By Paul Knettel
Close Your Eyes, an Abilene-based hardcore band, made its Victory Records debut Saturday night in a concert at the Rose Park Activity Center in Abilene.
Victory Records, which touts bands such as A Day to Remember, Bayside and Hawthorne Heights, officially signed Close Your Eyes just a week ago on Nov. 2.
Brett Callaway, who plays guitar and sings background vocals for the band, said Victory asked them to come to Chicago to play a showcase for the label, during which one of the panel members jumped up on stage afterward and shouted, “I’m sold!”
The band had a contract within a few days and signed a couple of weeks later.
Callaway said since then, the label has been moving quickly to help promote and support the band.
“It’s amazing how fast things go now,” Brett said.
Close Your Eyes will be entering the studio Nov. 16 to begin recording for their upcoming album, tentatively titled Hands and Feet, which will be available in March 2010.
Swing the Lead, four-piece pop-punk band from ACU, kicked things off at the Rose Park concert with their high-energy style, reminiscent of an early Brand New or Blink-182.
Next on the bill was A Bullet for Pretty Boy, a melodic metalcore band – think Underoath or Memphis May Fire – from Longview. This six-piece ensemble had a very mature, full sound, with in-your-face screaming set off by choruses of beautiful vocal melodies and intense, thrash-inducing breakdowns.
Close Your Eyes played next, and it was immediately apparent everyone in the house was there for this band, dancing like crazy and singing along to all of the songs. The band did a great job of interacting with their adoring audience, with lead singer Shane Raymond stepping into the crowd during almost every song, dancing with them and letting fans sing parts of the songs into the microphone.
The band’s message is one of hope, which is evident in its uplifting and inspiring songs, with titles such as Song for the Broken and Something Needs To Change. Callaway described the band’s style as “a hardcore band that doesn’t sound mad all the time.”
While the musical riffs exemplify the hardcore and punk sound, Close Your Eye’s vocal melodies have some pop influence in them, with lyrics that are positive and encouraging.
The next two bands, Protagonist from Boca Raton, Fla., and Take It Back! from Fayetteville, Ark., continued in the hardcore vein, with shouted lyrics and amazing drumming from both groups.
Finally, Four Letter Lie, now label-mates with Close Your Eyes on Victory Records, closed out the night with another solid set of hardcore tunes.
Overall, it was an energetic show. The entire lineup of bands inspired the audience to dance, thrash, run around and sing and shout along.
Matt Tate, bassist and background vocalist for Swing the Lead, said he was pleased with everyone’s performance.
“I thought it went really smoothly,” he said. “We played well and had a blast, and the other bands were really cool guys.”