PHOTOS: The Gin Mill & Grille Xmas Party, feat. Trapt

Northampton’s Gin Mill & Grille played host to a night of rock that was heavy, loud, and — perhaps as a nod to Trapt’s 2010 album — made No Apologies.

Five bands in total took the stage at the Gin Mill’s Main Street Music Hall on Friday night, with the California natives headlining their second show at the venue of 2016. First up was The Chaos Lounge, a rap-rock five piece from Bethlehem who utilized its opening set as a showcase of its versatility. A highlight of the set was “484,” the opening track from the band’s “The Promised Land” EP which blends its heavier influences with guitar work that skews a bit toward southern rock.

Next, Vicious took the stage for the shortest, yet perhaps heaviest set of the night. The Allentown band, who only recently burst onto the scene, introduced a thrash metal edge to the night, liberally and gleefully dropping f-bombs in its original material to inspire a cathartic aggression in the room, before closing with a cover of Filter’s “Hey Kid, Nice Shot.”

Third in the order for the night was the always-entertaining VICTIM, who brought its trademark lowbrow humor to the stage to accompany its hard rock presence. Frontman Cris Moser’s ability to command a crowd was on-point as ever as the band shredded its way through songs like “Allentown” and “Hoodrat” from its LVMA-nominated album, “Here’s to You,” alongside other fan favorites.

Keeping up the entertainment value following VICTIM was Emily’s ToyBox. Now, I must admit: my only prior experience with Emily’s ToyBox has been a few rounds of live band karaoke at Sands’ Molten Lounge. This… was not a Molten Lounge show.

Emily’s ToyBox kicks the fun up a notch when playing their original material. Frontman Mike Wise’s punk eccentricities have a chance to shine — complete with a toilet paper leaf blower cannon — and fans of the band’s original material eat up the endearingly, delightfully crude lyrics of tunes like “Chapstick” and “Your Girlfriend is Ugly.”

By now, the crowd was thoroughly warmed up for the headliners. After a final stage setup and sound check, Trapt took the stage, opening with “Bring It” off of 2013’s reborn. Frontman Chris Taylor Brown’s voice has held up well since I last saw Trapt in 2005, delivering tenderness on ballads like “Lost Realist” and “Stories,” while delivering his trademark aggressive punch on hits like “Still Frame” and the number one smash, “Headstrong.”

The highlight of the night for me, for personal reasons, was hearing “Stand Up” live again. Off of 2005’s “Someone in Control,” “Stand Up” was a song that entered my life at exactly the right time, when I was an angsty 18-year old who would have done anything to get my life on track and play college football — and prove just about everyone in my life wrong. I explain that in greater detail at this link, but I must note how great it was to hear a song that, throughout the past decade-plus, has been so prominent in my life. Also, it was a cool moment to be able thank CTB for that song, as he signed the drum head that I picked up from the merch table for a cool $25 after the show.

By that point, it was after midnight, and it was time to head back into the cold night and head home to Bethlehem. Drum head and VICTIM t-shirt in-hand, I walked away with the feeling that this was one of my favorite nights on the scene so far.

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