On April 29th, 2015, I had the privilege of seeing up and coming post-hardcore band I Prevail at The Castle Theatre in Bloomington, Illinois. If you haven’t checked out this band yet, you are completely missing out on a good thing. This was the band’s first real tour, plus they were headlining, as they were supporting their debut ep “Heart Vs. Mind.” How does a new band walk into a headlining gig for their first tour, you ask? The answer, my friends, is talent, which this group of guys have more of in their collective little fingers than most bands who have been rocking stages for years. With only a couple shows left on the tour, their energy was still in full effect and came across as seasoned pros.
As the lights went down, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” came blaring out of the speakers. Only the opening talking point and music. Since the band hails from Detroit, Michigan, this was aptly fitting. Not to mention the message of the song itself.
As the track fades, the band rushes onto the stage and jump right into the title track of their debut ep “Heart Vs. Mind.” The message in this song echoes the sentiment expressed in the sampled track. Clever? Yes! The band was greeted by a choir of screaming fans who showed a respectable amount of energy (and knowledge of lyrics) to a band that less than a year ago was not even a blip on the radar.
After saying hello to the crowd, they keep the energy going and jump into “Crossroads,” another spirited song that kept the crowd moving. This was followed by the rocking “The Enemy” and the in-your-face screaming of “Face Your Demons.” Vocalist Eric offers up words of encouragement, setting up the next song, “Deceivers.” The positive lyrics and rocking groove sounded fantastic live in the middle of the set.
Taking time to address the crowd, it is mentioned that Bloomington likes cover songs. The mind automatically turns to “Blank Space,” the Taylor Swift cover that made them household names and garnered them almost ten million views on youtube. What we got though was a raucous interpretation of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff.” They only get so far as the chorus before turning their mics over to the audience to sing along. This doesn’t exactly work out as most of the crowd was too young to remember Limp Bizkit. To their credit, they nailed what they offered.
Finally giving the fans what they want, the band tears into their blazing cover of “Blank Space.” If you haven’t heard this yet, you are either deaf or live under a rock. Their version puts Taylor to shame. The crowd went nuts as the band rocked their way through the song.
Thanking the crowd for their attendance and support, they informed us that they had one more song. Someone named “Reagan” shouted that it was their birthday. The band lead the crowd through a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday” before closing their set with the first single from the ep “Love, Lust and Liars.”
Of course the crowd wasn’t going to leave without an exuberant chanting of “one more song…one more song.” Not to leave the chanting mass in want, the band returns to the stage, acoustic guitars in hand for a beautiful presentation of “My Heart I Surrender.” To me this was the perfect encore for the band. As the only acoustic track on the album, to separate it and leave the show on such a memorable note was spellbinding.
Now that the show is over, most bands would head back to the dressing room to relax before hitting the road to the next town. All six members of the band* went out to the lobby by their merch table to spend time with the fans. The overnight success and instant fame has not gone to the heads of these guys. Humble in every sense of the word and grateful to their fans for getting them to where they are. They seriously stood there for well over an hour shaking hands, signing autographs and taking pictures with each and every fan who wanted it; personally making sure everyone left with a smile on their face and a memory in their heart. If the opportunity presents itself, do not miss seeing these guys live.
*The band is comprised of Brian Burkheiser (Vocals), Eric Vanlerberghe (Vocals), Steve Menoian (Lead Guitar) and Lee Runestad (Drums). Touring members Dylan (Guitar) and Tony (Bass) round out the group live. To offer my humble opinion, Dylan and Tony fit the group perfectly. I couldn’t imagine seeing the band live and them not being on stage. Besides, Dylan’s vocals on “My Heart I Surrender” are fantastic and nothing short of necessary. Would love to hear them become official members. Just throwing that out there.