Heart played to a sold out crowd last night in Austin at my favorite venue, The Moody Theater at ACL Live.
It was a good set but seemed to be over as fast as it had begun. The Wilson sisters sounded great and the backing band was flawless. It was a nice surprise to hear Mistral Wind from Dog and Butterfly. Easily the highlight of the show for me. Having seen the setlist from a few nights before, I knew that they were going to play 3 Led Zeppelin songs as their encore and I had no interest in that, so we left just as No Quarter had started.
Throughout the show I couldn’t help but think about my Aunt Dianne who died earlier this year. She and her sister, my Aunt Debbie, were big Heart fans and the trips to Pennsylvania sitting in Grandma’s listening to their Heart records with my cousins are some really special memories.
Short set for that price and I’m not sure I’d go see them again to be honest unless they started doing full album shows. I’d love to see them do all of Dog and Butterfly or Dreamboat Annie.
Steve Grimmett and company are on tour with their new album Walking in the Shadows. I had just seen them the previous Sunday in Ventura, CA at Frost and Fire II. Apparently they had some gear stolen from them at their hotel which totally sucks but as their song says, “The Show Must Go On,” right?
On my way down to SA, I stopped at Fitzgerald’s to meet Rigor Mortis and have their 3 remaining members sign The Book. Great guys and I’ll be seeing them in Austin soon. Their guitarist, Casey Orr who used to be in GWAR, had some prints of some of his paintings for sale and I picked up a few of those. My pal who sings for the rebooted Syrus also bought me the large Lemmy print. Thanks!
I arrived just as San Antonio locals Byfist were going on. I had seen them before and while I’m not a fan, I’m happy to see them with by pal Stony on bass. Great guy, great bassist and sounded great with them on bass and backing vocals. Killstorm was up next and didn’t do anything for me.
By the time Grim Reaper hit the stage, there may have been 50 people there at best. They had just played in SA in April so maybe that had something to do with the low attendance. Didn’t matter, I was there and wanted to see them again.
They played the same set from Frost and Fire and it was solid. The band is tight and Steve’s voice sounds great. I picked up the new CD after the show and had the guys sign it. When I got to Steve, he gave me a hug and thanked me for coming down to see them again. Good dude. Go see the tour if you can.
Last year I attended the one day Frost and Fire Fest and had a wonderful time. It was a foregone conclusion after that weekend that the mighty Cirith Ungol would be playing this year’s fest. It was announced several months ago that this year would be a 3 day fest with days 1 and 3 at the Bombay Bar and Grill again and day 2 at the Majestic Ventura Theater. I bought 4 sets of tickets automatically as I knew Kelz, Rodney would be interested and obviously I’d be able to hold the other set for someone. So flights and accommodations got booked and it was just a long countdown until the actual time to go. Ultimately I had to sell the 4th set as one friend who wanted to go had some other issues to take care of. Our friend JT/Petey was slated to come as well, but unfortunately life happens. He was severely missed but we’ll see him in Richmond in a few weeks for Satan.
Our 3 flights all arrived at LAX around the same time, we grouped up and took the rental car to Ventura. Upon arrival and checking into the Clocktower Hotel, we ran into the guys from Midnight. Their main man, Jamie, is a huge Steelers fan so we chatted about that briefly. Rodney peeled off with them and Kelz and I hit the Saloon BBQ for some tri tip beef, a shot and some beers. We had been up since super early to catch our flights so we went back to the hotel for a quick nap.
Doors were at 5PM and we got there right around that time to get in line, get our tix for Friday and Sunday and go in the venue. Having attended FF previously and the last 3 Ragnarokkr Fests, I knew quite a few people there. Fans traveled from all over the world to attend and that was great seeing many of them. Ran into Jerry Hartman from Lethal and his lovely wife, Sue. He gave me a CD of his latest project (pictured below). Can’t wait to listen to it. Tim, Robert and Jim from Ungol were hanging out as well and I got Jim to sign The Book.
Here’s the Day 1 band rundown:
Livin Alive – Watched a little bit of them but nothing caught my ear
Seax – Had seen them a time or 2 before and enjoyed them much more this time
Vanlade – Watched a couple of songs but couldn’t get too interested. Solid though.
Salvacion – Listened to them from the patio while hanging with some friends. All great guys but just can’t get into them
Resistance – Missed their whole set
Widow – Only heard them from the patio
Midnight Chaser – Delivered another solid set comparable to their Ragnarokkr show. Highly recommended
Blade Killer – Always delivers! I caught most of their set inside then the last couple from the patio
Thrust – Solid performance. Met Ron and had him sign The Book. Super nice guy
Slough Feg – Enjoyably odd band to watch
Omen – Got to catch up with Wittig before their set to get my stuff signed since we didn’t get time at their Austin show. They delivered a great set to a packed back room and I finally got to hear Teeth of the Hydra.
By the end of Omen’s set, I was starting to feel the drag from the travel and 2 hour time difference. Totally worth it. Hung out with some friends for a bit before they emptied the venue and people watched for a bit before heading back to the hotel. Also had some incredible Al Pastor tacos from the truck outside. The mom in the truck was cooking up a huge pan of red chili peppers for blending and it was mesmerizing to watch.
Saturday morning. A little tired and some back issues. Getting older sucks. Kelz and I grabbed some breakfast at the hotel and then headed out for a bit to do some record shopping. We started at Salzer’s Records which I had been to the year prior. I picked up MSG’s Assault Attack in VG+ condition for a good price. We then went to American Pie Records. That is an experience. Their owner, Dennis, is quite the character. He has a ton of stuff in there, too much to have gone through in a day but I did find 2 KISS records to add to my collection. From there we went to Grady’s Records in downtown Ventura. Small metal section but I found some good rock pieces that I had been looking for. From there back to the hotel for a 30 minute or so nap. It helped. We then walked over to the Majestic Ventura Theater for Day 2.
The theater had a no ins or outs policy so we had to decide if we wanted to try and survive whatever food they served inside or grab a bite nearby and miss an early band or 2. We chose to go in and ultimately the food was palatable. Beer prices were steep. $8 for PBR draft? $10 for premium beer? Not that I planned on drinking a lot, but that kept it to a bare minimum. It is a nice big venue with several tiers for viewing. It was great running in Attacker’s Mike Sabatini outside and Steel Prophet’s Steve Kachinsky. Awesome dudes. Upon entry I jumped right in the merch line for Ungol. I got a shirt and blinked on getting the limited edition Paradise Lost reissue LP. When I went back for it, they were all gone.
Day 2 band rundown:
Spellcaster – They rocked it although it was a really short set. Great seeing them again.
Axxion – I had seen Axxion in Chicago in 2014 at Ragnarokkr. I think they were a little better this year, stage costume selection notwithstanding. See pic below.
Visigoth – Do I really even need to say anything about them? Aside from them being the nicest dudes, they are great live and Jake Rogers is the best frontman in metal right now.
High Spirits – This band seems to be a love em or hate em band. I personally love them. Great hooks, solid vocals, positive energy. It’s happy rock for sure. They were great as always and look forward to seeing them on tour in 2017. I bought a shirt, LP and 7: from the new album, Motivator.
Night Demon – This is Jarvis’ fest and fitting that Night Demon is on the bill. They laid down a solid set including a new song, Stranger in the Room.
White Wizzard – At first I thought they were a weird choice for the fest but after seeing them play all of their High Speed GTO EP with James Paul Luna (Holy Grail) on vocals, my mind was changed. Solid set even though I was never really a fan. They played Hollywood Tease by Girl and I couldn’t place who wrote it until after their set. Thanks for clarifying, Rodney.
Mindless Sinner – Probably the biggest surprise of the fest for me. I had listened to them in the past but still wasn’t huge on them. Their set was great. They were absolutely great.
Midnight – While never owning anything they’ve ever done, I always enjoy seeing them live. Super energetic show with some good tongue in cheek lyrics. Saturday’s set was on par with previous viewings.
Cirith Ungol – A band that I’ve always liked, but never loved. They were fringe. They are fringe. When they were announced to do the meet and greet last year, I revisited the catalog and grew a new appreciation for them. By the time they were coming on, we went to the upper balcony and sat. My knees, back and feet were killing me and this was perfect viewing. They opened with Join the Legion from Paradise Lost and went right into I’m Alive from Frost and Fire. They pretty much played everything one would expect to hear at a Cirith Ungol show except for maybe Death of the Sun. I was absolutely blown away by Tim Baker’s voice. He still sounded like it was the early 80s. Mind-fucking-blown. The whole band was great. Garven’s enormous drumset with Paiste cymbals and gong looked and sounded fantastic. Jim Barraza handled most of the leads with ease and Greg Lindstrom handled the rhythm and some leads beautifully. Jarvis handled the bass lines perfectly and added some great backing vocals. It was really just a perfect set by them and I couldn’t be happier.
After the show, everyone was ushered out of the venue and just hung around the sidewalk. Everyone was in high spirits (pun intended) and I got to see a few folks that had come in just for that day’s show. I was pretty elated but also dog tired and went back to the hotel. Kelz went across the street to this tiny venue for an after party show with Hessian and Alchemy (MX). I went back to the room and fell right asleep…happily.
Sunday morning…worn the hell out. Woke up with only about 5 hours of sleep. Went down and had breakfast with Rodney and Midnight. Most of that discussion was about the Steelers. Perfect! Back to the room to clean up. Kelz went down and had breakfast while I did some packing and such. Luckily I ran into the Mindless Sinner guys in the lobby and got them to sign The Book. Doors were at 10AM at Bombay. We stopped in there for a minute to check out the merch and I picked up a few things. From there we went to Jockomo Records where I found a few more classic rock pieces. Ashbury wasn’t scheduled until 4:15 so we decided to grab lunch and ate some extremely bland Indian food. The garlic naan was great, though. Afterwards it was back to the hotel for a recharge nap. NAPS!
Back to Bombay where I finally got to talk to their owner, Diego. We have a mutual friend in common who used to play there a lot but now lives in Austin. It was way more relaxed on Sunday. He bought me a shot. Sweet! The crowd started flowingin common who used to play there a lot but now lives in Austin. It was way more relaxed on Sunday. He bought me a shot. Sweet! The crowd started flowing in for Ashbury’s set.
Day 3 band rundown:
Ashbury – This band just seems to set me right. I think it’s a combination of the demeanor of Rob and Randy Davis. These guys are so laid back and peaceful. They played a 2 hour set consisting of 8 songs from Endless Skies, 3 songs from Something Funny’s Going On, 5 covers (3 from Jethro Tull, 1 from BOC and 1 from The Who), and two new songs, Out of the Blue and Mean Guitar (Rock and Roll Star). They were great. They’re always great. I love seeing how many metalheads love them as well. They didn’t hang out much after their set, though. That was too bad.
Black Death Resurrected – I watched a little bit from the back of the room but just wasn’t that interested.
Grim Reaper – Steve and company laid down a solid 17 song set which included several from their new album, Walking in the Shadows. His current lineup is solid and his voice sounded great. I’ll see them again this weekend in San Antonio.
After the goodbyes to friends in the club and on the street, we headed over to Dargon’s Irish Pub for a quick bite before heading back to the hotel. We had to be up at 430AM to drive back to LAX to catch our flights.
I’ve done 3 Ragnarokkr fests, 2 Frost and Fire fests and 1 ProgPower and this past weekend tops them all for the overall experience. The location is perfect because of everything there is to see and do within walking distance in Ventura, the lineup was superb and just the overall feel of the event from the patrons to the organizers. No fest is perfect, but this is as close to perfect as I have been to so far. I can’t wait for FFIII!
Extra special thanks to Jarvis Leatherby (Night Demon/Cirith Ungol), the Night Demon guys, Cheryl and the whole FF crew for making this a success by obviously working their asses off on this. Also to Oliver Weisenheimer for his generosity and for being so fucking cool. It’s always great seeing the Visigoth guys as well. Great bunch of dudes.
To see the setlists played, click here.
Written by The Metal Files
October 11, 2016 at 3:37 pm
Riot V (Riot) is doing a short string of Texas dates in warmup to their Japan show with Rick Ventura performing all of Fire Down Under. Last night was San Antonio’s turn and what a great show it was…as always. There was yet another slight band member change for these shows. Nick Lee and Lance Barnewold (Nick’s usual replacement) both had prior commitments and couldn’t do this show. Riot tapped SA local Joey Villalobos to back up Mike Flyntz and he did a fine job.
Riot opened with a taped segment of Flashbacks from FDU then went into Narita as they always do. They played 5 more songs that have been a part of their set in the last couple of years then brought out guitarist Rick Ventura to play FDU with Flyntz and the band. It was quite a treat to see him again and to hear that whole album live. Such an influential album and Mark Reale influenced a lot of guitarists. After FDU, they kept Rick on stage for Tokyo Rose, Rock City and Road Racin’ and for a cover of Saxon’s Denim and Leather which featured Saxon’s Nigel Glockler on drums. Pretty cool. Last night proved once again that Todd Michael Hall is one of the best singers in metal.
Rick left the stage and Joey came back on for 5 more songs and that was it. It was a great 2 hour set as always and was good to be there with good friends.
Saint Vitus, The Skull and Witch Mountain kicked off their latest tour here in Austin, TX Tuesday night to a moderately sized crowd at one of Austin newest venues, Grizzly Hall. This place has a great setup and sound system.
Newish Austin locals, LadyKiller opened the show with their brand of what I have seen called “Camaro Rock” to a slowly building crowd. They seemed to start off a little flat but by the middle of their 30 minute set, they were doing their thing smoothly.
Witch Mountain was up next but I missed their entire set hanging outside on the patio with some friends. I could hear them but wasn’t interested enough to go in. I had checked them out before and well, pass.
The Skull was up next. I’m a huge Trouble fan of everything they released up to and including their 1990 S/T classic. I’ve seen them 4 times now, including Tuesday’s show and really like the stuff they’re doing now. They’ve gone through some lineup changes since I first saw them in 2014 in Chicago but Eric Wagner, Ron Holzner and Lothar Keller have remained constant. Lefty Rob Wrong (Witch Mountain) is handling additional guitar duties now and for this tour in Sean Saley’s absence, they have former Poison Idea drummer Steve “Thee Hippy Slayer” Hanford. They opened the set with Trapped Inside My Mind from their 2014 release entitled For Those Which Are Asleep. Three of the next 4 songs were also from that album. They played “The Longing” from their latest EP as well before going into 4 classic Trouble songs including Pray for the Dead from Trouble’s 1985 album The Skull. The band sounded fantastic and Wagner’s voice was still as shrill as ever.
Saint Vitus were up next and I’m not much of a fan although I’ve seen them several times. Their drummer, Henry, is a good pal so I go to support. He took me to the green room prior to The Skull to get Dave, Mark and Scott to sign The Book. All were really cool guys and Scott was up front with us watching The Skull. I watched their first 3 or 4 songs and have to admit that I enjoyed them more than ever. Having Scott on vocals helps quite a bit as I’m no fan of Wino aside from his Hidden Hand stuff.
After the show I was beat. It was getting pretty late for a work night so I headed home. The tour bus that they were going to use was stuck in Dallas broke down so instead of them driving back to Dallas after the show, I had offered my place up to The Skull. They had to drive back to Dallas the next day for a show, but were happy to be able to sleep before making that drive. It was a bit surreal knowing that Eric and Ron, dudes from a band I’ve loved for 30 years, were just hanging out in my house with my cat, Taco, while I was crashed out. haha. Good dudes. I did come home for lunch and Ron had just woken up. “Your cat is awesome.” True.
Through my pal, Felix Griffin (DRI, BAT), I was introduced to former DRI bassist, Josh Pappe. I got him added to The Book as well.
Written by The Metal Files
September 29, 2016 at 7:27 am
Four years ago, Kelz and I went to Connecticut to see Arch/Matheos. It was a pretty magical and at the time I didn’t think it could be topped…
That was until ProgPower announced that Fates Warning would be playing all of Awaken the Guardian with the band lineup from that album.
I bought 3 tickets right when they went on sale last year as it was obviously going to sell out. Kelz was automatically in and Rodney claimed the other. Done and done. And I mean done! To be truthful, Fates and Refuge (aka Rage from Germany) were the only two bands on the lineup that I really wanted to see. Anneke Van Gierbergen, formerly of The Gathering, was a little added bonus.
Thursday: I flew into Atlanta that evening and Kelz was already at our hotel a couple of blocks from the venue. We decided to get a couple of drinks and I contacted my friend, Charlotte, who is also from Austin about her whereabouts and knowing that she was planning to have dinner with John Arch and his crew. She told me they had left the restaurant already but thought he may still be there. I looked for them when we walked in and didn’t see them and just went to the bar to grab a burger and some beers. After being there for a bit, all of a sudden like an apparition (yes, I went there), John popped up beside me at the bar. My favorite singer of all time standing next to us. What an awesome surprise. He and his friends were on their way out and it was awesome that he saw us and said hello for a few minutes before heading back to his hotel to rest for Friday’s show. We finished our food and drinks and went back to ours as well.
Friday: We got up and made out way down to the hotel’s worthwhile breakfast buffet. Mmmm…bacon. After breakfast and getting cleaned up we headed down to the venue, Center Stage, in the Midtown part of Atlanta. Doors opened at 1:30PM and we arrived about that time to see a few friends in line from here in Texas or from other festivals that we’ve attended. Once inside, we jumped in line for band merch to get the 30th anniversary of Awake the Guardian shirts. Done. Canada’s Ascendia was on stage and I peeked in for a second to see the inside of the venue area. I wasn’t into the band at all and to be honest not into any of the other bands that weren’t named Fates Warning or Refuge.
Fates was scheduled to do a signing at 4:30PM and the line was already forming by 3. We got in line around 3:30 and just waited it out with our stuff to get signed. I made the joke several times about all of the prog nerds in attendance, but I’m just as much of a nerd for the stuff that I love as well. So the pot calls the kettle black…with glee! Once the line got going and we get to the band, Joe DiBiase stood up and gave me a hug. I gave him a Grand Slamm box set that he didn’t have as it was a spare copy. He was stoked. We’re both Thin Lizzy fanatics. I just brought the first 3 album covers as I got all of my other stuff signed in CT at the Arch/Matheos show. A few quick words with the rest of the guys as the line behind us was long. We were originally told 3 items only and they were starting to limit it to 2 by the time we got to the band. We got lucky to get all of our stuff done as the line was pretty long. After the signing, Kelz took our stuff back to the hotel. I’ve not been feeling so great for a week or so and am thankful that he made that run a couple of times. I didn’t go in and listen to the next couple of bands either but by the time Kelz returned, we figured we should go inside, find some seats and hunker down as the room would surely be filled for Fates. Rodney showed up right at this time and we went in and got some good seats on the side. We sat through Gentle Storm’s set which was utterly boring except for the 2 Gathering songs she did. Her voice still sounds great and her band was solid but the music just didn’t do anything for me. I literally dozed off twice. Scar Symmetry was direct support for Fates and I dozed for a second during their set as well. They were heavy but….but…ugh. I can’t deal with that stuff. They have a lead singer who sings clean-style and a separate singer who does the cookie monster vocals. NO. That was a tough set to sit through, but we didn’t want to lose our spots. After their set, they showed a video announcing the lineup for next year and it was very clear that I’d not go. Angel Dust was the only interesting band named and from what I have been told, they don’t touch their first 2 albums, so I can’t really care.
Then Fates came on and the packed house went crazy. They opened the show with The Sorceress and played all of Awaken in its entirety. John looked very happy to be there and very comfortable. His interactions with the band and the crowd were great and his voice was just plain fucking awesome. The whole band was great although there were some apparently some technical difficulties with their monitors which caused a couple of slight mishaps but no train wrecks. It was great hearing that whole album live, especially Guardian, Fata Morgana and Giant’s Lore. Again, John’s voice was out of this world and I think he sounded better at this show than in CT 4 years ago. After they finished with Exodus, the stage went dark for a few minutes and they came back for a 4 song encore which included Damnation, The Apparition, Kyrie Eleison and Epitaph. Their Keep It True show had Night on Brocken in the Kyrie slot. Their setlist showed both songs but DiBiase told me after the show that it was going to be one or the other and they obviously chose Kyrie. So many emotions and great memories during their set. They could have played any of those first 3 albums all the way through and I would have felt the same.
After the show we went out to the street. The entire crowd was in awe and all you could hear was everyone praising the show and with good reason. After a few minutes out there, John comes up to me and says, “Grab your friends and come with me.” Wait. What? YES SIR! So I grab Charlotte and Steve when they were coming out and the 5 of us went backstage. I really didn’t expect that but there we were just outside of Fates’ dressing room. I saw some other friends back there as well. After a little bit of time, we were welcomed into the dressing room. It was very casual and I got to speak with DiBiase and his son for quite a while. John hung out with us for a bit. What an awesome guy. He’s just a dude like us…but not really. Mike Portnoy was back there and I said hello. He didn’t care. haha. I wish I would have had the Book with me, though, as he’s listed with Majesty. Oh well. As things were winding down back there, we got to say goodbye to the band and I got to talk to Matheos for just a minute along with Zimmerman. The conversation was pretty humorous but that story will be left in the dressing room. Afterwards we met up with Oliver from Keep It True and Kiri at Gladys Night’s Chicken and Waffles. The perfect end to an incredible night.
Saturday: Another roll through the breakfast buffet. Their bacon is on point. We were trying to decide if we wanted to head back to the venue to do the Anneke signing or go bumming around to some records stores. The record store decision won out. I found some cool stuff at Fantasyland Records and Wax N Facts Records. After returning to the hotel and getting our Rage stuff together, we grabbed some very boring pseudo-Mexican dinner then got back to the venue right before Refuge hit the stage. We grabbed our seats and waited for the band to start. It was clearly obvious how under-attended Saturday’s show was. The floor was pretty open and there were tons of available seats. Refuge hit the stage and just blasted through their set playing only material from their era as a trio, which meant I’d not get anything from my favorite album, Execution Guaranteed. They sounded great all the way around. Peavey’s vocals were solid and they were obviously having a great time on stage. I remembered about 5 or 6 of their songs and seeing the songs Don’t Fear The Winter and Refuge live were certainly highlights. It was just a fun set overall. Haken was on next and I popped in for a minute before getting line for the Refuge signing. BORING.
The Refuge signing line went pretty quickly as most of the folks in front of us were just getting either their tickets signed or the festival program. Kelz was ahead of me in line and had quite a few items and they happily signed it all. I had them sign the Book. The guitarist was slightly interested in it, the drummer was just happy to be there and Peavy was asking questions about it. Another great addition! After we finished with the signing, Haken was still playing. Ugh. Devin Townsend was up next but neither of us cared so we went down to the merch room for a bit, had a couple of beers, said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel where we ordered a pizza and drank a beer while reflecting on another incredible weekend that is also another one of our Mitchfests. Then sleep.
Sunday: What? Yes…breakfast buffet. My flight wasn’t until later in the day so we hit one more record store at noon and didn’t find anything of note. Kelz dropped me off at the train station, we said our goodbyes and I headed off to the airport on a couple of different trains filled with Atlanta Falcons fans. That was fun. At the airport I met Malik, who was also at the festival. Great dude that loves prog metal. He gave me a spare copy of Serious Black’s debut that I have yet to listen to, but I will. I love the metal connections.
As I’ve said elsewhere, this show was the tops for both of us. I can’t think of another show that could ever come close to that again. I said that after Arch-Matheos as well, but this was even more intense than that show.
I met a lot of new friends of friends and it was great catching up with some older friends that I don’t get to see very often.
Written by The Metal Files
September 13, 2016 at 8:23 am
Alice rolled into Austin again for the 3rd time in 2 years…and there’s nothing wrong with that! I’d go see him every week if I could.
As it was last year, we were served an evening with just Alice Cooper. I was quite pleased to see that the setlist was different for this tour. I ended up with 3rd row seats at stage right on Ryan Roxy’s and Chuck Garric’s side. Ryan pitched a pick perfectly to me towards the end of the show.
Overall it was great and Alice’s voice was in good condition and his backing band was as solid as ever. One of these days I’ll get Garric and Hendrikson added to The Book.
The only down side to the show was the amount of fucking camera phones being held up the whole show. Don’t get me wrong, I will snap some shots but I don’t keep my phone out and held up the whole show. It was really annoying. But I digress.
Highlights would be Ballad of Dwight Fry, Elected, The World Needs Guts and a good rendition of Ace of Spades. It was a strong set overall.
I used a couple of my own photos as well as some from Christie O. and John A. Thanks!