Parkway Drive @ House of Blues San Diego © Holland Van Gores
© Holland Van Gores

Parkway Drive @ House of Blues San Diego – October 29th 2015

It’s about time the Aussie metal masters Parkway Drive made their way back across the pond to our turf! It had almost been 2 years since North America had gotten the full Parkway experience, and needless to say, we were long overdue.

Not only was this a massive concert for me, but it was also some of the most fun I’ve had at a show in a while. For anyone that has previously read my album review of ‘Ire’, the album that the band is touring in support of, you’ll know that I go nuts for this band. So naturally when I found out I’d be able to photograph them, I was ecstatic. I drove the excruciating 118 miles down to San Diego and braved the infamously daunting Southern California traffic for this show, and it was beyond worth it. I had not been to San Diego for years, so it was a nice little breach in comfort for me to travel down there by myself. Every corner I turned in that bustling city was a pleasant surprise – especially inside the venue. It was creatively decorated from floor to ceiling much like other California House of Blues locations I’ve seen, however, still maintained elements that set it apart from said locations.

I made it in time to see the precursor to Parkway Drive, Miss May I. They never fail to induce insane crowd surfing and ensure that every fan in the room is either jumping in unison or swimming in a sea of fellow concert-goers. Levi Benton, the band’s lead vocalist, is always filled to the brim with energy and proved it this show by constantly performing his signature colossal jumps. Miss May I wrapped up their animated set with their fan favourite “Hey Mister” and left the crowd hungry for more venue-shaking metal. Luckily, Parkway Drive can seriously supply.

Immediately I knew it would be a memorable performance when lead vocalist Winston McCall wheeled out his comrade, lead guitarist Jeff Ling, onto stage. Jeff had an injured leg but was still rocking (and now rolling) while in a wheelchair, never letting a smile leave his face. Parkway Drive jumped right into things with “Destroyer”, a track off their new album, and as if they couldn’t kick off the show any better, they had to throw in confetti. This added to an already vivacious show, despite the band just arriving on stage moments prior. Copious amounts of crowd surfers grazed the photographers heads – I was astounded we weren’t ejected from the pit after the first song. They followed up with another fresh track from ‘Ire’, “Dying To Believe”, and man was it heavy. Winston is just as powerful performing in person, and the whole band is seamless in live performance as well. Among all the songs played live on this first day of tour, some other new ones showcased were “Crushed”, “Bottom Feeder”, and “Vice Grip”, but what would any show be without some older songs? Tracks like “Carrion”, “Idols and Anchors”, “Deliver Me”, and “Karma”, some of the band’s classics, did not go unplayed. The band concluded an impeccable first night of tour with some more confetti and “Home Is For The Heartless”, giving the fans one last chance to lose their voices. I found utter joy in being one of those people.

I walked away from that concert with a genuine smile on my face and their songs in my heart. I was fortunate enough to shoot my favourite band in a beautiful city; I couldn’t ask for a sweeter memory. Oh, and the icing on the cake? I managed to snag a setlist and a guitar pick.

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