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"Highly Suspect Concert Review"

If fans and music critics are having a tough time swallowing Highly Suspect’s 2022 release of "The Midnight Demon Club," such criticism seemed nonexistent during the bands performance at Revolution Live. In fact, within the first five minutes the band eliminated any doubt that I myself may have been holding on to when they came out playing an almost supernatural take on "Bath Salts." One of their biggest songs, it’s no surprise that they opened the set with a fan favorite. The brilliance, however, was not in the song itself (though that too has a power of its own) but in the way it was performed: In between the lines All I saw was the devil’s soul / And it looked a hell of a lot like my own the band paused for just short of a minute; the effect on the crowd being a choking tension that kept the entire sold-out venue locked together in 60 seconds of electric suspense.

Some fans called out to Rich and Ryan while others screeched out the lyrics they couldn’t wait for Johnny to sing. When it finally burst, the release of the second line felt like a collective exhale exulted by a 40-second guitar-riff by Matt. From the get-go the band had us by the neck and made it clear they weren’t letting go until that final song.

The first show of the band’s 2023 Ice Cold Winter Tour, Highly Suspect came out with an energy and confidence that, if sustained for the long run, will continue this band down the path towards household name status; that is if they haven’t already reached it. In light of their success, they’re opening for Muse alongside Evanescence in April, a major gig for a band that has already left its mark on modern rock and is quickly on its way to a solid position in rock history.

Despite the outer heaviness of songs like "Lydia," the crowd was full of the exact type of people any listener would expect to be fans. Between songs strangers introduced themselves and bumped beers, laughing and shrugging at the resulting spills.

Towards the end of the night, "My Name is Human" caused a communal uproar as friends, lovers, and strangers grabbed one another with one hand while shoving the other in the smoke-laden air. Highly Suspect makes the type of music that takes listeners through their darkest days and dares to save lives, and despite the devil horns and darkness they protrude, their message is actually one of raw love and perseverance.

I still wanna love / Love with my whole heart / Even though the world / Is slowly tearing me apart.

These lyrics from "Canal" can perhaps sum up the message of Highly Suspect: How can a person continue to love during a life that can be so relentless? This central goodness, the want to love, despite an outer shell hardened by addiction, mental illness, and other trial is the common denominator of fans at a Highly Suspect show and one that makes for an atmosphere that is just plain real.

Throughout the course of the night, I felt wounds open and close to the beat of songs that have not only accompanied me during the lows of my life but that have helped me to make sense of the chaos in my head. And as I looked around, I saw hundreds of other people who, too, found an existential truth in the music and were nothing more than a bunch of lovers bobbing their heads to the beat of anthems like "Natural Born Killer."

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