There is something refreshing about going to see several bands that are willing to make the sacrifices necessary in order to try to make it to the next level or to absolutely make it to the big time.  There is toil, blood, sweat, and tears in the process, whether it’s promoters trying to underhand the touring bands, whether it’s a sparse crowd due to lack of promotion from the promoter of the venue, or it could be an extenuating circumstance that can hinder the show.  Never Say Die, VYCES, and Era 9 have virtually seen it all, they’re all willing to make those sacrifices necessary, and they all know how to deliver whether the crowd is 10 people or 10,000 people.  There was a handful of people on the stormy, rainy night at Spicoli’s Rockade Bar & Grill in Waterloo, Iowa as the three bands took the stage on that Friday night.  First of all, I want to give a shoutout to the two local bands, 98 Greenwood and The Spectacles for delivering entertaining performances to kick off the tour package for the evening.  Era 9 was the first to take the stage.

In a brief digression, I apologize that Era 9’s section will be pretty brief as I was conducting an in-depth interview with Reid of Never Say Die(formerly of My Darkest Days) during the majority of Era 9’s performance.  What I can tell you is that they offered a sound unlike anything that I have ever heard what is called “trap rock”.  The tandem vocals were on point, whether it’s the raps, clean singing, or the screams that one provided or the angelic pop voice that Laurie provided on the vocals.  However, I went with what little I can tell you of the performance, and decided to connect with Era 9, and picked up a copy of their CD entitled “Gravity”.  They stated to me that they’re strictly a DIY band out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and that they’re doing this “grassroots style”.  Based on “Gravity” by Era 9, Madness To Creation will be writing an in-depth review on the album and I will be the first to say is that their music blows me away.  Los Angeles, California band VYCES were the next band to take the stage.  Please check out Era 9 on tour at the following locations:

Tuesday, June 20th at Looney Bin in Bradley, Illinois (w/Dead Horse Trauma)

Thursday, June 22nd at Music Lynxx in Mentor On The Lake, Ohio (w/Dead Horse Trauma)

Friday, June 23rd at McGarvey’s Bar and Grill in Altoona, Pennsylvania (w/Dead Horse Trauma)

Sunday, June 25th at Reverb in Reading, Pennsylvania(w/Dead Horse Trauma)

Wednesday, June 28th at Muncheez in Beckley, West Virginia(w/Dead Horse Trauma)

Saturday, July 1st at Drunk Horse Pub in Fayetteville, North Carolina(w/Dead Horse Trauma)

Sunday, July 2nd at The Wizard Saloon in Hickory, North Carolina(w/Dead Horse Trauma)

Thursday, July 6th at High Dive in Gainesville, Florida(w/No Komply and Koup d’E Tat)

Friday, July 7th at The Haven in Winter Park, Florida(w/Dead Horse Trauma)

Sunday, July 9th at Open Chord in Knoxsville, Tennessee(w/Dead Horse Trauma)

Saturday, July 15th at Rail II in Peoria, Illinois(w/Dead Horse Trauma, Left4Dead, and Everybody Panic!)


In the meantime, check out Era 9’s music video for “Hero”.  In the meantime, find Era 9 at the following locations:

“Hero” by Era 9


Out of Los Angeles, California, VYCES were the next band to take the stage.  VYCES is currently operating as a four-piece band, as Dave Naruszewicz commands the vocals, while Shawn Patterson directs the force on the guitars, and Russell Ray is behind the kit.  They currently enlisted a new bass player by the name of Andrew Bones, which is an aptly appropriate name for a bass player.  Based upon the 35 to 40 minute set that VYCES provided, Bones is a welcome addition to this band that is on the rise.

VYCES provided a high-quality light show to incorporate with the music, including multi-colored spotlights, laser lights, and just lights that would light up the blackest of skies.  Most bands have a banner with the band’s logo, however, VYCES had the trademark V(with a circle around it) as a metal backdrop, which definitely looked rustic and quite unique for the layout of the stage setup.  VYCES tore through their set, which is a combination of promoting the “Devils” EP, and also promoting the latest single entitled “Nocturnal”, which will be released on the full-length album.  Frontman Naruszewicz provided quite a commanding stage presence that was proactive in engaging the Spicoli’s audience, emotional vocals, and provided quite an energetic set for VYCES.  Andrew and Russell are quite seamless and groovetastic as a part of the rhythm section, and Andrew does a masterful job commanding the background vocals and helping Naruszewicz out with the vocal harmonies and the screams, which were intricately placed in crescendo moments of the songs.  Shawn Patterson offers unique distortions and guitar tones that seemed to flow with the concept of despair and darkness from songs in the “Devils” EP,  including “I Will Find You” and the title track.  “Nocturnal” is showcasing a bit more of a melodic and a bit of a different direction for VYCES, from a lyrical and musical standpoint.  The lyrics seem to provide that glimmer of hope and that flickering light at the end of the tunnel type of story in the song.  VYCES showed no let up in the set from a proactive audience engagement standpoint, and with the driving components in the music that seems to challenge themselves to push harder in order to win the audience over, and they did just that.  Canada’s own Never Say Die were the last band to take the Spicoli’s stage.  Fans can catch VYCES at the following tour stops!

Wednesday, June 28th at Red Rocks in Mankato, Minnesota (w/Shallow Side)

Friday, July 7th at Funhouse in Seattle, Washington (w/Shallow Side)

Friday, July 21st at Spicoli’s Rockade in Waterloo, Iowa (w/Dead Horse Trauma and Blue Felix)

Saturday, July 22nd at Wooly’s in Des Moines, Iowa (w/Dead Horse Trauma and Blue Felix)

In the meantime, check out VYCES at the following locations:

“Nocturnal” by VYCES

Out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is a band called Never Say Die.  Never Say Die is composed of Reid Henry on vocals/guitars, Dane Hartsell on vocals/guitars, Brendan McMillan on bass/vocals, and Mike Langford on drums.  There is kind of a unique opportunity for Never Say Die as they seem to be starting with that proverbial clean slate.  Long story short, Matt Walst left My Darkest Days to take over the vocal duties for Three Days Grace and it left with two members remaining of My Darkest Days.  Mike Langford, who produced and engineered for Evans Blue, Parabelle, and Scarlet White became the hired gun for drums, and Mike recruited touring mate Dane Hartsell to provide some guitar punch for Never Say Die.

Never Say Die is pushing forward while ripping the rearview mirror of the Never Say Die vehicle.  They personified pushing forward and never looking back upon the success that they sowed when My Darkest Days crafted the song entitled “Pornstar Dancing”.  Reid, as laidback and down to earth that he is when I interviewed him, he brought a unique vibe coupled with a sense of urgency to cause the Spicoli’s audience to pay attention.  Reid made the crowd interaction interpersonal, while Reid utilized multiple mics and intertwined guitar riffs with Dane quite intricately.  The rhythm section showcased the absolute strength of Never Say Die, as it cased people to move about in place while nodding their head in total approval of the band.  Never Say Die incorporated cuts off of the “Destroy + Rebuild” record, including their single entitled “Like A Nightmare”, which was especially well received during their performance.  Never Say Die understood the audience as they treated the audience to several cuts from My Darkest Days, including closing the set with “Pornstar Dancing”.  The song sounded obviously different without Zakk Wylde there with Never Say Die, however, Reid’s audience participation and Dane’s frantic guitar work made it quite palatable for the Spicoli’s audience.  Unfortunately, I missed some of Never Say Die’s set due to us conducting an interview with Dave of VYCES.  In the meantime, check out Never Say Die at the following locations:

Here’s the music video to “Like A Nightmare” by Never Say Die

Check out tour dates for Never Say Die:

Saturday, June 24th at St. Feriole Island Park in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin

Sunday, June 25th at Twisted Spoke Saloon in Pekin, Illinois

Friday, June 30th at The Ridglea Room in Fort Worth, Texas

Saturday, July 1st at 18th St Pier in San Leon, Texas

Friday, July 7th at L’Treyn’s in Keokuk, Iowa

Saturday, July 8th at County Fair in Neillsville, Wisconsin

Friday, August 4th at American Legion Post 476 in Langsville, Ohio

Saturday, August 5th at American Legion Post 476 in Langsville, Ohio



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