocking good time.
As the lights dimmed and the introductions were being made, the band emerged from their greenroom, which was actually a large box truck parked next to the stage. As the Kings exploded onto the stage, they were met with a resounding ovation. Travis Clark lays it all out there and leaves nothing in reserve. His vocals were on point, and he played with pure emotion throughout the performance. Clark even broke out the acoustic guitar for a moving rendition of the hit single “Sad Song.”
The entire group seems to feed off each other and the energy was contagious. Whether playing guitar or tickling the ivories, Coley O’Toole is the definition of perpetual motion. Hunter Thomsen the lead guitar, and bassist Charles Trippy were all over the stage and seemed to be having as much fun, maybe more than the fans themselves. Wearing a Tampa Bay Rays shirt, drummer Danny Duncan kept a monstrous pace. I’m pretty sure that if he could have found a way to carry his drums around, he would have been all over as well.
We The Kings put together an impressive set that included “She Takes Me High,” “Skyway Avenue” and the aforementioned “Turn it Up,” “The Light” and “Check Yes Juliet”. Clark, who lives in Winter Park, made it a point to let everyone know that Florida is their home, and he repeatedly thanked the crowd for coming out this evening. This was my first time seeing We The Kings, but it won’t be my last. Their performance and stage presence should serve as a blueprint for bands that plan on performing live. Fans can stream music or listen to it in a variety of ways but when they buy a ticket to a show they expect to be treated to a memorable performance. We The Kings hit the nail on the head and there’s no faking that.
Travis Clark (Lead vocals/ Guitar)
Hunter Thomsen (Lead Guitar)
Danny Duncan (Drums)
Coley O’Toole (Guitar/Keyboard)
Charles Trippy (Bass)
So, at the end of the night, I had to take my hat off to Freddy Escobar from Kraken Music Fest and Ace Café for putting together an outstanding, sold-out event that ran smoothly from start to finish. This is exactly what people needed, and it was served up with class and style.
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I’ve had a love for photography since I was young. Whether it was a Polaroid or a Kodak 110, I was always the kid with the camera. My love of music goes back even further. Nothing beats being at a show when those lights go down and the crowd goes nuts.