Hanging out and rockin' with your favorites

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By ANDY LYONS (digitalBURG) – Many fans dream of hanging out with their favorite bands. When an opportunity presents itself, I always do what I can to meet my favorites.

Andy Lyons and In This Moment lead singer Maria Brink pose for a photo at the show.
Andy Lyons and In This Moment lead singer Maria Brink pose for a photo at the show.

On May 10, I made the trek to Springfield, Mo., again to see In This Moment at the Q102 Lex & Terry Boob-A-Q. I received an email at 1 p.m. that said to be at the venue and ready for the meet and greet by 5:30 p.m. with explicit instructions to not be late.
It was cool to see the myriad of fans. Most were in their 20s, but there were a couple of older, grey-bearded men. Ryan Gardner, head of security for In This Moment, finally came and let us know that the band was running behind. Because of time constraints we wouldn’t be able to hang out with the band much, but everyone involved would get a picture. We received our laminate passes for the meet and greet, and were led to a room to the side of the stage.
I was kind of bummed at that point. The last time I was able to hang out with the band was during Revolver magazine’s Hell Hath No Fury tour, which featured In This Moment as the headlining act. After that show a friend and I hung out with the band for almost an hour. I was looking forward to catching up and talking with these guys, and meeting guitarist Randy Weitzel and drummer Tom Hane who replaced members who had left since I last saw the band.
Nevertheless, I was excited because it’s still an amazing opportunity. As the crowd filed through to the band, I started to get nervous as anyone would. We were all given autographed 8×10 pictures of the band and I asked a man my father’s age to hold it while I put on my puffy hands and had my picture taken.
As I approached, I shook everyone’s hand. Guitarist Chris Howorth recognized me and asked me how I’ve been and lead singer Maria Brink offered a hug. This is one of the things I love about In This Moment. Core members Brink and Howorth were awesome the last time I hung out with them. I’m sure they meet hundreds, if not thousands of fans, and it had been two years since the last time I saw them face-to-face and yet they recognized me.
After that, I took my place with the others along the security gate in front of opening band Pop Evil’s microphone. Guitarist Dave Grahs of Pop Evil had just finished a sound check and came down to talk to us and sign some autographs. Shortly after he left to get ready, the doors opened and fans began filling up the convention center.
I was next to a tall, grey-bearded man named Tim. We chatted about concerts and In This Moment. We made fun of the setup because the carpeted convention center floor was covered in plastic sheets taped together in an effort to keep it from getting stained, but everyone’s shoes were sticking to it. We laughed as people tripped.
As fans began filling up the arena, we had a short bald man with a loud scratchy voice right behind us. I love metal fans and the subculture of the hard rock world, but this guy was almost too much. He continuously told the story about how he pulled his 12-year-old daughter out of school and got to the venue around noon. He met the band and had video of Brink walking her dog. I understand his excitement, for sure. But by the 10th time I heard the story I just wanted to tell him to shut up.
I had never heard of Pop Evil before this show. When they came out they rocked. They have a sound that any fan of hard rock can appreciate. The crowd welcomed them, and I naturally wanted to give them a chance.
As I was enjoying myself, I noticed lead singer Leigh Kakaty taking off his boots about midway through their set. He then turned to the crowd and said he wanted to “crowd walk.” He came down to the security gate and climbed into the crowd about a foot away from me and was lifted above us by the throng of people, where he remained for most of the song they were performing.
After the set, roadies broke down the equipment of Pop Evil and set up props for In This Moment. The setup for Brink was the most interesting. It was a small pedestal with two poles to the left and right covered in skulls, with an elegant backdrop. There was no microphone stand, which I thought was odd. There were two fans blowing upward behind another prop that was covered in skulls and masks from the cover of their last album, “Blood.”
The Q102 staff came out to introduce the band and the lights dimmed.
A piano could be heard, and Brink’s voice resounded through the speaker system as she sang the first song on the “Blood” album, “Rise with Me.” The crowd went wild as she came to the stage wearing the plain “Blood” mask and a cloak.
She had a microphone strapped to her head instead of the traditional microphone on a stand. After that, the band went into their latest single “Adrenalize,” which sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Throughout the set, bassist Travis Johnson moved to both sides of the stage and pointed at fans and flipped the “metal horns,” while guitarists Howorth and Weitzel did the same. Brink changed her outfit throughout the night, donning different hats and adding items such as a plaid skirt for the song “Whore.”
The band played for about an hour and a half. Their set list included a lot of titles from “Blood.” They threw in some songs from other albums, including the title track from their debut album, “Beautiful Tragedy,” and the first single from the album “A Star-Crossed Wasteland,” titled “The Gun Show,” which Brink described as the heaviest song they’ve ever done.
There were plenty of surprises in store for fans during the set. At one point Brink introduced Hane and he went into a drum solo. After a couple minutes, the rest of the musicians joined him in what turned into a five-minute jam session before Brink rejoined them.
The theatrics of the show were a bit more risqué than previous shows. Brink, who has been voted as one of Revolver’s “Hottest Chicks in Metal” on multiple occasions, seemed to dress a bit sexier, wearing a leotard with a tight button-up shirt and tights for most of the set. Throughout the show she was head-banging, hip-thrusting and gyrating to the music.
My favorite part of the evening was when the lights lowered and Brink came out to the piano and sat on a chair covered in white Christmas lights. The song was the emotionally charged “Into the Light” from the band’s second album, “The Dream.” The lyrics are about being ready for someone to die, and Brink’s delivery makes it resound.
It’s songs like these that showcase Brink’s ability to deliver heartwarming melodies as well as spine-shaking screams. On every album there is at least one song that demonstrates her vocal range, usually accompanied by piano or softer instruments. At the same time, there are songs like “The Gun Show” and “Blood” that display her heavy vocal screams and the talents of the rest of the band, who definitely showed what they were made of with their latest album.
After the set, around 30 lucky fans were given the opportunity for a picture and brief conversation with Brink. Gardner again explained the rules, which included, “Don’t try for a kiss or even a hug. The stars are not aligned for you tonight.”
When it was my turn, Brink asked what I thought of the show. We snapped a quick picture and she thanked me for coming out. I left the Ramada Oasis with a smile, a bag full of souvenirs and my puffy hands in my pocket.
Andy Lyons is the incoming managing editor for the Muleskinner at the University of Central Missouri where he is studying journalism and creative writing.