Last Friday, Webster Hall had two huge names out front: Never Shout Never and Hawthorne Heights. A young lady who I assumed was a Never Shout Never fan looked up and asked, “Who’s Hawthorne Heights?” I cried inside. Hawthorne Heights is an emo rock band from Ohio. They were every high school scene kid’s favorite band in the 2000s. Fans who were 23-27 years of age had the opportunity to relive their high school days that night, and it was magical. In honor of their 2004 debut, The Silence In Black and White, Hawthorne Heights have been touring for the record’s 10th anniversary.
Hawthorne Heights and three other acts performed in The Studio at Webster Hall. It’s very small compared to the Grand Ballroom, which is another room in the venue. The Studio looked like a cozy underground basement with a bar in the back and a stage located on the left side of the room. There was minimum security, considering that another popular band was playing elsewhere in the venue, and the Studio could only fit so many people. Throughout the night, the crowd became more intimate; people squeezed their way through the front of the stage, and there was the occasional mosh pit.
The first band to play was Franchise, a four-piece post-hardcore band from New Jersey. With Kenny Ramirez on vocals, Edgar “Mush” Martinez on guitar, Mark Costa on bass, and Corrado Rizzi on drums, they were quite impressive. Franchise as a whole brought powerful and genuine talent to the table. Their music is aggressive and energetic, and Ramirez’s vocals are definitely worth listening to if you get the chance to hear them. Their sophomore release, Santa Muerte, will be arriving late in the Spring of this year.
In Our Glory was the second act to perform. Unfortunately, this five-piece alternative rock band failed to make an impression amongst the crowd. The NJ-based collective’s sound is generic. They spent a great amount of time trying to get their instruments and monitors to work, but only to perform a decent set. The only highlight was their pop-goes-punk version of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor.”
Green Light Theory made their way to the stage with their emo and pop punk influences. The alternative rock band from Los Angeles conjured up a great amount of energy that night, singing songs that were reminiscent of early 2000’s music. Some of their songs reminded me of when Taking Back Sunday was in their prime. GLT’s lead guitarist Scott Waldman had so much enthusiasm; he engaged with fans in the front row, introduced his mom to the crowd, and called a girl out who was on her phone texting (she was in front of lead vocalist Corey Rutchland’s face).
Hawthorne Heights walked up on stage for their set, and it was all over. I found myself slowly slipping away from the center and moving towards the side. It was your typical scene crowd: the aforementioned mosh pits, spilled beer on tap, black hoodies, and lip rings. After a five-minute sound and monitor check, frontman JT Woodruff welcomed the New York crowd. They began their set with “Life on Standby.” Immediately, I pictured my 14-year old self in full gear, singing along to the songs, banging my head, and happily crying on the inside.
JT Woodruff provided vocals that are still clean as ever. Mark McMillon’s screaming is forever refreshingly powerful. With bassist Matt Ridenour and drummer Chris Popadak, the band had resurrected the 2004 record with more of a mature look. They still have it. Unlike some other bands who have formed during the time, Hawthorne Heights still hold up to their name, giving us the show of a lifetime that has stirred up the young hearts and inner children among all of us who were present at the show.
The adored band summoned the demons in all of us with their last, and most popular song, “Ohio Is For Lovers.” The crowd transformed into a violent tidal wave; oddly, it was a beautiful sight to see. I have never crowd-surfed, and I wish I did during this part of the night. Fans started to climb on stage and dance behind Woodruff, McMillon, and Ridenour. The band didn’t mind, as this was something to be expected, especially during the last song.
The night ended on a high note, and it was surely an unforgettable experience. Now, at 25, I will still continue to listen to Hawthorne Heights until my dying days. Hawthorne Heights’ setlist includes: “Life on Standby,” “Dissolve and Decay,” “Niki FM,” “The Transition,” “Blue Burns Orange,” “Silver Bullet,” “Screenwriting an Apology,” “Wake Up Call,” “Sandpaper and Silk,” “Speeding Up the Octaves,” “This Is Who We Are,” “Oceans,” “Bring You Back,” and “Saying Sorry,” “Pens and Needles,” and “Ohio Is For Lovers.”