On Friday, December 15th, Ocala, Florida based rockers Wage War took the stage as a headliner at the House of Blues in Orlando for the first time. This was a special show for the band as it celebrated their first decade of history, with longtime supporters in the crowd to cheer them on. Supporting them for the show were Birmingham, Alabama based metalcore band Erra and up-and-coming rapper Zero 9:36. With these opening bands, the bill was a four hour showcase for the next generation of rock and metal.
Opening the night was Zero 9:36. With an electrifying performance of “The End”, the show got started in style as the rapper stared down the crowd like a WWE Superstar on the stage. After addressing the crowd before “Stuck In My Ways”, Zero got the rambunctious crowd fired up and ready to roll. Accompanied by a guitarist and drummer, the artist ripped through both big hits and new song debuts while performing on a shortened stage that brought an intimate vibe without much space to move. Finally, as the crowd sung along, Zero closed with “Adrenaline”, their biggest hit to date thanks to Sirius XM Radio.
Following Zero 9:36 was Alabama metalcore band Erra. With a holographic background, the band provided stunning visuals despite the limited budget and was quite impressive. As the gutturals from JT Cavey and riffs from Jesse Cash brought out the mosh pits and crowdsurfers, the band asked for audience participation and was welcomed with roars of applause. Arguably, the highlight of the band’s set was when the group did a truly iconic cover of “Stockholm Syndrome” by Muse. By the time their 45-minute set ended, the band had made sure that everyone in attendance left the venue a fan through electrifying performances of songs like “Snowblood” and “Skyline”.
Finally, at 9:45, the moment legions of fans had been awaiting finally came as the hometown legends took the stage. With a full LED screen backing the band for what is the first time I have seen one at this venue, the band proved they were using every bit of their budget and not messing around. Bringing back old school fan favorites like “Don’t Let Me Fade Away”, frontman Briton Bond declared “it feels good to be here in Florida”, which the several thousand fans in attendance agreed with resoundingly. As the band’s experience shown through, the quintet controlled the crowd through mosh pits on songs like “Low” and crowd singalongs on “Gravity”. However, for most of the set, the energy was kept to 11 as Bond asked the crowd “everyone thinks us in Florida are crazy, do you want to prove it”.
While newcomers would have enjoyed the show, this was truly a show for “all the OG fans” who have been with Wage War since the beginning. Through song dedications, older deep tracks, and a video montage of the band’s history leading into the band’s encore, it was clear just how much this show meant to the band. As Bond declared “when we started this thing in 2013 I never ever thought we’d be here in front of you”, there were collective goosebumps through the crowd as both fans and the band realized they had “made it” and were here for the long haul. With a chilling acoustic rendition of “Johnny Cash” contrasted with an electrifying version of “Manic”, the band’s showcase came to an iconic conclusion leaving all in attendance with a jolt of energy.
Overall, Wage War’s ten year anniversary show was truly a spectacle to behold. With some great openers and a very special occasion, there was a reason fans of the band had traveled far and wide to attend this show. As Wage War singer Briton Bond declared, “every time we’re in here, this is our favorite show”, which was a sentiment clearly shared by the audience.
Review by Sully Smith