Photos by Jacqueline Monahan
Emery at The Henderson Events Plaza
They come from Rock Hill, South Carolina, and rock they do. Emery the quintet, are the quintessential purveyors of scream rock, or “emo” (emotion-filled) post-hardcore music. The band flooded the Henderson events plaza with their brand of righteous thunder on Wednesday, July 22. Pretty hard to do, since the plaza is open air, but the band filled it with power. This is melodic angst, not ear-splitting noise, and you have to experience the band to see what I mean.
Formed in 2001, the current lineup consists of Toby Morell on lead vocals and bass, Matt Carter on guitar, Josh Head on keyboard, (drums and screams, too), Devin Shelton on vocals and bass, and Dave Powell on drums – he actually gets to sit down; the other guys don’t. Morell and Shelton alternate lead vocals, which shakes up stage composition for a pleasing eye-break. You never know who’s going to run up to the mic and expertly wail into it.
With no less than three of the members on vocals (Head’s good for an occasional scream and stage theatrics) the group produces a sonic firehose of sound with each song becoming a long, adamant exclamation. In complete command of the stage, the five power rock disciples electrified the atmosphere with cuts from their fifth and newest album, “In Shallow Seas We Sail.” The dramatic stage lighting, and high energy presentations riveted the audience through live versions of “Cutthroat Collapse’” and “The Ghost of You.”
They can howl with raw emotion, scream with passion and vocal muscle. They sing of relationships and tragedy as if they were one and the same. Suicide is not a forbidden topic, nor is violence and raging regret. Fast-paced angst leaps from their mouths in works entitled “After the Devil Beats his Wife”, “Can’t Stop the Killer”, and “Don’t Forget About Us.” A personal favorite is the clever "Disguising Mistakes With Goodbyes."
Meanwhile, “Rock-N-Rule,” and the “The Party Song”, remind the listener that these guys know how to unleash breakdowns with the dynamic emotion of a rock band that understands catharsis. Screamer Josh Head, a Jesus look-alike, ran around the stage waving a keyboard over his head and at the assembled crowd as a special benediction. The keyboard left his hands several times, traveling high into the air before he caught it again, as if he were giving the Messiah Himself a look.
This band gets their audience poised to dive into the vocals with them, and interaction is high. The messianic-looking Josh Head seemed to want to pull the crowd up on stage with him. Morrell was content to walk to the edge when Shelton backed up, only to reverse positions when the number called for it. All three emote into their microphones as if testing their viability.
Band members are all Christians, but prefer not to be called a Christian band, citing that designation as a somewhat limiting one. Still, you’re pretty safe from having any F-bombs dropped on you at one of their concerts.
After signing with Seattle-based Tooth & Nail Records in 2004, Emery promptly released “The Weak’s End” that year; followed by “The Question” in 2005 and 2007’s “I’m Only a Man”. That was followed by “When Broken Hearts Prevail” in 2008. June 2, 2009 saw the release of their latest album, the one embraced by their fans as a return to their emo/screamo roots after some mellow, melodic synthesizer experimentation on previous releases.
Emery has embarked upon at least three national tours per year, sharing the stage with such artists as Chiodos, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Silverstein, Alexisonfire and Hawthorne Heights. They’ve toured South America and Australia, bringing a gracious Southern representation of the United States to those continents. Back home, this translates into a respect for their fans that is evident when Morrell addresses the crowd.
The Henderson Events Plaza is located in Downtown Henderson, adjacent to City Hall and the Henderson Convention Center and Visitors Bureau. It encompasses 2.7 acres, with 60,000 square feet of programmable event space and features a 4,000-square-foot shaded canopy amphitheater with seating up to 400. 200 more can be accommodated around the perimeter.
Seating is on semi-circular cement rows, much like a coliseum, but Emery’s dedicated fans used these to stand on. You don’t sit down for this kind of performance. The driving instruments, wooden, metal, or vocal are not conducive to sedate appreciation.
They are an unquiet riot, a seductive serving of “I Scream,” a fierce five-man feast of phonics.
They are Emery. You won’t be bored.
For further information:
Henderson Events Plaza
200 S. Water St.
Henderson, NV, 89015