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Nero Satisfies Echostage in D.C.

Nero at Echostage - October 17, 2015

Nero Satisfies Echostage in D.C.

I was a sophomore in high school when I first heard Welcome Reality, the debut concept album by UK group Nero. The album was one of the most important collections of music in my formative years, and now, four years later, the trio has released their second studio album, Between II Worlds. Nero is currently halfway through their 20-stop North American tour in support of the album. Bringing along Audrey Napoleon and Wax Motif as support, Nero hit Echostage in D.C. on October 17, and they hit it hard.

My first time seeing Nero live was supposed to be my second, but a cold kept me from seeing them in Baltimore in 2011. I was finally able to catch them as they headlined Hardfest Red Rocks 2014 in Colorado and it was a life changing experience. Daniel Stephens, Joe Ray, and Alana Watson seemed larger than life in between the monoliths of Red Rocks and the warm Colorado air. The music carried far more power with it live, with the songs taking on a nearly magical quality after the show.

As someone who had reservations about Between II Worlds, I was worried about whether or not the magic would still be there with the incorporation of the newer songs. The performance at Echostage changed my opinion on the new album and cemented my faith in the group as one of the best in the business.

Nero at Echostage - October 17, 2015
Blinding lights seared my eyes as the rumble of the bass shook the room. The strobes went faster and faster, making time seem to slow until Watson came on stage. Her sultry voice took audience members through a satisfying journey in the show opener, ‘Satisfy’, with Watson leaving the stage after the song. The show followed this format, with Watson coming out and providing vocals on a few songs, and then leaving to let Stephens and Ray destroy the dance floor with their massive bass sound.

Eventually, Stephens and Ray left their perch in the DJ booth to join Watson on the front of the stage.Taking their place at synthesizer stations on either side of the stage, the boys were armed with Moog Voyagers, keyboards, and trigger pads. They performed a good majority of the set live with room to deviate from the studio recording in the form of screaming synth solos and other modified riffs. The energy when all three of them were performing live became much more raw and electric, and this transferred to the crowd who responded by going even harder.

The songs off the new album blended together nicely with the older tunes. While Between II Worlds did not feel as cohesive to me as compared to Welcome Reality, when the two were combined into this live set it was unreal how well everything fit together. The transitions between genres were seamless, with the dubstep making way for the electro-house making way for the electro rock. ‘Two Minds’ and ‘Crush On You’ received house styled reworks before breaking down again into the gritty dubstep the trio became known for.

Nero at Echostage - October 17, 2015
The set closed with all three members in front. Stephens and Ray built up the intro to the song at their synth stations before Watson joined them, singing “Are you ready?” The crowd was clearly ready as they roared in support. The big percussion and buzzy synthesizers compounded into the massive sound the audience came to hear. Watson danced around the stage and the subs rattled in time. As the song came to an end, the three members of Nero came together to take a bow, and said goodnight.

Tom Hausman
A sophomore at the University of Maryland, I take photos of concerts and write music for a living.
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