The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

High Spirits Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, December 1, 2014

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usetitleChris “Professor” Black is a busy fella.  Along with High Spirits, in which he writes and plays everything on their releases, he’s also in Superchrist, Pharaoh, Dawnbringer, Metalusafer and Aktor.  High Spirits has been getting a lot of buzz over the last couple of years over their listenable brand of hard rock/metal that slightly teeters on the AOR style.  I like them a lot and am basically a latecomer to the HS as I just started listening to them around May of this year.  It’s great melodic hard rock that’s got all the hooks.  Chris has perfectly crafted it to be accessible to just about anyone’s ears.

I went down to San Antonio last night and stopped off at my friend, Rodney’s, house.  As always, I have to peer into his insane room of metal.  We go grab dinner then dinner then head down to Limelight on the north side.  High Spirits was scheduled to go on at 11:30 so we weren’t in a hurry to get down there.  I’m not really a fan of the 3 openers so didn’t care to see them.  Unfortunately, when we arrived right at 11:30, the 2nd band was mid-set.  Ugh.  I was already pretty tired.

I met Chris and talked to him for a while.  Very nice guy.  It was right around 12:30AM when they finally took the stage and opened with the song High Spirits.  Much of the crowd had left by the time HS went on, but a few of the faithful hung in there.  They were pretty tight and the folks that stayed there were familiar with the material, which was nice to see.  I really like his voice. Other than a few drunkasses up front, it was a fun show and worth the late night drive home.  I hit the sack at 3AM…exhausted…happy.

Supersuckers Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 26, 2014

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useIMG_7017This is not the Supersuckers of yesteryear, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad show.  It was a fun show as Supersuckers are always fun, but it seems a little more tame these days.  It may be that I am a bit more tame these days.  Who knows?  Who cares, right?  On top of anything, this was a free show at The Belmont.  It’s not a bad outdoor patio venue at all, even better when it’s free.

Eddie and the boys take the stage, all with with Gibson Les Paul Goldtops.  That looked killer and they rolled thought an enjoyable set, notably leaving out Doublewide, which is one of my faves.  It was a decent crowd for it being the night before Thanksgiving, maybe 100 people.

Had a great time with pals Mark, Angelica, Mitzy, Ray, Sophie, J, Kristen and Ami.  The drinks were flowing for sure.

Faster Pussycat Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, November 23, 2014

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useIMG_6921Night #3.  Oh man.  I got home from Houston yesterday and just flopped.  I got a decent nap in and got in touch with Xristian to see what time they were going on in San Antonio at Fitzgerald’s. He gave me the word that 11PM was the time and that I was on the guestlist. Sweet. I contacted a friend in SA and let her know about the show and that she could be my +1 and she accepted.

I got there around 930 after driving just over an hour to San Antonio and felt the wave of tiredness coming over me.  I didn’t know anyone there and the FP guys hadn’t shown up yet and the openers didn’t do anything for me.  Xristian arrived with his awesome girlfriend, Melanie, and we have a beer while waiting outside for the last opener to finish.  They finish and the band gets on stage around 11:15.  They open up with Jack the Bastard from the Whipped album followed by Cathouse and Slip of the Tongue.

The sound out front was absolutely terrible and it was obviously bad on stage as well.  There was a terrible hum coming from the mains and absolutely horrible feedback all night.  It was the same way during the Lizzy Borden show there a couple of months ago.  This place has notoriously bad sound.  The whole band was obviously having issues with the sound on stage.  They played 7 more songs and at the end of Babylon, they walked.  The sound was just f’n awful.  The soundman didn’t seem be trying.  It totally sucked for them but I don’t blame them.

Most folks there didn’t seem too phased by the show being cut short.  It was a small crowd, maybe 40 people.  Tough draw for a Sunday night in San Antonio, especially when the Cowboys had the late game.  Although a short set with bad sound, it was fun…it was also a very late night.  I’m running on fumes now, so goodnight!

Stephen Pearcy, LA Guns, Faster Pussycat, BulletBoys Concert Review, November 22, 2014

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useratt-flayerNight #2 of the eyeliner and hairspray weekend took me to Houston, TX to see Stephen Pearcy, LA Guns, Faster Pussycat, and The BulletBoys at the sold out Warehouse Live.  I had booked a room at the famed Sam Houston Hotel in downtown.  What a nice hotel.  The rooms have been fully modernized and while small, they are very comfortable.  I’ll likely stay there again when the opportunity presents itself.

This show was a free show and all you had to do was RSVP tickets.  I was supposed to be on the VIP list as well (thanks to Faster Pussycat) but it didn’t happen.  No big deal.  One of the reasons I was going to this show was to get The Book signed by Phil Lewis and Steve Riley of LA Guns and hopefully Stephen Pearcy.  More on these developments later.

My friend from Houston picked me up and we went to grab a quick dinner near the hotel and ended up at Frank’s Pizza in downtown which was delicious.  From there we went to the venue and got in about halfway through BulletBoys’ set.  This place is open and spacious and the sound was probably as good as you could get in a giant concrete room with very high ceilings.  Bulletboys sounded good again and the crowd was very into it.  I ran into some other Austin friends there and we all hung together for most of the night.

Next up was Faster Pussycat.  They are one of the few bands of this genre that I’ve always liked.  I think their scenes in The Metal Years softened it up for me.  I had played with them back in Virginia about 12 years ago and always love seeing them live.  Taime is a character and does his job as front man very well.  They opened up with Cathouse and blew right into Slip of the Tongue.  They played 9 songs including 2 covers (Supersuckers and Betty Blowtorch).  They were very tight, which is no surprise as this unit has been together for the better part of 18 years.  It’s always a good time seeing them.

After a quick set change LA Guns took the stage opening with Show No Mercy, Sex Action and Never Enough.  Their set consisted of everything you’d want and expect to hear from Phil and the guys.  Their lead player is a total badass, too.  That guy shreds.  Phil’s voice sounded great.  I was super glad to see them since I missed them in Austin a few months ago as I was going out of town very early the next morning.  Twelve songs total and it was a lot of fun.

Then Stephen Pearcy comes on.  Look, I’m a pretty big Ratt fan and it was never really about his voice.  I love the riffs and solos those guys used to lay down (minus the silliness of songs like Way Cool Jr).  Pearcy never had a great voice although it was unique.  I saw Ratt with the Scorpions in 2010 and his voice sounded pretty good.  Saturday night not so much.  I want to be careful to not dog him out as I don’t know if he was just having a bad night, can’t sing anymore or just didn’t care to try.  He seemed to be phoning it in.  His backup band sounded good but the voice was killing me and many others.  We decided to leave about mid-set during I’m Insane.  We weren’t the only ones.  People were rolling out steadily and you could hear lots of people saying how poorly Pearcy sounded.

During Pearcy’s set, I went to the merch booth to see Shawn and the Bulletboys guys as Marq hadn’t signed the book yet.  He thought it was great and cheerfully signed it.  Hanging out with him 2 nights in a row did change my perspective a little bit.  Aaron Samson (Odin) was also at the booth and while both he and Shawn had signed the book a few years back at an Odin show in LA, he hadn’t signed my rare Odin Caution! EP.  Shawn and Jeff signed it for me a few months ago before sending it to me.  Aaron was glad to see it.  I still needed Phil and Riley from LA Guns though.  I went over the VIP area to chat with Sean a bit while Pearcy was still playing and Phil came out.  Chad Stewart, Pussycat’s drummer, grabbed Phil to come over and meet me to sign the book.  He signed the band photo and flipped though it a little bit and asked where he could get a copy.  I told him I’d send the link.  Pussycat’s guitarist, Xristian Simon, was looking backstage for Riley and couldn’t catch him before he bailed out to the hotel.  No biggie.  Guns come to Austin every couple of years and I’ll be sure to get them next time.

All in all it was a great night with my friend, Myra, and my Austin friends.  I was tired, so tired, and just needed to get back to the hotel to crash out and that’s exactly what I did.

Here are some great photos taken by Jamie Miller! Please visit his page!

BulletBoys

Faster Pussycat

LA Guns

Stephen Pearcy

BulletBoys Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 21, 2014

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usetitleI will go on record to say that most of the music from this genre of hard rock/metal didn’t do it for me in the 80s.  I found the hairspray and makeup quite silly and still do.  There were a few bands that did stand out and I took a liking to, but BulletBoys were not one of them.  Smooth up in ya?  Puhleaze!  That over the top, bombastic pretty boy type stuff just made me want to puke.  I had even seen them a few years ago when from pal in Arsis was in town on tour and freaked out knowing that BB was playing next door, so I subjected myself to it and didn’t pay any attention to the show at all.  “Another shot please!?”

Fast forward to 2014.  My friend, Shawn Duncan, who plays drums for DC4 and Odin (yes, that Odin), let me know that he was touring with BB this year and that they were coming to Austin and Houston.  Shawn’s one of the nicest dudes out there and I was stoked to be able to hang out with him again.  We didn’t get to hang out on my last couple of trips to LA so I was happy to get to see him here in Austin.  He let me know that for the Austin and Houston shows, Odin bassist, Aaron Samson, was also playing.

I work near a Guitar Center and the band’s manager had asked me to pick up some sticks and strings for the band if I was near one.  Luckily I work right around the corner from one so I grabbed their stuff and went right downtown after work to catch them at sound check and to try and grab dinner with them.  There were several issues related to the promoter in getting an actual backline, hotel, food etc and the band decided to just go back to their hotel until showtime.  Fine by me, I needed a nap anyhow!

After getting some rest, I catch my ride back downtown and get ready to see the band.  Again, I am not a BB fan and was only there to hang out with Shawn and Aaron.

But I got surprised big time.  I thoroughly enjoyed the set besides Smooth Up In Ya and For the Love of Money.  Those still give me an MTv hangover.  But the band was as solid as they could be.  Marq Torien’s voice was strong and he handles most of the guitar solos these days.  Homeboy can play and he’s a really good front man.  I love watching Shawn play drums.  I always get a Cozy Powell vibe.

There were about 50 or so people there, with a lot of them being fans of the band singing every song.  That was good to see and I could tell that the band was having a good time.  I had a great time as well and would definitely go see them again, even if my friends aren’t in the band.  I’m still tired as that was night #1 of 3 straight shows.

Chrissie Hynde Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 19, 2014

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usestockholmChrissie Hynde rolled through Austin, TX last night at my favorite venue, ACL Live at The Moody Theater.  I was able to score front row balcony tickets and brought a friend who was back in town visiting her friends and family.  The show was dubbed as “A Night With Chrissie Hynde”, which would make one think there was no opener.  Ultimately, The Rails, which features her guitarist, opened up.  We decided to skip them and just be there for the 9PM start of her show.

I’m a moderate Pretenders fan but have always liked her voice.  I’m that guy who is basically only familiar with whatever I heard on the radio over the years, all of which I liked but not enough to buy the records.

Walking in and right before she hit the stage, they were announcing that no photos we allowed, which was fine by me.  It’s nice not to look at a bunch of phone screens during a show.

She went on promptly at 9PM and right into the first song, someone in the front row pulled their camera out and she walked to the edge of the stage and wagged her finger in disapproval.  That seemed to end it.  She opened with 2 Pretenders songs, Don’t Lose Faith In Me and Biker, neither of which I was familiar with.  Her voice sounded great and her backing band, as expected, was very good.  She played 8 songs from her new album, Stockholm, 13 Pretenders songs and a Kinks cover of I Go To Sleep.

They played some of the radio hits like My City Was Gone, Back On The Chain Gang and Don’t Get Me Wrong (a favorite of mine), but left off Brass In Pocket and Show Me (my favorite of theirs).  There wasn’t a lot of talking between songs and she played rhythm guitar most of the night.  Early in the set there was a guy in the front row with a tambourine and she finally said to the guy, “Is there a story to go with this?”  She waved the guy to the end of the stage and he told her that she had given that to him during a show 31 years ago.  She said, “I don’t believe you!”, laughed and signed it and handed it back to him.  About a song or 2 later, he was playing it along with the band and she motioned for him to stop.  haha.

It was a fun show and about 3/4 through the set, the floor crowd ended up just rushing the stage and she was cool with it.  Before the first encore, some woman jumped up on stage to get one of her guitar picks that had been dropped and tried to peel the setlist off of the stage.  Security grabbed her quickly and rolled her off the stage.  Before the second encore started, some other woman crawled on stage and tried to get a pick from the guitarist’s stand and quickly got rolled off of the stage.  WTF, people?  STAY OFF OF THE FUCKING STAGE!

Anyways, it was a good show and worth seeing if you’re even mildly a Pretenders fan.

Goodnight!

 

Slayer Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 18, 2014

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usetitleIMG_6819Whew!  What a whirlwind it’s been the last month with all of the shows and there’s no sign of it slowing down yet!  Last night was not slow.  Exodus, Suicidal Tendencies and Slayer were in town to play a sold out show at the Moody Theater (aka ACL Live).  I still can’t believe a show like this got booked at such a classy venue, but I’m glad it did and hope that it opens the door for more metal there.  Let’s get right into this…

Exodus hit the stage promptly at 7:30PM with Black 13 and Blood In, Blood out from their latest release of the same name.  They were fast, tight and Steve Souza sounded great.  They only got 30 minutes for their set which is by far too short for a band with such a back catalog.  They rolled right into Blacklist from Tempo of the Damned then gave the crowd what they wanted in the form of Bonded By Blood, Toxic Waltz and Strike of the Beast.  I’m in the minority when I say I don’t like the Bonded By Blood album.  I’ve bought it several times over the years and it just never caught on to me.  However, I do love Fabulous Disaster and Pleasures of the Flesh.  Gary Holt is doing double duty with Exodus and Slayer and he and the whole band sounded great.  Tom Hunting is always the highlight for me in seeing Exodus live. He’s got such a unique style and watching him play last night was certainly a treat.

I’m not the biggest Suicidal Tendencies fan but do love that late 80s pre-funk ST stuff.  Last night I became a bigger fan, at least in a live setting.  Mike Muir hit the stage looking healthy and just sounded clear and coherent all night.  The show I saw a few years back was pretty awful.  The backing band last night was totally kickass too.  Especially the drummer.  Holy shit that guy was a beast.  They opened with an extended version of You Can’t Bring Me Down and went right into Freedumb from their 1999 release of the same name.  They mixed the set up with songs from Join the Army, the self-titled LP, Lights Camera Revolution, How Will I Laugh and 13.  The crowd was completely into it and there was a decent pit most of the time they were playing.  Highlights for me were War Inside My Head and How Will I Laugh Tomorrow .  Again, Suicidal brought their best game last night and blew me away.

Up next…SLAYER!  I’ve been a big fan since Reign In Blood, main reason being Dave Lombardo’s drumming.  Well, Dave’s not in the band anymore and it’s completely obvious, at least to me it is.  More on that later.  Slayer opened up with World Painted Blood and flowed right into Post Mortem.  They only played 5 post -Seasons era songs and that was fine by me.  They sounded great early in the set but it seemed to deteriorate ever so slightly as the set progressed.  They are an intense band and I can’t imagine playing night after night with that intensity, but if it was my job, I’m sure I’d make it work.  Araya’s voice sounded great and was actually better than when I saw the Seasons anniversary tour.  For me what was brought the show down a notch or two was the lack of Lombardo behind the kit.  He brings a certain intensity (I know I’m using that word a lot but it fits) to Slayer and it was missing last night.  This is no slight to Paul Bostaph who is a damn fine drummer in his own right, but he’s no Lombardo.  Few are.  Slayer is like the Rush of thrash metal.  Rush fans want to hear all of Peart’s fills and Slayer fans, especially yours truly, wants to hear Lombardo’s stuff played properly.  Bostaph did a good job and that’s why he’s in the band.  But there were just some little things that made it hard for me to totally enjoy him and the band last night.  His double bass work in some songs wasn’t very consistent.  Maybe he was having an off night, I don’t know.  I remember when I was gigging regularly as a drummer that off nights happen.  Sometimes you’re just not in “the pocket.”  None of this is to say Slayer put on a bad show, I’m not sure that they could, I’m just saying that I miss Dave behind the kit and the band just seemed out of sorts last night.  I went so far as to rename them “Slower”, but that’s probably not too fair.  I do need to mention that Kerry King was as solid as ever and I loved his Raiders/Biletnikoff jersey.  Gary Holt did fine playing Hanneman’s parts.  Holt is a good guitarist all the way around.

In the unlikely even that he comes back to the band again, last night was probably my last Slayer show (that I’d pay for).  The setlist was good and I’m really glad I got to hear At Dawn They Sleep, Chemical Warfare, Hell Awaits and Die By The Sword.

Long live Slayer and RIP Jeff Hannemann.  It was a good night.

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