photos by Zara Brown
review by Cassie Singer
With lights dimmed and the band facing their banner, the crowd silently waited in wonder. Lights flashed on the stage, synchronizing with the hard, driving beat of the drums and melodic guitars as the audience joined the band in a chorus of headbanging.
Starting their show off like this is just one way the Carrollton, Kentucky hard rock band, XXI, continues to catch the attention of many music-lovers from across the country. Their eclectic sound incorporates influences from several different rock genres, such as hardcore punk, post-harcore, and melodic metalcore. They originally formed in 2010 as A Feast For Kings, commonly referred to as “AFFK,” with lead vocalist Eric Gentry, who later passed away at the age of 21. To honor their friend, A Feast For Kings transitioned into who we know now as XXI, the Roman numeral of the age of their friend when he departed from this life. Carson Butcher (former drummer of AFFK) took on lead vocals for XXI and Robbie Barnett (former bassist of AFFK) moved to drums, while Seth Weigand and Jamie King remained on guitars.
On Wednesday, March 30, XXI came to THE GARAGE in Burnsville, MN on Affiance’s Gaia EP Release Tour. In addition to Affiance and XXI, the tour included post-hardcore acts It Lives, It Breathes, Versus, and Set to Stun. During each of the band’s sets, members from other bands on the tour came on stage and danced, sang guest vocals, and pulled crazy tour pranks. At one point, they even started taking away Versus’ drumset in the middle of a song. All of the bands were also very interactive with the audience, especially XXI. There were several times when lead vocalist Carson Butcher invited people on stage to sing along, and handed the microphone off to people in the audience. One song that seemed to get the crowd moving even more than they already were was “Say it Again.” This is one of those songs that you’ll put on repeat for days on end because you just can’t get enough of it. Everyone was so immersed in the song that it seemed like the audience and other bands were singing into the microphone and rocking out on stage more than XXI was. So many times when people go to concerts, they expect to mostly watch the musicians perform, but XXI made it feel as though we were performing with the band.
Going into this show, I had no idea what to expect from XXI’s performance; I had only ever just heard their CD, but XXI blew my mind and surpassed all expectations, making them one of the best live shows I have ever seen. I highly recommend that everyone sees XXI if they have the chance – it will be well worth the time.