It had been nearly two years since Whitechapel last graced the stage of the Mill and Mine. The east Tennessee metal band has organized an annual charity show in their hometown of Knoxville for six years now. Little did they know, their 2019 show would be their last show for the next 729 days. The renowned bands’ return to the stage was finally announced in August 2021. They also noted that this year a portion of ticket sales would be donated to Young Williams Animal shelter. Needless to say, fans were elated to see them live again. They completely sold out the show in just two under months.
After hanging on to tickets for months, it was time for fans to rock out with Whitechapel in their hometown once again. I drove by the venue nearly 3 hours before the doors opened, and I could see there was already a line of anxious fans forming. By the time doors were set to open the line was fully wrapped around the building. As the number of attendees continued to grow, you could hear the buzz of excitement in the air. While waiting in line metalheads alike reminisced about Whitechapel shows past. Some chat about this being their first show in years and others lament that this is their last show of the year. Regardless, this was bound to be an unforgettable performance for everyone in attendance.
While waiting for the first support band to take the stage a playlist of classic 90s country songs echoed throughout the venue. I mean is it even a metal show in the south if you cant scream along to Man I Feel Like a Woman with your horns up? Up first was The Guild, a deathcore band that also yields from Knoxville. The 5-piece wasted no time hyping up the crowd. Their energy was infectious and in true metal fashion, a mosh pit was quickly formed. There’s no doubt that the crowd enjoyed every boisterous growl and note that these guys threw down. They left their hearts on the stage and rightfully earned their spot as the opening act.
Though the first band had already finished their set, people continued to file in to the the 8,000-square-foot venue. After a quick 30 minute rest from moshing, the lively crowd was ready to kick it up a notch with Chamber. The Nashville band made the trip out east for the charity show and so did their fans. These guys brought some throat-ripping deathcore melodies that ignited an even larger mosh pit. The band put on an impressive performance and left everyone exhausted from headbanging along to every song.
Two bands down, one to go before Whitechapel’s much-anticipated return to the stage. Realm, another band proudly repping Tennessee, was the last support band of the night. Considering most of the concert-goers traveled to Knoxville for the show, many of them hadn’t heard of this local band. But that didn’t stop the crowd from having a hell of a good time with the threesome. They brought us a few singles referencing the “orange man” and had everyone screaming along to songs they didn’t even know the words to. These mellow dudes brought the perfect amount of energy to the stage and they definitely gave us some killer jams to headbang to.
Knoxville based trio born of doom, blues, beer, and stoner rock. And with a love for science fiction. Beer battered & deep-fried, southern & sci-fi.@realmknox instagram bio
At long last, the countdown was over. Whitechapel was moments away from stepping back onto the stage after a 729 day hiatus. The stage is darkened and I can see the shadows of each member begin to form as the intro to Forgiveness is Weakness begins to play. Before the frontman belts out the first few lyrics, he utters the words “hey Knoxville how we doing”, the audience comes unglued and the crowd surfing ensues.
It may have been two years since their last performance but the 6-piece is not holding back tonight. As they move through the setlist the crowd becomes untamable. Even the security guards can’t hold back. They rock out with fans alike, all while safely catching and releasing the dozens of fans crowd surfing their way to the front of the stage.
You can’t help but be in awe as the elite death metal band dominates the stage, it was like they never left. Vocalist Phil Bozeman stuns with his growls and unbelievably clean vocals. Ben Savage, Alex Wade, and Zach Householder amaze as they shred on their guitars and interact with the crowd. Gabe Crisp works every part of the stage while impressively slapping away on the bass. Ernie Iniguez may have been filling in on drums for the night but he seamlessly kept up with the rest of the band.
The band played quite a few songs from the Valley and older albums, but you know they couldn’t end the night without playing something off their new album, Kin. Bozeman intros the song with “we want to play something off the new album if that’s okay”. At this point, you could hear a pin drop while everyone listens to hear which masterpiece they are about to unleash live for the first time. As the melody of Blood-Soaked Symphony bleeds in, the roar of the crowd is deafening. The band blazed through the rest of the setlist which included, This is Exile, Hickory Creek, and Saw is the Law, with Vicer Exciser rounding out the their set. The night concluded with Bozeman thanking everyone for coming out and for supporting them and the charity.
Their performance overall was superb and felt so nostalgic. As a Knoxville native, I have been a Whitechapel fan for years and to see these guys evolve over the last 15 years has been incredible to witness. Their humble demeanor and professionalism shine on and off the stage. The anticipation of this show was well worth the wait. You couldn’t have asked for a better show to end the year with. After all, you’re supposed to spend the holidays with family and friends and this felt nothing short of a family affair.
Check out the full gallery from the show here.
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