We’re All In This Together Tour 2016

 

The very first date of the We’re All In This Together Tour 2016 called Baltimore Soundstage their debut. So of course I had to don the patched vest, the big black boots and 2 fistfull of steel rings to rock out to one of the best shows yet.

New Years Day

The innovators of a Gothic Rock style they call “Haunted Mansion Core”, New Years Day rocks out with an uncanny ability to stand apart from the rock fad of having a female fronted bands that want to be just another Lacuna Coil.

Vocalist Ash Costello, who scored #6 of Revolver Magazine’s Feb. 2016 issue’s 25 Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock is indeed a gorgeous gal who can rock with the best of ’em. Despite her thin frame, she has lungs that can belt out vocals with the decibles of the most unrestful banshee with colorful octaves and a contagious energy that spreads to the fans– And you can tell she loves her fans.

The band played well, with clear melodic guitar & a rythm section powerful enough to make my tall boy of Natty Boh dance across the bar.

My critique is that while the band does indeed play to the crowd, making their show more of an experience to the fans, Costello is guilty of my biggest pet peeve, one that even the Godfather Ozzy Osbourne gets on my nerves with: demanding crowd response way too often. Her own party time stage prescence is enough to spread amongs the fans who then jump, headbang & mosh. More emotion from fans is just not needed. Vocalists everywhere, please… cut back on demanding the crowd “Put your fucking fists in the air” between every stanza or saying “I can’t hear you” “I STILL can’t hear you!!”, especially if you are an opener performing your new release that few in the crowd know the lyrics to. It gets old real quick & takes away from your performance. Plus, it reflects an insecurity of being appreciated upon you–to be Metal means you just don’t give a fuck & it isn’t insecure about anything.

After completing their 1st headline tour last year, New Years Day was long since overdue for prime time, however a revolving door of band members may have held them back– 3 of the 5 current members have been with the band for a year or less. In promotion of New Years Days 3rd studio album Malevolence, as well as an increase of popularity with their style of Metal, it may be make-or-break for this group. Such talent should not simply fade.

 

Escape The Fate

After all that’s happened to this band, there is a tendancy to look towards their past. Now with a lineup which constitutes their most level-headed, mature and creative members since formation, Escape The Fate has bounced back well with their latest album Hate Me released last fall.

Their performance of Remember Every Scar comes with a preface from vocalist Craig Mabbit who melencholiously looks back on the hardships that made the band what it is now, and it is performed with the great emotion of a group that still suffers the sting of regret and apology, although scar tissue has healed the wounds upon their souls.  In contrast, thier song Alive is played with the excitement of the future of this group, and the overcoming rejuvenation that they feel beyond.  An ever-growing fanbase with a considerable amount of female fans make Escape The Fate a group that deserves widespread acclaim.

To describe the band with any particular label would be difficult, as they are a fusion blend of multiple metal genres; even the music that has influenced them is quite eclectic. Their sound is certianly metalcore while their stage look harkens back to the sleaze of the glam era.

Indeed Escape The Fate still puts on a great show with promises of bigger things to come for this group.

HELLYEAH

In anticipation and promotion of thier forthcoming album Unden!able, the Supergroup headliner HELLYEAH took the stage to the raised fists of ready HELLIONS.  Albeit their first concert of the tour, they showed no sign of rustiness.

Their performance of Drink Drank Drunk even made me forget that I was still suffering from a hangover & grab another can of Boh. (On a related note– would you expect that HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul’s hangover prevention is a dose of Ibuprofen and Pedialyte? That’s what toddlers drink! Yes, Vinnie Fucking Paul drinks Pedialyte to prevent hangovers!  And you know what? It worked for this writer on more than one occasion! Thanks Vinnie!)

The new song from their upcoming album, Human, was performed live for the first time. A great song with hard guitar and thumping rythms and emotional lyrics, Human was released as a music video mere days later.

And there was no better way to end the show than with HELLYEAH performing their eponymous single to the call-and-response of the HELLIONS that filled the sold-out Baltimore Soundstage.

Chad Gray still can scream like his old Mudvayne days, while the mere sight & appearence of Vinnie Paul harkens back to when a particular group of Cowboys From Hell innovated Groove Metal. And yes, Maryland’s son Tom Maxwell remembers the streets where he came from with his hard-hitting rythmic yet jazzy riffs from his guitar.

HELLYEAH’s 5th album Unden!able was recorded by the band as a unit, promising a return to their own metal roots. It will be released on June 3.

 

On a side note, I was duly impressed by those who make the sound of the music as important as the artists themselves–the sound guys. Whoever ran the pots on the board made the entire show good, loud, yet clean.  It was like how you might hear a song, but the sound guys this night made you hear the guitars, the bass, the vocals and the drums all in harmony together-yet-seperatley.  Often overlooked, rarely thanked, and yet as important as the performers the sound guys of the We ‘re All In This Together Tour 2016 more than earned thier props too!

 

— T.M. Iman

 

The Darkness “Back to the USSA” Tour

 

April 18, 1775 Paul Revere warned the colonies of the British invasion during the American Revolution. April 30, 2016 Baltimore Soundstage brought the British back. Only this time it had nothing to do with lantern lights and war but to unite people under one roof with the power of music. This evening’s ambassadors of chords, beats, lyrics and in support of their 2015, 4th studio release, The Last of Our Kind were none other than the U.K.’s own The Darkness.  To help warm the crowd up, opening acts Raveneye and Baltimore’s own local hero’s Nightsbridge were brought along for the ride.

If Page and Plant had sex with Axl and Slash and they had a baby that’s Nightsbridge.  Although not from the U.K. Nightsbridge took the stage and wasted no time proving why they deserved to be one of the supporting acts. Donning a bowler hat and a British flag t-shirt lead vocalist Mickey Valentine did not stop dancing, shaking, and jumping around the stage.  Backed by a power house team made of guitarist David Weston Gregory Jr and Peter Fitzpatrick, bassist Bryan Krimes, and drummer Jack Ivins, it was apparent that they all came to have fun.  Working the stage and crowd like veteran rock stars, the band never stopped smiling, while going through each song in their set. Unfortunately time does fly and the three songs in the photo pit time was up and shortly thereafter NIghtsbridge was done performing for the evening. In good fashion all the members of the band made themselves available at the merch table where I was given a little inside tip on where they will be playing next.  If you want to know, head over to their Facebook page to see the official announcement:  www.Facebook.com/wearenightsbridge.com

Unlike the bright lights that Nightsbridge used during their set, supporting acts Raveneye had the stage scaled down a little and it worked perfectly. The trio from Milton Keynes, England brought a raw garage band gritty sound when they performed.  Raveneye is made up of Guitarist and vocalist Oli Brown, Bassist Aaron Spiers, and Drummer Kev Hickman. Before their set when asked about what songs could be expected Kev laughed and said “Man we don’t know what we’ll play til about five minutes before we go on. We like to keep things fresh and just go with it.”  Judging by how tight they were playing it was hard to believe. Having been on various tours the last few months, across several countries, Oli and company had the energy of a band starting for the first night. From hopping into the photo pit and singing to the fans up close, to standing on the bass drum and jumping into the air while never missing a note the rock never stopped. Raveneye quickly became a crowd favorite.  Raveneye plan on getting back into the studio once they return to the U.K. to follow up their five song EP Breaking Out. Make sure to follow Raveneye to keep up to date on the albums progress at www.Raveneyeofficial.com

The cheers and screams of the audience rose to deafening levels as The Darkness took the stage. First song on the set list was “Barbarian” from the 2015 album Last of Our Kind. It was the perfect choice to showcase lead singer Justin Hawkins vocal range.  Which sounded amazingly well considering they had to cancel their show in Indianapolis the night before due to a severe throat infection.  Justin gave a shout out to the doctors that treated him with a cocktail of steroids and antibiotics. Fortunately it did not seem to hinder his performance. Justin did seem to hold the mic over the audience for some crowd participation more than the he had the last time they played in Baltimore but the fans loved every minute of singing along.  Feeding off of the energy of the crowd seemed to the thing needed to keep Justin going so much so that halfway through the set he was doing head stands on the drum riser while guitarist Dan Hawkins and bassist Frankie Poullain enjoyed a mid-song jam session with drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor. Joining the band in early 2015 Taylor brings rock royalty to The Darkness.  Taylor is the son of Queen’s legendary drummer Roger Taylor. Rumor has it Rufus’s middle name was given to him by none other than Freddie Mercury himself.

Regardless of what you think about the state of rock and roll, one thing is certain, when you see The Darkness, you are guaranteed a great time. From watching Justin jumping off the drums, standing on his head, or riding the shoulders other band members, to having FUCK spelled out in the lights on stage during “Givin’ Up” or bringing a fan out of the crowd to dance on stage during a faux lounge club version of “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”. The five men in The Darkness embrace the classic rock look and the classic rock sound. Since 2003’s release of their debut album “Permission to Land” the band has gone through many phases. Between lineup changes and battling personal demons, no matter what life has thrown at them somehow The Darkness always finds the light and on April 30th 2016 that light burned bright.

Keep up to date with the happenings of The Darkness and follow them via their website and social media sites: http://thedarkness.co.uk , https://www.facebook.com/thedarknessofficial/

The New Regime and The Used Rams Head Live

A packed house restlessly awaited the show, but they woke up slowly once the show began. The crowd was clearly there for The Used, from the young kids in tight skinny jeans to the 30-somethings who knew every word to every song.  But before The Used began their set, the crowd had a pleasant surprise.  The New Regime brought a refreshing change to the concept of “opening band”.

Looking like “Every-man”, the trio took the stage with a simple set and a steady energy.   Visiting Baltimore on the heels of a South by Southwest appearance, the band brought a calm, comfortable vibe with them—they were no strangers to a stage.  San Diego veteran Ilan Rubin, best known for his work in Nine Inch Nails, contributed to write, perform and sing, weaving a classic rock sound throughout a modern band.  Drummer Hayden Scott brought the electronic sound into the mix with a Dub-Step type sound pounding behind an earnest guitar.  Ilan and bassist Daniel Rubin sang a tight harmony, their voices well blended and complimentary.  Bass and guitar were well matched as well, producing a much larger sound than is usually expected from a three-piece band.

What followed next was a dreamy, psychedelic San Francisco-in-the-70’s vibe that would be better performed for a group of California hippies than a crowd of Used fans—but the fans liked it anyway. An interesting guitar riff ended in a long, echoing note that faded as Rubin shouted “You ready for something heavier?”  The crowd clapped, but not to Rubin’s satisfaction.  “Now what am I supposed to do with that response?”  The crowd screamed.  “See I knew this crowd could handle it!” he laughed, and launched into another blend of modern sound backed by a 70’s classic rock groove that brought to mind Led Zeppelin and Queen.  Though not as heavy as anticipated, it was just right and the crowd responded well.

The next song started with a picking sound that was reminiscent of “O Brother, Where Art Thou”, but the cymbals then crashed right into a driving rock song. Heads bobbed as the rocking sound seemed to come from six or eight performers rather than the three unassuming members on the stage.  Rubin shredded the guitar, putting his body into it, playing old-school rock and roll.  He played sounds that were probably more familiar to the Used fans’ parents, but the crowd loved it and it struck a nerve.  Planting his feet, Daniel kept perfect pace with drummer Hayden Scott making the rapid tight rhythm look effortless.  Rubin raced through every fret on the guitar, breaking into a Queen-inspired jam but clearly making it his own.  The classic Zeppelin-Queen influence was prominent and clearly evident, but Rubin ENHANCED the old-fashioned sounds rather than copying them.  He blended new influences into old, and the effect was fascinating.  As he wound down to close the song, the crowd was his, and the room was fully satisfied.  They had seen a good show, without pretense or flashy gimmicks—just good, innovative rock and roll.

Following The New Regime, The Used immediately commanded the attention of the crowd. Red spotlights lit up nearly-naked manikins, and the completely packed crowd bristled with anticipation.  As the band took the stage, the roar rose to deafening.  Yes, this was a Used crowd for sure.

Jumping with controlled energy, singer Bert McCraken made it clear that this concert was a joint effort. The crowd was expected to sing along, and that they did.  Nearly every fan knew every word of every song.  The entire set was comprised of The Used providing the foundation within which the audience performed.  McCraken addressed the crowd, saying “after touring for 17 years, I’ve seen it with my own eyes—music really does change people’s lives and the world we live in.  I challenge every one of you to be your fucking selves!”  The crowd screamed, clapping frenetically along with him as he launched into The Case of Ink, singing along about savoring every moment of it all.

Fabric hung from the microphone stand “in solidarity for Palestinian people”, as McCraken spoke of over 15 years of The Used, which is “a big fucking deal!” The crowd belonged to him before he even stepped off the tour bus that evening.  Calling several times for a circle pit, he tried to wind up the audience but they focused on giving him back every single word he sang, fingers pointing forward, arms raised, passionately throwing themselves into each song.  Behind him, drummer Dan Whitesides sat in his own world, playing as if he were alone on stage.  The band then slowed down into a sexy groove for “Waste Some Time With You”, which led into an acapella sing along ending.

The Used owned the night and the crowd proudly performed right along with them, but that was a given. When The Used comes to Baltimore, Baltimore gives back.  Dependable, sturdy, and exciting, the show went as planned.  But the big surprise was the modern blend of classic rock from The New Regime, which is worth another look.  All in all, it was a great show, and another testament to the fact that Rams Head Live is filling the city with great sounds from greatest  local and national artists, keeping the music scene alive and well.

http://thenewregime.com/ https://www.facebook.com/thenewregime

http://www.theused.net/  https://www.facebook.com/TheUsed

 

Disturbed returns to Baltimore 4-1-16

The 2016 summer concert season could not have started in a better way. Ever since Chicago based metal band Disturbed announced a new album in July of 2015, show announcements quickly followed. Disturbed was joined by veteran rockers Nonpoint on a nineteen city tour across the U.S. Playing to sold out crowds in some of America’s most intimate venues, they proved that even with a five year hiatus, fans are still Down With The Sickness. The April 1st stop of the tour in Maryland at the Baltimore Soundstage started promptly at 8pm with Nonpoint taking the stage. With heavy riffs, flying dreads and steady beats, the members of Nonpoint wasted no time getting right to the heart of why Baltimore music fans were there, to throw up the horns and rock out.  The Florida rockers only played a forty minute set but they covered a lot of material from their seventeen year career including new music from their upcoming ninth studio album, their cover of Phil Collins debut single In The Air Tonight, and the hit single Bullet With a Name from their 2005 album To The Pain.

Disturbed took the stage at 9 with a warm “My Brothers, My Sisters, My Blood” from David Draiman followed by the screams and chants of the hot and sweaty fans in attendance. The rest of the night was a welcome blast from the past. One thing could be said about the bands hiatus– it definitely seemed to help bring them to a different place. Guitarist Dan Donegan and Bassist John Moyer were as tight as ever crushing the strings. Drummer Mike Wengren had an absolutely amazing drum set ups. Sitting on a four foot tall riser and surrounded by a cymbal cage, it was almost too big for the stage and did not leave much room for the other members to move around. But it helped add to the intimate feel of the show by keeping  the drummer closer to the crowd instead of hiding in the shadows of the wings. But the most impressive part of the night was David’s voice. It hasn’t sounded this strong since the Pop Sux tour in 2002.  The set list for the night read like a greatest hits album, with only two songs off of their most recent work “ Immortalize”:  The Light, and an amazing acoustic rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence.  The set finished with a ten minute medley of songs which, in Draiman’s words, “inspired us through our career.”  The medly included Nine Inch Nails- Closer, U2- Still Haven’t Found, The Who- Baba O’Riley, and Rage Against The Machine- Killing in the Name Of(with Elias from NonPoint). The “one more song” chant started almost immediately and it did not take long for the guys to answer the call, returning to the stage with Draiman asking “if everyone was still breathing?” before the opening riff to “Voices”.  The crowd was relentlessly swaying, throwing their fists in the air and showing appreciation to the band by singing along to every word. But all good things must come to an end, and Disturbed addressed this point. David addressed the crowd with another “ My Brothers, My Sisters, My Blood”, and went on to say “we will be back, you have all been infected and we love you. Can you feel that, that sickness rising, are you down?”,  as the iconic chugging of guitar strings in drop C# tuning rang out for “Down with the Sickness.”

Walking out of the Baltimore Soundstage, all conversations were about how amazing the show was. In an era of smart phones and internet, the public has instant access to music and has developed a need for instant gratification; as a result, five years is a long time to not be in the public eye in the music industry. Today’s flash in the pan quickly becomes yesterday’s forgotten leftovers.  Fortunately, this is not the case with Disturbed.  The band still holds the attention and adoration of many generations of hard rocking fans.  Rock isn’t dead; it just needed a break.

For the latest tour dates and news about the band make sure to check out: http://www.disturbed1.com/immortalized/na?ref=

Mac Sabbath at Baltimore Soundstage

 

My first exposure to Mac Sabbath was not like many other bands. But then again, Mac Sabbath is not like any other band I’ve ever even seen before. Like many, I first saw Mac Sabbath in the viral YouTube video of their Iron Man parody entitled Frying Pan, a performance that was, well, “different”, which is certainly what Mac Sabbath aims to be: part Shock Rock, part Wierd Al, part sarcastic comedy show, a touch of magic show.

So when I recently went to see Mac Sabbath at the Baltimore SoundStage, I somewhat had an idea what to expect: a metal show where performers dress as evil Mickey D’s characters & perform parodies of Black Sabbath covers with a fast-food theme. I wondered if such an act was worthy of headliner status, or if it was nothing more than just a silly YouTube gimmick.

The frontman is a sadistic coked-up clown in red, white & yellow called “Ronald Osbourne”. The axe is played by “Slayer McCheese” who has huge tusks protruding from between his beef patty.  “Grimalice” performs bass somehow with giant purple fuzzy hands and “Cat Burglar” is the drumming hybrid of Hamburglar and KISS’s Peter Chriss.

The infamous YouTube video no longer does justice to Mac Sabbath. Filmed when the band was perhaps less experienced in performing live, thier music quality was rather poor. Nowadays when performing live, Mac Sabbath indeed have greatly improved their sound–in particular Slayer McCheese who’s guitar solos were impressive copies of the great Tony Iommi himself.

Ronald Osbourne does a fine job as a frontman, not necessarily as a melodic singer but certainly as a performer. Before thinking that’s an insult, consider it is also descriptive of his legendary inspiration. Moments between songs are filled with Ronald speaking to the crowd with humor, such as saying how other imaginary parody bands “Cinnabon-Jovi” & “KFC/DC” will tour with them. Or how the mighty never-to-be-mentioned-by-name fast food giant hasn’t sued them…yet!  They play to the audience with showmanship & showed appreciation to their fans by meeting them right after the performance for pictures and autographs.

All the Black Sabbath covers come with twisted names & themes of greasy processed food, excessive consumerism or working that fryer. Iron Man is now Frying Pan. Sweet Leaf is now Sweet Beef. Electric Funeral is now Organic Funeral. Paranoid is now Pair Of Buns.

Despite the jovial humor, Mac Sabbath takes their show seriously with thier creative costumes and stage props. Ronald Osbourne refreshes his throat during instrumental breaks with water from ketchup & mustard squeeze bottles. Cooking utensils are used as percussion instruments. There’s also an escape from a straight jacket and magically producing a 7-foot long giant drinking straw from the crotch of Ronald’s jumpsuit.

Mac Sabbath will probably never be in the big letters on those posters advertising Rock In Rio or Wacken. But if you love the sound of classic Ozzy-era Black Sabbath, you have a twisted sense-of-humor or if you still carry angst from those days working the lunch rush then check out a Mac Sabbath show. They are much like eating a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets: You have no idea where they come from, but they really ain’t half bad!

–T.M. Iman

Follow Mac Sabbath for show dates and info at:

Www.OfficialMacSabbath.com

https://www.facebook.com/macsabbath

https://www.instagram.com/officialmacsabbath/

https://twitter.com/MacSabbath

 

Smith and Myers: An Acoustic Evening

Longtime fans of Shinedown have often heard the full band perform tributes to musicians that have influenced them throughout their lives. The entire band has recorded hits from fellow musicians Foo Fighters, Carole King, U2, and Queen. In 2004 the bands album, Leave a Whisper, was released in a deluxe edition and featured their rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hit Simple Man. The song reached number 40 on the U.S. alternative charts and 5 on the U.S. mainstream market. In 2014, during a break from writing and touring, front man Brent Smith and guitarist Zach Myers turned to Facebook and asked the fans to request songs they would like to see covered. The two then planned to narrow the results down to the top ten and release separate videos of each song, to be seen on the social media platform YouTube over the course of ten days while they were being recorded. The end result is now known as Smith and Myers (Acoustic Sessions), a ten song EP featuring songs originally made famous by Adele, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, The Clash, and Otis Redding to name a few. Almost two years later and upon completing the first leg of touring for Shinedown’s latest album Threat to Survival, Brent and Zach decided to take Smith and Myers on the road for an eleven day run of shows across the U.S. playing small intimate venues to finish out the year. Check out the list of remaining Smith Myers shows and upcoming shows scheduled with the full band here: http://www.shinedown.com/shows

Opening the evening of December 12, 2015 at The Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania was Zack Mach. A friend and collaborating writer with Zach Myers on their side project, Allen, Mack, Myers, and Moore, Mach captivated the audience with a sound that infused Folk, Country, and Rockabilly. The sounds of guitar and harmonica radiated through the venue as he played several originals before being joined on stage by Myers. The duo played a few songs from their recent album Just South of Moonlight, released in March of this year, before Myers had to change for the Smith and Myers set. Zach Mack ended his set with a surprising rendition of the Counting Crows hit, Mr. Jones. Having seen the Counting Crows perform this song on several occasions, I have to say Zach Mack did it more than justice. Stay up to date with Allen, Mach, Myers and Moore by following them on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/AllenMackMyersMoore

Smith and Myers took the stage around 9:30; both men looking sharp dressed in suits and ties. The first song of the night was Big Empty, originally performed by Stone Temple Pilots, after which they gave a posthumous shout out to Scott Weiland. Brent and Zach balanced the night playing a mix of songs from Shinedown albums, old and new. Zach joked about how he has been putting together the song choices for each night, while Brent had no clue until he walked on stage what they would play each evening. Some may think that would make for a chaotic night, but the two work together like a well-oiled machine. Between the banter with the crowd and with each other, the entire night seemed to breeze by in a flash. Brent took a little break midway through, so Zach took the lead on Wanted Dead or Alive, as well as on what turned out to be a crowd favorite song from the 90’s, Freshmen (originally written and performed by The Verve Pipe). Blasting their way through the almost two hour long set, Brent and Zach did not show any signs of wanting to stop. They decided not to take an encore break and jumped into the last three songs of the night, ending the show with Sound of Madness. One thing is for sure–whether it is an intimate venue or a sold out arena, full band or just the duo, there will always be the same energy and passion each and every time. Thanks to everyone in the Shinedown camp for putting on a great show night after night. As Brent Smith says “It’s not goodbye, it’s ‘til next time!” Here’s hoping next time includes Baltimore!Smith