D.C. rockers Army of Me played to a packed crowd Thursday night at Union Hall in
Having been constantly touring for the past few years with various bands including The Used, Blue October and the Dave Matthews Band and releasing their first full-length album, Citizen, back in April, Army of Me is definitely a band to be on the look out for. With solid vocals from frontman singer/songwriter/guitarist Vince Scheuerman and a well-blended guitar and drum sound, it’s hard to believe that a few years ago drummer Dennis Manuel hadn’t picked up a drum stick and Scheuerman never wrote a lyric.
“When Dennis and I first started talking about starting the band he didn’t even play drums and I didn’t know how to write songs. But it didn’t matter, because we were going to take over the world,” Scheuerman said. “We kind of learned as we went, we didn’t really know what we were doing, but we still wanted to do it.”
From concocting their own “wheat paste” made out of flour and water to stick signs up on light poles throughout the D.C. area for their gigs, “the fliers would stay up for months and months. Everyone knew our name because you couldn’t help but see our name,” Scheuerman said, to recording their own demo and paying for tours through day jobs, Army of Me eventually landed themselves a record deal with Doghouse Records in January of 2006, soon after releasing their first full-length album, Citizen this past April.
I’m always a bit skeptical of seeing a band perform live after only hearing their album because it either makes or breaks your opinion on the band. But I have to say, Army of Me definitely blew me away. Each and every song is entirely different from the previous and Scheuerman has such an incredible stage presence that really engages the crowd. From jumping into the crowd on top of a bench in the corner of the room to constantly pointing to someone in the audience, you feel like he’s singing directly to you.
Even during some of the slower parts of a song, such as in the middle of “Still Believe in You,” Army of Me is able to capture the audience’s attention with the honesty of the lyrics and rhythm of the song. What’s even better is that when the tempo changes, the entire band can pick it right back up without missing a beat or having a strange transition.
“Meet You at the Mouth” had quite a few strong guitar riffs throughout the song as well as an amazing guitar solo from Brad Tursi. Scheuerman introduced “Rise” as being a song of healing and rebirth, getting knocked off your feet and not being sure you could get up and then getting that reassuring word from a friend and being able to get back up.
Up next was my favorite of the night, “Better Run.” Slowing things down for the night, Scheuerman started off alone on keyboard while singing solo until the rest of the band joined in halfway through the song. The song is so honest and you can just feel the heart wrenching of letting a relationship end, even though you don’t want it to. With lyrics like, “If you run at full speed and it feels good to be free/If you know it in your soul, though it’s hard to let it go/You better run, you better run,” Scheuerman got the point across.
Perhaps the crowd favorite of the night, “Going Through Changes,” had the crowd singing along. First big single for Army of Me, this song was ranked No. 3 as MTV’s most played video a while back and it’s easy to see why, the catchy chorus and rockin’ guitar driven drum beats that make up the song definitely get stuck in your head. Lyrics like, “It’s hard to accept what you don’t understand/And it’s hard to launch/without knowing how to land,” are relatable to everyone.
Last song of the night was “Perfect,” which Scheuerman said is his favorite to play. “It’s like a journey. It’s a song about wanting to accomplish something great, wanting to prove that you’re worth something to somebody. And when we play it live, it feels powerful, and I feel like I can do something great. In the middle of the song, we do a section that is improvised. Brad, our guitarist, does a solo which is always great. I like to get lost in the moment,” he said.
And that guitar solo might have been the best of the night, adding a powerful instrumental segment before Scheuerman finished the song. Scheuerman spoke to the crowd before ending the song, saying, “I think we’re all capable of something great, something perfect. Something perfect.” I think he’s right.
Check out more photos from Wendy Hu here.