The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus bring old hits, headaches to Syracuse

Review: One-time stars rocked an uncomfortably screamo sound at their Lost Horizon show.

Ronnie Winter has the voice, lyrics and hair of a radio rock god. However, his band’s screamo-filled performance at The Lost Horizon Sunday night  proved that The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus won’t make it back on the airwaves anytime soon.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus have always been a paradoxical band. The Florida-based five-piece found commercial success in 2006 with the release of their  single “Face Down” and the surprisingly melodic and beautiful “Your Guardian Angel.” “Face Down” is one of the few post-hardcore songs to make it onto the Billboard Top 40 in recent years – though most radio stations played a version that cut the screaming out.

There are no radio edits at a rock show, though, and Winter's abrasive screech was in full force Sunday night. Requests for “Hell or High Water,” the title track from Red Jumpsuit's recently released EP, convinced the rockers to play it for the first time live. The band was thrilled with their performance of the song and pledged to play it at concerts in the future. Screamo fans were thrilled, as well: they nodded along with the screams and pumped their fists at the stage.           

But screamo bands don’t appeal to many, and it's Red Jumpsuit's ability to fuse a fringe genre with mainstream rock that ultimately makes them interesting. Commercial hits like "Face Down" and "Justify" were the strongest of the set. Experiencing the perfect build-up of “Your Guardian Angel” live was the highlight of the show, but it was also frustrating: Winters' strong voice is constantly hidden behind screaming in the band’s other songs.

It’s clear that The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are moving in a harder direction and it doesn’t look like they'll be changing it. In early 2010 they fired their long time manager Steve Tramposch and left Virgin Records to produce their own music. For devoted screamo fans, the band’s decision to record independently is exciting.

But fans of the group's other, tamer rock songs may need earplugs to make it through a show. Sunday’s performance was a testament to that: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus will entertain you, but they will also send you home with a headache. Plan accordingly.

Photo by Deandra Modica

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