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 The end result is now known as Smith and Myers (Acoustic Sessions), a ten song EP featuring songs originally made famous by Adele, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, The Clash, and Otis Redding to name a few.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

 

Local Artist Showcase at the Baltimore Soundstage

Author: Debbie Biewer

The Baltimore local scene is alive and well, with a strong following of all ages. Venues like Baltimore Soundstage are working hard to promote local music, including both quality cover bands and original artists. While Baltimore may not compare to the 90’s Seattle music scene (in that it hasn’t created its own movement of music just yet), it steadily and consistently supports local artists and provides opportunities to connect to audiences, promotors and more.

A great example is the October 10th event, organized by 24-7 Entertainment, at Baltimore Soundstage. Described as “Baltimore Music Day”, the line-up included This September, The Goons, Bridge to Divide, Fatally Yours, Inhaler, Push, and Black Angel Down. Billed as an all-ages show, it rang true—the audience included fans from high school into retirement. Happy Hour and Drink Specials were advertised but was clearly not the draw for the crowd—attention was focused on the music rather than the bar. Baltimore Soundstage gave up precious Saturday night primetime to host this event, demonstrating the venue’s commitment to local artists and their fans.

Throughout the night, the bands brought a variety of musical influence and stage presence to the crowd. The event gave them an opportunity to present completely original music to a crowd that may not be familiar with their work. Some fans came and went, clearly there to support their favorite bands, but a core group stayed for the 7+ hour event. From the comments overheard throughout the crowd, every band acquired new fans that night.

This event was definitely not one-size-fits-all. Each band brought a different focus, different level of energy, and unique lyrics with a rocking sound. Baltimore band Push played in-your-face rock to a mellow crowd. Head nods and tapping feet kept rhythm as Push opened with the four-count “Do What You Want”, flaunting a slow Metallica or Alice Cooper influence. Geo DeCampo’s vocals offered an interesting sound, but there were not a lot of surprises in the set—the music was steady and consistent. The band is working on a new album, which is intended for release in 2016.

Bridge to Divide, a band originally from Westminster, threw a metal sound into the mix. Shifting, unpredictable Tool-like rhythms supported a rock sound that had an interesting complexity. Vocals and melody brought to mind Metallica meets Pink Floyd with a Dream Theatre twist. “What Side Are You On” excited the audience as Elliott Levy generated a rolling drum pedal and Dave Costello belted out a growl. Their website, https://www.reverbnation.com/bridgetodivide, lists additional dates around Baltimore and Washington. Find them if you like an old-school metal sound!

Inhaler took the stage with a clear message: Heavy Rock, period. With a contrasting nice-guy smile, Shawn Singer crouched at the edge of the stage and snarled at the audience, belting out songs with a bad-ass voice and an occasional scream that filled the intimate venue. The fan favorite, “Apocalypse and Acid Trips” started slowly, and then built to a driving rhythm like a train rolling through Baltimore. Inhaler ended their set with a classic rock-and-roll song that sent the audience into a head-banging frenzy as they tried to keep up with the shifting speeds of the song. For more information, find them at http://www.inhalermusic.com/.

Baltimore band Black Angel Down rounded out the night perfectly—even their sound check was fun. Funky beats and bouncing steps propelled their music into the audience and even out the front door. The band’s energy was palpable, and although the fans were mellow, they were completely attentive and connected to the music. Black Angel Down brought a professional sound and an air of experience that elevated the playing field—their comfort level on stage glowed brightly. As they sang the lyrics “You’ll See the Better Part of Me”, it was clear they brought the better part of the night with them. Throughout the metal explosion was a woven thread of R&B that distinguished them from the others. One song opened with a hint of Guns & Roses but then turned a path and became a journey of their own. Nokio’s Orioles cap and glasses gave the misleading impression of a calm and quiet nerd, but as he belted out lyrics shouting “Do you know who the FUCK I AM?” he owned the audience and established a rock presence that had every person in the venue watching him intently. The synchronized four-part harmony matched perfectly with the lyrics and rhythms, and the audience kept time head banging, with devil horns in the air. Energy accelerated towards the end of their set. Ripping guitar solos and clashing cymbals electrified the air, while Nokio moved so smoothly, he proved he would be a worthy contestant on Dancing With The Stars. Black Angel Down have had success touring beyond the Baltimore-Washington area and can be found opening large shows such as Shindig Festival 2015. For more dates, find them at http://www.blackangeldown.com/.

Closing the night, This September switched gears and brought forth a Bob Marley/Lenny Kravitz influenced sound. Clean, silent rhythm breaks punctuated their reggae sound, and band members sporting dreadlocks and a knit panda-bear beanie played to the crowd with ease. The music seemed to come from within and be a way of life for these guys rather than something that required effort to produce. On lead guitar, Mike McCulloch never cracked a smile, picked out notes as though it was simple, then eased into a fantastic guitar riff that was worth attending the event for. Bassist Sam Philipp moved with the music, slowing as it slowed, ending the evening with clean beats matched perfectly with Jeremy Fleming’s drum rhythms. It was a good way to come down from the heightened frenzy of the metal—to smooth easily into a Jamaican sound and into a satisfied, fulfilled trance. Though the band identifies themselves as alternative rock, they have a wonderful reggae influence and deserve attention. Find them at http://thisseptember.bandcamp.com/.

But the surprise of the evening came from the third band, hailing from Annapolis: The Goons. This was the band that startled the crowd; this was the band to watch closely. Comprised of five young men, it was hard not to call them “kids”, because in fact that’s what they are. On vocals, Nick bopped along to “A Flat Box” with a funky, strong bass-line that was reminiscent of Brian Setzer, sliding across the stage with impeccable rhythm and powerful presence. The band’s second song, “Test the Waters”, began with a slow swinging rhythm and then moved into a pounding, Doors-like sound, then back again. “Gas Love Child” had a completely different feel. Nick insisted the crowd came closer and put their hands in the air, waking up the venue and starting a spark of energy. Playing good old rock-and-roll, all five band members seemed to just want to have a good time, and it showed. A sense of humor came through in the rock-rap lyrics and the crowd responded. On occasion, the singer was so into the music that he flailed around the stage, needing far more space to express himself than the stage had to offer. Vocals were not always perfect, and needed polish to become more precise, but it didn’t matter. What the band lacked in discipline, they made up in spirit. During “Revival”, the music bounced from rock to rockabilly to classic and back again, and the five guys gave it all they had, despite the fact that there was not yet a full crowd. On guitar, Jacob and Paul complement each other well, and on drums, Nick kept the band moving with driving, clear rhythms. Closing their set with “Who Ate My Cookies”, Nick displayed an Eddie-Vedder-like passion as he sang, and the band’s performance would have fit right in with a Woodstock crowd—earnest, fun, good-spirited, and unwilling to be boxed into only one genre. They didn’t seem to take themselves very seriously—but, perhaps, they should.

After their set, we were able to talk with The Goons. We found them fun, frisky, and fully unaware of their impact and how good their original music is. They appeared to be doing it because they loved it, without trying too hard to build it into something more. If this is the case, it will be a shame, because this band, especially as writers, have a lot of potential.

Interestingly, the band writes the music first and then fits in the lyrics. Each song is so different, and each sound brings to mind a different genre, so we asked them what they consider to be influential. Their responses were as vast as the different sounds they offer. Favorite bands include Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Radiohead and Hendrix. On bass, Mike infuses John Bonham rhythms into his writing, and the team describes their songs as a “metamorphosis of all our styles and personalities.” The James Brown R&B is evident, but the swing music sound is even more pronounced even though the band doesn’t list that as an influence. Though they have only played a total of 15 shows, they were a crowd favorite at Baltimore Soundstage—but they don’t seem to know it yet. Founded in 2013, the group of friends decided to try out for their high school Battle of the Bands. With only one month to practice together, they won second place and decided they were hooked. They began writing original music and expanded their set list quickly. One goal was to play a different kind of rock. Though they love metal, they found that it is often negative, or frustrated. They decided to create a kind of metal that was “more energetic than angry”—and they appear to be on the right track. With positive energy and positive vibes, they band rocks the audience but leaves them with a good taste in their mouths. So we thought maybe they need to be better understood, and asked, “If you could tell the world anything about your band, what would you say?” In response, they said “that we’re just a couple of goons”, “we’re working toward the next level”, and “we want world peace”. Ranging from a desire for humor to a desire to change things for good, these guys simply don’t take themselves too seriously. But take note: this is the band to watch. Here’s hoping they keep going toward the next level, and bring that post-high-school energy along with them!

A common theme among several of the bands was a lack of utilization of social media opportunities. Face book pages were sparse, lacked frequent posts, and failed to display the value of original music created by the band. A suggestion to all: use what you have! At the event, as crowd members found a band interesting, they immediately went to their Facebook pages to find out more. If information was not there, the fans began to lose interest. If information was robust, the fans “liked” the page and signed up to learn more. This is a great opportunity to build a stronger following—don’t miss out!

For the fans: visit Baltimore Soundstage, attend a local music show, and open your mind. You will find hidden gems and surprises that are well worth it. Mingle with the bands before and after the show, post a review on their social media pages, and support them. They will be the globally successful bands of tomorrow!

 

*Unfortunately, rush-hour traffic jams prevented a review of Fatally Yours, but we look forward to seeing them soon at another local music event.

ATREYU w/ Malaki, Wovenwar, and Unearth at The Baltimore Soundstage 10-11-15

Contributing Writer: T. M. Iman

Another perfect Sunday wasted on watching a horrible Ravens game loss. I could have gone to the festival. I could have gone fishing. I could have had a day trip to Pennsylvania. I could have slow smoked a puppy. I could have went to the park. Instead, I went to the bar & wasted it on another humiliating Baltimore Ravens loss! To the goddam Cleveland Browns! At a home game!! Can anything save this day? Well, I do have all this housework to do. Maybe later. Besides, I’m still buzzing.

Phone rings. It’s my brother. “Hey dummy.”

“Hey ugly, what’s with you?”

“Ravens suck this year.”

“Yeah, I know. Whatchoo doing tonight?”

“Nothing.”

“Good, come down & meet me at Soundstage about 7, 7:30. We’re covering Atreyu tonight.”

“Atreyu, huh? Heavy!”

What better way to let of some steam than to listen to some angry metalcore!

So I went to my room, took off my purple and gold, put on my black and chrome, summoned an Uber and went to Mobtown’s biggest reason for tinnitus, Baltimore Soundstage, just in time for the melodic notes of the Devil’s favorite music to begin eating my soul away. Continue reading

Butcher Babies and GWAR 9/16/2015 Reverb Reading Pennsylvania

Pulling into the parking lot of Reverb, my first reaction was “Geez, this is the shit hole of rock ‘n’ roll!” It is plain on the outside, bordering a residential area and commercial zone, and if I wasn’t paying attention I would have missed it. Although the building is a decent size it only has one sign on a pole saying it’s there. Parking is easy due to the large parking lots on either side of the building and even better, it is FREE. Not to worry, there is also plenty of on street parking.

Upon entering the venue I quickly found out that looks may not be important when it comes to REVERB but the sound is perfect. A giant PA system flanks the stage on both sides, putting out a blast of music that could rival most stadiums. Stacks of speakers as tall as shipping containers run the length of the wall with about 20 foot of stage in between them. The lighting, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately for photographers, this is an ongoing issue for most small venues. As I entered, Metalblade recording artist Battlecross had the crowd energized. A cross between classic rock and thrash metal, it was clear as to why they will be continuing on for the second leg of the GWAR 30 Tour. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see much of their set due to traffic.

During the set changes for the bands I had the time to talk with other concert goers to see who they were most excited to see. I was surprised to find it was split between Butcher Babies and GWAR. Fronted by two of the strongest female vocalist in metal, Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey are gaining the respect of a male dominated genre. Backed by the talented guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein and drummer Chris Warner, Butcher Babies are well on their way to securing their place in modern music. Tonight it is all about carving up the crowd at Reverb and proving to the world why their latest release ‘Take It Like a Man’ deserves its spot in the billboard two hundred.

The opening song ‘Monsters Ball’, the first single from ‘Take It Like A Man’, set the tone for the rest of Butcher Babies nine song set. From the moment they stepped on stage the energy level was off the charts. Heidi and Carla never stopped moving, each of them working the crowd into a frenzy by begging for the mosh pit to get energized. Security was caught off guard by the crowd reaction as fan after fan was flipped, pitched and passed, at times head over heels towards the stage. By the halfway point the ladies had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands and started in on a ZZ Top classic Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers. The crowd cheered and chanted in time while Carla and Heidi bounced around and hyped them up even more. They even took a moment to jump into the media pit to hug a few fans and give them a chance to sing into the mic. From that point forward it was a controlled chaos of mosh pits, crowd surfing and good ‘ole rock ‘n roll. Butcher Babies closed out their set with Magnolia Blvd before encouraging the crowd to stop by the merchandise booth to say Hello. This evening’s set proves without a doubt that no matter whether they are at a festival, a small venue or an arena, Butcher Babies will give one hundred and ten percent every time and they will leave the audience wanting more.

Straight from the pits Antarctica, GWAR took the stage just before 9:30pm, ready to overtake Reading, Pennsylvania in their desire for global dominance. After last year’s search for missing leader ODERUS URUNGUS, GWAR has taken on a new mission for their 30th anniversary. Manager Sleazy P pointed out while he stormed on stage to berate the remaining members that if they continue to sound like shit they will lose their fans. No fans=no money= no more crack and no more whores and they will have the internet to blame. At times it was a little difficult to follow the story line between songs. The crowd checked on what they could find on their tablet, searching parody sites like Fistbook, Shitter, Grype, Kinder, and SpewTube in order to decide where in the cyber world they would find the source of the internet in order to kill it. Judging by fan reaction throughout the room everyone was enjoying the mess of spew and blood being sprayed all over them. Several surprise guests decided to take the stage including reporter Brian Wilson, Hillary Clinton, and Kanye, each of them meeting with untimely ends in very creative ways. Beheadings, face removals, and unwanted mastectomies added to the mayhem that is a GWAR show. At some point during the set, every member of GWAR had an opportunity to take the lead on vocals, blazing through a mix of classics like Saddam A Go-Go, Babyraper, and Captain Crunch, while blending some newer songs to the delight of the younger humanoids in the crowd. Towards the end of the night the crowd paid respects to Oderus by chanting his name in hopes that he could hear them in whatever time vortex he was sucked into. To end the show, a rare appearance was made by an internet troll, only to be ripped apart by Blothar, Beefcake The Mighty, BALSAC THE JAWS OF DEATH, and PUSTULUS MAXIMUS.

The smiles on the faces of everyone making their way to the doors summed up the night perfectly. “Insane, but it was worth every minute.” From the first note to the last there was something for everyone to enjoy. At times GWAR ‘s set felt a little choppy but it is a new era for GWAR. Given time, I believe the remaining members will work out the flow and continue destroying the human race one song at a time. If you just want to see a bunch of dudes stand in one place and play a few chords, Battlecross, Butcher Babies, and GWAR are not for you. If you want to move, mosh, and get a great show, you’re in the right place.


GWAR Set list:

Crush, Kill, Destroy

Madness at the Core of Time

 Black and Huge

Saddam a Go-Go

Vlad the Impaler

Jack The World

I’m in Love (With a Dead Dog)

I Bonesnapper

                              B.     Babyraper

Meat Sandwich

Let Us Slay

You Can’t Kill Terror

A Gathering of Ghouls/Storm is Coming/ Hail, Genocide!

Bloodbath

A Short History of the End of the World

Metal Metal Land

The Salaminizer

Sick of You

For more info about Butcher Babies follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ButcherBabiesMusic

And be sure to check out http://www.gwar.net for info on where GWAR will be taking over the human race next!