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.

Rock On The Range 2011 – Preshow Party

Gonna break down the whole Rock On The Range 2011 experience into a series of posts rather than one mammoth blathering, with an eye towards the noteworthy (IMHO, of course) as well as the up & coming. Or in some cases – the “not so much”.

The 5th anniversary ‘preshow’ bash was a free ticket for those who had bought the weekend package (i.e. both days of the official Rock On The Range lineup).  That being said, the expectation by promoters was that there would be about 6,000 in attendance.  The reality was closer to 13,000 – maybe more!  Very crowded, but the vibe was magical and it was great to meet people from all over the country.

When I arrived Red Line Chemistry was finishing their second to last song, so not really fair for me to comment other than to say the crowd seemed to be responding to them nicely.

Next up was the all-girl Led Zeppelin tribute band humorously named Lez Zeppelin.  I’ve been wanting to see these gals for quite some time and found their performance energetic, but ultimately lacking.  First, the bass and guitar parts were often out of sync, which I assume to be due to acoustics & the band performing to a significantly larger audience than normal.  Additionally, their entire show just seemed a little ‘off’, as if  too much pre-show partying might have taken it’s toll.  I did like the song choices (that is, NO ‘STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN’) and do hope to catch them again at a more intimate venue.  Too much potential here to be ignored.

Danko Jones were next & even more disappointing.  With a lot of lip service given during their show to “playing music too hard for the radio”, their own songs weren’t even Ramones level heavy.  Very catchy riffs and strong vocals by Danko himself ultimately suffered from a severe need of distortion and increase in tempo.  Bonus points go for a mid-set homage where Danko listed off a series of recently deceased metal greats. . . until he omitted Peter Steele.  Sorry, just didn’t care for their performance.

80’s parody band Steel Panther closed out, and saved, the evening for me.  Charismatic, well rehearsed and completely at ease on stage, these glamsters plowed through an excellent set of their best material including ‘Asian Hooker’, ‘Eyes of a Panther’, ‘Party All Day (**** All Night)’, ‘Shocker’, ‘Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)’, ‘Community Property’ and of course the anthemic ‘Death To All But Metal’.  The irreverent on-stage dialogue & blatantly stolen hair band moves were hysterically funny, taking what could’ve been an awkward grasp at spandex resurrection and showcasing a talented albeit foul mouthed ensemble of performers.   One example that keeps coming to mind (with a grin each time) is guitarist Satchel introducing vocalist Michael Starr with the typical ‘And here’s the best lead vocalist. . . ” intro-schtick but quickly adding “we could find.  .  . on short notice”.  A completely entertaining show that I highly recommend.

Great start to an amazing weekend!  My next post will detail Day 1 including Korn and Avenged Sevenfold just as soon as I find my car.  Stay tuned but in the meantime check out photographer Chris Schwegler‘s fine gallery of photos from the show!

Rock On The Range 2011 is coming. . .

Gonna be a little quiet around these parts for the next few days, because yours truly will be attending all 3 days of Rock On The Range 2011! Yep – even going to the pre-show featuring Steel Panther tomorrow night (might have to wear my spiffy new Anal Cunt t-shirt, not sure).

If I’m not in jail for violating an injunction from Mistress Juliya, I’ll happily report back here when the smoke clears.

Peace!

No Ozzfest 2011

KNAC.com – This was announced last Friday (the 13th ironically), but Ozzy has confirmed there will be no Ozzfest 2011. Apparently the Prince of Darkness plans to be touring over in Europe this summer – so my readers across the pond, rejoice!

For the rest of us, there’s plenty of other shows/tours to fill the void. In my case, next up is the mighty Rock On The Range this weekend featuring A Perfect Circle, Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Disturbed, Staind, Stone Sour, Danzig, Black Label Society and about 30 other bands!

Concert Review: Cauldron/Holy Grail – The Summit – 4/6/11

Oldschool metal lived last Friday night at The Summit as Holy Grail & Cauldron shared the stage with Cleveland’s Black/Thrash metal blasphemers – Midnight.

How many bands can possibly have the name Midnight, I’m wondering? Encyclopaedia Metallum cites only 4, but I’m betting there’s one in every major city in the U.S. Still, it’s not a bad name (even if not terribly original). Had I any talent, I might name my band that as well. Perhaps I’ll change my middle name to it, who knows?

Anyhow, this version comes sporting masks and hoods like a Black Metal version of The Mentors (remember them?). Faceless & snarling, the unholy threesome played a sweaty set reminiscent of what would happen if Motorhead mated with Venom, songs lined with misogynistic & satanic themes (you guys SURE you’re not The Mentors!?) and grinding up the atmosphere like an infernal dump truck. Apparently a few fans, albeit uninformed ones, were in the crowd as the request for “All Hail Hell” was chanted a few times before vocalist Athenar replied quietly “We just played it”. Awkward.

Next up were Cauldron out of Toronto (or ‘Cald-er-ron’ as Midnight referred to them). Six bands with that name on Encyclopaedia Metallum for those of you playing along at home. Anyhow, straight out of the 80’s NWOBHM movement, Cauldron exude influences like early Iron Maiden or perhaps a host of bands that never really made it that big such as Tokyo Blade, Witchfinder General or the Tygers of Pan Tang. Vocalist Jason Decay is a traditional metal screamer, frequently firing off falsetto screeches that would’ve made King Diamond proud. Guitarist Ian Chains is a decent fretburner, and along with Decay played well to the crowd with a few synchronized moves and fanning his instrument over the young lads in front of the stage. With songs like “Chained Up in Chains”, there’s a certain Spinal Tap vibe to these guys but they did know how to put on an entertaining, although somewhat dated, show.

Headliners Holy Grail (pictured) are what I call a ‘Dragon Boy Band’, in that 50% of their fan base will show up in t-shirts with dragons on them. Ok, I’m exaggerating but there’s definitely a D&D undertone – which ain’t a bad thing if you can pull it off without being hokey.  Holy Grail does that in spades! Vocalist James-Paul Luna has the kind of pipes you only run across once in a great while – outstanding range without being forced, powerful yet not overpowering. Dueling guitarists Eli Santana & Alex Lee are total shredmonsters, which is mindblowing to witness in a small venue. HG has had some opening slots for bigger acts like Dream Theater & Blind Guardian and honestly, they deserve to see more prime stage real estate as they show a clear ability to deliver frenetic, and nicely melodic songs without trotting around the stage in chain mail and g-strings. Good juxtaposition of oldschool Power Metal stylings with modern metal sensibilities from a band that is relatively new in the scene (but don’t play like it).  I truly enjoyed their set!

Not many dates left on the tour as I write this, but perhaps you can catch one of these bands over the summer. If you’re a fan of the more traditional metal, with vocalists who are in fact VOCALISTs, then take heart that there are still bands worth checking out.

The Trailer for Elder Scrolls – Skyrim looks AWESOME!

I was gonna post my review of the Holy Grail/Cauldron show from Friday, but dammit – it’s sunny outside and we’re expected to get tons of rain in the forecast after today. Not to be confused with the tons of rain we’ve already gotten this Spring, but I digress.

So for now, please enjoy this trailer from the upcoming fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls saga – looks to be amazing as hell! Plus you still get dragons and valiant warriors, which is kinda like seeing a Holy Grail show.

Concert Review: AxCx – The Summit – 4/30/2011

Often considered one of the most offensive bands on the planet, last Friday I braved my first live performance of the notorious Anal Cunt (or AxCx for the politically correct crowd). If you’re familiar with their body of work, you know that this Grindcore/Punk act from Newton, Massachusetts have been upsetting nearly everyone since 1988, with songs generally lasting 40 seconds & involving nothing more than rudimentary albeit heavily distorted, guitar thrashing – blasting drumbeats and screeching vocals of blasphemous, hate ridden lyrics. Ok, so I had to see this for myself.

All 3 opening acts were local bands from Columbus, and all three were pretty much the same; Noisecore-ish, experimental in places and buried in distortion. One thing I admire about such bands is that they are intentionally committing commercial suicide – playing instead for their love of the music. I have NO idea if I agree with their lyrical content as I couldn’t make it out. For any of them.

A. C. arrived about 2 hours late (no sound check, given the time constraints) which had them hitting the stage near 1am. I found that to be amusingly ‘rock star’ of them, and the fact that they played exactly 25 minutes even more so. Still, founding member/vocalist Seth Putnam (now looking like a Motley Crue roady), uber-distortion guitarist Josh Martin (who had trouble remembering what city he was in) and drummer Tim Morse demolished their way thru a relentlessly loud, feedback infested set of noise, screams, more noise, and then even more screaming – like the grind veterans that they are. In other words, a typical A. C. show.

Seth Putnam was in a coma in 2004 for nearly 30 days, an event that has left him paralyzed & with nerve damage requiring months of physical therapy. He clearly had trouble moving around, and sometimes was hard to understand, but was friendly to the fans and was still fully capable of the inhuman screams for which he is known.

The band played some newer material (“Fuck Yeah” is a decent bit, despite being ‘cock rock’ by the band’s own admission) as well as classic pieces like “Harvey Korman is Gay”. The rest was a pile-driving wall of fuzz and feedback squeals – and one off color joke sandwiched in the middle.

Here’s a live clip from their label’s website. Follow the link for some amusing road footage as well. BE WARNED – this is definitely NOT politically correct, as the band wouldn’t have it any other way. To quote Josh Martin to a heckler in the crowd “Shut up F____, you’re the one who paid to get in here”. Consider yourself advised.