Friday night was a night to remember for music fans that like it hard and heavy, as the Allstate Arena shook nonstop from one thunderous act after another. Burn Halo, featuring singer James Hart (formerly of Eighteen Visions) played as the ticket’s opener and was quick to show they were ready to take on an arena crowd. Though touring their upcoming self-titled debut album, which will be released on March 31st, Burn Halo showed the poise and chemistry expected of a veteran touring band, despite their short time together. Their heavy-edged sound combined with Hart’s vocal prowess had fans in the furthest rows raising their fists in high praise.
Lead guitarist Joey Cunha was flashy and very effective whenever given the spotlight, showing signs of a potential guitar hero in the making, while Hart, already seasoned from his long tenure with Eighteen Visions, energized the crowd with a constant range of spirited motions across the stage. As well performed as Burn Halo’s set was, it was when the band went into “Dirty Little Girl” that the band really came into their own, as far as projecting a complete identity. Diehards sang along with the chorus propelling the band into a higher presentation level where they actually seemed most comfortable. Finishing strong, Burn Halo left a lasting impression on concert goers with, what was probably their heaviest number, “Save Me” – a powerful song that explains that there is still time to redeem oneself no matter what may have occurred in the past.
Papa Roach and Buck Cherry were sandwiched between Burn Halo and headliner Avenged Sevenfold, the other band that people will be buzzing about long after the show. In peak form, Avenged guitarist Synyster Gates, vocalist M. Shadows and company carried out 90 minutes of masterful musical precision and high-octane showmanship. Standing alongside the stage for part of their show, where I got a good glimpse of their perspective while performing, I was amazed at the band’s ability to operate the crowd and deliver on the mark into the hands of screaming thousands.
In what was simply a flawless show, Avenged Sevenfold played many fan favorites including “Afterlife”, “Dear God”, “Almost Easy” and “Scream”. While Gates’ piercing tones filled the air along with Shadows’ Graham Bonnet style voice, bassist Johnny Christ and The Rev held down the band’s penetrating groove like a well-oiled machine. Avenged Sevenfold only came out for one encore, but that’s all they needed after playing a watertight version of “A Little Touch of Heaven”, which was exactly just that.
Despite the fact that Papa Roach and Buck Cherry played enthusiastic sets, it was the bookends, Burn Halo and Avenged Sevenfold, that really rose above the crop. The fact that Avenged’s guitarist Synyster Gates is featured on Burn Halo’s “Dirty Little Girl” and is friends with James Hart, creates the possibility for these bands to tour together in the near future. And for those who missed Burn Halo this time around, not to worry. The band will return to Chicago on April 27th at the House of Blues where they will be touring along with Saliva.