The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Posts Tagged ‘night demon

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

leave a comment »

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.

img_4906

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.

Night Demon & Visigoth Concert Review, Austin, TX, April 12, 2016

leave a comment »

Round 2 of the Night Demon and Visigoth tour takes us to Austin’s Beerland.  At the request of Beerland’s booking manager, I was asked to find some opening acts for this show.  That proved to be a little more difficult than I had anticipated but my friends in Think Lizzy, a local Thin Lizzy tribute, stepped up and were the only local presence for the show.  Both Night Demon and Visigoth are huge Lizzy fans and were excited to have the tribute as an opener.

Think Lizzy hit the stage and played their good mix of Lizzy classics.  The band is really good and the singer is from Dublin and does a great job vocally and on bass.  Armand John Lizzy from Night Demon plays in a Lizzy tribute back in Ventura and got up and played Emerald with the band.  It was pretty sweet.  Somewhere mid-set, Steve asked me to join them for Motorhead’s Ace of Spades.  He asked me if I’d do it a few days before the show and I said it’s not Thin Lizzy but apparently they’ve had it in their set for a while.  Since I occasionally do a Motorhead tribute in Austin, he wanted me up there so it happened.  I strapped on his Ibanez bass on and we went into a pretty loose but good version.  The crowd seemed to like it.

Visigoth was up next and everyone was looking a lot healthier.  The energy in their show was a lot better than the San Antonio show from the night before.  I think it helped that they had a good opening act and that there was a better crowd.  The played the same set as the night before with Demon’s The Spell added in.  For the folks there who weren’t familiar with Visigoth I think they gained some new fans.

Night Demon’s set was also the same from the night before and like Visigoth, the energy was up.  The crowd was into it and the majority of the folks in the venue stayed near the front and rocked out.  Night Demon has gained a many fans in Austin since they first came here with Raven.  The band was so solid and as I’ve stated before, the addition of Armand adds a new vibe to the band’s live show.

There were a lot more folks in attendance and I think both bands have a lot of new fans.

By the end of the show I was pretty wiped out.  This was my third show in a row this week and I flying out at 6AM to Denver to see Iron Maiden.  I decided to just stay up the whole night with the bands back at my house before heading to the airport.

It was great having both bands stay with me and I’m glad I was able to help them out.  They’re always welcome.  Also, they stayed at my place until Thursday while I was away and took great care of the house and my cat, Taco. In the group show below, right as Andrew was taking the picture, Taco had jumped into a paper bag.  It was a perfect candid moment where instead of trying to be super tough metalheads, we were just cracking up over my silly cat.

 

Written by The Metal Files

April 15, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Night Demon & Visigoth Concert Review,San Antonio, TX, April 11, 2016

leave a comment »

This is a busy week for shows and I’m a little further behind in my reviews, so trying to catch them all up today.

Night Demon and Visigoth have teamed up for a North American tour and booked some Texas dates.  Per usual when Night Demon is in town, I put them up at my place and Visigoth got shared space as well.  I didn’t originally plan on hitting the San Antonio show but last minute decided to drive down to Korova for the show.  On the way there I was notified that it would be an early show since the venue neglected to find an opening band.  Typically in San Antonio, these shows would have a handful of openers.

Rodney, Leanne and I enjoyed a great dinner at The Palm before heading over to Korova.  When we walked in, the place was practically dead.  The show was in the basement and I don’t think more than 25 total people were there. Didn’t help that it was a Monday night, but still, that’s pretty week.  At least if there were some local openers, it would have likely provided some additional promotion.

The singer and bassist for Visigoth have been pretty sick with some sort of flu-ish type bug but once hitting the stage, Jake put on a powerful vocal performance to the tiny crowd.  This was only the second date with the touring lineup as the main drummer and lead players for Visigoth were unable to make the tour.  While not perfect, they put on a great show all things considered and the few of us that were there were into it.  The sound in the basement was pretty awful, too, but they made do.  Of their short set, Iron Brotherhood is my favorite.

Night Demon came on and played like there was a packed crowd.  They’re already touring veterans and didn’t let up just because no one was there.  They opened with Ritual and their version of Riot’s Road Racin’.  Want to make friends in San Antonio?  Play a Riot song.  The band was tight and played all of their 2015 release Curse of the Damned and 4 tracks from their debut EP.  Solid set.

After the show I needed to get back home and try to get some sleep as I was going to do this all over again at the Austin show.

 

Written by The Metal Files

April 15, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Bryan Adams Concert Review, Cedar Park, TX, April 10, 2016

leave a comment »

I’ve got Night Demon and Visigoth staying with me for a few days while they’re between shows on their current North American tour.  Night Demon stay with me regularly and even have a key to my house.  Solid dudes.  Their singer and I took the decision yesterday afternoon that we were going to go see Bryan Adams.  I was already planning on going and he was down for it.

The show was at the new-ish Cedar Park Center northwest of Austin and this was my second time seeing Bryan since 2012.  It was scheduled to start at 8PM with no opening act.  I had noticed that there were plenty of seats left when buying our tickets and we opted for the loge area at the back of this small arena.  Easy seating and close to the bar. Bryan took the stage at 815PM and I imagine that they were holding out for some additional people to get in to fill the place up a bit.  There were some sections that were cordoned off in the back as well.  No matter, on with the show.

He opened up with Do What Ya Gotta Do from his latest effort, Get Up.  It was followed up with Can’t Stop This Thing We Started from 1991’s Waking Up the Neighbours. He didn’t waste time getting to any of his hits with Run to You, Heaven and It’s Only Love and Kids Wanna Rock coming right after in the next handful of songs.

He played everything you would have expected to hear including 5 from his new album.  His band was great and the lead guitarist and drummer have been with him for 30+ years.  Their sound was phenomenal.  The mix in the venue was perfect and the guitar tones were great.  Four vintage Marshall half stacks on the back line.

Right before the encore, my friend and security manager for the venue sent a message and moved us up to the section beside the stage.  Sweet upgrade to catch a closer view of the band.  Thanks, Steve (aka Dave, Mike, Tom, John etc)!

Overall the show was fantastic.  If I had one disappointment, it would be that he didn’t play One Night Love Affair, which is my favorite song of his.  He didn’t play it at the 2012 show either.  Oh well.

 

Written by The Metal Files

April 11, 2016 at 8:45 am

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

leave a comment »

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.

 

 

Holy Grail & Night Demon Concert Review, Austin, TX, December 7, 2015

leave a comment »

My good friends in Night Demon rolled back into Austin this week as direct support for LA’s Holy Grail.  With it being a Monday night I was a little concerned as to how well attended this show would be, but it did better than I expected.

The ND guys got to my house around 4:30PM after a long drive from Albuquerque and promptly unloaded their bags and started taking showers and just relaxing a bit before we head to the show for load in.  This is the 3rd time they’ve stayed here and they now have their own key to my house.  Great guys.

The show had 4 openers going on before ND.  Fortunately I liked two of them already, Blood for Master and Widower.  Both bands put on solid sets as usual.  Blood for Master played some new stuff from their latest disc.  Widower pretty much destroyed everything in their path.  Love seeing both bands.  I went elsewhere during the other 2 bands.  A few seconds into each of their sets and I knew I didn’t need to be there.

Night Demon comes on shortly after 10PM with their Conan the Barbarian intro and bust right into Screams in the Night and Full Speed Ahead.  The crowd of about 75 or so was very into it.  They played 7 more songs closing with Night Demon.  Great set as always and it seems like they picked up some new fans.

After about a 20 minute break, Holy Grail comes on and while the crowd thinned out a little, the faithful remained and stayed right up front.  They were really solid and I like their guitarists a lot.  The only thing I don’t lik.e it the occasional death metal growls.  They don’t need it but I guess it’s what the kids want these days.  They also played a decent cover of King Diamond’s No Presents for Christmas.  Solid set.

After load out and coming back to my house, I made tacos…again.  Night Demon loves my tacos.  haha

 

Frost and Fire Metal Fest Concert Review, Ventura, CA, October 17, 2015

with one comment

IMG_1189use

This past weekend I attended the Frost and Fire Metal Fest in Ventura, CA.  This fest could also have been called the “I can’t believe I’m hanging out with Cirith Ungol Fest.”

When this festival was announced several months ago, just based on the lineup and who put it on, I wanted to be there.  Jarvis Leatherby of Night Demon is the organizer and is a good friend of mine.  Night Demon stays with me every time they play Austin and I love those guys.  Shortly after the show announcement, it was updated to say that Tim Baker and Robert Garven would be at the fest to sign autographs.  Even more of a reason to go.  As the fest drew nearer, Mike Flint and Greg Lindstrom were also added to the meet and greet.  WHOA.  That’s a big deal, especially in the traditional metal realm.  So I bought my ticket and booked my flight promptly.

I got to LAX around 5PM and got my rental car pretty quickly.  There were major traffic snarls north of LA (shocker, right?), so I decided to kill some time in Hollywood at The Rainbow, which makes some of my favorite pizza ever.  I’m there pre-rockstar hour but just wanted to relax a little before heading to Ventura.  Chrissy comes on for her shift and recognized me from past visits.  “The Texas guy” she calls me.  My drinks and pizza got comped because of whatever, so score!  I get my car from the valet and make my way up to Ventura.  Traffic was still a little heavy but not too bad.

I get to the hotel, drop my bag and walk over to an Irish pub where my friend Rodney is hanging out with some of his friends from Mexico and Spain, one of which I knew already from Ragnarokkr 2014.  We’re all hanging out, drinking beers and such and are joined by a British guy named Tom Draper who played guitar for Angel Witch from 2013-2015.  Great guy.  After that we walked to the beach for a late night stroll.  It was a perfect night out there.  Great meeting Ieltxu from Spain, Xole and Sarai from Mexico and seeing my good pal, Mauricio from Mexico.

Rodney and I were sharing a room at the hotel.  It had some issues.  No shower curtain, water wouldn’t shut off in the tub spigot, toilet took about 4 tried for anything to go down.  We let the plumber take care of the shower issues and he said the pipes were all slow, so no help on the toilet.  Way to save water, California!  We headed out to Salzer’s Record store on the other side of Ventura.  I was carrying a slight headache and the incense in that shop were killing me so I hung outside on the bench in the cool air and just relaxed with a sugar free Red Bull.  The weather was perfect. After the record store we meet up with some of Rodney’s friends from Belgium and walk back into town to eat at a BBQ place.  It was alright.  Definitely not Texas style. but it hit the spot.  I was pretty tired from traveling still and went back to the hotel to catch a quick nap.  Doors were at 4PM with the first band, Wolfcross, on at 5PM and I didn’t want to miss any of the action.

After a 25 minute or so nap, I throw on my clothes, grab The Book, and walk the 3 blocks to the venue, Bombay Bar and Grill.  Upon walking in, I’m given my will-call ticket, a raffle ticket, 2 compilation CDs and march myself to the outdoor vending area to find Andrew Bansal from Metal Assault working the merch for Night Demon and official Frost and Fire shirts.  Andrew is an awesome guy and works with Night Demon when they’re on the road.  The kid loves metal and works hard at it.

Most of the bands had some merch out and it was great seeing some of the folks that I knew already.  I was especially pleased to meet the Davis brothers from Ashbury.  Great guys.

And then like clockwork, Wolfcross comes on promptly at 5PM.  Here’s the breakdown and my opinions of each band in order of performance and some backstory that I have with a few of them.  Bands alternated stages and no two bands played simultaneously.

  • Wolfcross – Quality traditional metal power trio.  I enjoyed their set although there seemed to be some sound issues.  Not their fault.  Hope to catch them again sometime.  Cool cover of Roky Erickson’s Two Headed Dog, too.
  • Helion Prime – Probably my least favorite band of the festival.  They played a solid set but their riffs and vocal melodies just didn’t catch my ear.  Maybe a little too much on the prog side for my tastes.  They got a good response from the crowd that ventured to the back room to catch their set.
  • Blade Killer – One of the best surprises of the fest for me.  Their set was powerful and their singer can wail with the best of ’em.  They’ve got the riffs and both guitarists can play quality solos.  I really hope they can do a tour or end up at some of the other US fests.  I wanted a shirt as well but they didn’t have my size, but I did buy their CD EP.  Certainly looking forward to hearing more from them and to seeing them live again.
  • Gygax – I was really looking for to catching this band, primarily because I’ve known their guitarist, Armand, for several years.  His old band, New Liberty, played Austin a few times during SxSW in years past and I became friends with him and Dustin (Night Demon drummer) through that.  Gygax also features the vocalist/bassist from Gyspyhawk who I had seen a time or 2 in Austin.  Essentially, Gygax is Thin Lizzy worship with Dungeons and Dragons lyrics.  Their set was killer and they have a full length coming out soon.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a shirt although Armand told me they brought a few to sell that went pretty quickly.
  • Steel Prophet – Neil Turbin (Anthrax, Turbin, et als) had signed on with Steel Prophet just recently.  The guitarist I played with for several years in Austin, Doug Morrison (from Ventura), was in the band Turbin with Neil when he first moved to LA after his exit from Anthrax.  I had never seen Steel Prophet before and although I had owned a couple of their CDs over the years, I was more familiar with them for their work on several cover albums over the years.  Steven Kachinsky Blackmoor was the only original member left in the band.  He signed the book prior to the first band going on.  Nice guy.  Their set was solid and Neil sounded good but apparently they didn’t get many rehearsals prior to the show as Neil had to use a lyric sheet for the set.  No surprise and it didn’t detract from their performance.  The only negative of their set for me was their cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, a song I don’t like at all.  Beyond that it was a good set.  I caught up with Neil afterwards and had him sign The Book and my Fistful of Metal CD cover.  Their crowd size suffered a bit because the Cirith Ungol meet and greet was happening at the same time.
  • BAT – I’d seen BAT before and knew what to expect.  It was a solid set of power thrash that features Ryan Waste from Municipal Waste, Felix Griffin from DRI on drums and Nick Poulos on guitar.  He’s a shredder.  I loved their set and it was good to hang out with Ryan and Felix before and after the show.  I heard a few people complain that BAT “didn’t fit” the show, but I think otherwise.  They had a great response.
  • Savage Master – I first caught Savage Master earlier this year in Chicago at Ragnarokkr 2015.  I think their Frost and Fire performance was a lot better.  I didn’t think that Stacey Savage was comfortable in Chicago but she certainly seemed that way in Ventura.  Their set was really good and it was great seeing the crowd sing along to some of their songs.  Hopefully I’ll catch them again this week in Austin.
  • Visigoth – I first became aware of them when my now ex-band, Eternal Champion, played with them at Ragnarokker 2014 in Chicago.  Singer Jake Rogers was sick that night but still put on a hell of a performance.  Visigoth has exploded since then getting signed by Metal Blade and doing some touring and getting scheduled for some of the Euro fests in 2016.  That’s awesome for them because they are great guys who have worked very hard.  Jake is an incredible front man and one of the best out there right now.  Most of the crowd was singing along to every song and Jake’s in your face style of stage prowling works perfectly for him.  Their set was filled with 4 songs from their album The Revenant King and three others.  Just totally badass metal.  I think they won over a few folks weren’t too familiar with them as well.
  • Ashbury – They is not a metal band but seemingly fit perfectly in this fest.  Singer/acoustic guitarist, Rob Davis, and I connected recently on Facebook and it was great to meet and talk to him and his brother before and after the show.  The front room packed out when they started their set and everyone there loved them.  Everyone was singing along and it was just an incredible set.  They played the entire Endless Skies album and closed with Tull’s Cross-Eyed Mary.  I can’t recommend the album or seeing them live enough.  They’re playing Ragnarokkr 2016.  Just absolutely incredible.  I bought one of their shirts prior to the show and had both of the brothers sign my CD.  Great guys.
  • Night Demon – This band puts 100% effort into every show they play.  They’re fronted by Jarvis Leatherby who is organizer of the fest.  They hit the stage and just went balls out as they always do.  The band is so incredibly tight and should be for all of the touring that they do.  Brent and Dustin rule.  New tour with Holy Grail starts soon!  Night Demon rocked it as always.  They’re one of those bands that I don’t get tired of seeing.  Saturday made my fifth time since April of last year!
  • Manilla Road – This is the tough one for me.  Manilla Road is a band that I should love but have never really gotten into.  I’ve owned Crystal Logic and Mystification but they never latched on like I feel they should have.  I’ve seen them twice now and they put on a great show.  Mark Shelton is an unheralded guitarist and a hell of a nice guy.  I played with them in in 2013 when I was in Eternal Champion.  The crowd loved them and they were the perfect headliner for this festival.  They’re playing Austin again soon and I’m planning on being there.

See all setlists here.

I can’t say how much I loved being there and how well-organized this was.  It was obvious that Jarvis and his crew worked hard to make this happen.  Jarvis was in constant motion the whole day making sure everything was running smoothly and that everyone was having a good time.  I don’t know how he had the energy to even get on stage and do what he does after a day like that.  I was fortunate that he pulled me aside at one point to meet Tim Baker from Cirith Ungol one on one for a few minutes.  Tim was as nice and laid back as anyone could be.  He surprised me with a King of the Dead patch.  “This is my last one.”  A gift from the gods!  Jarvis also got me one on one with Robert Garven and Mike Flint to sign The Book.  During the actual meet and greet, I got Tim and Greg Lindstrom to also sign it.  Tim handed me a Cirith Ungol backstage patch during the signing.  Another gift!  I got to spend some time later in the evening with Flint.  What a nice guy.  All of them were.  Apparently this was the first time the 4 of them had been together in about 20 years.  How cool is that?  Let’s hope for a reunion show at next year’s fest!

I met so many great people that night.  One guy named Hector that I know from Instagram recognized me and said, “Aren’t you in Eternal Champion?”  I said, “I was” and he said he was on my friends list on Instagram.  Great to meet him.  He also mentioned the Sword and Steel book that has a poem of mine in it.  That was a pretty cool moment.  We spoke several times throughout the night.  Also met another guy that I met through Instagram and Facebook, Ernesto.  Awesome guy.  One of the younger metalheads that loves the older true metal style.  The evening was filled with those types.

I also met Oliver Weinsheimer, the organizer for the popular Keep It True Festival.  Extra special was getting to hang out with my good pal, Jeff Black, from Gatekeeper.  What an awesome guy.

This festival was the perfect Size, especially for the venue.  not to mention that Ventura is a beautiful city.  I hadn’t been through there since 1997.  At the end of the night when everyone was getting shuffled out by the bar staff, many of us stood out front for some final goodbyes, pictures, hugs etc.  I really love the camaraderie at these fests.  Little to no bullshit although there apparently were 2 fights during Manilla Road and those folks got ejected.  There was also a drunk ass that was talking shit to some friends, but we made sure he took the right decision to walk away.  From there it was back to the hotel.  My feet and knees were killing me and I just wanted to lay down.  It didn’t long to fall asleep once I got settled in.  What a great fucking night!

Rodney had an early flight and left before I did.  I chilled out for a bit, took a shower, packed my bags then drove up to Serra Cross Hill to take in the view of Ventura from up there.  It was gorgeous.  I put some Paganini on and just chilled out up there for about 20 minutes.  I kind of wanted to go to the Observatory and get a closer picture of the Hollywood sign.  Prior to that, I had been talking to my friend, Jill, from Austin who was also in LA on a little vacation with her roommate.  Jill’s boyfriend, Gary, who is a close friend of mine, was also in town on tour with his band, Mala Suerte, so we decided to all meet up in Hollywood at Pinches Tacos on Sunset.  That was a lot of fun and the food was great.

After lunch I drove to the Observatory which was jam-packed.  I didn’t stop and took some time to get back out.  Beautiful drive through there, though.  At that point I just headed back to the car rental place and got a notification that my flight was being delayed an hour.  Once I got into the airport, I found a bar and shared a table with an older ex-Air Force guy who had spent time in Texas, Seattle and Arizona while still in the military.  He liked metal and we got on some good conversations about MSG, Loudness and he brought up TKO.  “Ever heard of them?”  Haha.  Hell yes.  I nerded out with him for quite a while.  After leaving the bar I went to my gate to get in line to board and some other guy came up to me asking me about my vest and just started showing me pictures from a funeral he attended over the weekend.  Apparently he’s good friends with the Dark Angel and Bloodcum guys.  While he was nice, he was also annoying.  I was pretty tired by this point of the evening and then the next thing I know he’s standing next to me with his phone in his hand and says, “I got the drummer for Bloodcum on the phone.  Want to say hi?”  I said not really but he insisted.  It was obvious with the Bloodcum guy was annoyed by the whole scenario as well.  “Sorry man, I’m not sure why he thought we should talk to each other.”  I said it was no problem, we exchanged a quick pleasantry and that was that.  At least I thought so.  Two minutes later the dude is back and said, “hey, save me a seat if you can and we’ll talk metal for the whole flight.”  I told him my plan was to go to sleep the minute I hit the plane and that I was done talking for the day.  Fortunately I boarded way earlier than him and my row got filled quickly.

Again, what a wonderful weekend.  Thank, Jarvis, for putting this one!  Can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!