Crown the Empire

Crown the Empire at House of Blues in Houston, TX

Since the departure of former unclean vocalist, Dave Escamilla, in 2017, Crown the Empire have been performing a long string of live shows around the world. Currently, the new quartet from Dallas, TX are traveling cross country for the Resurrection Tour in support of Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides. Music Connection last saw Crown the Empire at Warped Tour 2016 in Pomona, CA—with Escamilla still in the lineup—and caught them again at the sold-out show at House of Blues in Houston, TX for the Resurrection Tour.

Opening for Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides, Crown the Empire had a shorter amount of time to perform but managed to generate a set list that covered their discography, spanning from their most recent release, Retrograde (2016), all the way back to their Limitless EP from 2011. Their set kicked off with a new song, “20/20,” as a preview for upcoming music. This fresh heavy hitter sounds like it might be presenting a new musical direction, packing a punch with ambitious vocals along with a booming chorus that got the crowd head banging. In comparison to past performances from Crown the Empire, the set took a more relaxed, melodic approach as opposed to consecutive energetic heavy bangers—with the omission of crowd favorites such as “Makeshift Chemistry” and “Johnny’s Revenge.”

Even though it appeared that a majority of the audience was at House of Blues for Black Veil Brides, that didn’t stop Crown the Empire from getting the crowd hyped up—singing along, jumping in the pit and crowd surfing. Admittedly it was unfortunate to see Escamilla missing from the lineup, but front man, Andy Leo, still worked the stage, covering ground of two men. He was an entertaining little firecracker to watch fly across the stage singing, screaming and dancing, and although Leo can perform both clean and unclean vocals, the band’s bassist, Hayden Tree, stepped up to scream unclean vocals as well.

One of the inviting aspects of the Dallas four-piece is their engaging stage antics and banter with the audience. As a younger-aged group, Crown the Empire were casual and easily relatable just simply being themselves. They’re an unapologetic, humorous group, sharing honest and blunt stories—Leo encouraged the audience to give props to Tree for performing exceptionally, even though he had seafood earlier that day and was “shitting himself around the clock.” Leo then went on later to admit that he would jump into the audience, however, his pants have been pulled off in the past and that he was swimming among them in spirit.

Usually at concerts, there’s an unspoken wall separating artist from audience, but Crown the Empire continue to break that barrier between band and fan, almost as if they’re one of the crowd. They possess an unexplainable authenticity of spirited young men merely playing music together, amongst friends, and not four untouchable prestigious musicians performing on a pedestal. Several times throughout the set, Leo presented the scenario of “you see someone and you don’t know each other, but you feel you are meant to be friends,” confessing that was the vibe the band was receiving from the audience.

Even with a changed lineup, every band deserves a chance for fans—new and older alike—to stick around and enjoy the band’s adventure of new direction. One of the primary curiosities facing Crown the Empire was witnessing how the band would carry on after the leaving of Escamilla—and guitarist, Benn Suede, before that—but the quartet seems to be doing well. With more upcoming tour dates, recently launched merchandise and new tunes in the works, Crown the Empire show no signs of slowing down.

Text and photos by Siri Svay

*Disclaimer: The words expressed in photo blog reviews do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Music Connection Magazine.