One of my favorite parts of being a music journalist is being able to cover what I like to call “Landmark Bands”. What I mean by that is, bands that have not only gained a massive following, but bands that have helped change and define entire genres. Last night I got the phenomenal opportunity to cover one of my favorite bands at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, AZ. They have been responsible for revolutionizing the Post-Hardcore/Emo genre and bringing millions of fans from different backgrounds together as one. Their lyrics have saved lives, their melodies have been sung the world over, and their overall message of love and acceptance has created a community unlike anything I have ever seen. If you haven’t guessed by now, the band I am referring to is none other than Sleeping with Sirens.
Sleeping With Sirens is currently on their North American CTRL +ALT + DEL Tour, featuring Garzi, Don Broco, and Point North. This tour is jam packed with phenomenal performances. I have seen Sleeping with Sirens multiple times before, but it was my first time seeing the other three artists. I got to the venue a little early to meet up with Justin from SWS. When I got there the band was in the middle of their meet and greet which includes an hour long sit down with the band where fans can ask questions and talk with the band. You can get you VIP meet + greet package at www.sirensmusic.co . SWS has always been extremely fan oriented. These guys are dedicated to not only their craft, but the people that make it all possible. They love interacting with the crowd, they love talking to their fans, and I don’t think I have ever seen one of them deny someone for a photo-op or autograph. Kellin is easily one of the nicest and most wholesome artists in the music scene today. He took time to meet my oldest son, whom I brought with me to this show. It was my sons first concert, and I knew it would be special if they got to meet each other. Did I mention that my son was named after Kellin Quinn? Anyway, Kellin met Kellin and it was such a wholesome experience I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle it, but I managed to keep it together without turning into a sentimental blubbering mess and we went on with our night.
The first act to take the stage was Garzi and this dude absolutely killed it up there! With only himself, a guitarist, and a drummer, he owned that stage, Garzi is a beautiful blend of hip-hop and pop-punk/emo jams. This music really makes you want to get up and move, but it has such an intense, emotional quality that it really resonates deep down in your heart. It is music that you can either lay down on your bed, close your eyes and drown in it, or you can get on your feet, scream along, and absolutely lose your shit. Again, this was my first time ever seeing Garzi live, but if I was absolutely astounded by his sound and his stage presence. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve flat-out assumed that this dude was the headliner. I was a little sad that he only played 5 or 6 songs but really that’s the key to gaining massive traction in the early days, always leave your fans wanting more. To close out his set, during the last song, Garzi hopped off the stage and jumped right into the crowd and rode the wave right back to the barricade, this group is going places without a doubt! If you ever get a chance to see them perform, I can’t recommend them enough…but I have a feeling ill be saying that quite a bit in this article.
Next up we had Point North, this Alternative/indie-rock trio came out to a unique intro. In front of each rise was a corrugated steel panels that looked like they were pieces of wreckage from some sort of catastrophic event. Before the band made their entrance, an audio clip played that had a couple of people talking and it sounded like they were on a plane that was going down. The plane crashes and one of the surviving members complains about not being able to play the show that they were headed to. Another party member says something like “let’s look around this area, I’m sure there are some people around here that they’d be able to put on a show for”. The band came onto the stage and started in with their song “Never Coming Home”. The energy was off the charts right off the bat. I loved the lulls of the verses with catchy, power-packed choruses. The crowd was feeling this band HARD. They had people singing along, they had people dancing, they had people rocking the fuck out. It was difficult to remain focused on my phots and not just get sucked into the show, What I really loved about this line-up was not only that each of these bands was so damn good, but it was also that both Garzi and Point North have both released songs featuring Kellin Quinn. So, on some dates Kellin will come out and sing his part on the track which I think is special for the fans to experience. Point North played 5 or 6 songs, including their bangers “Into the Dark” and “Erase You”, and just like the act before them, exited the stage and left us craving more. If either of these two groups that I’ve covered so far don’t have their own headlining tours going within the next two years I will be extremely shocked, and disappointed.
The next band to play was a band I had never heard of until the tour announcement, but I can tell you right now that it is a band that I will absolutely never forget. Don Broco is a group of four fun-loving guys from Bedford, England. I am not exactly sure how to describe this bands style. While they have elements of alternative rock, pop-rock, and post hardcore, they also have aspects that lend a nostalgic, maybe even an 80’s type feel to their music. Within the first 30 seconds of them being on stage, they were already cranking that energy to 11 and getting the crowd jumping. What I really enjoyed Is that I feel into somewhat of a trance watching them. I forgot about everything else and all there was, was this amazing band and their unbridled energy. It surprised me how heavy the band got from time to time. Before they played one of their songs, singer Rob Damiani gave us a little backstory to how that jam came to be. Rob spoke of a time in his life where things were very dark. He was unsure of his path and contemplating whether carrying on was even worth it. He went on to talk about a particular night where he went out with his friends with the intentions of getting drunk enough to forget all his problems. While they were at the bar, a song came on that bears a tradition in England; you must take your shirt off and swing it around over your head no matter where you are or what you’re doing. So, he did…letting go in that moment was a turning point for him and led to the creation of their own “T-Shirt Song”. As you can imagine, Rob told the crowd to take their shirts off a twirl them above their heads. What a sight that was! It was almost hypnotic watching all the shirts spinning together. I was honestly quite surprised at how many people had done it! These dudes closed out their set with a bang after about 45 minutes and I was left needing a break after that rush of nonstop badassery!
Now we move onto the main event. As I stated before, I have seen Sleeping with Sirens more than a few times and they have NEVER disappointed me. This time was no different. The room went dark and LED patters started running along the top and bottom of the stage. The band came out and instantly, It WAS ON! They started the set with one of their most intense songs, “Break Me Down”, off their newest album How It Feels to Be Lost. As to be expected, every member of the band was all over that stage. They jumped, they kicked, they danced with one another and just kept feeding off one another’s energy. One thing that had change since the last time I had seen SWS (which was pre-pandemic) was that they had obtained two new members. I found out that drummer Gabe Barham had left the band due to “him and the band growing in the different directions musically”, and guitarist Jack Fowler left to peruse a musical career with southern rap artist Jellyroll. Luckily both members were replaced with some awesome musicians. Matty Best, previously the drummer of the Australian Pop-punk/alternative rock band Tonight Alive, and guitarist Tony Pizzuti have made such a perfect fit for SWS it felt like they’d been there this whole time. Kellin’s voice was perfect as always. He hit every note with perfect clarity and control, and he even went as far as to embellish and add small little vocal solos to songs which I found to be cool. If there is one thing SWS is known for, its Kellin’s unique voice and amazing vocal range.
Sleeping With Sirens has always been love and acceptance. These individuals embody that message through and through. After about 6 or 7 songs Kellin took a moment to talk to the crowd…” We all go through hard times and we never know what each of us is going through. You may not know it but there maybe some people here in this crowd that need a little extra love tonight. So, if you came here with you best friend, put your arm around them right now. If you came here with your boyfriend or girlfriend, put your arm around them right now…and if you came here by your damn self, find someone next to you and put your arm around them right now! There is a lot of love in this room tonight! Let’s keep that love going strong!” and then they played one of their most emotional songs “Better Off Dead”. I would really like to leave the rest of the set list up to you to see. Just know that they played all their biggest hits, including a cover, and two of their acoustic songs. I feel like telling you now would be spoiling the emotional rush you get from hearing the intro of your favorite song start to play.
This line up was absolute fire from beginning to end, it was fun, it was meaningful, it was filled with moments that really put life into perspective. This show held numerous reminders: to love one another, to always be patient and accepting of those around us, to combat hate and anger with love and understanding, and to always be yourself and have fun. From Garzi to Point North, from Don Broco to Sleeping with Sirens, there wasn’t a single dull moment, the crowd never stopped going as hard as they could. Every second of that concert was moving in one way or another. There are 7 or 8 stops left on the CTRL+ALT+DEL Tour and I feel like I would be doing my readers a grave injustice if I didn’t encourage you to seek out your nearest date and do whatever you can to make it to one of these shows. Even if you have only ever heard of Sleeping with Sirens. I can promise that the rest of these bands will NOT disappoint. Who knows…you might even go home with a new favorite band!