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Frost and Fire II Concert Review, Ventura, CA, October 7, 8 & 9, 2016

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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.

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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.  img_4907

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 flowingimg_4908in 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.