The Almost showcases Underoath drummer’s talents in one show but sweet set

Avi Yashaya

The Almost group shot. Photo Credit: Avi Yashaya / Contributing Reporter
The Almost group shot. Photo Credit: Avi Yashaya / Contributing Reporter

At face value, The Almost is primarily a side project of Underoath drummer Aaron Gillespie. While some side projects tend to take a very self-indulgent path, often leaving fans alienated in hot pursuit of artistic crossover credibility, something about this band just fits. You certainly can’t blame Aaron for wanting to step away from the drum kit of a fierce metal-core band, albeit a hugely successful one that defined modern Christian rock, in favor of showcasing his multi-instrumental talents and melodic tendencies.

While he recorded practically the entirety of their first album, “Southern Weather,” himself, the band that commanded the stage at the Wiltern had a chemistry not often seen in most “for touring purposes only” acts. This at-ease nature that lets The Almost gel so well is most likely the result of the experience behind the creation of their new album, “Monster Monster.” Guitarist Jay Vilardi described the process as, “more of a collaborative group effort. Aaron would send us tracks to work with over the Internet and we first got together in the studio, which actually worked to our advantage.”

Their live show at the aptly named Wiltern Theater (on Wilshire and Western) also displayed a passion that was very tangible. The aggressive set packed in material from their growing catalogue that managed to come off as both heavy and melodic, which certainly has to do with the band’s broad spectrum of influences.

“Right now we are listening to everything from Kings of Leon to Necrophagist to Reliant K. I mean we love heavy stuff, but its just exciting to hear these bands doing new things,” Vilardi said.

Their progress is apparent on stage as well. Aaron looks comfortable stepping up as frontman and he’s got the charisma to back the band’s rambunctious sound. Their previous tour was, “a sold-out run with Paramore, but this tour is going very well because its bringing us to a crowd that understands us more,” Vilardi said.

During the short but sweet set, the band paid homage to Johnny Cash and kept the crowd furiously excited, providing the perfect juxtaposition between headliner The Used’s heartbroken parade of brutal angst. They proved very well that there can be accessibility and a good time to be had in a genre to often associated with doom and gloom.

Although the future is never certain for a band whose frontman splits double duty, The Almost are a creative outlet worth investing in. In 2010, they will be playing Soundwave, an Australian festival renowned worldwide by fans of the heavy, bringing their signature flavor of post-hardcore with a dash of southern rock to the masses.

“It’s important to maintain a balance between Aaron’s personal life as well,” Vilardi said, although having open musical expression in two successful projects can’t sting too bad.