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Archive for March 2016

Satan & Night Demon Concert Review, West Hollywood, CA, March 26, 2016

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What a weekend!  I’m completely wiped out this morning but here goes…

I go see Satan any chance I get.  I love Satan!  Unfortunately they aren’t doing any Texas dates this year so I took the opportunity to go see them at the famous Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood.  Even more, my good friends in Night Demon were playing direct support.  It was slated to be a win-win!

I had a super early flight from Austin to LAX and didn’t sleep well the night before.  Bummer.  Anyhow, I arrived in LA at 830AM Pacific time and there was some sort of weird mix up with the rental car.  Let’s just say that I’ll never try and use Payless Rentals again.  I ended up at Enterprise having to try and book something on the spot.  That’s never easy to do in LA as I’ve found out before.  The only available cars that they had were classified as exotics and there were only a few to choose from.  They handed me a rate sheet with the car selection and the cheapest one on there was a 2016 white Camaro SS convertible.  I gave a bit of a sob story to the guy that was helping me and he gave me some discounts.  It was still more than I had planned to pay but whatever.  I figured that the weather was nice, I’m in LA for just a short time, I might as well enjoy it as much as I can.  So off I went with the top down, the 80s metal cranked up and two suitcases full of Cirith Ungol and Night Demon shirts in the back seat that I was delivering for a friend.  I cruised around LA a bit, ate at Pinches Tacos on Santa Monica Blvd then went to the hotel to check in.  I was pretty tired and with the long night ahead and the 2 hour time difference, I was going to need all the rest I could get.  Unfortunately that rest only lasted about 30-45 minutes.  Too much noise around.  Oh well.  I went to do some exploring and ended up at Amoeba Music.  The place is huge and I couldn’t find a thing that appealed to me.

It was getting close to load in time so I called for a Lyft ride and took the aforementioned shirts along with me.  Night Demon had just started loading in and a good friend from Mexico was already there so we chatted while the bands worked.  Satan hadn’t arrived yet as they had some issues in San Francisco the night before and had to get some things worked out.  After Night Demon finished their load in, Jarvis and new Night Demon guitarist, Armand, Sarai and I went over to the Rainbow for dinner.  This was my first time back at the Rainbow since Lemmy died.  Lemmy died.  That’s still not easy to write or think about.  The group secured a table and I went to the outside bar to the corner and just spent a moment there in reflection.  It was good.  Back to the table and Armand and I ordered a Jack and Coke in honor of the man and we ordered a pizza for the group.  I love their pizza.  As we were eating, Sebastian Bach and his family/a family came in.  I just said hello as he walked by and it was returned with a “hey man”.  San Antonio Rodney showed up as did Night Demon’s drummer, Dustin, and we hung out for a little longer before heading back to The Whisky.

Once inside we made our way upstairs to the dressing rooms where Sean Taylor, Brian Ross and Steve Ramsey of Satan were hanging out.  Sean and I caught up for a bit while Brian and Steve were being interviewed.  After their interview, Russ Tippins and Graeme English arrived.  I really do love these guys.  All class and super kind and all very funny.  They were obviously still a bit worn out from the night before and their drive so I went downstairs to meet up with some other friends.  Some of the opening acts had already played and locals Resistance were just coming on when we got downstairs.  I couldn’t get into them at all although one of the guitarists had some good lead breaks.

Up next was Night Demon.  As I mentioned before, Armand was now in the band replacing Brent Woodward.  I love Brent.  All around solid guy and loved my tacos when he and Night Demon were in town.  I’ve known Armand for several years as his old band, New Liberty, played Austin several times during SxSW in 2011 or 2012.  Dustin from Night Demon was also in that band and it was through him that I got introduced to Night Demon when my old band played with them in Chicago at Ragnarokkr in 2014.  As much as I hated to see Brent gone, I’m elated to see that his replacement was Armand.  He’s a killer guitarist.  and was also recently in Gygax and I highly recommend their latest album, Critical Hits.  Night Demon opened up with Screams in the Night and blasted right into Full Speed Ahead, which is one of my faves.  Armand sounded great with them and brings a bit of a different vibe to their live show.  They played 7 tracks overall and were right on point as always.  I’ll see them again in a couple of weeks in San Antonio and Austin with the mighty Visigoth.

Up next came NWOBHM legends Satan.  I can’t say enough about this band on a personal level and on a performance level.  The band is practically perfect live and I’d go see them every chance I could.  They opened with Siege Mentality, Incantations, The Devil’s Infantry and Twenty Twenty-Five.  That’s the same four they opened with the night before but then they changed it up and played Break Free from Court in the Act.  That album is so good.  All told they played 5 from their great latest album, Atom by Atom, 8 from Life Sentence and 4 from Court in the Act.  I’m still utterly amazed at Brian Ross’ vocal abilities.  The whole band was awesome and it was especially nice to hear them on a quality PA system.  I was a bit surprised that the show didn’t sell out but it was good to see people singing along to Night Demon’s and Satan’s sets.

I ran into Tim Baker from Cirith Ungol.  What a nice guy.  He gave me some stickers.   I saw Robert Garven as well but we didn’t get to speak much as he was on his way out the door.  I also got to see my friend from Austin, Allie.  Quite the pleasure seeing her again as well.

After the show we headed back to the dressing rooms.  The band was packing their stuff as they had an early flight out for their next show in Portland.  We said our goodbyes and I told them I’d see them on one of their east coast dates in October.  Right before walking out of the dressing room, I was recognized by a girl I had met at the Cathouse Live show at Irvine Meadows last year.  She was wearing a killer Toxik shirt, too, so that’s major points with me!  It was great making that connection with her again.  Said my “see you later” to her, Satan and the Night Demon guys and headed back to the restaurant by the hotel for a late night bite to eat.  Service was slow and Rodney bailed.  My LA friend, Sabrina, and I stuck it out, ate and she took a ride back to get her car by the Rainbow and I was fading fast.  I went back into my room and pretty much passed out as I hadn’t been to sleep, real sleep, in almost 24 hours.  Unfortunately I was only able to sleep for about 3 hours as I have a hard time sleeping while the sun is out.

After checking out, I spent some time just driving around LA.  Made a quick trip into Venice to see Cameron and Rell.  She and I have been friends for a long time from when we both lived in Norfolk. She moved to Austin after me, met Cameron, moved to Venice and then got married.  Always great seeing them.

After that I headed up to Studio City to meet with someone whom I’ve loved since first hearing her music…Betsy from Bitch!  We had been in contact a few times in the last 15 years or so and I asked her if she had time to meet up as I’d love to get her signature in The Book.  She agreed and we met in town for about an hour.  It was really awesome to be sitting there with her.  We spent about an hour together, she told me some stories about the band, her current drummer showed up, she signed the book, snapped a few fotos with me and then we were both on our separate ways.  I can’t thank her enough for that time.  She’s pretty damned cool.

I was slated to turn my car in by 5 as I had a 7PM flight home.  I got notice that my flight was delayed for 2 hours but went ahead and turned it in as I was getting charged an hourly rate.  I couldn’t have asked for a better 2 days of 78 degrees and clear skies to be driving around with the top down, though.

Once at the airport, I just waited it out at Gene and Paul’s “Rock N Brews” for a beer and some tacos that weren’t that good.  I tried catching a few z’s on the plane but couldn’t as I couldn’t get comfortable, even with the whole row to myself.  I finally got to bed around 230 Central time, extremely tired by extremely pleased with the whole fast weekend in LA.  California always sets me right, even with the fakeness and the deplorable traffic.  Something in the air for sure.  BUT…I’m always ready to get back to Texas.

 

 

Abbath, High On Fire, Skeletonwitch & Tribulation Concert Review, March 23, 2016

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Quick and easy review for last night’s show.

I was mainly there to see my buddies Tribulation.  They only had a 30 minute slot and there crowd really hadn’t rolled in yet.  Nevertheless, they played a great set and got a good response.

Skeletonwitch was up next.  I’d seen them a time or two before and just like last night they pretty much put me to sleep.

Bring on Matt Pike and High on Fire.  I’ve seen them a few times as well, the last time being a bit of a mess as he was dealing with some personal issues.  He looked healthy last night and they were enjoyable even though I’m not much of a fan.  Good energy from them and the crowd.

Abbath was in Immortal.  I’ve not listened to either band for more than 3 minutes at any given time as I don’t really care for black metal that much.  That said, I did enjoy it for the spectacle last night.  The band was solid and the show at Emo’s was sold out.  For last night that meant that the front half of the room was filled as Emo’s had the curtain divider in place.

The best part of the night was hanging out with the Tribulation guys after the show was over.  Great dudes and I look forward to seeing them again next month, even though they’re playing with Ghost.  :/

Enjoy the fotos below from Erik Bredthaur and NecroBlanca Photography.

Pentagram & Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 Concert Review, Austin, TX, March 19, 2016

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foto by Jerry Milton

Day 2 of my weekend with Pentagram took place at The Lost Well in East Austin.  This show was held during SxSW and was part of a separate 2-day affair called Heavy Metal Parking Lot.  This is the third installment put on by Johnny Galyon and American Icon Records.  The day’s featured artists were as follows:
PENTAGRAM 1130
Mondo Drag 1030
Venomous Maximus 930
Sweat Lodge 830
The Blood Royale 745
Tower 7
Sabbath Crow 615
Against the Grain 530
Destroyer of Light 445
Banquet 4
Wrong 315
Greenbeard 230

After driving back from Houston in the morning and sleeping half of the day, I got there a little after 5 missing my friends in Destroyer of Light but got to catch Against the Grain whom I missed the night before.  They were killer!  Bass player was a total monster.  It was a good set overall and I look forward to catching them again.  Good friends Sabbath Crow were up next and I caught part of their set before grabbing dinner with Greg from Pentagram and Jeff Lee, who is basically a Pentagram historian and lives in the area.  He’s been involved with the band since 1979 and it’s always great to hear his stories.  Tower from New York were up next and I enjoyed their set quite a bit.   The Blood Royale came next and it was their end of tour show and they blazed through it like madmen. Sweat Lodge was up next and they fall into that category of 70s retro that I just can’t get in to.  Their singer’s got a great voice but I just can’t latch on to them at all.  Good friends Venomous Maximus were up next and as always got a great response for a great set.  Love those dudes.  Mondo Drag’s set was comparable to the night before in Houston, which is to say they were great.  They got a really good response from the crowd, too.

Pentagram came on next to an over capacity crowd that was jam packed into The Lost Well like sardines in mustard sauce.  It was pretty intense.  I’ve never seen it so packed in there.  I stood in the very back of the venue and really could only see the tops of Victor’s and Greg’s heads.  They played the same setlist with the only difference being the encore was played after the last of the main list songs since the band couldn’t leave the stage at all to take a quick break.  So they plowed through the encore with the extended massive jam at the end of 20 Buck Spin.  It was crazy in there.  And it was great.  I’m glad everyone got in and that no one got hurt in that packed crowd.  Bobby’s voice started a little rough at the beginning of the set, but improved greatly by the time they played Forever My Queen.  Once they finished, they quickly exited the stage and went straight to the bus.  I got caught up in a few conversations and didn’t get to see them off as they had to get to DFW to catch some flights home.  They were backlined so didn’t have any real gear to break down and load up besides the merch.  Speaking of which, I didn’t get one of their shirts as they had run out of my size prior to the Houston show.  And again, pick up Curious Volume.  It’s a great album.

I couldn’t have asked for a much better weekend with a great bunch of guys in Pentagram and the folks at The Lost Well, including all of the friends and staff there.  It was a night for the record books for sure.

 

 

 

Pentagram Concert Review, Houston, TX, March 18, 2016

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I like traveling out of Austin for shows and seeing Pentagram in another city was surely going to be fun.  I first met them in 2010 on the street in Austin and became pals with them over the years since.

I got to Houston around 4PM and a little before the band arrived to load in and sound check.  I noticed a line of people at the venue that seemed pretty young, too young to be Pentagram fans in general.  There was a show in the main room at Warehouse Live from some mall metal/mall core/emo core band called blessthefall.

When Pentagram arrived, I helped them load in during a heavy rain storm.  That was fun(?).  Also loading in were Detroit’s Against the Grain and Oakland’s Mondo Drag.  Once everything got set up, the band ran through sound check with a couple of Pentagram songs and KISS’ Cold Gin, all with Victor on vocals.  After the check, I ran Greg and Victor to Guitar Center to get a fog machine.  Let me tell you, the customer service there was total shit.  The guy working there just seemed annoyed that we had questions and that he needed to get the ladder to get what the band needed from the top shelf. Sorry that you had to provide customer service in your customer service job, dude.  We grabbed a quick dinner across the street and then headed back in the venue.

When we got back, they set the machine up in the dressing room to test it out.  Bobby had come in from the bus and was on the couch next to the machine and they blasted him with it twice.  His reaction was pretty funny.  I guess you had to be there.  The band also decided to prank blessthefall as their dressing room was connected by a sealed doorway that had enough of a crack in it to shoot fog into their dressing room.  During blessthefall’s last song, they got their room filled with fog.  Oddly enough, they got pissed off about it as did the promoter and security guy.  What a bunch of pussies.

I missed Against the Grain’s set while  we were buying the fog machine.  However, I did catch most of Mondo Drag’s set and completely loved it.  If I had to classify it, it’s Uriah Heep meets some Yes meets early 70s jazz/fusion.  In general I detest the 70s psychedelic revival as most of the bands sound the same to me, offering nothing different than any others.  But these guys had a little something different.  Maybe just the Heep styled heavy keyboards and cool jazz riffs here and there, but it set them apart from just about all of the other bands I’ve seen that fall in the sub genre.  The crowd seemed into it as well.

Pentagram hit the stage with about 150ish in the crowd.  It seemed pretty lightly attended overall.  I’ve not attended many Houston shows so can’t really gauge what it should have been.  They opened up with Death Row and All Your Sins and much of the crowd was singing along.  Bobby’s voice sounded great, probably better than any other time I’ve heard them.  The band was energetic and extremely tight.  New drummer, Peter Campbell, has the perfect combination of keeping perfect time and having feel in his playing.  They mixed the setlist up with a lot of classics and 5 from the latest album, Curious Volume.  The album is awesome and I highly recommend it.  It’s easily in my top 5 Pentagram albums.  The crowd went crazy during Forever My Queen. For me Broken Vows and When the Screams Come are two of the major highlights and come from my favorite album of theirs, Day of Reckoning.  They played 7 total from Pentagram (aka Relentless).  The encore also had Be Forewarned, which was the favorite song by my old pal, Sergio.  RIP.  It was a great show overall and the Pentagram band and crew are really all great guys.  Thanks for the hospitality as always!

After the show, I went back to the dressing room and hung out for a bit.  Bobby was worn out and about to fall asleep.  He asked me what I thought of the show and I mentioned that I’ve seen 3 classic singers recently who all blew me away.  Those being Liebling, Mogg and Meniketti.  He perked up when heard Mogg mentioned.  Apparently UFO is his favorite band.  Based on the conversation we had, his knowledge of the band has few rivals.  And I’ll say this, for a guy who’s done the drugs and lived like Bobby has, I’m always impressed that he can get on stage and not miss a lyric ever that I’ve seen.  No teleprompter, just incredible memory.  It’s quite impressive.  Greg mentioned that at rehearsals they’ll start playing a random old Pentagram song and Bobby will come right in and sing it perfectly.

After some quick goodbyes, I headed to my hotel.  I was wiped out.

 

 

 

 

UFO Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, March 12, 2016

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I’m not going to lie, I haven’t been a lifelong UFO fan.  In fact, and it’s been mentioned here before, I didn’t become a fan until 1997.  I know of them, knew a few songs here and there mainly from metal bands covering songs of theirs (Fifth Angel anyone?), but it wasn’t until a colleague through work gave me his pristine record collection that I truly became aware of UFO, MSG and Uli era Scorpions.  That’s not very long overall, especially seeing how popular that stuff is here in Texas thanks to former San Antonio DJ Joe Anthony.  None of that was ever on the radio in Virginia although I do have to say that Steve from Skinnies Records in Norfolk always recommended that stuff since I had first met him in 87.  I just didn’t listen.  haha.

That being said, I dig UFO now and am glad to have had the opportunity to see them last night.  This isn’t your father’s UFO as many members have come and gone over the years.  Several friends said they weren’t going because neither Schenker nor Pete Way were in the band.  Fair enough, everyone needs their reasons I guess.  More so than the guitar playing, it was Mogg’s vocals that drew me to them and with him still in the band, I was in.

I got to the north side of San Antonio to Rodney’s place to immediately head downtown to grab dinner and show some friends from Mexico City the Alamo.  Our other friends from Corpus were there as well.  They all went to Dallas the night before to see UFO.  We snapped a few fotos at the Alamo, grabbed a drink on the Riverwalk then headed over to the Alamo Music Hall.  There was only one opener and UFO was scheduled to go on at 9PM.

I grabbed a tour shirt and we stayed out on the patio during the opener.  UFO went on promptly at 9 to a crowd that seemed like 700 or better.  Their taped intro was Alex Harvey’s Faith Healer, a song that I love thanks to Foetus covering it.  I’m pretty sure most folks there didn’t recognize the song.  They opened with We Belong to the Night from 1982’s Mechanix album.  They followed up with a song from 2012’s Seven Deadly album called Fight Night. The band didn’t shy away from newer stuff playing 2 from their latest effort, A Conspiracy of Stars, another from Seven Deadly and one from 1995’s awesome album, Walk on Water.

Highlights for me were Lights Out, Love to Love, Too Hot to Handle (not played that often so far on this tour), Venus and Rock Bottom.  The only lowlight would be the sound in the venue.  I thought with it being pretty filled that it may sound better but that just wasn’t the case.  I like the venue and the staff but the sound in there is just awful.  Roc Box (formerly Kapone’s) has it dialed in pretty well.

I’ve heard people bitch and moan about Vinnie Moore being in the band.  What?  That guy is great and does a great job.  Other non-classic era bassist, Rob De Luca f. of Spread Eagle is also in the band.  He’s been in since 2008.  Rounding out the lineup were Andy Parker, Paul Raymond and the incomparable Phil Mogg.  He’s 67 and his voice sounded great.  I was pleasantly surprised.   The band was tight and played everything at a good moderate pace.  Andy’s drumming was solid and he had no issues rocking the set.

Of course I brought The Book with me.  The band wasn’t set to do a meet and greet so I had to hope for them to come out after.  Unfortunately on Rob de Luca came out.  The plus side to that was that my friend Christie was there and she’s friends with him.  Through that connection, Rob graciously walked me to the band’s green room, offered me a Peroni and introduced me to Paul and Andy who both signed the book.  I caught Vinnie Moore in the hallway and he was super cool.  Phil wasn’t anywhere to be seen and then from another room he popped out with travel bags in both hands.  He looked at me, the book, then back at me and said, “I’ll sign it after I drop this off on the bus.”  I offered to help carry his stuff and he responded, “That’s nice of you but I’ve got it.  And you know, I better sign this now because I likely won’t come back off of the bus.”  I thanked him for his time and for his music.  He made a funny crack about the picture of him and thanked me again for offering to carry his stuff.  I think that may have been the only thing he signed after the show.  SCORE!  I owe Christie big time for that hookup.

After the show, we hit IHOP then back to Rodney’s and listened to records until the wee hours of the morning.  After 2 hours of sleep I got up and drove home.  What a great night!

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

March 13, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Uli Roth, Jennifer Batten & Andy Timmons Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, March 5, 2016

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Uli!  Still one of the best alive.  I had bought the meet and greet pass a few weeks ago mainly to get Jennifer Batten in The Book.  I’ve met Uli in the past and had him sign it in 2004.  Great guy.  I got lucky that Batten was out on the patio for a few minutes prior to the show and graciously signed the book.  “What’s this?”  I explained it a bit and showed her the band that she was in.  “Whoa.  That was a short-lived time in that band.”  After that I was able to put the book back in my car and not have to lug it around for the night.  Sweet!  I gave my pass to a buddy.

Prior to Andy Timmons’ set, David Klosinki from Uli’s band got up and played one song, likely from his solo album.  It was a shredder.  That guy is a pure bad ass.

Andy got on stage and played over backing tracks.  It was my first time seeing him and he’s pretty good although not anyone I’d really like to see again.

Jennifer came on playing to backing tracks as well with choreographed  video.  In case you didn’t know, she toured with Michael Jackson for years and did a few years with Jeff Beck.  Her set was enjoyable.  She’s obviously a good player.  She did one song called Cat Fight and prior to playing it pretty much stated that she was a crazy cat lady.  haha.

Uli hits the stage with a bigger band than last time as he’s added a third guitarist.  Unnecessary in my opinion, but whatever.  They opened up with Scorpions’ All Night Long and Sails of Charon.  The set consisted mostly of classic Scorpions and 2 from his solo work.  We left as the encore was starting.  It was all Hendrix stuff and apparently they did an instrumental version of Gary Moore’s Still Got the Blues.  For a set that only consisted of 12 songs, it ran almost 2 hours.

His band was fantastic and John West’s vocals were outstanding.  The third guitarist provided some great backing vocals and sang lead on Fly to the Rainbow.

The sound sucked for Uli, though.  Korova doesn’t have great sound to start with but Uli’s personal sound guy didn’t help things.  Everything was far too loud for that room.  The only time it sounded good was when I went close to the front.

The only other issue was with ticketing.  Why offer digital tickets if they’re not accepted at the door?  Even when the door guy has the list of everyone who bought a ticket.  I was directed to go across the street to the hotel and print it out.  It caused a lot of problems.  I’ll know better for that venue.

Anyway, I bought an Uli Earthquake shirt and the Scorpions Revisited CD and they gave me an Uli Roth record bag.  Anyone want it?  The actual Uli tour shirt looked horrible although it had tour dates on it.

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

March 6, 2016 at 4:58 pm