The Metal Files

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Alice Cooper Concert Review, Austin, TX, August 21, 2016

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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!

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

August 22, 2016 at 11:02 am

Holy Grail, Exmortus & Spellcaster Concert Review, Austin, TX, August 3, 2016

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The Fellowship of the Strings Tour rolled in to Grizzly Hall yesterday featuring bands full of really good guitar players.  Having seen all 3 bands before, there were no real surprises here.

Spellcaster hit the stage promptly at 815PM.  Yes, you read that right.  An early show on a weeknight.  What a novel concept!  There was no local opener and set times didn’t get announced until about an hour before the show.  Had this show been downtown, it likely would have been a 10PM start time.  For us day job folks, these early shows are great.  Spellcaster’s slot was only 30 minutes and they blew through their set with ease.  The crowd was at about 60 people by my rough count during their set.  They sounded great.  I can’t recommend their latest album, Night Hides the World, enough.

Immediately after the set I hustled next door to grab a couple of al pastor tacos from Taco More.  Delicious I tell ya!  There was only 15 minutes between sets as all 3 bands were sharing the backline.  Exmortus was already on by the time I got back and I enjoyed their set a little more than I did last time.  The growing crowd was really into it and I think they may have had about 80 people.

Holy Grail rolls through Austin on the regular and the crowd had thinned out a little, but was still very much into the show.  To be honest, this may have been the best of the 4 shows I have seen by them.  James Luna’s voice was pretty much flawless.  They finished around 1115ish and all three bands just hung around and drank with the remainder of the crowd.

I bought a Spellcaster shirt, said a few goodbyes to them and some other friends and went home.  It was a fun early night.

 

Helstar and Omen Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 30, 2016

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I love Metal Blade Records for being one of the first metal labels that were accessible in the mainstream record store market as a kid.  About 90% of their first 80 or so titles were winners.  One of those bands that stood above the fray was Omen.  My first listen came when Danile bought Battle Cry.  From there I was hooked.  Before owning any physical copies of their stuff, we traded dubs of their first 2.  Kelz had a dubbed cassette of those first two that was passed around between our circle of friends.  Would love to see the j-card of that again.  Such great memories.  Those first three albums are essential to any fan of traditional metal.  JD Kimball’s (RIP) vocals are the best.  After he left and their followup albums came out, I admit to losing interest.  I did buy their latest one, Hammer Damage, last week and I like it a lot.  It’s certainly got that old school Omen vibe to it.  They never came through Virginia back in those days and I had missed festival appearances in the last decade so last night I was able to scratch off another band from the list.  To be honest I had a little trouble sleeping the night before like a kid on Christmas Eve.

Come show day, I gathered up my CD covers, marked the spot in The Book, took a nap, showered up and headed to the show.  Doors were at 7PM and the first of the 6 bands was going on at 730.  I grabbed some tacos at the place next door then went in and caught the openers, Metalriser, from San Antonio.  I’ve seen them a few times in San Antonio and I like them a lot.  Very Sepultura-ish with slightly cleaner vocals.  It was a solid 30 minute set.

Locals Force of Rage came on next.  Pass.  Not a fan.  By their second or third song, my date had shown up and she hadn’t had dinner yet, so back to the taco place!  We had missed all of the next band, Death of a Dream.  After listening to their stuff earlier in the day, I was ok with missing their set.  We returned right as Black Thorn Halo came on.  She looked at me when their second song started and said, “Outside?”  Haha.  YES!  I’m not a fan of that band at all, 0%,  although I think their guitarist is excellent.  He also plays in a local Dio tribute.  Fantastic guitarist in general.

As we were outside waiting for them to finish, I let her know about my rabid fandom of Omen and she was understanding.  We went in as Omen was setting up and went right to the front of the stage.  I was utterly surprised how under-attended the show was, especially since Omen rarely plays Texas even though Kenny lives in Dallas and because it was Helstar’s album release party and they generally do well in Austin because of how infrequently they play here.  My guess is that there were maybe 100 total from beginning to end, but the crowd had thinned out by the time Omen came on.  But we were there, at the front of stage when they opened with Death Rider and Dragon’s Breath.  This is right at the beginning of their tour with Helstar and even though things were a little rough, they were still fantastic.  I was just so excited to see them, singing along with everything.  They played the title track from their new album, Hammer Damage, and singer Kevin Goocher forewarned us that it was only their second time playing it live and that it would be a little rough…and it was, but that was ok.  To be honest, it’s my least favorite song on the new album, but it’s not a bad one by any means.  They played 8 songs total and were scheduled to close with Teeth of the Hydra (!!!) but the other bands ran long, so Omen had to pay the price and get cut by one song.  Add to the fact that Helstar had a hard start time.  It’s my favorite song of theirs.  Bummer.  I met up with their singer right after the cleared the stage to sign my CD and he mentioned that Steve Wittig had left already as he had to catch a flight.  So none of my stuff got signed by him, but no biggie, I’ll see them again in California is October for Frost and Fire II and again April 2017 for Spring Bash.  Funny, waited 32 years to see them and now I’ll have seen then 3 times within 8 months or so.

Helstar came on and pretty much just destroyed the place.  They were promoting their new album, Vampiro.  It may have been the best I had ever seen them play.  Currently lineup features on Larry Barrigan as the other remaining original member and he’s a fantastic player.  The remnants of crowd (pun intended) that were left there piled into the floor and were very vocal and animated during the set.  James’ voice was as precise as I have ever heard it.  It was a fun set and the new songs sounded great.  My date enjoyed both bands as well, having never heard them before.

She was patient with me as I spent a few minutes with Kenny Powell to get some CDs and The Book signed.  “I love signing stuff, I appreciate anyone who appreciates us.”  I mentioned how much I liked the new album and he mentioned how much trouble they had in writing and recording it.  I said that it sounded like Omen.  “Perfect,” he said.  “That’s what I needed to hear.  I wanted it to sound like classic Omen.”  Mission accomplished.  He signed the CDs and paused to see the Best of Metal Massacre.  “What’s this?  Never seen this before.  Another comp that I never knew about!”  He signed the book and his wife was enthralled by it, taking a picture of the cover to get one of her own.

It was a great night overall seeing old friends, making new friends and seeing one of my favorite all time bands.

 

 

Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 20, 2016

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Night two of DnC’s stand in Austin.  The band went on a little later this time, around 945PM and played until 1215AM.  My friend Molly came, which was quite a pleasant surprise.

What another great night.  DnC mixed up the setlist as they’re apt to do every night and played some more deep cuts.  As an added surprise Cheetah Chrome from The Dead Boys joined the band on stage to sing and play guitar on Sonic Reducer and just guitar Out in the Middle of Nowhere.  That was pretty cool.

It was a bit of a smaller crowd and I saw some of the same folks there from the night before.  It felt hotter in there as well.  Sweatin’ it out!  It felt good, though.  Rock and roll feels good.

Written by The Metal Files

July 21, 2016 at 9:16 am

Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 19, 2016

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Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ (DnC) are in town on a 2 day stint and that makes me happy.  A band I was in back in the early-to-mid 90s played a handful of their songs and they became a band that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I didn’t get to see them back in those days and the first time seeing them being only 2 years ago during SxSW.

I was surprised to see that they got booked at The Sahara Lounge in Austin’s far east side.  This is a true dive bar in an area that’s starting to gentrify.  I had only driven by the location before last night.  Nothing was clear online as to when the band would start so I showed up at 8PM and parked.  There were only 2 other cars there and I thought to myself that this was going to be a poorly attended show.

The band rolled in a few minutes after I did and I offered to help them load in along with another guy who had arrived early.  This bar is tiny but has a lot of character and a friendly staff.

DnC took the stage at 930 and played for 2.5 hours straight.  Wow.  It was hot in there, too.  The little wall unit ACs just barely took the edge off of the heat, but I was fine with sweating it out with the band.  The band now features Warner Hodges of Jason and the Scorchers fame and is a top notch guitar player.  The rest of the band, including main man Kevin Kinney, sounded great.  DnC has a lot of material and I’m mostly familiar with some of the earlier stuff, but it all sounds like DnC.  Kevin is a great riff writer and lyricist.

All said and done, I think there may have been 50-60 people there, maybe a little more.  It was a very welcoming crowd as well.  They played everything I would’ve wanted to hear except for Smoke.  It was one of my favorites to cover and I love the riff in that one.  After the show I asked Kevin if we’d hear it at Wednesday’s show.  “We’d have to relearn it, mainly me.  I haven’t played that one in a long time.”  Bummer.  That being said, I’ll be at the Wednesday show as well.

 

Written by The Metal Files

July 20, 2016 at 12:10 pm