The Metal Files

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Judas Priest Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 7, 2014

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title The shows just keep coming. I’m tired but musically satisfied and it’s always completely worth it. Priest is an odd beast for me. Been a fan since the 70s and prefer that era much more than the 80s to now stuff. When Rob’s voice started leaning towards screeching for vengeance instead of the clean falsettos of the 80s, I was turned off. I first saw Priest in 1998 with Tim Owens on vocals.  Blech.  Didn’t like his albums or his Anselmo like stage presence, but the band sounded great.

Flash forward to 2008 and I went to the Priest/Heaven & Hell/Motorhead/Testament show but left before JP came on.  I had seen footage of Rob from that tour and it was awful.  Immobile, hunched over, a slave to his teleprompter, much like when I saw Halford (solo) in NYC.  I didn’t want to see how much the mighty had fallen so I left.  I sort of regret it but oh well.

Flash forward again to 2014 and Fun Fun Fun Fest announced that Priest and King Diamond would be headliners on their black stage.  I wasn’t going to miss Rob this time. I got to the venue around 7PM and the line to get in was about 3hrs.  I did a little hocus pocus and only waited about 15 minutes to get my will call wristband.  Hung with some friends until Priest went on and then we rocked out. They opened with Dragonaut from the new album.  I’m not a fan of the newer stuff as stated previously but it sounded fine.  Then right into Metal Gods, Devil’s Child and Victim of Changes.  Overall Rob sounded pretty good.  He avoided the notes he knew he couldn’t hit.  Some of them he got pretty good when he tried like in Victim.  There were some instances where he did try and failed, but whatever.  It was what it was…a great metal show.

They played 4 tracks from the new album.  A decent mix of the older stuff.  Of course my setlist would have been totally different.  Richie Faulkner is sort of the star of the show now.  He’s out front most of the time and handles all of KK’s old leads just fine.  He’s good.  The band was very solid as expected.  Hard not to be when you have the human drum machine Scott Travis keeping time for you. Beyond The Realms of Death was the highlight for me.

So many childhood memories listening to that one as a kid.  It was a fun show but when it ended all I really cared about was going home and going to bed.  I went downtown for one beer and could barely drink it.  Pure exhaustion.  Today I rest up for King Diamond tonight!

John Waite Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 3, 2014

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This won’t be a long review.  John’s played here several times in recent years and I kept missing it for whatever reason.  I almost missed tonight’s show as I neglected to add the show to my calendar.  Luckily a friend on FaceBook posted about it.  Then I couldn’t find my ticket.   Then found it.    Show was set to start at 8 and he was to pay 75 minutes.

I’m tired and have been since the marathon of shows 2 weeks ago.  Seems that I have been going non-stop since then and there’s no slowing down for November.

John came on just a little after 8PM with a trio of songs by The Babys.  His voice sounded great.  He’s a bit of a wiry fella and moves around a lot.  Told some quick jokes and was pretty affable with the audience.  He played a mix of some newer and older solo songs as well as Bad English’s When I See You Smile.   Best of What I Got was slated to be played but they didn’t do it.  Apparently this was a one off show in between his normal opening duties for the current Pat Benatar tour.  They also played a Vince Gill cover as well as All Along the Watchtower.  The encore was Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love.  I’m not a Zep fan in the least but I gotta say that John belted that out so impressively that he should contact Jimmy Page to do a flurry of Zep shows.  Holy crap the dude has the pipes.

His bassist was a complete badass as was the drummer.  One of the hardest hitting drummers I have ever seen but was as solid as could be.  The guitarist however, not so much.  Sloppy, choppy and for me, painful to listen to.  His riffing was fine, but when he went into his solos, it was just painful.  Either you can play those licks or you can’t.  Maybe he was having an off night.  I don’t know.  But overall the show was fun.  It looked like maybe 100 people showed up.

 

GWAR Concert Review, Austin, TX, October 25, 2014

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I love seeing GWAR live.  I’ve seen them several times since the 80s and I think they peaked at the Scumdogs album.  Nevertheless, I do try to go and see them still.  They still crack me up.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Dave Brockie died earlier this year.  He was the voice and personality behind the Oderus Urungus,  Dave was a funny guy and cool the few times that I met him.  I have an interview I did with GWAR in 1999 that I need to get uploaded.  It’s hilarious.

The band is now using multiple members as singers and it works with their new storyline of having an epic battle to see who will become the new leader of the band.  Included in that mix was my buddy, Brent, who replaced Corey Smoot on lead guitar after his untimely death a few years ago.  He’s Pustulus Maximus.  I’ve known him for about 10 years from other bands he played with back in Virginia.  Awesome dude and it’s always great to see him.

The band hit the stage during the second annual Housecore Horror Film Festival and there was a video message on the “magic mirror” from Oderus.  It was all strange, but it worked.  He disappears into another dimension or something and all of the new singers bash it out.  The show was enjoyable and Brent’s guitar playing was awesome.  He sang a song or two as well.  Way to go, Pustulus!

It’s always fun watching people get soaked in the pit at their shows.  This past Saturday night, I got hit with a blood cannon.  Totally unintentional but it made me laugh nonetheless.  Good fun all the way around, especially their cover of West End Girls.  I also ran into a guy I knew from Virginia that I hadn’t seen since about 2000.  He was touring with a guitar company that he works for. I also ran into the VoiVod guys who remembered me from a SxSW show a few years back when I got my head cut open by a stage diver.

This show marked the 6th in a row since Monday night.  I was absolutely exhausted by the time it was over.

The aftermath

The aftermath

Pustulus

Pustulus

Written by The Metal Files

October 29, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Hellion Concert Review, Austin, TX, October 24, 2014

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Hellion was a band that was always just in my peripheral in the 80s.  I owned their album The Black Book and liked it, but still never listened to them that much.  When I saw that they were playing downtown on Friday, I had to go.  I was absolutely exhausted from the events of the week with Kelz, who I had dropped off at the airport earlier that day.  I tried to get a nap in before heading downtown but it wasn’t a good one.  Normally I take a ride via Lyft downtown because I know that I’ll be drinking.  I didn’t have the energy or wont to drink that night so I drove my car.

San Antonio’s The Blitz Krokus tribute band played right before Hellion.  I love Krokus and was excited to see that my pal Chris Cronk (Karion/SA Slayer/Fates Warning/Jag Panzer) was on vocals.  They were fun but their set got cut short.

Hellion had a stacked lineup in the band backing Ann Boleyn.  Georg Dolivo from Rhino Bucket on rhythm guitar, Maxxxwell Carlise on leads, Greg Smith (Wendy O Williams/Nugent/Alice Cooper/Rainbow etc) on bass, Scott Warren (Keel, DIO, Heaven and Hell) on keyboards and Simon Wright (AC/DC, DIO) on drums.  This made for some great signatures in the book!

The band was rock solid and Ann’s voice sounded good.  The whole band was great but I was especially drawn to Greg’s bass playing.  That guy is just a beast of a player.   One of the best I have ever seen.  The whole show was fun and after getting the sigs in the book, I went straight home and straight to bed.  Highlight for me was Living In Hell from the Black Book.  Great song.

Raven & Night Demon Concert Review, Austin, TX, October 11, 2014

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As far as NWOBHM goes, much of it is hit and miss for me.  Raven was always the miss.  I could never really put a finger exactly what but I think it started with their look and the lyrics.  It was just a bit too goofy for me.  I had seen them live previously in 2000 and was able to have lunch with the Gallagher brothers and their families that day as we shared a common close friend.  That was a great day and those guys are really fun to hang out with.

I ran into John again earlier this year when I was in Richmond, VA for the Satan show there.  Always polite.  Flash forward 14 years and Raven is doing a 2 month long tour across the USA with my pals in Night Demon (Ventura, CA).  I had met those guys in Chicago earlier this year when Eternal Champion played the Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalyspe.  I had known the drummer for a couple of years prior from his other band that used to come through Austin on the regular.  Great guys.  I was excited that they were coming to town and offered up my house for them to stay after the show.

The night before the show I was downtown in my favorite bar and there was a couple sitting next to me.  The guy was wearing a venom shirt so I struck up conversation.  They were from Chile.  Victor spoke perfect English but Javiera didn’t really speak any.  I speak Spanish pretty well so we all had a nice talk.  She had won a VIP contest to ACL, all expense paid.  Pretty cool.  Neither of them really cared for much of the music at the fest but weren’t going to turn down a free trip.  I asked him if he liked Raven and he said, “Hell yes!  One of my favorites!”  I let him know about the show the next night and they were excited.

On to the show.  Sweat Lodge opened and I’m just not into the hippie stoner rock stuff that much.  I guess they’re good at what they do, I’m just not into it.  Night Demon comes on and blaze through their set efficiently.  Their brand up upbeat NWOBHM inspired metal went over well with the crowd that was there.  They especially got everyone’s ear by playing a cover of Road Racin’ by Riot.  Riot is a big deal in Texas and it was only coincidence that Night Demon played it.  The metal faithfuls loved it.  They gained a lot of new fans that night.

Raven comes on and the crowd loved it.  There were about 10-15 people right up front who all first saw Raven and Metallica in 1983 in Austin and this show was a bit of a reunion for them.  That was pretty cool to see all of them right up front singing every word.  As stated above, I’m not into Raven but they are energetic live and John can still hit the high notes pretty well.

Satan Concert Reviews, San Antonio and Austin, TX, October 21-23

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Days 2-4 of Mitchfest with Kelz consisted of 3 straight shows with Satan in San Antonio and Austin and it’s just easier to satanALLIMG_6402combine the reviews all in one post.

We mess around Austin for a little bit before heading back to the house to rest up for Tuesday night’s show with Satan in San Antonio at The Korova.  We got there a little before Satan showed up and helped them load their personals from the van to Korova’s green room.  They looked pretty good after playing Houston the night before.  They recognized us from the Richmond show earlier in the year.  Satan was being backlined on this tour by the venue and/or the opening acts.  Seemed that there were a few compatibility issues with guitar heads to the effects that Ramsey/Tippins used but those quickly got fixed with the arrival of a couple of Marshall amps.

Austin based Firestarter ’82 opened the show and I stuck around for their set as their bassist is a good pal of mine.  She did a fine job as always.  Local thrashers, Aggravator, played next but we missed them as we were having a couple of drinks next door.

We get back right before Satan hits the stage and as expected, they delivered an awesome set to about 40-45 people.  The crowd size was quite unfortunate, especially for a city that often touts itself as the metal capital of the USA.  Things change I guess.  And it was a Tuesday night…but still.  How often are you going to get the chance to see Satan?  Satan played flawlessly as expected.  They were great when we saw them in Richmond this year and I expected no less this time.  They did not disappoint.  It really can’t be stated enough how great of a guitar duo Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey are.  Ross’ vocals are stellar, especially for a 61 yr old man who can still belt out the falsetto with no problem.  Sean and Graeme held the bottom down as Satan rolled through a mostly similar set to earlier this year with only a few changes.  They were awesome and have become one of my favorite live bands.  Brian’s not a big talker between songs beyond introducing the next song and I’m fine with that.

It was also great seeing some old pals that I hadn’t seen in a while, namely Rob Doom, Jaime, Mando and of course Rodney who was the show promoter.  A new friend, Henri, came in from Holland just to see these shows with Satan and Militia.  Pretty cool!

Kelz and I left promptly after the show for the 75 minute drive back to Austin.  Of course it was full of conversation about the show and old times.

Satan Setlist The Korova, San Antonio, TX, USA 2014

Day 3 of this Mitchfest didn’t consist of much other than foraging around town for food and resting.  This night’s show consisted of Satan, local speed/thrash metal legends Militia and my band, Eternal Champion, opening up.  What a perfect bill of classic styled metal!  We had to be at the venue by 730 to load in and we were backlining all bands that night.  We did a quick rehearsal and then headed over to Beerland to load in.  We got everything set up and then grabbed a quick slice of pizza and a beer across the street to wash it down.  There was a good crowd rolling in after the doors opened at 9.  Lots of friends who work for one of my company’s clients came.  It was awesome seeing a bunch of non-metalhead friends show some support like that.
We hit the stage a little after 10PM and breezed steadily through our set.  Minus my bass being out of tune for the first verse of the first song (wtf?), the set seemed tight and was extremely fun.  The crowd was right up front with us and it was a blast.
Up next came one of my favorite bands, Militia, who have been here since the mid-80s and reemerged about 5 years ago.  Original drummer Phil Achee came to town from Alabama to play this show and it was great seeing/hearing him on the skins again.  It just felt right.  Mike Soliz’ vocals were on point and I’m still amazed every time I see and hear him on stage.  He’s a beast of a singer and one awesome guy.  I think they gained a lot of new fans that night.
And then Satan.  The crowd had thinned out a little but not that much and Satan rolled through the same set as the night before.  I enjoyed seeing and hearing Graeme playing through my bass rig.  He made it sound a lot better.  haha.  After finishing their main set and destroying everyone who was left for their set, the house lights came on and the music from the soundboard started playing.  The band was a little disappointed that they didn’t get to play their encore.  So was I.  But it was a great show.  I’ve not had that much fun playing a show in ages and getting to do that with 2 of my favorite bands made it even more special.

Satan Setlist Beerland, Austin, TX, USA 2014

Day 4.  We’re tired.  Lack of sleep, not eating properly etc was catching up to my old ass.  haha.  We went out and got some tacos and bounced around to a few places before getting the nod from Satan’s tour manager that they were ready to eat.  I had offered to take them to my favorite BBQ joint in town and we chowed down.  Two of them are vegetarians so their options were limited but they seemed satisfied.  The others loved the ribs, sausage and pork tenderloin.  I think they were happy to just get something that wasn’t pizza or from a fast food restaurant.  I have to admit that it was a bit surreal having a meal with those guys.  Yeah, they’re just people, I know that.  But they’re also people that I’ve been listening to since the early 80s.  It was fun.
This night’s show featured a totally different lineup consisting of Sweat Lodge, Ditch Witch and Natur, all bands that I’m not into in the least.  Not at all.  0%.  Although I think Natur could be a little more workable to me if their riffs went somewhere.  These bands also draw the “we dress like we’re 1975 hippies”.  I’m pretty sure most of them were born in the mid to late 80s.  Not my thing but whatever.
I stayed outside for the two openers and watched about half of Natur’s set.  I was strictly there for Satan.  As they were setting up, Kelz and I staked our spots right up front.  I wondered how many people there would be familiar with them but it seemed like a decent amount of people were.  A pit lasted throughout most of the set and Kelz and I were flung to the stage a few times each, but I didn’t mind.  It wasn’t a violent pit at all and reminded me of the 80s a bit.  Satan played through their set and were great again.  Two nights in a row they didn’t get to do their encore.  They also didn’t do their instrument as there was no where for Brian to stand during that song.  He had trouble getting to to the stage during the opening song as the crowd was packed up there.  Again, Satan destroyed another show.  After finally getting kicked out after closing, we were exhausted.  Completely.  Totally worth it.
This show marked the last night of MitchFest.  It was great seeing Kelz come to my city and hang out.  We had a blast and always look forward to the next gathering of Mitches.

Blaze Bayley Concert Review, Austin, TX, October 20, 2014

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I found out last minute that former Iron Maiden singer, Blaze Bayley, was coming back to Austin again to play a couple of shows at the Anderson Mill Tavern.  I’m still confused as to why he plays that far away from downtown, but I believe this was the third year in a row that he’s played there.  I saw him last year at another strange place on the outskirts of town.  With even a little bit of minor promotion they could easily have had a crowd at a downtown bar.

My lifelong friend, Kelz, got to town that night for a week long MitchFest and he was down for going to see it.  We left straight from the airport to the bar.  When we got there, the lady at the door said, “You came late but it’s still $20.”  Ouch.  There were maybe 20 people there.  We walked in as he was talking to the audience and they went right in to Man On The Edge followed by The Trooper…and that was it.  Wait.  What?  After a few short minutes, they came back out and played an obviously unrehearsed version of Wasted Years and that was that.  It was similar to the version that they played last year, which was to say that it wasn’t good.  Sorry.  It was horrible.  I’ll give Blaze credit that he works the crowd pretty good, like he’s playing in front of a huge amount of people.

The only real bright spot to the show was that AJ Pero from Twisted Sister was playing drums for these few USA shows.  So of course I had The Book with me as well as the first 3 Twisted Sister CDs.  We got to speak with him after the show and was in good spirits.  We talked about the Sister 2004 show in Richmond, VA at an open air venue when a violent storm came up and they cleared the place.  Sister came back out to about 1/3 of the original crowd and just killed it.  He signed out stuff, took some pics with us and Kelz and I headed downtown for a beer at Jackalope before finally heading home.  We had a busy week ahead.

I doubt I’ll see Blaze again if he comes to town unless he brings someone else that’s in The Book with him.

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