Wage War Concert Review Marquee Theater 04-18-23
Concert Review and Photos By Maxwell Williamson
On a night when most of Phoenix, Arizona was transfixed by the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Playoffs, just a few miles east at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona, the street was overrun with Heavy Metal fans lined up and stretching down the block and around the venue. These rabid fans, young and old were anxiously waiting to storm the Marquee Theater and secure their spot for the long awaited Manic Tour featuring Wage War.
Wage War‘s tour dubbed, “The Manic Headline Tour 2023” hit the Marquee Theater in Tempe, AZ with their brutally heavy musical onslaught before this packed house of thrashing fans. The Manic Headline Tour 2023, includes special guests Nothing, Nowhere and openers Spite, with each artist giving these Tempe fans a great reason to get out on a Tuesday night to indulge in some crushing heavy music.
Opening the show on this night would be Rise Records ensemble Spite hailing from the Bay Area of Northern California. Although this was my first time seeing these guys tear up the stage, they certainly had a well established presence of fans in the audience. The Spite Cult, as these fans were appropriately titled, were not hard to spot – proudly wearing their Spite merch as they crowded the railing and screamed out the lyrics with front-man Darius Rehani. Their eruption of a heavy 8 song set was a lethal and explosive blend of Death Metal and Metalcore that had the entire crowd headbanging in unison! Spite certainly set the tone for the night, and that tone was nothing short of HEAVY!!
Get Into Spite here!
Spite Photo Gallery_04-18-23
Next up, was Nothing, Nowhere who were certainly different than Spite and brought their own unique and interesting vibe to the evening. Although it was a change of pace, it was well received by the fans. While Nothing, Nowhere is a 4 piece band, it’s immediately apparent that the main attraction to this group is vocalist Joseph Edward Mulherin, which is really no surprise considering that the band’s name is really Mulherin’s stage name. These fans were definitely in-tune with Mulherin as they sang along to every song in their diverse 10 song set. The essence of the band musically is Emo Rap, with an occasional sprinkling of heavy riffs – that coupled with some nice back up screams that were belted out by the guitarist helped to bring a divergent dimension to their sound. Nothing, Nowhere definitely caught me off guard musically and seemed a bit out of place at times for this tour, but I believe that the overall consensus of the fans in attendance was that they fit right in. For me, they were entertaining enough, that I left looking forward to streaming their music and hearing more – which is the intent for a band reaching out to new potential fans.
Get into Nothing, Nowhere Here!
Nothing, Nowhere Photo Gallery_04-18-23
As the crowd became increasingly restless, the anticipation grew intense as it was the time of the night that the stage crew began to set up for the main attraction. There’s something about the feeling that overtakes a venue when the stage is preparing for the headliner and the audience watches eagerly as the headliner’s gear is getting tuned and in order. Then, all of a sudden, the lights drop, the crowd screams as they eagerly await the first glimpse of a band member to walk out on stage! Wage War had quite the intro; the stage was dimly lit in red lighting with two mannequins on either side of the drum kit. The 1983 hit single “Maniac”, by Michael Sembello played in its entirety, loudly throughout the venue while the sea of fans moved together and sang along to the song. As “Maniac” faded out, another loud roar exploded from the crowd as the static screen behind the drum kit featured a video of a wave form and a very eerie voice reciting a memo that included several Wage War song title references.
As the memo wrapped up, Drummer Stephen Kluesener ran out and took position on his throne followed by the remaining members of Ocala, Florida’s, Wage War. All 5 members looked out over the chaotic crowd, with horns held high, as Vocalist Briton Bond introduced the first song, “Relapse”.
Wage War’s presence has blown up over the last 6 years from touring the entire Vans Warped Tour in 2016, and opening for acts such as A Day To Remember, The Amity Affliction and I Prevail, to then embarking on their own much deserved headline gigs. The Manic Tour 2023 features a 19 song set from WW, which includes tracks from all 4 of their albums. Manic, released on Fearless Records in 2021, is their most recent release, and was their most well represented product of the night. Wage War can entertain a diverse crowd with their heavy hitting breakdowns, melodic riffs, and extremely catchy choruses lead by the soothing voice of Guitarist Cody Quistad. After a raucous set of heavy hitters the Tempe, AZ crowd would not accept Wage War’s farewell, and the “One More Song” chants echoed throughout the muggy venue. Cody emerged back onto the dark stage with his acoustic guitar in hand, and asked the crowd if they were familiar with Wage War’s recent acoustic project. No surprise here, the crowd certainly was aware!! They played a very mellow stripped down version of their fan favorite hit, “Johnny Cash”. An extreme shift from the ambience of the first 17 songs of the night. I think the crowd enjoyed the chance to catch their breath and witness the intimate performance of a classic Wage War hit. The mellow ambiance did not last long though, as Wage War ended the night with the tour’s namesake song “Manic”. The energy then accelerated right back to where it left off. The lyrics, “Am I going Manic” were chanted by the crowd, and to answer that question….. well, yes! Wage War certainly had everyone in attendance going manic from start to finish. An appropriate name for a tour that has something for everyone. Look up the dates and mark your calendars, you won’t regret it!
Get Into Wage War here!
Wage War Photo gallery 04-18-23