Festival Review: August Burns Red’s Christmas Burns Red at Lancaster County Convention Center in Lancaster, PA

It’s December in Lancaster, PA—time for the Christmas Burns Red festival featuring hometown headliner August Burns Red. From Friday December 8 to Saturday December 9, the band hosted 10 other metal and hardcore bands. Both nights were capped off with a distinct music set from August Burns Red with only “Carol Of The Bells” and “White Washed” showing up in both sets.

The fest began with Once Nothing opening up just as doors opened. Crystal Lake followed up as more fans had made their way into the venue and the enthusiasm of the crowd began to shape the vibe of the night. SPITE, whose band logo emblazoned a noticeable number of shirts in the crowd that evening, leveled up the night and opened up the pit. Brand Of Sacrifice pushed out a technically proficient wall of brutal sound that to me placed them as the hardest overall set of the entire two-day fest. Texas In July enjoyed the featured support role for the evening delivering a seamless blend of melodic hardcore vocals and bright guitar riffs.

For their Friday night set, ABR simply delivered. Always happy to be back in their hometown, Christmas Burns Red is a truly special event for the band of mostly Christian members who embrace the idea of a positive message to their music. Though they no longer consider themselves to be an explicitly Christian Rock band, that legacy was the band’s foundation and makes a Christmas festival that much more appropriate.

Saturday night opened with the grinding sounds and high register vocals of KANASH followed up with a brutal set from Signs Of The Swarm. A fun interlude from Galactic Empire, who showed up clad in costume depicting various characters from the Star Wars universe, performed classic songs from the movies with a touch of thrash. Kublai Kahn threw the crowd a gut punch of a hardcore set, keeping it short, sweet, and true to form with a nonstop half hour with no fat. Featured support came in the form of Between The Buried And Me performing Colors in full.

Saturday night’s set from August Burns Red was even more energized than Friday. A noticeable extra lean into the Christmas theme manifested in additional holiday stage props. Several Christmas songs also made their way into the set list. On top of all that, we enjoyed surprise guest vocals from the band’s previous vocalist, Josh McManness, pulling from the album Thrillseeker for a healthy dose of nostalgia for the crowd.

All in all, it was a very well attended weekend of choice bands. In their final set of the festival, Jake thanked the crowd for making the fourth annual Christmas Burns Red celebration the biggest thus far! As the success of the festival has proven to be beyond sustainable, we can likely expect further growth in the years to come.

August Burns Red Friday Set:

Provision
Treatment
Spirit Breaker
Count It All As Lost
Sincerity
Creative Captivity
Fault Line
Beauty In Tragedy
Animals
Echoes
The First Step
Carol Of The Bells
Bloodletter
Revival
Composure
White Washed

August Burns Red Saturday Set:

Truth Of A Liar
Meddler
Indivisible Enemy
Back Burner
Empire
Little Drummer Boy
Endorphins
Ghosts
Defender
Backfire
Meridian

Christmas Burns Red, Friday, Day 1

Christmas Burns Red, Saturday, Day 2

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