Metalcore Mayhem Melts Missouri Masses

Oh, springtime in Kansas City. The show we covered for Wednesday night (Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and Delain) was held on a bright and sunny day. But if you don’t like the weather in Kansas City, just wait a few hours and it will be completely different! Much is the same with these next bands that performed at the Uptown Theater on Saturday night.

A cold and blustery night in Kansas City set the tone for Saturday’s show; dark, piercing, and unrelenting to anyone unprotected from the elements. The Incarnate Tour brought brutality to Kansas City, featuring Killswitch Engage, Memphis May Fire, 36 Crazyfists, and Toothgrinder.

A show of the caliber is bound to be intense – Even before our first band hit the stage, the floor of the Uptown began filling up with throngs of people ready to heat up the night.
Life Pro Tip – If you’re cold, just jump into the pit for a minute or two. It will warm you right up

Toothgrinder was the first to the stage. A five piece band hailing from the Garden State of New Jersey, Toothgrinder is made up of Justin Matthews on vocals, Matt Arensdorf on bass, Matt Meilke and Jason Goss on guitars, and Wills Weller on drums.

Right out the gate, Toothgrinder proved that they could hang with the behemoths of brutality. Active since 2010, the band has released 3 EPs before coming out with their first studio album in 2016 titled Nocturnal Masquerade. Technical difficulties sidelined the lead guitarist for a few songs in the middle of the set, but the band played on without missing a beat. A triumphant return during a guitar solo signaled the return of the lead guitarist, and the band finished strong.

Next to the stage was 36 Crazyfists all the way from Alaska. Veterans of the metalcore scene, the band has been around since 1994. Members include Brock Lindow on vocals, Steve Holt on guitar, and Mick Whitney on bass, and Kyle Baltus on drums. Coming off the success of 2015’s Time and Trauma album, 36CF opened with the song Vanish from the same album. Not to stray from the “classics”, they played my personal favorite, At the End of August, as well as a few others from 2004’s A Snow Capped Romance. It was around this time in the set where I had really forgotten the intensity of this band. When they played some songs from A Snow Capped Romance, it brought me right back into my late high school days. It was bands like this that inspired me to form my own band and try to rock as hard as these dudes. I’m pretty sure I had to buy A Snow Capped Romance a few times since it was played over and over in my car between band practices. Anyway, enough nostalgia. The rest of the set included other tracks from their newest release, and ended strong with the song Time and Trauma. My only complaint here is that they didn’t play more – 36 Crazyfists seems like a band that does not disappoint their fans and that energy was apparent at this show

Moving on to our third act, Memphis May Fire. I’ll be honest, I was not very familiar with this band at the start of the show. Formed in 2006 from Dallas, TX, MMFs current members include Matty Mullins on vocals, Kellen McGregor on lead guitar, Anthony Sepe on rhythm guitar, Cory Elder on bass and Jake Garland on drums. MMF had a meteoric rise in the mid aughts, and with that, attracted a huge gathering of fans. You certainly want to secure your place on the floor early with these guys, because by the time I reached the stage area after grabbing an ice cold brewski, the floor was already packed.

MMF opened strong with Beneath the Skin. Aptly titled, this band really does get under your skin (in a good way, duh!) The set really alternated between songs from their 2014 release of Unconditional, which features a bit more refined, grown up sounds, and their album Challenger, which was released in 2012. Having the task to open up before Killswitch, MMF wasted no time getting the crowd pumped and the pit crazy. If you don’t want to be involved in this pit, you’ll have to stay back, because Memphis May Fire brings the heaviness and crushing sounds that is everything metal!

And now time for our headliners, Killswitch Engage! It had been well over a decade since I have seen KSE grace the stage, shortly after releasing the album The End of Heartache in 2004. Back then, Howard Jones had only just replaced original lead singer Jesse Leach. Fast forward to 2016; Jesse is back and is here to prove to decades long fans that he is here with a vengeance. Killswitch Engage’s current lineup is Jesse Leach on vocals, Adam Dutkiewicz on lead guitar, Joel Stroetzel on rhythm guitar, Mike D’Antonio on bass and Justil Foley on drums.

Opening up with Strength of My Mind from their new album Incarnate, Killswitch shows that they are one of the reigning gods of the metalcore mindset. Right after opening up with a new song, KSE performed Take This Oath, which was originally recorded with Howard Jones. Jesse, however, proved that he has all the range, talent, and energy to make KSE’s entire discography sound amazing.

Now I wish I had more words to add here for KSE’s set, but truth be told, I was having WAY too much fun in the pit. It’s been years since I have been in a proper mosh pit, and Killswitch performs the perfect soundtrack for the sweaty stomping and shoving that one expects from that. My ear was swollen, my fists were sore, and I ruined an old pair of combat boots, but damnit, this is what a metalcore show is all about. Sometimes, you just have to get down and dirty.

This is not a show to be missed. Loud, fast, brutal, and at sometimes, violent – but combined, this is the perfect recipe for a night of metal.
If you’re in these areas, don’t miss out. The Incarnate tour is headed here soon:

03.23 Indianapolis, IN – Egyptian Room
03.24 Des Moines, IA – 7 Flags
03.25 Minneapolis, MN – Skyway Theatre
More cities and dates can be found here:


36 Crazyfists

Memphis May Fire

Killswitch Engage

Words by Dallas Hessel
Photos by Josh Chaikin

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