The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2015 Update

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Plain and simple, this is the best true metal festival in the USA.  The list of bands so far for the 2015 festival is killer.  It’s already nearly sold out, so if you plan on going, get your tickets now.  This will be Warlord’s first ever USA show!  This also marks the return of my band, Eternal Champion, to Chicago to play the main stage this year.  Other highlights for me will be Attacker and High Spirits.  If you haven’t heard them yet, you’re doing yourself a real disservice.  Great straight up hard rock/metal.

ragna15

Firefall Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 25, 2014

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I’ve been a Firefall fan since the 70s.  AM Gold from Mom’s car radio or in the house.  I love a lot of this 70s rock and obviously Firefall is no exception.  I’ve never seen them although I’ve had plenty of opportunities over the years.  It needs to be stated that Strange Way is one of my favorite songs ever.  The simple keyboard part in the chorus just makes that song intense for me.

Last night’s show was at the One World Theatre on the outskirts of Austin.  It’s a small venue (400ish?), all seated and not a bad seat in there.  It’s a non-profit venue and I love seeing shows there, although they are always a bit more expensive.   I didn’t make the decision to go last night until just a few hours before the show started.  After doing some quick research of the band members, I saw that their bassist, Mark Andes, was in Heart during the 80s, and Spirit and Canned Heat in the 70s.  I looked him up in The Book and he’s listed with Randy California, so that solidified my decision to go to the show.

The band hits the stage and I was a curious as to how they’d sound vocally with all of them being in their 60s.  That curiosity was quickly satisfied.  Those dudes can still sing.  Non-original guitarist/singer, Steven Weinmeister, nailed the high vocal singing duties.  He’s been in the band since 93.  Original members Jock Bartley, David Muse and Mark Andes all sounded great vocally and Jock’s guitar solos were killer.  Solid drummer, Sandy Ficca, has been in the band since 85.   The band just nails it.

I was happy to finally hear Strange Way live, but also Cinderella and Mexico.  They told cool stories about playing Austin in the 70s as well as playing on Austin City Limits.  I had a huge smile on my face the whole show, albeit it was a short set.  At the end, they said to hang out and they’d meet everyone afterwards.  Everyone came out except for David Muse.  I did speak to him at the stage right after.  That guy is a killer saxophonist and flutist.  Sitting in on percussion with Firefall was One World Theatre executive director, Hartt Stearns.  That was obviously not his first time playing percussion and was quite impressive.

After the show I met Mark Andes and as usual I get, “What book is this?”  and “Why am I listed in here?”  haha.  I showed him the Randy California page and he smiled and said, “Wow, that was a long time ago.”  He signed the book, we spoke for a minute about his years with Heart and I moved on.  The rest of the band was sitting at a table signing autographs and taking pics and I had the rest of them, sans Muse, sign my ticket.  Cool dudes and they were all in good spirits.

 

Motley Crue & Alice Cooper Concert Review, Cedar Park, TX, July 15, 2014

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Last night marked the second time I’ve seen Motley Crue (1989) and Alice Cooper (1996).  Crue was OK that night…better to say that the band was just fine, but Vince Neil wasn’t.  He’s been awful the 2 times since then that I’ve seen him with his solo band.  Cooper’s show back then was awesome as expected.  I’m not the biggest Crue fan and really only like the first 2 albums, but they do put on a decent show.  I pretty much love all Alice Cooper.

Crue announced recently that they were calling it quits for good and that they signed some sort of silly contract stating that there would be no more Crue shows after this tour.  We’ll see.  I probably wouldn’t have gone to see this had it not been announced that Alice Cooper was opening.  DONE AND DONE.  I got the presale code from Alice’s website and scored decent seats in the front center section of the relatively new Cedar Park Center.

My close friend, Trans Am (TA), and I arrived around 6PM and I was surprised at how small the venue was from the outside.  It’s pretty small inside, too.  But it’s really cool.  Not really many bad seats in the place.  We hung out in the parking lot for a few then made our way in.  We both ran into a ton of folks we know, of course.  This is the type of show that you’d see pretty much everyone you know.  We found out last minute that there was an opening band.  They weren’t worth mentioning.  zzzzzzzz.

Cooper’s front curtain goes up and his intro music begins.  We rush back into the venue, the curtain drops and they open with Hello Hooray.  Alice sounded great.  He’s not young but he still moves around like he is and his voice is still quite strong.  Since he was the opener, his set wasn’t that long but he played some of my faves like Billion Dollar Babies and Ballad of Dwight Fry.  Killer and I love the Dead were only partials which is unfortunate.  With From the Inside being my favorite Cooper album, of course I wanted some songs from that, but such is life.  His band was solid and his drummer, Glen Sobel, was awesome.  That’s no surprise since Alice never hires any slouches for his band.  They close with School’s Out and that was that.  The crowd was into it and Cooper just sounded so good.  I really hope he does another headlining tour.  I’ll travel for it if I have to.

Crue hits the stage and opens with Saints of Los Angeles.  Lots of lights for this show.  They move right into Wild Side and Primal Scream.  I will admit that Vince sounded better than I had heard in recent years…at least for the first 3/4 of the show.  The band sounded solid although I thought their mix was a little muddy.  I think that may have been on purpose.  Mick was relatively mobile, surprisingly.  The show was obviously done with backing tracks as I heard lots of rhythm guitars that weren’t being played by Mick.  Lots of additional vocal tracks beyond Vince and Nikki and the newer version of the old Nasty Habits backing singers.  On With the Show, Too Young To Fall In Love and Too Fast for Love were highlights for me.  By the time they started playing Shout at the Devil, Vince’s voice started to give out.  He’s always been good at letting the crowd sing a lot for him and last night was no different.

They had lots of pyro which was pretty cool.  Nikki had a flamethrower bass set up that was fun…and hot.

Overall the show was good and we had a blast.  What a great venue, too.  Next month I’m seeing Chicago and REO Speedwagon there.

 

 

KISS & Def Leppard Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 12, 2014

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Last night I saw KISS and Def Leppard for the first time.  I still have to process that in my head.  I still really can’t think of a legitimate reason on why I didn’t go see KISS in the 80s.  They were the first band I ever loved.  No matter.  I saw them last night.  Not seeing Def Leppard before is easy to explain.  Hysteria came out and I hated what they became.  I first heard them when Pyromania came out when Stephanie S. had the cassette on my middle school bus and let me borrow it.  I liked that album a lot.  Shortly after I heard the first two and thought those were even better.  But Hysteria just didn’t do it for me.  I will say, however, that I have the utmost respect for Rick Allen for coming back after losing his arm. It was also cool to finally see Vivian Campbell live, even though he wasn’t playing any of his own stuff.

As I have stated many times, my brother, Robert, was a huge influence musically on me at a very young age and when he brought home Dressed to Kill, I was hooked.  But with KISS, everyone loved them.  My oldest brother, Mark, was also a big fan.  I can remember the three of us sitting around listing to Rock and Roll Over in the 70s and those times will always remain special to me.

KISS played the Frank Erwin just a couple of years ago and I still didn’t go.  I think in recent years the fact that they have Tommy and Eric in Ace’s and Peter’s makeup bothers me.  When the show at the Austin360 Amphitheater got announced, my friend and coworker “G” and I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger and get tickets.  We’ve known each other since I moved to Texas as he was my first boss here.  He switched companies and after 7 years, we ended up working together on a current project.  It’s great for both of us most of the folks on this project aren’t cool.  haha.  We get along well and and have become good friends over the last 14 months.  He brought his wife, Ms. G, to the show and I brought my friend Lauren who accepted my offer to go just the day before the show when my original date fell through at the last minute.

Canada’s Kobra and the Lotus were on when we were walking in so I never actually got to see them play but they sounded fine from a distance.

We grabbed drinks and found our seats right in time for Def Leppard to hit the stage.  The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again was playing when the curtain dropped and DefLep played it live to end the song.  They promptly went into Let It Go and I was happy.  Great song.  They mixed the set up with a decent mix of High N Dry, Pyromania and Hysteria and one from Adrenalize (gross).  The whole band sounded excellent and Joe Elliot’s voice sounded good.  He made no effort to hit the notes he knew he couldn’t hit and that was cool.  Their set overall was enjoyable, even with many of the songs being from Hysteria.  I only liked the title track on that one.

You wanted the best, You got the best!

KISS came out opening with Psycho Circus and I was glad to see that one get out of the way early.  They went into Deuce, Shout It Out Loud and War Machine and I have no problem admitting to being a little choked up.  KISS means a lot to me historically.  They sounded great.  Sure, Gene and Paul’s voices aren’t what they used to be, but those dudes are in their 60s and still sound strong.  Paul looked in great shape.  He’s obviously working out these days as his arms are quite muscular.  Gene’s playing was fine and of course Eric and Tommy were spot on.  Consummate pros.

Towards the end of the set, they go into Love Gun and Paul flies up to a platform that was about 15′-20′ from our seats.  It was quite amazing to be that close.  He was about to go into Black Diamond and there was a quick lull in his speaking and I screamed out, “We love you, Paul!”  He looked right over at me and said, “I love you, but you gotta represent!” and then went right into Black Diamond.  It was quite awesome.  Right at the 8 minute mark of this video.  You can’t hear me but you can hear Paul respond.

During KISS’ set, G tapped my shoulder and said look up.  We saw 2 lights moving fast that were close together in the sky that split apart and then just disappeared.  Granted, the venue is right next to the airport, but it was a little odd.  Definitely not a commercial liner and with the lights just disappearing on a clear  night, it was a bit odd.

The whole show was quite special and I couldn’t be much happier right now.  It was another great night with great friends and great music.

KISS FOREVER

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Lionel Richie Concert Review, Austin TX, July 10, 2014

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Lionel Richie came back to Austin last night to play the Austin360 Amphitheater at the Circuit of the America’s racetrack.  Last time I saw him was during SxSW 2012 at the Moody Theater.  Last night’s show blew it away even though the SxSW show as a bit more intimate.

CeeLo Green opened up and put on a good set with a great mostly female back up band.  The drummer was incredible.  He did a lot of covers, but only seemingly doing parts of them.  He did Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy but not the whole thing.  Mid set, he tells the band to just jam on something and everyone looked a bit confused and just started jamming.  We could see CeeLo side stage sitting down and he looked sick.  You could tell something wasn’t right.  After a few minutes, he came back out, put on his game face and finished the set.  It was enjoyable, I was surprised.

Then came Lionel.  He’s still got it.  His voice sounds amazing and he’s in physically good shape.  Running and jumping around.  Add to it his between song banter, obviously scripted, but still effective.  He’s a pretty funny guy.  They were about to go into Endless Love and he said he had invited Diana Ross to come sing it with him.  The band motion towards side stage and started clapping and had everyone duped that she was coming out.  He stated that the two of them had actually never performed the song live together but I found a vid or 2 of it on YouTube.  They played the song, but only the first verse and chorus with the crowd doing Ross’ parts.   And while the whole set was great, highlights for me were Truly and Sail On.  They closed with We are The World and I’m pretty sure there was a typo on the lyric banner overhead (see pic below).

It was a fun show with a gorgeous friend.  Can’t wait to see him again!

 

Pentagram Concert Review, Austin, TX July 4, 2014

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This past weekend American Icon Records (AIR) put on their inaugural 2 day music festival at The Mohawk in downtown Austin.  AIR is run by my pal, Johnny Gaylon, and by all looks, this was a successful thing for him.  My main reason for wanting to go, friendship aside, was to see my pals in Pentagram play again.  Victor Griffin has rejoined the band and it’s always a treat to see him play.  He’s a damn good player and has written some of my favorite metal riffs.

Pentagram was scheduled to play on July 4th and I planned my day around that.  I befriended the band in 2010 when I ran into them on the street before their show at Emo’s.  Added bonus for that day show was to finally see War Master live as well as seeing my friends in The Bulemics and Venomous Maximus.

I arrived at the venue around load in time and got to hang out with Bobby for quite a while in the green room.  It’s always an interesting conversation with him in 1000 different directions.  He reminds me of my brother (RIP) a bit.  I sit through sound check and they sounded great.  We head back up to the green room and they take off to go rest up before the show.

Brothers Collateral opened up the show and they sounded great.  Instrumental stonerish 4 piece band that had some really cool guitar harmony parts setting them a little differently than most of the stuff in the genre.  Venomous Maximus laid it down solidly as always.  I was really looking forward to seeing War Master, mainly because their bassist is a very good friend of mine.  I’ll be honest when I say I’m not the biggest fan of death and black metal.  I’m very limited to what I like in those genres.  But War Master was great.  If I can understand your singer, you’re halfway there with me and I could get most of what he was yelling at us.  The guitars were good and solid and thankfully JT plays solos.  I see some death and thrash and black metal bands with 2 guitarists but no one plays solos.  That’s not very metal!  Add in that TA on bass is always solid and fun to watch.  Then that drummer.  What a beast!  Seriously, this guys is awesome.  I really hope something good happens to this band.  They’re back on the road again for the next 2-3 weeks I believe.  Go see them.  I caught part of Ditch Witch and they were good.

Then Pentagram hits the stage.  It’s amazing to watch Bobby perform after all he’s done to himself.  His between song banter is basically indiscernible and was also a little hoarse, but while singing he was clear and powerful.  His stage moves are awesome.  I love that guy.  For most of their set I was up on the top deck with good friends.  It was a good night and Pentagram sounded great.  I was a little surprised that they only did one song from Last Rites, which I think is a fantastic record.  Most of the set was from Relentless and I was happy to get 3 songs from my favorite, Day of Reckoning (no Burning Saviour of course).  After the show, I hung with them for a little bit before heading home.  I was wiped out.  Great to see those guys.

I went back to Mohawk Saturday for day 2 of the fest.  I’m not a fan of anyone on the bill but was guestlisted so I went again as I had no other plans that night.  American Sharks were a pleasant suprise.  I’d like to catch them again sometime.  I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a fan of The Sword in the least but seeing them Saturday was enjoyable.  Not sure what was different this time, but whatever.  I missed everyone else on the bill.

Johnny is already working on the fest for next year.  Good job on this one!

 

 

Devo Concert Review, Austin Tx, July 2, 2014

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Admittedly I’m not a big DEVO fan, but I’m not an un-fan.  I had Freedom of Choice and Are We Not Men on vinyl but they never got much play.  That being said, friends said that the last few shows here in Austin were great so I decided to get tickets and go.

After a few songs I realized some of the quirky genius behind what they were doing.  This tour was touted as the Hardcore DEVO Tour 74′-77′.  The early stuff they were playing was noisy but still very much controlled chaos.  The band was entertaining and everything was pretty scripted, but we had a blast.

The donned blue jumpsuits and hardhats early in the set and bounced and danced around a lot for guys in their early to mid 60s.  The lineup consists of original members Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale and drummer Josh Freese who has been in the band in 1996.  They were solid and a lot of fun and just what I needed this week.

One cool thing was seeing Mark jump off the stage into the photo/security pit during Jocko Homo and half jump into the crowd to have people sing “We are Devo!” with him.

All of my iPhone pictures look like crap, so nothing really to share.  Once of these days I’ll buy another decent small camera.

 

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