The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

NYDM Spring Bash 2017, Cudahy, WI, April 20-22, 2017

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Just under a year ago I offered my managerial services to underground Texas metal legends Militia.  Had I ever managed someone else’s band before?  No, only a few of my own in past years.  As a biased fan, Militia should have been much bigger in the 80s, even with the hotbed of great metal acts from Central Texas.  At minimum should have made to a Metal Massacre compilation or even signed to Metal Blade, New Renaissance or any of the other smallish labels of the era, but it never happened.  They played with some of the best when touring bands would come through.  They resurrected in 2008, released a new CD and started doing some shows again.  I’ve been good friends with their singer, Mike Soliz, since I moved to Austin and became friends with the rest of them in the years since.  After I offered my help to at least get them some shows and get them paid, they all agreed.  We had the initial group meeting at my house and after the meeting I made some suggestions to the band about member changes.  I wasn’t sure how they’d accept that, but they did and I made the move to add drummer Chip Alexander to the fold.  I knew he’d be a perfect fit.  He was already playing with Art Villarreal (SA Slayer, Karion, etc) and I suggested bringing him in as well.  Art was interested and we got together again to meet as a group.  Art was actually in Militia briefly in the mid-80s so they had some history.  The new Militia was born and they did their first show in Houston on Oct 8, 2016.  I didn’t book that one as it was already in the works when I came on board, but I did stave off some silliness for them about some merch stuff that the promoter wanted to print on his own.   I went ahead and had some new shirts made.

About that time, two US metal festivals were interested in having Militia on the bill:  Ragnarokkr in Chicago and NYDM Spring Bash in Cudahy (Milwaukee).  While Ragnarokkr was a bigger more well-known fest, their offer to have us play was a drop in the bucket for the expenses the band would have to incur to get there.  I was given a “take it or leave it” ultimatum from their prick organizer.  And no worries, I’ve called him that to his face.  He knows what he is.  haha.  On the other end, the organizer for Spring Bash, Randy, made an offer and I negotiated and ultimately accepted.  He’s a big Militia fan and wanted them there.  He also gave them a prime Saturday night slot.  And as it turned out, Ragnarokkr folded completely as that choad just shut it down after booking a bunch of bands.  The Chicago venue Reggie’s helped one of the co-organizers (the good one) keep the fest going under a different name, Legions of Metal.

Sooooo…Militia is going to Milwaukee!  On that Thursday after an ID snafu and some flight delays, Mike, Tony, Art and his girlfriend and I were on a plane from San Antonio to Milwaukee. Rob, his wife and Chip were coming up Friday.  We arrived later than originally planned and only caught the last half of the Thursday headliner, Satan’s Host.  Harry Conklin sounded stellar as usual.  A lot of the usual subjects from festivals past were there and it was great catching up.  Loudness was supposed to headline but again, they had visa issues and got turned back at the airport like has happened to them a few times in recent years.

Friday morning Rodney, my friend Sara from Mexico and I headed up to Madison to do some record shopping and sightseeing before the show.  Didn’t really find much but we had a good time.  I also fell walking out of one of the record stores and busted my knee pretty well but didn’t damage the records I was holding.  I have priorities!  Comical.  After we got back, I really wanted a nap, but also wanted to stop into another record store near the hotel so I took an Uber ride over to Rush Mor Records which has been open for 30+ years.  Saturday was Record Store Day and I didn’t want to be a part of that madness.  I’m glad I went.  They had apparently just acquired a metal collection from some and it had a ton of Iron Maiden goodies in it that I had been looking for.  They also just had a ton of good stuff in general and $480 later I was waiting for a ride back to the hotel with a box full of records.  They were a bit overpriced, to be honest, by about 15%.  I buy a lot of records from a lot of stores and generally when making a huge buy like that, the store will offer some sort of discount.  While I never expect one, it’s always nice to get, especially when making a large purchase.  Oh well, I bought them anyway and will recoup some money by flipping a few pieces.  I will say that their customer service was top notch.  They were asking for bands that I was shopping for and would go down in their basement and dig stuff out for me.  The owner was there as well and he was a nice guy.  He heard me mention that I was looking for the first 2 UFO albums and said, “Don’t really see those these days.”  He went down to the basement to look for something and came back up and handed me UFO 1.  “I forgot I had it.  There’s one skip at the end of side 2, no biggie.”  I asked his price and it was fair for the condition and that was that.  Pretty cool.  The rest of the gang went to Chicago to sightsee.

Upon returning back to the hotel for a quick shower, I headed over to the venue.  Unfortunately I missed my pals in Kantation and got in right as FaithXtractor was starting.  They were pretty solid death metal and the drummer sang, which was cool.  Not my thing, but cool.  Mexico’s Voltax was up next and I had seen them previously in Chicago.  Great dudes and fun speed metal.  Their set was sharp and the crowd loved it.  Chip had arrived and we went up the block to grab some Mexican food and missed Thrust’s set.  I had just seen them a few months ago in Ventura.  The girl working at the restaurant is my future ex wife.  haha.  Up next was Midnight who had just finished a month long tour with Obituary and Kreator.  My pal Rodney toured with them and handled their merch.  The guys in Midnight are super cool and put on a great show.  The room was pretty packed while they played.  Closing the night out was Omen.  Their first three albums are pure gold for me.  I liked the new one quite a bit, too.  Kevin Goocher does a great job channeling JD’s vocals in a live setting and he sounds great on the songs he recorded with the band on the latest.  Add to it that he’s a helluva nice guy, too.  This was the third time I had seen them in the last 8 months or so.  Steve Wittig originally retired and they brought on a guy Kevin used to play with.  He nailed everything and added a nice new level of backing vocals as well.  They had a new bass player, too, who did a fine job.  Unfortunately, about mid-set my stomach started tweaking on me and I knew I needed to exit the building ASAP.  I learned later that night that they had added Hell’s Gate to the set.  FUCK!  Oh well, next time hopefully.  I got some much needed sleep.

Saturday was Record Store Day and Chip and I decided to just walk around Milwaukee a bit.  He’s been there several times so knew his way around a bit.  My main goal was to get a picture with the Bronze Fonz.  Mission accomplished!  We walked through town and up into the Marquette campus and stopped for some chili, which up there is normal to put it over spaghetti.  Cold weather comfort food.  It was pretty good.  It was nearing about 2PM and the Record Store Day crowd should have lifted a bit, so we went and hit up 3 more stores.  Didn’t find much in the first one, but Bulls Eye was a bit of a treasure trove.  It’s a small store and still had quite a few people in there.  Their prices were really good and I bought another big stack.  We hit one more place a few blocks away and I bought the Def Leppard EP re-release to flip and a Billy Cobham record that I had been looking for. From there it was back to the room.  I grabbed a quick nap, got the Militia merch together and headed over to the venue to get my table set up.  I got everything laid out pretty early an right before my pals in Vatican were about to play.  Always great seeing Vince, he’s a riot.  They played a fine set.  Doom band Stone Magnum was up next and features the guitarist from Skullview.  I hadn’t listened to them prior to the show and they were pretty good.  It was good seeing Dino as well.  Merch was selling pretty quickly.  We had 2 different CDs and 2 different shirts and the CDs sold out early and sold quite a few shirts as well.  There was a lot of buzz about Militia playing.  About the time that Anialator was about to go on, the guys from Attacker showed up and we were to share the merch table.  They had a shirt for the new album and tour and a box full of CDs spanning their career.  I’ve known Sabatini, Brian and Mike B for a few years now and it was great to hang out with them again before their show.  Sabatini asked if I’d handle their merch until the end of their set and I gladly obliged.  Militia was up next and because of Evil Invaders also having visa issues and dropping off the bill, the set times moved up about 10-15 minutes.  The club was only about 1/3 filled at the stage area when they started as folks were expecting the normal start time…they they came in quickly and filled up the floor area.  The band sounded great and this was my first time seeing my boys live outside of the rehearsal room.  They were on and it was easily the best time I had seen them since 2008.  The crowd was going nuts for them, too.  No one knew what to expect really.  They played KIT in 2009 and this was only their 2nd show outside of Texas in their career.  Friends who had never really checked them out kept coming back to the merch table in awe of what they were witnessing.  Mike’s a great frontman, too.  They band was just awesome, and I say this with as little bias as possible.  Randy, the fest organizer, stood at the table with me for much of their set and he absolutely loved it.  They got pretty swarmed by fans after the set and that was great to see.  Up next was Attacker who are promoting their Sins of the World album.  They’re seasoned pros and the know how to put on a show.  Bobby knows how to work the crowd and they sounded great.  I enjoyed “working” for them as well.  Their new stuff sounds great live.  Closing the show out was the legendary Tyrant, a band I’ve wanted to see since the 80s.  I love their first two albums.  They hit the stage and opened with Warriors of Metal and, well, ummm…I don’t know, man.  I couldn’t get into them at all, even with them playing my favorite songs.  Guitar tone was practically “unlistenable” and I just couldn’t get into their groove at all.  I am seeing them again later this year and hopefully will enjoy them more.  It wasn’t even the lack of high notes that Mr. May can’t do anymore.  I get that and I’m not slighting him in the least as he sang just fine.  That shit is hard and not many people can hit the notes they were hitting 30 years ago.  Halfway through their set I packed up the remaining merch, bought a few shirts from some of the vendors, said my goodbyes to friends and went back to the hotel.  My back was about dead.  Upon returning to the room and getting in bed, I started getting massive back spasms.  Totally sucked.  I didn’t really sleep at all that night.

Sunday morning, everyone was pretty wiped out but I needed to herd the cats and get everyone to the airport by 10.  Not as easy of a task as you’d think, but we made it.  We had an almost 3 hour layover in KC then back to San Antonio we went.  The drive back to Austin with Tony and Mike was hard as we were all so tired.

But we had a great time and the band was very happy with everything about the trip in general.  I was as well and really appreciate Randy Kastner for putting on this fine festival.  Good work, man!


Written by The Metal Files

April 26, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. […] a bite to eat before meeting up with Sara.  You might remember her from such concert reviews as Spring Bash 2017.  We went to a nice quaint restaurant nearby called Las Chalupitas.    I wasn’t super […]

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