Highly Suspect @ Baltimore Soundstage 11/5/16

 

 

 

Highly Suspect’s second full length album, “The Boy Who Died Wolf” is slated for release on November 18, 2016. The trio from Brooklyn, New York has been touring nonstop since brothers Rich and Ryan Meyer and best friend Johnny Stevens decided to stop playing covers and started writing their own music. Highly Suspect is able to weave several genres together into a sound of their own. By taking the blues, grunge, classic rock and a little hip hop and blending them with life stories, they have a way of leaving the listener wanting more. On Saturday the 5th of November 2016 they brought their sonic sound and high energy show to the Baltimore Soundstage.

Opening the night was local favorites The Henchmen. Known around Baltimore for influencing and promoting the music scene, it was apparent a large portion of the crowd was there to see them. Led by Kevin Hock on vdsc_2171ocals, guitar and the piano, The Henchmen bring back the speakeasy feel of the 20’s and 30’s with an edge. Supported by Drew Pallace on guitar, Jim Matusky  on bass, and Nick Heflin on drums, The Henchmen took the stage in classy suits and ties and laid down a jazz infused rock that had people in the mood to get there groove going. Whether it was taping their foot, bobbing their head or singing along, the crowd was drawn in to what The Henchmen were serving.  2017 looks to be a big year for The Henchmen with plans to get back into the studio to record their follow up EP. While you wait for that to happen, make sure to pick up their self-titled EP through all the major outlets, if you haven’t already, and follow them on Facebook for updates and future show announcements.

https://www.facebook.com/TheHenchmenMusic/?fref=ts

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-henchmen-ep/id1140639960

https://play.spotify.com/album/7ahKHfjKhrMKq9RYnEqxDC

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JO9LSDK/ref=sr_1_1_rd?_encoding=UTF8&child=B01JO9LT3E&qid=1479053915&sr=1-1</a>

dsc_2336Slothrust have been the supporting act for a large portion of this tour. Fronted by Leah Wellbaum on vocals and guitar and backed by bassist Kyle Bann and drummer Will Gorin, Slothrust delivers a unique experience. Fusing jazz influences with a punk rock sound similar to Veruca Salt in the 90’s. With a no frills set, Slothrust took the stage to the cheers of the crowd. A strong following of fans that managed to get on the rail hung on every word that Leah sang. Head banging, singing along and completely lost to their surroundings; totally in the moment. No cell phones recording, no one taking photos– just a new generation of music lovers living in the here and now.  The majority of songs on Slothrust’s twelve song set can be found on their latest album Everyone Else released in October 2016.

 

http://www.slothrust.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Slothrust/app/204974879526524/

ITunes: http://apple.co/1OziyCe

Spotify: http://spoti.fi/29Tm8FE

SLOTHRUST SETLIST: Baltimore Soundstage 11/5/2016

  1. Surf Goth
  2. Misnomer
  3. Mud
  4. 7:30am
  5. Pseudo Culture
  6. Like a Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone
  7. Magnets, Pt. 2
  8. Rotten Pumpkin
  9. Horseshoe Crab
  10. Pigpen
  11. Crockpot
  12. Beowulf

dsc_2365It was evident that this show would be a total 360 compared to the last time Highly Suspect were in Baltimore back in March. The crowd has gone from 100 people to a sold out crowd of 1000 and they were hyped up. Highly Suspect took the stage a little after 9p.m. and wasted no time getting right into the music. Diving right into Bath Salts off of their debut album Mister Asylum, Johnny had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Judging by the way he couldn’t stop smiling he knew he had them too and it did not stop him from showing off the blues/jazz influence during Lost and Bloodfeather.  These two songs speak of love, loss and hurt and even a touch of betrayal.  Regardless of the journeys they have written about, Johnny, Rich and Ryan are in a great place. How many people get to do what they enjoy and share the entire experience with their best friends? Johnny made sure to take a minute to humbly thank the crowd for coming out and encouraged everyone in attendance to be loud as hell and to make this the rowdiest show of the tour.dsc_2401 If you have been a fan of Highly Suspect from the beginning then you have seen the acronym M.C.I.D somewhere. If not you may have seen the merch table and new T-shirt “What The F$@k is MCID”. Well it stands for MY CREW IS DOPE but as Johnny stated when addressing the crowd,” to Highly Suspect it means family.” Midway through the set the band played the first track off of the new album My Name is Human. It’s a slower song with a heavy bass riff and a smooth chorus that became an instant sing along with the fans as they waved their arms from side to side along with Johnny. The highlight of the night came when the band launched into Lydia. The first single released from Mister Asylum which generated a lot of buzz and earned them two Grammy nominations, one for best rock song of 2016 and one for best rock album of the year. For an encore Highly Suspect finished with the most recent track available through pre-order “Wolf” before inviting the crowd to join them on stage for the song Fire in Bedstuy. Within seconds the stage was filled with adoring fans jumping and singing along to the point you almost couldn’t see the band anymore. Probably not the safest thing to do but when these guys say they will throw a party a party is what you’re getting. Special thanks to Kevin Liles who was in attendance for the evening. Mr. Liles grew up in West Baltimore and has been an instrumental part in the careers of some of the music industry’s biggest names including HIGHLY SUSPECT.dsc_2413-edit

http://highlysuspect.net/

iTunes: http://smarturl.it/MisterAsylum
Spotify: http://smarturl.it/HighlySuspectSpotify
Google Play: http://smarturl.it/HighlySuspectplay
Amazon: http://smarturl.it/HighlySuspectamz
Merch Store: http://highlysuspectband.colortestmerch.com/

HIGHLY SUSPECT SETLIST: Baltimore Soundstage 11/5/2016

1. Bath Salts

2. Lost

3. Bloodfeather

4. Vanity

5. Round & Round dsc_2432

6. Mom

7. Fuck Me Up

8. Serotonia dsc_2466-edit

9. My Name Is Human

10. Lydia

11. Claudeland

12. ATL

Encore:

13. Wolf

14. Fire in Bedstuy

 

 

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

 

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