The heavy bass of melodic post-hardcore metal shook the foundations of The Studio at Webster Hall due to the return of the band Alesana on Saturday, September 27, 2014. A sextet that has been rockin’ out for a decade, the band concluded a two week tour with friends Megosh, The Funeral Portrait, The Things They Carried, and From The Depths.
Performing in Webster Hall’s most intimate space, The Studio, allowed fans to have a closer interaction with the musicians as they leapt across the stage and swung from the rafters. Known for bringing exceptional energy to every performance, this show illustrated their natural talent for inspiring the audience with its positivity and celebration. The size of the crowd never matters, you can always tell Alesana is there to have fun and put on a great show.
These days little metalcore bands for young crowds sprout up quickly, featuring auto-tuned albums, gelled black hair and really, really tight jeans. Alesana is not one of those bands. With the lighter vocals of Shawn Milke contrasting with the heavier screams of Dennis Lee, the band has a dedicated following across the globe known as Alesana Army, holding in its membership many young New Yorkers.
Throughout the show people chanted lyrics back at lead vocalist Shawn Milke with true conviction. Among the crowd, the movement of arms and legs was not the old sport of moshes and crowd surfing, but more about a community expressing their joy of the music and their personal resonance with the lyrics. The performance of their latest song, Nevermore, was a special treat to witness.
I sat down with band members Shawn Milke (lead vocals, guitar) and Dennis Lee (screamed vocals) before the final performance to discuss the conceptual elements in their previous albums and what we might expect from their upcoming album that’s still in production. The album will be the third installment of a rock opera trilogy inspired by classic literary works like Edgar Allan Poe and Dante Alighieri.
How do you feel about making it to the end of this tour, here at Webster hall?
SM: It’s always bittersweet because what we do is really unique and special and we’re so grateful we can do this.
DL: It is bittersweet because the tour family is like your cousins and brothers, it’s a real family reunion when we get together [like this.]
How have literary classics influenced the band’s more conceptual albums?
SM: It’s exciting to hear [younger] fans say they weren’t really into reading, and then realized we’ve based our work on famous literature, and now they [like to] read.”
What are your thoughts on how artists and creatives can sustain a practice for the long term?
SM: It’s about putting [the] art first. If you put the art ahead of [everything] it will always be the driving force and therefore sustain…we could potentially play for the next 20 years because we put the art first.
What sort of literary works have inspired your upcoming album in the Annabel trilogy?
SM: The next album will be intense…Madeline L’Engle and her sci-fi works like A Wrinkle in Time [are important].
DL: Parallel universes and multiverses…Time travel is something so intricate in so many ways…we’re hoping to try and come up with our own twist…that’s all we can say for now, it’s definitely the youngest [literary] work we’ve explored for an album.
With a passion for meaningful lyrics and putting their love of music first, I can’t wait to discover what Alesana will create next.
Written by Christina Long, MFA | Guest Writer for Webster Hall, NYC
Bio: Christina Long is a Harlem based designer who manages a music zine titled #Blkgrlswurld