This past Sunday, outside Heaven at the Masquerade, thousands of fans lined up to see the American metalcore band Issues play the last show of their career.
With the first person getting in line at 8:45 in the morning, there were over 1,000 people in the audience by the time the sold-out show began that evening.
Issues formed in 2012 as the spin-off project of several former members of the metalcore band Woe, Is Me. Releasing three studio albums and two EPs throughout their career, the band won the Alternative Press Music Award for Artist of the Year in 2015. They went on to receive a total of seven Alternative Press Music Awards nominations.
In 2020, the band kicked out their lead singer, Tyler Carter, due to allegations of sexual misconduct. The remaining members were Skylar Acord (bass and vocalist), AJ Rebollo (guitar and vocals) and Josh Manuel (drums). For the next three years, the band was inactive, leading many people to wonder if they would be returning to the music scene.
In 2023, Issues released a formal statement announcing that they would officially be breaking up after a farewell tour of just three shows (which later became four when they added a second night in Atlanta).
Many fans in the crowd on Sunday night — the band’s very last show — had also been there the night before and wore the shirts and jackets that they had bought.
Approximately two hours before the venue doors opened, after Masquerade staff began allowing people to go through the security lineup outside Heaven’s doors, the band joined fans outside, taking pictures and signing autographs. For many long-time Issues fans, it was an incredibly special moment.
Following energetic performances by openers The Funeral Portrait and He Is Legend, the time finally came for Issues to take the stage for the last time.
The band selected Brian Butcher, lead singer of heavy pop band The Home Team, as their lead singer, having never replaced Carter. Despite not being the recording artist for any of the songs, Butcher’s vocals and energy fit perfectly into the dynamic of the other three members.
After the first few songs, Acord took some time to talk to the crowd, something that happened sporadically throughout the night. The band was doing a “time capsule” in which their setlist included songs from every album, going backwards through the life of Issues.
Over the course of the night, the band gave speeches, stories and toasts celebrating each member. They also recognized those who had helped them throughout their career — such as Acord’s brother, “Scout,” who produced for the band — as well as the fans.
As a sold out show, the venue was packed, both on the floor and the balcony above. On the main floor, the mosh pit went strong the entire set. Venue security worked diligently to catch the steady stream of crowd surfers being passed to the front.
During the last chorus of the headlining set, Butcher stopped singing, letting the crowd’s vocals echo through the room. The volume of the audience, combined with the lyrics “Remember when I didn’t need you? Well I need you now to hold my head up high, say it’s all better child. Remember when I was alone and crying out? You will be missed but I know that you’re all better now,” brought Acord, Rebollo and Manuel to tears onstage. At that moment, it fully sunk in that this was the last time that Issues would ever be onstage.
The band members left the stage to overwhelming applause. As the audience waited for the expected encore, they were surprised as someone new walked onto the stage.
Michael Bohn, one of the founding co-vocalists of Issues, surprised fans by joining the band at their final show. Together, they played through the entirety of the band’s first EP, “Black Diamonds.”
Afterwards, they took one last picture with the audience, and the show was over.
However, the energy continued after, with fans buying merch and meeting different members from all three bands, including Butcher, Acord, Rebollo and Manuel. Members of other bands were in the crowd that night, too, coming to support their fellow band’s farewell.
Overall, the night was a spectacle of energy, excitement, sadness, nostalgia and community. After inspiring metalcore fans and bands for years, Issues will surely be missed by many.