Straight Outta Queens: Sylar
Growing up attending at least three concerts a month, for underground bands that is, during my high school years has enabled me to really delve into the local music scene and watch them rise to stardom as the years went on. This includes seeing bands primarily in the “hardcore,” “alternative,” and “metal” genres people usually use to describe these bands, such as We Came as Romans, Chiodos, Like Moths to Flames, etc. However, although these were generally the bands already signed to labels and increasingly gained popularity as the years went on and moved from little venues like Gramercy Theater and Irving Plaza to bigger venues such as Playstation Theater, formerly known as Best Buy Theater when I used to go, there were many local/underground/nobody bands that opened up for these concerts. Some members of these local bands included friends of mine and others in this scene who have been attending shows of this particular genre for years, and wanted to achieve their dreams of making it big within the scene just as other bands have. Instead of being in the mosh pit, these kids who attended the shows wanted to be on the opposite side – on stage.
Although many of these small, local bands have phased out, were not taken seriously, or did not have the proper funding, this was not the case for what I consider to be one of the most successful local bands I have had the privilege of seeing and watch grow within this music scene: Sylar. Coming out of Queens, New York in 2011, Sylar is comprised of Jayden Panesso on vocals, Dustin Jennings on guitar, Miguel Cardona on guitar, Travis Hufton on bass, and Thomas Veroutis on drums. They released Deadbeat, an EP in 2013 and their first album To Whom It May Concern in 2014. Sylar has also recently announced the coming of another album this summer.
After knowing Jayden Panesso personally and the private struggles he endured throughout his life, it is without a doubt that the lyrics are a clear reflection of his personal battle – particularly the mental ones he and many of the fans of this genre typically face. This is why many fans within this local scene have supported Sylar to its rise: not only for the catchy breakdowns that cause mayhem in the pit (trust me, theirs had to be one of the most brutal ones I have witnessed), but because of the lyrics many fans and friends of the members can relate to and take comfort in knowing people so close face the same problems. For example, a fan-favorite lyric is, “I’m sick, I’m fucked, I feel no pain,” from their song “Mirrors,” and “What’s it like to live? What’s it like to breathe? I don’t know anymore,” from their other song “Live/Breathe.” These lyrics, as much of Sylar’s songs do as well, contain dark elements reflecting past experiences and battling mental demons, and fans gravitate towards music that can make them feel better, relate to, but jam out to as well with sick breakdowns. Their biggest hit, “Prescription Meditation,” speaks of, as noted in the title, medication taken to cope with such mental illnesses.
The success of this band has not just remained stagnant in New York, it has traveled across the country as well. Sylar is on tour with The Plot in You this summer in the U.S., but this is certainly not the first time they have been able to play across the U.S. Sylar has toured with Beartooth, Vanna, The Word Alive, and Chelsea Grin – just to name a few – and most important, they were on the 2014 All Stars tour featuring the biggest bands in the genre. Sylar has definitely proved themselves to be one of the most successful local bands from this music scene, particularly during a time of competition amongst bands trying to make it big in the world and, well, live out their dreams.