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Escape the Fate tops Dead Masquerade bill at Ace of Spades

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"Escape the Fate! Escape the Fate!"

With appetites violently whetted by the three-guitar screamo attack of the final opening band Alesana, the loud chanting of hundreds of eager fans filled Ace of Spades Sunday night, beckoning Escape the Fate, the headliners of the Dead Masquerade tour.

The sensory onslaught began with appropriately named opener "Massacre," as the Vegas post-hardcore band pounced on the young crowd like a rabid pack of hyenas on defenseless baby gazelles.

The response to ETF’s latest Facebook wall posting before the show ("Sacramento Ace of Spades tonight it’s on! You guys ready?" – 1,429 Likes and 539 comments at the time of this writing) indicated a large and dedicated fan base, and it was reflected in the enthusiastic packed house.

The young audience was kept rapt throughout the show, obeying readily when vocalist Craig Mabbitt split the crowd like the Red Sea and instructed the opposite sides to run toward each other at the beginning of the next song and collide in what’s known in as a "Wall of Death."

When they weren’t running into each other, those in the crowd were enthusiastically shouting out lyrics and crowd-surfing, clearly enjoying the ride.

Escape the Fate members are good at what they do – putting on an energetic show with music that combines melody and pop sensibilities with their hardcore/metal foundation, with a little screamo mixed in to round things out. (They worked on their latest LP with Linkin Park producer Don Gilmore, to give you an idea).

The setlist drew almost exclusively on ETF’s last two albums, 2008’s "This War Is Ours" ("Something," "The Flood" and "10 Miles Wide) and 2010’s eponymous release ("Issues," "Zombie Dance," "Gorgeous Nightmare" and "Day of Wreckoning"), with "Situations" being the lone song played from 2006’s debut album "Dying Is Your Latest Fashion."

Guitarist TJ Bell from supporting act Motionless In White did double duty on the bass for ETF, filling in for regular bassist Max Green, who is at home recovering (he entered rehab for drug and alcohol addiction late last year), Mabbitt said.

Mabbitt made it a point to connect to the audience not only on a visceral level as a hyperactive frontman, but on a personal one as well, at one point encouraging those in the crowd to ignore the naysayers and follow their dreams – "How many people in here are artists? You write, you sing, you draw? You work at Subway, you’re a sandwich artist?" – before leading everyone in a middle finger salute directed at those who might have issues with artistic expression, in the food industry or otherwise.

And later: "We want to dedicate this next one to the brave men and women who serve this country," declared Mabbitt, before launching into the first song of the encore, "This War Is Ours (The Guillotine II)." "And also to the greatest video game in the world in my opinion, and that’s Halo!"

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