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Remember Everything: Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Pop Evil, and Emmure @ Freeman Coliseum, 7/27/12

“Dear mother, I love you
I’m sorry, I wasn’t good enough
Dear Father, forgive me
Cause in your eyes, I just never added up
In my heart I know I failed you, but you left me here alone”

~Remember Everything, 5FDP

I stood in front of Freeman Coliseum and took a deep breath. It had been almost 16 years to the day since I had set foot in this building. Somewhere within the depths of my memory, I retraced the steps of a hot summer night on July 15, 1996, when I drove my mom’s Suburban from Fredericksburg with Yolanda and Shane. I can remember walking onto the floor while this band EyeHateGod was on stage, thinking they were scary. I have flashes of the way it felt to stand there and see Sean Yseult on stage with White Zombie, and especially how excited I was to catch a shiny pink guitar pick from Jay Yuenger. I remember standing there by myself, as both my friends entered the mosh pit for Pantera, and I counted the times my other friend Jason walked by me on the other side of the barricade as a result of repetitive crowd surfing. I remember Yolanda stumbling out of the pit, her waist length hair strewn about, and shouting, “Yeah PANTERA!”…a phrase we would say to each other for years. And that’s it.

At 16, I knew nothing…but somehow I knew everything.

As I walked inside and to my seat, unlike many revisits to places of my youth…it felt bigger in there. Like the room in House of Leaves, I felt like it had grown supernaturally.

Sitting by the side of the stage, Emmure was finishing their set. I’ve heard this name before…but knew nothing about them. They were wrapping up their set with a series of breakdowns and growls, sliced and diced with screaming and rap/dubstep sounding elements. I feel like I’m watching a 2012 version of Limp Bizkit.

I always feel really out of touch when a band plays that I’ve never heard before…especially when the people around me are singing every word. Pop Evil looked like their daddies are in Motley Crue, and sound very nu-grunge at times. It’s radio hard rock for the masses. They pointed to all the kids in the crowd, thanking their parents for not taking them to see “Bieber bullshit”. With that, the vocalist decided to take a walk on the crowd, Iggy style…which provided my most impressive photograph of the evening.

If Trivium didn’t have clean vocals in their songs, I would probably love them. I’ve come to realize that I spend their sets nodding my head yes, and then switching to no. But then I probably would have been watching them play at the much smaller White Rabbit the night before…so wise move on their part. Between every song the vocalist put every effort into riling up the crowd. “San Antonio….you’re not doing enough.” “San Antonio…we always have great shows here….make this our best San Antonio show ever.” “San Antonio…you’re quickly becoming the best show in Texas on this tour”. “San Antonio….you just might be the best show on this tour so far”. And so on, and so forth.

Somewhere in my heatstroke haze of the night before, I thought I saw a couple of recognizable faces at the White Rabbit. But there’s nowhere to hide there, so it’s not a place I expect to see anyone….but apparently Killswitch Engage was hanging out. They are back with their original vocalist, which made the band sound a lot harder than the times I’d seen them before. But it wasn’t long before I was reminded why I have issues with KSE…Adam the guitarist. His Angus-y getup and knee brace conjure promise as he runs back and forth across the stage…but it was when he opened his mouth that I remembered: CREEPY FACTOR. I’m fully aware that the night before I laughed along as Corpsegrinder said many vulgar, funny things. But for whatever reason, when this guy dedicated a song to every girl who was on her period, and commented that he could smell it and it was “mineraly”…I stopped watching.

It’s crazy to see how big Five Finger Death Punch have gotten. And their stage show has progressed along with it; just short of pyro, they had lights and platforms blinging out the entire stage. In stark contrast, the band itself seems to have succeeded by being the “everyman”; they are not up there selling sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. There’s no glamor about it. Their music is a reflection of the audience packed in before them.

Part of me felt like I was at a USO show. 5FDP’s strong military draw was in full force that night; I was sitting amidst them, and there were some soldiers I spotted in front of the barricade for a bit. It was this that provided me with a concert first: out of the corner of my eye I see something going up and down, and I looked…and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t one of those soldiers right up front waving his prosthetic leg in the air!!! Good on him.

At one point, before the drum solo, there was a portion where a DJ lit up with the word “Hammer” I think, “dropped some beats” as the kids say from a raised platform in the center of the floor. It felt a little off from the rest of the set, but was quickly followed by a drum solo: the kit was all white and drummer Jeremy Spencer was lit up in a skeleton onesie.

My favorite part of a 5FPD show is when they call the little kids on stage. Mind you, several of them come to the stage via crowd surf, with what I hope are good instructions on how to locate their families again. Once “White Knuckles” begins, it’s hilarious to watch these little kids headbang along, or just look a little bewildered. Last time I saw this, I was standing side stage at Sunken Garden next to Randy Blythe and my friend Kim. I have a flash of Randy walking up to the sound board and pretending he was going to mess with all the controls, and then Ivan walking over there after the song to grab a sip of water and shrugging and going, “I love babies!”

I was thrown off by the church backdrop towards the end of the set. I remember watching the video for “Coming Down” last month, and it making me so sad:

Luckily, whenever I think about suicide, the first thing that pops into my head is Heathers: “Teenage Suicide- Don’t Do It”.

As I watched the band finish their set, I kind of sat their frozen before filing out with the masses. Gazing upon a stage that held a fuzzy memory of a show that impacted me for nearly two decades, I locked up another memory, and under my breath I muttered, “Yeah, Pantera”.

“I feel like running away
I’m still so far from home
You say I’ll never change but what the fuck do you know?
I’ll burn it all to the ground, before I let you run
Please forgive me, I can’t forgive you now.”

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