On June 28th, I attended a spot of The Handmade Tour at the Backbooth in Orlando, FL and started the night with an interview with a member of The Ongoing Concept. Shortly after speaking to Dawson Scholz, the show began. Two local bands, Letters to Part and Sea of Surrender opened the show. The bands weren't necessarily indicative of the best Orlando has to offer, but the post-hardcore groups put on an admirable show. The spoken word sections by the drummer of Sea of Surrender was likely the most intriguing and thought-provoking portion of the local openers. Hardcore band Outlands took the stage after the locals and were immediately followed by California natives Dayseeker. Dayseeker has a pretty solid following and there were definitely some fans in attendance. Both of the tour bands put on extremely energetic and entertaining shows, but it seemed like everyone was there for the main event.
The Ongoing Concept opened with "Amends" from their new album Handmade, using the very same handmade instruments crafted to record the album. This song, as well as others, used the exact same backing tracks as used on the album. As an example, before the band launched into the barrage that is "Saloon," the cowboy bar banter of "Deal the Cards Again" played first. After a strong opening that included Kyle jumping off the stage into the mosh pit, the band blazed through several other fan favorites, including two other new songs in "Soul" and "Unwated." The band had a blast while on stage and joked and played around throughout the entire set. While this made for great entertainment, it did not detract from the quality of the sound. The most noticeable thing of all is that Kyle Scholz is a crazy man. More than once he plunged off the stage right into the middle of a mosh pit while screaming. Not only did he join the moshers, but he also managed to pull off a pretty sweet looking parkour style flip off of the stage, as well as bailing over a short wall at the back of the small venue to scream his lines about two centimeters from a fan's face. It was actually pretty amazing to see him go all-out that hard for the entire set. The band themselves put on a lively and energetic show, but Kyle completely sold out for the whole performance. The band also completely jammed out Saloon's "Failures and Fakes," which was another of the night's top songs. After setting a blistering pace and giving one of the most intense and unforgettable concert-going experiences of a lifetime, the guys closed it out with the song they say started it all: "Cover Girl." Kyle informed the crowd, "We're going to play 'Cover Girl' and it's going to suck." Before delving in to the song, Kyle Scholz and bassist TJ Nichols had a brief water/water bottle fight and then it was off to the races. Kyle's mic had already come unplugged at least three times prior to the final song, and for "Cover Girl" he went back and forth between his brother Dawson's mic and TJ's mic. It wasn't very long into the song before fans started jumping on stage and grabbing mics (this happened earlier in the show as well, but not to this level) to sing and scream along. The band seemed completely comfortable and ok with this type of crowd participation. While "Cover Girl" certainly didn't suck, it was definitely the most interesting and bizarre moment of the night.
The Ongoing Concept put on a ridiculous performance of the like I have never seen in around twenty years of concert-going. I've seen all kinds of shows and concerts from country stars like Alan Jackson, to CCM legends like Ray Boltz, to punk rock shows with MxPx, and plenty of metal performances from groups like Demon Hunter, and many concerts from many other genres, but this one 30-45 minute set blew my mind. It was a true pleasure to see a band with this amount of talent get on a tiny stage in a crummy club in Orlando, with maybe 50 people in attendance, and rock out like they were never going to play again. On top of that, the handmade instruments were beautiful and sounded just as good as they looked. All of the time and effort that went into making the instruments was worth it, and the payoff of getting to see them played live was even better. The tour is over now, but The Ongoing Concept will be doing some more touring later this year. If you missed this band, I urge you to head to see them live the next time they are in your area. I can't imagine them being as wired as they were in Orlando that night, but even if they gave half of that performance, you'd get a real treat. If these guys keep this work ethic and attention to detail going, they will be something truly special in the years to come.-- Michael Weaver, 7/13/15
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