On Getting Exhumed By A Goatwhore

Due to the length of time that has passed on this concert (almost 2 weeks), a full-on review of the Exhumed/Goatwhore/Havok show at the Alrosa Villa might seem a bit pointless. What the hell – better late than never! If you’d like another perspective of the same show, I recommend checking out Gogmagogical (always happy to support a fellow blogger).

Anyhow, this was a Tuesday night show – which is a rough situation for the headliners if there’s a significant number of opening acts on the bill. On this night, there were 5 openers – so sadly by the time Exhumed took the stage, there were about 40 of us left. A disappointing lack of support but I understand it’s how it goes sometimes. People get up WAY earlier than me & it’s just good that they came out at all, right? But I’m getting ahead of myself, here’s my thoughts on the lineup;

Kingsblood – If there’s such thing as Epic Metal, then Kingsblood is the poster-child. Growling death vocals backed by excellent Battle Metal-style guitar riffage and rapid fire drum blasts, this is music that conjures images of knights & barbarians without seeming. . .well, nerdy. The fact that guitarist McFly is also a graphic artist translates into awesome logo work that you can check out at the link as well as some tunes.

Skullbomb – delivered some pounding Thrash reminiscent of early Exodus, with catchy rhythms and galloping drum beats that took me straight back to the heydays of the 80’s. Like the next two bands who followed, I’m excited to see a continued resurgence of oldschool Thrash in the clubs these days, something I fully supported in the first generation, and will continue to support with these younger acts. Keep the spirit alive, gentlemen!

Next up was Mithridium, a melodic oldschool outfit with a propensity for face-melting, dueling guitar leads. I challenge anyone to listen to the first 30 seconds of “The Blood Of Retribution” and not drop their jaw in disbelief. Relentlessly heavy, polished and with a completely professional stage presence, these guys are ready for bigger stages.

Continuing the Thrash onslaught was Havok, a high energy foursome out of Colorado who blasted out amazingly technical songs making even this early week crowd put on their dancing shoes & open up a pit. I highly recommend “Scumbag in Disguise” but really, EVERYTHING they played was arena-level awesome with complex instrumentation and melodic hooks. These guys need to be huge – and I have no doubt that they will.

Evil followed, with the ferociously brutal Goatwhore from the mystic swamplands of Louisiana. Deftly mixing punk with Thrash & Black Metal influences, Goatwhore is the bastard offspring of bands like Celtic Frost and Agnostic Front. Ben Falgoust’s vocals permeated the stage with his unholy ranting, spewing venomous rebellion at the masses amidst the deafening wall of distorted power chords & thundering bass. Greatest crowd reaction of the night – and for good reason, Goatwhore is nasty little guilty pleasure that I recommend catching if you get the chance.

Final act of the evening were the Gore Metal legends Exhumed, who return to touring after a lengthy hiatus supporting their first new CD in almost 8 years (“All Guts, No Glory”). Despite being abandoned by a large portion of the audience, Exhumed played a full-on assault of grinding Death Metal like they didn’t even notice. Surprisingly sparse in theatrics (think Cannibal Corpse), Exhumed’s visceral delivery felt like heavy chunks of carnage filling the air with blood-soaked dread, delivering a tight, punishing show that underscored their status as godfathers of the genre. Really liked hearing “I Rot Within” and “Necromaniac” live, and seeing as how this was their first appearance at the Alrosa, I hope they do return someday & receive the responsive, watchful throng they deserve.

Concert Review: Wednesday 13 – Alrosa Villa – October 27th

Thought I was dead, didn’t ya’?  Nope, just been dealing with real life while still making it to a few shows that I want to tell you about – so here we go.  First up, I LOVE me some good Horror Rock around Halloween, and with The Misfits & GWAR conveniently avoiding Columbus this season, one of the scary themed shows I DID attend was Wednesday 13 at the Alrosa Villa.  Here’s the breakdown;

The first band I caught was Phantom 13 out of Marion, Ohio, who played some decent Horror Punk but were VERY derivative of early Misfits/Danzig (probably too much so for any real commercial success). Still, if you like that sound (and I do), Phantom puts out catchy tune-age like “Death Dealer” & “Dust Filled Veins” that’ll have you singing along in the shower (or is that in the blood bath?).

Next up, some local favorites of mine, Mystic Syntax – who you may recall I saw sweating it out in 90 degree mid-day heat at Woodshock. Much more conducive playing conditions this night, with another strong performance by the band that was one part Electro-Industrial, one part Metal and a uniquely strange experience to witness. Like a post-apocalyptic nightclub act, MS creates eerie tunes full of emotionless lyrics & driving beats wrapped in techno-centric keyboard samples. “Just Like You” is featured on the linked site, and gives you a good feel for their sound.

Polkadot Cadaver were next, an eclectic & funky experimental group formed by ex-members of Dog Fashion Disco. I’ll give them credit for avoiding cliche, but I didn’t need to hear (among other things) the full cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. Not my cup of tea, but I encourage you to follow the link & give them a listen for yourself.

The following band, Vampires Everywhere are more of what I expected for an opening act on this bill, a Gothic boy band with heavy 80’s Sunset Strip influences. That being said, I found them to be very entertaining with a rocking set of Power Pop tunes overlaid with occasional scream-o vocals. Probably dripping in Twilight groupies, Vampires Everywhere have a melodic brand of cemetery angst that is catchy, listenable & was ultimately fun to watch. I particularly like “Immortal Love”, which you can hear if you follow the link.

Wednesday 13 came out last, with all the fog swept, light flashing intensity of a great Halloween show. Not as heavy on stage props as I would’ve expected, the band more than made up for it with a powerful presence, chugging through a set that mixed new offerings with a good selection of old staples (except “I Love To Say Fuck”, a personal fave of mine). Melodic & catchy, like most bands on this bill, W-13 do a great job of capturing a Punk sensibility, sprinkling in some A7X type metallic goodness and serving it all up in Psychobilly homage that’s both lyrically humorous (with songs like “Calling All Corpses” and “Happily Ever Cadaver” for example) but backed up by a good rock n’ roll crunch. Below is a shaky fan-made video from a show a few weeks previous, that aptly captures their live performance. Really good stuff, and I’d not hesitate to see them again. Thanks to some help from Setlist.fm, I can offer you what was played as well;

  • Calling All  Corpses
  • I Walked With A Zombie
  • Scream Baby Scream
  • My Home Sweet Homicide
  • Silver Bullets
  • From Here to the Hearse
  • Happily Ever Cadaver
  • Rambo
  • Put Your Death Mask On
  • I Want You Dead
  • I Wanna Be Cremated
  • House By The Cemetary
  • 197666
  • Til Death Do Us Party
  • Bad Things
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes

 

Concert Review: Blast From The Past – Clays Park Resort, Aug. 19-21st 2011

Once upon a time, there was a magical campground that held within it’s borders an annual music festival called “Rock N’ Resort”. The festival was a jubilant celebration comprised of mostly older rock acts (many of whom one wouldn’t expect to still be touring), sharing the stage alongside up & coming local talent from the nearby villages. It was a 3 day affair of rocking out, drinking and debauchery – and the Reverend (& Mrs. Reverend) saw that it was good.

Then in the year 2011, the festival was cancelled because a new promoter had taken over it’s management. “Rock N’ Resort” was replaced with “Rock THE Resort”, and older rock acts gave way to younger, more mainstream talent with the obvious hope of bringing in large throngs to the sacred acres of Clay’s Resort. But yeah, there was a terrible backlash and gnashing of teeth upon the promoter by Those Who Had Come Before.

And so, in haste to appease the offended spirits (and perhaps spurred on by attendance concerns at the revamped festival), a second festival was announced although the time was short. Thus arose the lengthily named “End Of Summer Blast From The Past”, which we shall refer to as simply BftP hereafter. It was an honorable event, sporting names of yore like Pat Travers (pictured, left), The Godz, L.A. Guns, Jackyl, Blue Oyster Cult, Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night) and others.

But things were not the same. The primitive camping had been moved from next to the performance area (a mighty & ideal location, all did say) to far off in the woods or completely to the other side of the campgrounds. Food vendors were plentiful, expensive beer was readily availed, but alas – the crowds had seemingly forsaken this new festival (or simply hadn’t had time to rearrange their vacation schedules).

Forsooth, there were not many in attendance – tho Those Who Had Come Before did smile upon this occurrence & blessed it with the presence of a select few of their number (as did the Reverend & his bride). Yet, in the end, with angered merchants and disgruntled campers one fears that classic rock may ne’er return to the hallowed hills & sighing valleys of Clay’s Park.

And that my children, is the cautionary tale of the “Rock N’ Resort”.

Concert Review: Alice Cooper – LC Pavilion, Columbus OH 8/17/2011

There are entertainers that should just hang it up. They can’t move around the stage like they used to, they can’t hit the high notes anymore.  It’s a travesty to see them destroy memories of previous tours as their bloated, wrinkled form waddles around using the mike stand like a crutch.  Thankfully, Alice Cooper is NOT one of these entertainers.  Long Live Alice!

His lengthy & highly theatrical show at the LC was probably the most impressive I’ve ever seen him perform, what with over 20 songs and his infamous stage sets & props (including a Iron Maiden-like Frankenstein that came out during “Feed My Frankenstein” – as shown here).  BTW, that photo is from a show in Helsinki about a month prior to the one I attended, check out Adrián Pérez’s photo stream on Flickr for more on that one. It was just a MUCH clearer picture than anything I can offer.

Alice’s band roster now has 3 guitarists (Damon Johnson, Tommy Henriksen and AC veteran Steve Hunter), a bassist (Chuck Garric) and a drummer (Glen Sobel) which gives him a monster sound & enables the band to reproduce anything in Cooper’s repertoire faithfully. Unlike some rock “stars”, Alice is generous with the spotlight on his band-mates & it’s obvious they all enjoy playing live together. I honestly think an audience can tell when they’re watching the real thing – this is the real thing.

The entire setlist is available on Setlist.fm HERE but it consisted mostly of classics with a few obscurities to keep you guessing; “I’m Eighteen”, “Poison”, “Hey Stoopid”, “Under My Wheels”, “Billion Dollar Babies”, “Only Women Bleed”, “No More Mr. Niceguy”, “Cold Ethyl” (with obligatory doll abuse), new single “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” and of course “School’s Out” were standout performances but really, the entire show was first rate. Interestingly, nothing off “From The Inside” (my all-time favorite Alice Cooper album) or the seminal “Welcome to my Nightmare”. The second is even more surprising when you consider that “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” is being released in September – one would think that they would play off that synergy.

Anyhow, Cooper is still the consummate showman and this performance showcased his ability to completely mesmerize the nearly sold-out crowd. I’ve often said that Alice Cooper should start a festival tour to rival Ozzfest – imagine if you will Coopertown or something like that featuring The Murderdolls or GWAR or Mushroomhead. With this type of support, and Alice still maintaining a viable, thrilling show. . .well, it would be ‘killer’.

Concert Review: Woodshock Day 2

Day two of Woodshock was . . . weirder than Day 1, and I got the impression all was not going smoothly backstage. More on that in a bit. Here’s the high-points of the day’s line-up;

Mari Jayn – was one of two bands this day that I thought were no more. I’m glad I was wrong on both counts. MJ is what you would call ‘biker rock’, with fist pumping arena anthems & song titles like ‘Modern Day Outlaw’, ‘Creatures’ and ‘The Animal’. Good ole’ fashioned rock n’ roll, I’ve been wearing their swag for years (and picked up a free do rag courtesy of bassist Mikel Anthony). Guitarist Manus D. is pictured. Badass!

Spike Opera – The other reunited band that I previously thought was metal history. Has a VERY loyal following in their hometown of Springfield, Ohio (which coincidentally is my birthplace as well), and brought many of their brethren to the show. Decent Thrash metal but their set suffered from technical difficulties and a muddy sound. Need to hear them again sometime as they have the potential to kill. Sadly, their drummer Kenny shattered his foot backstage later that night. OH NO, THEY GOT KENNY! Seriously, tho – here’s hoping for a speedy recovery dude!

Altemira – A nu-metal trio out of Lima that was really fucking loud for a 3 piece, and had a good, full sound. Go to their Reverb Nation page (linked) and download 7 songs for free. Another band that I need to hear more from.

Then things started to get weird as, among other things, there was a Reggae act playing and what seemed like an eternity of Marley-esque “happy” music while nothing was on stage at all. I napped & prayed for the bad men to go away.

The Black Order – We were now officially into the stoner portion of the festival as TBO plowed through a sludgefest of Sabbath/Black Label inspired hymns of doom. Really dug these guys, especially the THC-drenched ‘Bleed The Sky’ (check it out on their Facebook page). Quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries of the entire weekend.

This Blessed Hatred – Who knew people were so pissed off in Springfield, Ohio? First Spike Opera, now TBH – wow, way to represent at the ‘shock! Crunchy Death metal just like your Daddy likes it, with discernible lyrics, galloping rhythms and wonderfully offbeat tempo changes. I love a band that intentionally makes their songs more complicated & interesting – well done guys! Check out ‘Krawl’ on their page (linked).

Mystic Syntax – Merging Industrial & Trance in an atmospheric symphony while maintaining their metal edge, these guys are quickly becoming a favorite. Not your typical festival act, and I applaud their creativity (and being able to play in the ridiculous heat that burned all of us during their set). Highly recommended.

Lazarus A.D. – Winners of the 2011 Rim Of Hell Favorite award (which I just now created), Lazarus A.D. stormed the stage & basically schooled everyone in how Thrash is done. Seriously folks, check’em out and become a believer. Tight as hell with a unique dueling guitar/dueling vocals attack. On their fanpage, someone wrote “these guys will save Thrash Metal”. Quite possibly.

Bobaflex – Wouldn’t be a party without the McCoys in town, and that’s just what we got; brothers Shawn & Marty McCoy, alternating guitar & vocal duties alongside their bandmates, to mesmerize the audience (esp. the women, let’s be honest here) with their bare knuckled brand of rowdy, dirty & accessible rock n’ roll. This was the Mrs.’s favorite of the festival . . . .gee, I wonder why?

SEVER – Local favorites, who actually don’t feel like a ‘local’ act at all, their sound being far more professional & polished than one would expect of an unsigned band. SEVER get lots of radio exposure and has seen an explosion of their fan-base – deservedly so. Check out ‘Speechless’ on their Reverb Nation page, as I think it showcases their style and versatility.

Hed(PE) – The final two bands of the evening went thru Hell & back to get to Woodshock, the first being Hed(PE) who had to borrow SEVER’s equipment because their’s was AWOL (but were rumored to NOT have given everything back – shame, shame boys). Still, their show is one part punk/rap, one part environmental evangelism and 100% entertaining. It’d been a while since I’d seen the ‘Hed, and I was totally blown away. I should mention here that the Mrs. wants me to tell you Hed(PE) were “also her favorite of the festival”. Not sure that she is picking just one favorite, but whatev. Go Listen to “It’s All Over”.

Closing the festival, but not by choice, was Dead By Wednesday who had the mother of all roadtrips to get to Woodshock (the details are sketchy but there were vehicle issues and mayhem involved). Honestly, I didn’t get to hear most of their set (there were strippers and a drum circle – I get distracted easily) but admire the band’s ‘Never Say Die’ attitude to make it to the show.

So there you have it; typical Woodshock in that all sorts of craziness abounded, things got broken, and blood & sweat were the rule of the day. But as you can see, there were literally TONS of talented bands sharing that stage over the weekend. I am truly glad I was there to experience it. Join me next year, mmk?

Concert Review: Woodshock 2011 – Day One

For the second year in a row, the wife & I went to Thornville, Ohio to attend Woodshock at Legend Valley. Much smaller crowd turnout this time around, possibly due to a weaker bill with (Hed) P.E. and Kottonmouth Kings headlining their respective nights, but still a great time spent with some cool new friends. Gotta question the decision to have two headliners of a Rap or Rap-Metal variety when so many of the other bands were Thrash or Death Metal but that’s just my take.

My other complaint – no band showtimes were listed for the public. None. Totally had to guess who was gonna play when, and more than a few bands did a piss poor job of promoting themselves (i.e. saying who the hell they were), which made this reviewer do a LOT of extra digging. Bottom line – I’m only gonna talk about the bands that stood out to me. If I don’t mention a band, I either didn’t care for them, missed their set OR didn’t know who they were. So briefly, here’s my thoughts on day one;

Paper Thin Disaster – I’ve heard a lot about these guys online so I wanted to check them out personally. Very heavy Screamcore, vocals got a little irritating sometimes but if you’re into that genre, these guys deliver the brutality.

Podium – reminded me a little of Pantera with their heavy groove and guttural vocals. I cannot find a band page for these guys anywhere, but here’s a Youtube video to give you a taste (this song was great live!).

Roxy Mae – Total 80’s glam sound with Papa Roach like looks, Roxy Mae have listened to a few Poison albums in their day. I will say it was a refreshing change from all the lung vomiting.

Brain Leak – Gets an ‘F’ for self promotion as I never heard them say who they were. Mad scientist motif is mildly unusual but their sound is more of a pummeling Death Metal variety. Would love to see them expand upon their image.

Neckrum – had the sound that I was expecting from Brain Leak; Gothic & creepy Screamcore with occasional interludes of keyboard. Gave away a free promo CD (thumbs up!). I would definitely catch these guys again.

Icon For Hire – The only female fronted band of the festival (pictured), Icon for Hire owes a lot of their sound to Flyleaf, what with their pop-infused choruses and uptempo guitar riffs. Great crowd reaction, especially for “Make A Move”.

Sorrows Song – Ran the gamut from brutal to radio friendly, growling vocals to clean, with a nod to Prog & Nu-metal (they liken themselves to Killswitch Engage – a fair comparison). Interesting chord progressions and mixture of song styles – definitely a thinking band.

7th Cycle – Reminded me of Five Finger Death Punch, with melodic yet heavy songs that cry out for radio airplay. Probably one of the most polished acts of the day, took a risk by covering Britney Spear’s “Toxic” with an awesome metal crunch. Were joined for a song by Tim Buchenroth (Woodshock’s founder) on bass.

Downplay – About to release a CD nationally, but did a terrible job of promoting themselves (again, SAY who you are – a few times). Tremendous energy onstage but a more mainstream sound than I would prefer. Still, I can see these guys becoming huge. Women loved them.

Kottonmouth Kings – VERY rap influenced, but they do what they do very well. I must say I enjoyed their set, even though I’m only a marginal fan of the genre. Every song was cannabis-centric – surprised? Women REALLY loved them, this band probably has more fun on tour than anyone else!

And there you have it – Day one of Woodshock. Day 2, well . . .it had some eccentricities (Reggae!?) but we’ll discuss all that in the next post.

Evil Dead – The Musical

Made my way to the Riffe Center, Studio 2 to see a production containing two things near and dear to my heart; zombies and anything to do with H. P. Lovecraft. Being a fan of the Evil Dead movie series, I was skeptical that anyone could make a respectable production, a MUSICAL no less, out of such cherished (to me) material. But here I was, joined by my trusty pal Phil, as we ventured into a theater I’ve never been to before, to see the only musical in the world with a ‘splatter section'(which is where our seats were, of course!).

The creators of EDtM are clearly trying to cater to the Rocky Horror Picture Show aficionados – hell, the movies are already cult classics so this is a reasonable goal on their part. Upon entering the lobby, a nifty stand-up located near one entrance allowed for a little buffoonery while we waited for the doors to open. As you can tell from the picture, we availed ourselves of the opportunity. At least I wasn’t the girl. . .

Anyhow, once inside we quickly noticed our section was covered with enough plastic to make me feel like Elliot after it was discovered he had E.T. in his closet. Not only were all the chairs thoroughly covered in Saran wrap, but we were also given rain ponchos. “Wow” I thought. “this is a little unusual for the harrumphing crowd that typically comes to these productions. Bet more than one season ticket holder is PISSED.”

The production started, and away we went. And what a thrill ride it was! The first half is a tad slow, and the jokes pretty corny, but when the blood shed begins – GAME ON! The guy sitting next to me decided he wasn’t going to wear his poncho, so guess who became an instant target for every blood-spurting Deadite that crossed the stage, hmm? That’s right – and so was anyone sitting next to him! Headless cadavers, spurting limbs, exploding old lady boobs – yeah, we got hit by it all. But at the end of the day, who really cared!? I felt more sorry for the folks who WEREN’T getting any splatter action. We were having all the fun!

As for the show itself, the acting was decent and the production values (including the talking moose head and Ash’s crawling severed hand) were all very well developed.  Joe Bishara as “Ash” must have nerves of steel to go thru such an ordeal night after night, that’s all I can say.  Songs were of the old school rock n’ roll variety (again, much like Rocky Horror) but catchy & well written. I especially dug “What the F**K was that?”, “Housewares Employee”, “Blew That Bitch Away” and “All The Men In My Life Keep Getting Killed By Candarian Demons”. Getting an idea of how serious the material is?

By the time the lights went up, we’d laughed out loud more than few times, and hid behind our ponchos even more. But on the way home, we kept giggling over some of the dialogue and relishing the experience. So if you live near Columbus, Ohio – the show’s been extended until July 23rd. Get some tickets and check it out, but buy ahead because the theater is small & sells out often.  Come get some!

An Evening With Eerie Von

Last Saturday night, I left the confines of Comfest a bit early to attend something extremely profound & unusual, especially for deep in the deadlands of Ohio. The Shrunken Head, a relatively new rock & roll club near downtown, was hosting the first stop of Eerie Von’s Misery Obscura tour. Von is well known for many things; photographer & “fifth member” of legendary punk band The Misfits, bassist for Samhain & Danzig, and later for his own solo efforts which have dabbled in everything from Goth rock to Country. But for this tour, Eerie was doing something completely different – he was presenting a gallery of his own personal photographs and paintings (many never seen before) which he has amassed over the years, from the teenage beginnings of The Misfits thru to session shots from Danzig I & beyond, all interspersed with fantastic depictions of the macabre he has painstakingly committed to canvas. As an added bonus, he performed a live acoustic set to further celebrate the event.

Von is a trained photographer & it shows. Even at a young age, himself no older than his Fiendish subjects, his ability to capture early live performances or rudimentary publicity shots (the infamous ‘Cave’ photos) went well above his years. This collection is a sampling of an even larger catalog that is slickly displayed in his book ‘Misery Obscura’ from Dark Horse publishing, of which copies were available on this night. Von’s preference for shooting in black & white is the perfect compliment to the brooding subjects of his lens, but it is the sharp clarity of his shots and imaginative use of perspective that make for some truly compelling imagery. One particularly enthralling picture was of Glenn Danzig laying a rose on the grave of Elvis Presley (a fan favorite, he later told me). Another had the original line-up of Danzig standing inauspiciously before the darkly sighing shores of Loch Ness. And for any fan of The Misfits, the youthful photos of Jerry, Doyle, Glenn and Arthur are like ascending the steps of punk rock Mecca.

His paintings are as enigmatic as the man himself. Acrylic pieces painted on canvas, they are more abstract than I would have expected, yet all very intricately crafted with finite detail and splashes of color that brightens them without diluting their sense of horror. I’m hard pressed to liken them to any other artist, the trippy misshapen figures a seeming portraiture from hellish, nightmare realms.

As the artist, instead of standing aloof to the side while guests viewed his work, Von walked among us (pardon my pun) with the passion of a new father displaying his twisted offspring. My camera phone captured him (shown) enthusiastically explaining the back story of one of his works to curious guests, his insight adding another level to what was already visible.  Amazingly, anyone who approached him was given this same kind of personalized one-on-one; not the obligatory “hi, how are you?” but a bonfide conversation – and sometimes a lengthy one, but that seems to be modus operandi for Eerie Von.  When I asked him about his rumored 2-4 hours A DAY of responding to fan emails, he answered “You’ve got to. I mean, even Elvis did it. Every morning, he’d walk down to the gates of Graceland.” Then he added with a smile “And nobody’s bigger than Elvis”.

Finishing off an intimate evening that felt more like a private party in his living room, Von was joined in a short acoustic set by guitarist Michael Ulery (who had the unenviable task of accompanying on guitar sans rehearsal – yikes!). Songs were a mix of originals like “Lay The Blame”, “The Wagon”, “It’s True” with a few of Eerie’s faves from his other bands (Samhain’s “To Walk The Night” and Danzig’s “Going Down To Die”). His unpretentious delivery & sarcastic wit brought a smile to everyone’s face – despite obvious glitches in the performance.

When it was all said & done, I left The ‘Head that night feeling like I just been witness to something uniquely personal – an opportunity to be escorted through both the history and macabre future of an iconic rock musician & artist.  How often can you leave a venue and say that?

Rock On The Range Day 2 (Sunday, May 22nd 2011)

Actually, this was the third day of rock n’ roll goodness, but it was the second ‘official’ day of the festival. If you’ve been following along, you already have that figured out.  Anyhow, here’s the highlights of the rainier, muddier second day;

Saving Abel – Get the ‘Show Must Go On’ award for lead singer Jared Weeks discretely vomiting into a bucket just prior to walking out on stage (blue vomit, so I hear).  Whatever that drink was, I’m guessing he won’t be ordering it anytime soon.  Regardless, the band played a rockin’ set & no one in the crowd were even suspicious of his suffering.

Pop Evil – Out of Michigan were a pleasant surprise, being not so much ‘Pop’ but a whole lotta old fashioned rock n’ roll (I guess that would be the ‘Evil’ part).  They reminded me of a ballsy Creed but looked like an Outlaw biker gang.  Definitely check’em out!

All That Remains & Black Label Society – Two bands that I’ve seen countless times, and never tire of either of ’em.  ATR was possibly the heaviest thing to hit RotR this year, singer Phil Labonte running amok across the stage with boundless energy.  Songs included ‘Forever in Your Hands’, ‘Hold On’ and of course ‘Two Weeks’ was their finale.  Zakk Wylde had to have scared the hell outta some of the younger rockers, with his blistering fretwork, angry vocals and street smart stage presence.  No ‘In This River’ sadly but he did play (among others)  ‘Concrete Jungle’, ‘Parade of the Dead’, a relentless 7 min. guitar solo and closed it all out with ‘Stillborn’.  Watch & learn, young ones.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – First time I’ve ever reviewed a band I didn’t hear.  Yep – got in line for an autograph thinking that guitarist Duke Kitchens (pictured with his reality escape kit) was Zakk Wylde.  Awwwkward.  Nice bunch of guys, and I promised I would review their sampler CD at a later post (which I will).

Puddle of Mudd – Get the ‘Just Damn Glad To Be Here’ award as they were the last minute replacement for Stone Sour, who had to drop off due to sudden illness.  Ironically, they were the only band that it rained for all weekend.  Vocalist/guitarist Wes Scantlin made the most of his time by energetically dominating the stage before eventually diving into the crowd itself much to the chagrin of the security folks.  Top notch set included ‘Control’ (with some War Pigs goodness), ‘She Hates Me’, a cover of AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T’ and of course the radio staple ‘Blurry’ – which I must admit I have a fondness for as well.

Hollywood Undead – I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – one of RotR’s strengths is the variety of the acts it offers.  Case in point – Hollywood Undead are a Rap/Metal act I wouldn’t normally give 10 seconds of my time to hear.  Now, having seen them headline the second stage, I’m impressed.  Unlike conventional hip-hop, all instrumentation was played by. . . musicians.  Not sampled.  If there were drums, there was a drummer.  Guitar riffs – a guitarist jamming it out.  HU had by far the strongest crowd reaction of the weekend, and deservedly so.  Just seeing ‘Hear Me Now’ performed live was an amazing experience.  Check’em out, seriously.

Disturbed – I’ve often been critical of this band in the past, but their influence is undeniable.  Sporting a state-of-the-art stageshow, David Draiman & co.  delivered a true metal show deserving of headliner status.  Many who witnessed it, and then ‘A Perfect Circle’ after them, wished Disturbed had been the closing act.  They should’ve been.  Arena metal performed about as flawlessly as it can be done, with a dizzying array of radio hits.  ‘Nuff said.

A Perfect Circle – Was ultimately a disappointing end to a stellar weekend.  The video monitors were shut off (much as vocalist Maynard James Keenan has them shut off for Tool shows) without regard to the fact that 30,000 people were trying to see the band’s little ant-sized bodies on a dimly lit stage.  And of course, MJK stands to the back so only his silhouette is visible.  Fuck that!  Glad they played ‘Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums’ and ‘Judith’.  Otherwise, the visual fest that they SHOULD’VE been, considering their considerable talent and catalog of songs, was usurped by Disturbed.  Long live the new kings, I guess.

All in all, Rock On The Range continues to blow me away and with the ever increasing range of musical variations they present year after year – I’m hopeful this mammoth event continues here in Columbus for years to come.  Join me next time, won’t you?

Rock On The Range – Day 1 (Saturday, May 21)

After weeks of rainy days, I was ecstatic that the first day of RotR was sunny and clear.  Saw 11 bands this day, and here are my highlights;

Asking Alexandria – Saw these guys a few months back when they opened for All That Remains.  Still a decent metalcore act that had a surprising guest appearance – Sebastian Bach came out near the end of their set & performed ‘Youth Gone Wild’!  Very strange combination what with him being an older 80’s icon, and AA being fairly youthful.  Still, the crowd ate it up – and so did I!  SB has clearly aged, but his pipes were great.  I hope RotR continues getting more surprise appearances (Bach wasn’t on the bill for the weekend – in fact, as he announced “I just got out of jail”).  Great performance to catch!

Black Veil Brides – Imagine an entire band comprised of Nikki Sixx clones (circa 1986) and you have my first impression of Black Veil Brides.   Their sound is also straight out of the Glam era, but edgier with a dueling guitar attack like Avenged Sevenfold.  I enjoyed them, but I’m sure they’re too mainstream for my more ‘brutal’ readers.  Their latest video is below for your consideration.

POD – Haven’t heard much from these guys recently, so I was pleased to see they were on the bill.  Sonny still sounds great & the crowd was really into them – so much so that I couldn’t get ANYWHERE near close enough to the small Jager stage.  I loved hearing the entire audience sing ‘Alive’ along with the band.

Danzig – Critics of RotR say they only feature mainstream acts, so the addition of an oldschooler like Danzig is a welcome attempt to diversify in my opinion.  Glenn’s voice has held up perfectly, it’s his appearance where age is really creeping up (not that I personally can say much either)!  The set was heavily focused on older material, loved hearing ‘Under Her Black Wings’, ‘Dirty Black Summer’, ‘Thirteen’ and of course ‘Mother’ again.  I’m certain Mr. Danzig gained a ton of new fans after this show.

Alter Bridge – Get the award for ‘Coolest comment about the impending Rapture’, which was reported to happen on this day at 6pm according to kooky radio personality Harold Camping.  As the appointed hour came near, vocalist Myles Kennedy commented “I can’t think of a better way to go out than onstage with 32,000 of my best friends”.  The crowd went wild. . . and nothing Rapturish occurred.   I’m sure someone will disagree with me & say they saw Jesus.  Maybe he was in the pit, dunno.

Staind & Korn – Both bands represented themselves extremely well, with Korn probably having the largest crowd of the weekend.  Each band played their obligatory hits, and I was impressed with Staind vocalist Aaron Lewis (the guy can still croon, even after 7 albums).  I was disappointed that Korn didn’t play ‘Faget’ but was thrilled to hear ‘Chutes & Ladders’ – complete with Jonathan Davis’ bagpipe intro.  Love them or hate them, these two acts continue to prove their timelessness.

Avenged Sevenfold – Headlining act of the day, A7X played a fantastic set showcasing their tremendous growth from a west coast fav to full-on arena band.  The stage set was the same as when I saw them on the Uproar Festival tour, which was a good thing since my twins hadn’t had a chance to see it yet.  Sadly, RotR 2009 was the last American show where The Rev played with his band mates before his untimely death, an occasion underscored by vocalist M. Shadows who commented his voice was failing but he wouldn’t have missed this show for the world.

USA Today ranked Rock on the Range as one of the 10 best festivals in the US, and Day 1 proved this was no accident.  Stay tuned for my thoughts on Day 2.