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REVIEW: Emo Orchestra feat. Escape the Fate

Photo by Hali Neal

The Emo Orchestra featuring Escape the Fate rocked the Parker on May 4 in Ft. Lauderdale. 

The blend of emo and orchestral blended together in enjoyable, interesting, and unexpected ways. 

The lights dimmed and the night led off with Escape the Fate's hit "Not Good Enough for Truth in Cliche". Lead singer Craig Mabbit is hypnotizing on stage and he's fun to watch. He's been doing vocals for Escape the Fate for 15 years, so this is more his song than original singer Ronnie Radke's, but he hit all the notes with precision and the listener would never know he wasn't the original singer. The orchestra added a dramatic depth to an already dramatic song.  

The band then launched into Fall Out Boy's "Thanks for the Memories" and The Used's "The Bird and the Worm". Everything, from vocals to instrumentation, was on point. It was during System of a Down's "Aerials", though, that the band really shone. Mabbit's voice took on a beautiful, deep quality, much like original singer Serj Tankian's. Even those who aren't fans of the original will enjoy Escape the Fate's version.

"Smile in Your Sleep" was another standout because the screams were well-done, not always an easy task. 

The best cover of the night was "Ghost of You" originally by My Chemical Romance. The orchestra made an already heartbreaking song extra heart twisting. Mabbit's vocals echoed the longing and Robert Ortiz's drumming accented everything perfectly. Contrary to most rock music set ups, the drum set up was simple: it had only three parts and the cymbals but it worked.

Escape the Fate then launched into a favorite of Mabbit's: AFI's classic, "Miss Murder". The whole crowd sang along to this one enthusiastically. The band also had a certain reverence for the song and it was a joy to watch. Justice was definitely done to original singer Davey Havok's screams.

Next up was A Day to Remember's "If It Means A Lot To You". You can tell these songs mean a lot to Mabbit. While K Enagonio, the person doing the other vocals, was singing, he went up to the guitarist and mouthed the words. Then the drums came in and the orchestra added an extra layer of awesome. It's another song that pulls at the heartstrings, no matter what. 

Before launching into the next song, Mabbit mentioned that there would be a QR code coming up on the screen above them. It was for a donation for Jessica, an Emo Orchestra member battling breast cancer.

The next song flashed on the screen as the title track off the band's new album "Out of the Shadows 2.0". The drums overpowered most of the vocals, though there was one that rose above. The listener could feel the anguish. Bassist Erik Jensen also had some well-done vocals. As much as I appreciate a pulsating drum beat and guitar solo, I found myself wishing I could hear the orchestra more.

The transition to a 15 minute intermission was marked by the lights going up and emo music pumping through the speakers.

Lights flashing marked the end of intermission and the orchestra filed back onto the stage. They started playing what could have been a dramatic film score for a minute or two and soon Escape the Fate came back on stage.

The band launched into a track off "Out of the Shadows 2.0", "This War is Ours". Ortiz's drums were powerful and there was a face melting guitar solo in there as well.

The next song that flashed on the screen behind the orchestra was "Face Down" by the band's really good friends, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Unfortunately, it was the weakest of the set. The original isn't known for its vocal prowess so it's easy for it to be bland sounding. The signature scream was only okay. The ending note was really good though.

The next standout song was "Dear Maria, Count Me In". The guitar was great on this one. It's such an iconic riff, so it was big shoes to fill and Escape the Fate did. The orchestra weirdly fit.

The next song up was Blink-182's "I Miss You".

More big shoes to fill and they did. The orchestra added an extra layer of heartbreak. The dual vocals were done by Mabbit and TJ Bell. Mabbit really took care of this song with the tone of his vocals and asked anyone who had someone special to hold them close.

On the next song, "My Friends Over You", it was clear the band was having fun which isn't always the case with covers (looking at you, "Punk Goes").

The next two songs were as sing along as you can get: "Ohio is for Lovers" and "I'm Not Okay". The orchestra added a certain depth to "Ohio is For Lovers" and really rounded out the song. On "I'm Not Okay", though, I couldn't hear the orchestra. Jensen had great vocals toward the end on that one.

Escape the Fate launched into "One for the Money" next and their energy on stage was contagious. What really stood out about this one was the guitar solo. 

The band exited and the lights were still dimmed, a sign any veteran concertgoer knows signals that there's going to be an encore.

After about five minutes, the band came back on stage and launched into "Welcome to the Black Parade", the emo anthem. The band's fantastic rendition would get even the most staunch haters of this song (and there are some) on their side. Mabbit's vocals were exceptional on this one. The band was also really into it.

This show brought together two unlike things and seamlessly coordinated them. Songs that already ripped your heart out just stomped on it in the best way. This was a unique idea executed flawlessly.


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