Underoath ready to make more Syracuse memories

The revered metal act performing at The Westcott Friday wants to concentrate more on musical substance rather than the Christian influence it's known for.

Underoath drummer Daniel Davison can't seem to forget the times peering out behind his drum kit to a blur of sweaty faces inside the glistening, powder baby-blue walls of the defunct Club Tundra in Syracuse.

The lively shows turned the club now known as the Lost Horizon into a state of near-chaos.

“I remember a bunch of the Tundra shows, and when Hellfest used to be up there,” Davison said. “Those are definitely some good memories.”

Davison will revisit some of those Syracuse memories as the two-time Grammy nominated metal giants Underoath return July 22 to the Westcott Theater on their headlining “Illuminatour” with support from Times of Grace and Letlive.

The Tampa-based act’s newest album, Disambiguation, received acclaim for its atmospheric, dark composition with a striking balance between pounding, heavy rhythms and haunting melody. It’s a departure from their previously lighter, chorus-friendly sound, as Davison replaced the last remaining original member of the band, drummer and singer Aaron Gillespie, for the writing and creative process of the new album.

Though historically considered a Christian band, after Gillespie’s departure, Underoath has concentrated more on the substance of the music rather than an overarching faith influence.

Davison said when he started to write Disambiguation, the band urged him to bring his own style instead of adapting to Gillespie’s.

“I said ‘I’m not going to try to step into his shoes, even though I’m taking over his position,’” Davison said. “I’m not going to do anything I wouldn’t normally do. I just wanted to do my thing.”

More of the new material that Davison wrote has crept into the live setlist, and has been greeted with a warm receptio'n from fans.

“With each tour, you get more and more people singing along to the new stuff,” he said. “I like to play the new stuff the best because it’s stuff I helped write, so it’s the most enjoyable for me.”

He will have an opportunity to bring more of his style to Underoath’s new direction when the band begins recording in December at the close of a fall tour.


Davison, who dabbled in directing and filming after leaving his previous band, Norma Jean, also creates the live stage presence for Underoath. He created the film backdrop during the set and all of the stage visuals, when a venue has capacity to handle it. And with The Westcott’s history as a movie theater, Davison should feel right at home in crafting an aesthetic assault.

“It’s abstract and artistic,” Davison said. “As far as the live show as a whole, we try to use lighting and video to create a chaotic overload.”

Underoath’s visual presence and high-energy set make them a band not to miss live, regardless of musical taste.

Joining them at The Westcott is California-based rockers Letlive., mercurially rising in the heavy music scene for a distinctive brand of soul-infused metal enrooted in jazz and blues. Frontman Jason Aalon Butler frequently shifts from a cutting, visceral high-pitched bellow to a soft, soulful tone on their newest album, Fake History, released in 2010 and re-released last April to high marks.

Davison, a Radiohead junkie who admits he rarely listens to much new music, said he’s been inspired by Letlive.

“Just seeing them live and seeing the passion they put into it is refreshing."

Go to the show

Underoathwill be performing at 7 p.m. Friday at The Westcott Theater. Opening acts are Times of Grace and Letlive. Advance tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or at Sound Garden in Armory Square.

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