Concert review: Dayseeker w/ AVOID, Rain City Drive, and Silent Planet | 05.07.24, Pop’s (with photo gallery)

Photo of Dayseeker by Erica Vining

Pop’s Concert Venue/Nightclub is notorious in the area, a local legend with thousands of musical acts coming through their doors over the years. You never truly know what a night at Pop’s will bring, but there is one constant when you stop in for a nationally touring set: someone is going to make a quip about the pronunciation of the tiny village that Pop’s calls home, Sauget.

Tuesday night at Pop’s lived up to this expectation as the first band of the night, AVOID, dove head first into the name game with a rowdy crowd chanting SAW-JHEY in a familiar song and dance for the venue. Hailing from the west coast, the Seattle-bred foursome opened the night with an unreleased track, “Burn,” which peaked with vocalist Benny Scholl jumping into the pit to high-five fans on the rail. Scholl made his way back to the stage before diving into “Cowabunga,” with the band navigating the ferality of post-hardcore music with ease despite the cramped stage. The sold-out crowd ate up every second of the eight-song set, with frequent calls for crowd surfers keeping security on their toes.

The second band on the DARK SUN WORLDWIDE tour, Rain City Drive, is one I am not unfamiliar with. Rain City Drive began as the band Slaves before transitioning to their current name in late 2021 after signing with Thriller Records. Slaves was initially fronted by the infamous Jonny Craig before he was removed in 2019 following addiction issues and multiple accusations of sexual assault. Current vocalist Matt McAndrew replaced Craig just prior to the bands rebrand to Rain City, later Rain City Drive. This was my third time seeing the band live, and I’ve yet to be disappointed in their set. With five members on the roster, Rain City Drive packed onto the cramped stage before launching into the late 2023 single, “Frozen.” “Frozen” is a softer ballad, what it lacks in screaming it makes up for with a catchy melody that will play on repeat in your head well after the song ends. Perhaps my favorite moment of the night followed soon after with Dayseeker front man Rory Rodriguez joining McAndrew onstage to perform their new song “Medicate Me.” Debuting just over a week ago, Sauget was treated to one of the first live performances of the catchy track. “Medicate Me” is a song that I didn’t finish my first listen as I found the frequent vocal trills in the chorus repetitive and felt it took away from the song. I decided to try again a few days later and it has been on repeat since, so I’m chalking that first listen up to just being hangry. “Medicate Me” is a vocal masterpiece reminiscent of the bands’ older stuff like “Talk to a Friend” which saw ample airtime on satellite radio. Despite being the softest band on the night’s lineup, Rain City Drive had one of the heaviest crowds, and ended up being my favorite of the night.

When the DARK SUN WORLDWIDE tour was announced, the initial lineup featured the beloved Australian metalcore band Polaris as the final opener for the night. This tour was set to be one of the first US tours featuring the band since the tragic death of guitarist Ryan Siew nearly one year ago. Polaris announced just prior to the tour that they were cancelling all scheduled US dates to focus on the mental health of the band, with Silent Planet replacing them on the bill. Silent Planet are no strangers to touring with Dayseeker and although Polaris is missed this was a wonderful addition to the lineup. Arguably the heaviest band of the night, Silent Planet opened with “Offworlder” which set the tone for the remainder of their set. This band was my favorite to photograph with energy that was off the charts and more hair whipping than a Willow Smith concert. Somehow the stark contrast between Silent Planet and the headliner of the night, Dayseeker, made it even more enjoyable as I felt as if I were being treated to two separate shows.

Dayseeker took the stage promptly at 9:30 with lights dimming to highlight the beautiful purples and pinks of Dayseeker’s set. Hexagonal mirrors framed the backdrop, reflecting a laser light show back to the audience that induced a trance-like atmosphere…dare I say a “Dreamstate?” Dayseeker is a band that I could see in a coffee house in some rural farm town, or onstage at a festival in front of hundreds of thousands of people, and both would feel right. Vocalist Rodriguez commands attention with a voice that conjures emotion from the crowd regardless of the song’s narrative. Among friends I often describe music with adjectives—for example I have always said the vocalist of the band Sleep Token sings in matte. Rodriguez is another one I reference often, describing his vocals as screaming in kind. Even the most raw and aggressive screams seem intimate with Rodriguez. The band is filled with talent beyond their vocalist, with drummer ZacMayfield, guitarist Gino Sgambelluri, and bassist Ramone Valerio rounding out one of the most gifted modern rock bands on the circuit currently.

The band opened the night with one of their heavier songs on the set, “Gates of Ivory,” before moving into my personal favorite Dayseeker song, “Dreamstate.” “Dreamstate” compliments Rodriguez’s vocals without overwhelming the talent of his band—there is no competition of instrumentals and vocals, only harmony. The breakdown of the song is one of my top breakdowns ever, I once spent a day creating a proposal for a music video based on the breakdown of this song that took up an entire notebook. Rory, if you’re reading this, call me, let’s make a video! Jokes aside, if you are new to this band and want a place to start, this song is the one. Sauget was treated to Garrett Russell of Silent Planet joining Rodriguez for “Dreamstate” before the band transitioned to “Crooked Soul” with Scholl of AVOID coming out for this one.

If you were hopeful for an upbeat, light-hearted track, well, you must be new to Dayseeker. Their songs are often inspired by big life events including the death of Rodriguez’s father and the birth of his daughter. Midway through the set, the band exited, leaving Rodriguez and his acoustic guitar center stage as he talked about a close friend’s battle with anorexia which inspired the song “Starving to Be Empty,” with Matt McAndrew joining him onstage for this song. Recently releasing an acoustic album, I was hopeful we would get the acoustic version of “Paper Heart” which is another favorite, and my night peaked after Rodriguez delivered on this hope. This was one of those moments where it didn’t matter that the venue was packed beyond full, that we were sweaty and tired and miserably hot. In that moment, time stood still as we listened to a single man on that stage sing to each one of us individually.

The full band returned for several more songs before encoring with “Parallel” and the hit “Neon Grave,” which spent several weeks on SXM Octane’s BigUns countdown before ultimately placing 28th on the BigUns of the years in 2022—directly under Rain City Drive’s “Blood Runs Cold,” which came in at 27th. The DARK SUN WORLDWIDE tour continues through the end of the month, with a stop in Kansas City on the 14th. If you have a chance to go to this show, you won’t regret making the trip. I have no doubts Dayseeker is a name you will continue to see topping charts as they could easily be one of the biggest bands of 2024 in rock music. | Erica Vining

Dayseeker on tour:

05.11 — Birmingham, AL — Iron City (w/ Silent Planet, Rain City Drive, and Avoid)
05.12 — Little Rock, AR — Little Rock Music Hall (w/ Silent Planet, Rain City Drive, and Avoid)
05.14 — Kansas City, MO — Uptown Theater (w/ Silent Planet, Rain City Drive, and Avoid)
05.15 — Oklahoma City, OK — Town Theatre (w/ Silent Planet, Rain City Drive, and Avoid)
05.16 — Omaha, NE — The Admiral (w/ Silent Planet and Avoid)
05.18 — Louisville, KY — Mercury Ballroom (w/ Rain City Drive and Avoid)
05.19 — Bloomington, IL — Castle Theater (w/ Silent Planet, Rain City Drive, and Avoid)
05.22 — Albuquerque, NM — Sunshine Theater (w/ Silent Planet, Rain City Drive, and Avoid)
05.23 — Tucson, AZ — Rialto Theatre (w/ Silent Planet, Rain City Drive, and Avoid)
05.24 — Las Vegas, NV — Brooklyn Bowl (w/ Silent Planet, Rain City Drive, and Avoid)
05.25 — San Diego, CA — Soma (w/ Silent Planet, Rain City Drive, and Avoid)

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