As doors were opening, the queue had itself wrapped entirely around the venue and down the next block. In the amount of times I’d been to, or passed The Orange Peel (which is on the same road on which I live), I have only seen the queue that massive for one other tour, and that was All Time Low last November.
Earlier that day, Of Mice & Men frontman, Austin Carlile, tweeted saying “haven’t been this sick in a really long time.” I was beginning to worry about whether or not they would even perform or if their set would be cut short, because I was just as excited as each other person lined up outside The Orange Peel. As I entered into the venue, I decided that for this night I would brave being in the crowd, a feat I usually try to avoid. However, for a band like Of Mice & Men, you have to be in the crowd to be able to truly experience the pure energy of their show.
After two openers, Of Mice & Men, with an ill Austin Carlile, hit the stage. If you didn’t see his tweet you honestly would have never known he was in anything less than perfect health. It seems that North Carolina, doesn’t have the best of luck for Austin. During the band’s last song, 'Second & Sebring,' at Warped Tour; Austin was carried to the medics due to heart complications (he had open heart surgery in 2010). Despite this, they kicked it off with a personal favorite of mine, 'O.G. Loko.' Austin’s screams were equally matched in intensity with the crowd singing the clean vocals, “Meet my dedication, inspiration.” The crowd was also ready to shout the remix with Waka Flaka lyrics, “I go hard in the motherfuckin’ paint!”
The crowd pushed forward as large circle pits tried to force themselves open in the small 1500 person venue. You could feel the band and the audience feeding off each others energy, the whole room shouting the lyrics to 'Ohioisonfire', “this is what you get when you fuck with a classic roundabout, but it just might be me out of line.”
Throughout the set Austin dominated a very obedient crowd, periodically signaling for the pit to open back up, and occasionally throwing his microphone out into the crowd. The band then delved into a new song, the title song, off the re-release of their album, The Flood, in which even Austin’s angry, incoherent screams of “wearing your mask of envy, but I see you still” found themselves echoing of all corners of the room.
Of Mice & Men planned on ending their set short with an old song, 'The Ballad of Tommy Clayton & the Rawdawg Millionaire,' but Austin told the crowd that despite his illness, this being the first time he confessed this to the audience, if they promised to keep their energy and excitement going then they would add the rest of the songs back into the set. The crowd did not disappoint, in fact, the crowd had a new found boost of energy as the show continued on for three more songs including, 'I am a Monster' and 'Still YDG’n.'
Finally the show concluded, with my favorite tune of Of Mice & Men’s, their new single, 'The Depths.' Austin commanded the crowd to get down on their knees, and ever person in the pack room lowered. When the song kicked in with line, “GET UP!” hundreds of people began jumping in unison. It was hard to even hear Austin’s screams of “I’ve been put down for way too long, you’ll never be good enough. All they told me was just give up, you’ll never be good enough” over the crowd’s enthusiastic cries of it reverberating back. People eagerly used the last of their energy to get themselves over the barricade, as the song continued with “my body’s failing, I think I’ve hit the floor, I cannot feel anything anymore.”
It was hard to believe that they weren’t the last band to perform.
The next day, I was at The Orange Peel to see folk band, First Aid Kit. I began talking with the venue photographer about the Of Mice & Men gig, and agreed that they were definitely the best set of the night. The calm crowd of a folk band swaying was almost a joke to us after witnessing the crowd from the night before.