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

 

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

 

Van Halen at Jiffy Lube Live 

    With multiple shows getting canceled for various reasons throughout the years, I was starting to feel that I was not destined to see Van Halen. The Hershey Park Stadium show was postponed only five days earlier citing David Lee Roth had the flu. As the date of the Bristow show approached, our excitement built and so did the dread that yet another alert would be sent out stating there would be a rescheduled date or a refund offered.  Thankfully the Gods of rock smiled upon us.

 Approaching the gates to the venue, the wailing of guitars could be heard in the distance, as The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band warmed the crowd up. Which was a surprise because we were there a half hour before the show time that was marked on the ticket. Making it through security was a breeze with ample security on hand to manage the search of bags, and separate men’s and women’s lines. We found a fairly clear spot in the field and settled in to listen to the last three songs of Kenny Wayne and company’s set which did include my favorite Blue on Black.  I have reached out to LiveNation about the time issue in the hopes that future concert goers to the venue won’t miss possible openers they paid to see and to their credit they said they would look into it.

During the band changed we chatted with other fans about what would we could expect to see and who the better front man is DLR or Sammy Hagar also how people felt about or Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen on bass. Who is making a name on his own working with Mark Tremonti. Before the debate could get heated the lights throughout the venue dimmed signaling that Van Halen was ready to take the stage.

Dave and the boys wasted no time getting right into the thick of things starting the show in true David Lee Roth fashion,with Light Up The Sky, and Runnin’ With The Devil. At age 60, Dave has lost a bit of range in his voice at times talk/singing and relying on the crowd to sing along. But the man has not lost a step in stage presence. He managed to slip, slide, jump, and at one point even did a partial split. To say he owned the stage would be an understatement. The only time he slowed down was to sit on chair and exclaim “60 is the new 80!” And to tell a story about the playground near his house where he could hear none other than the Ice Cream Man.

Heading into the encore is where Eddie really took a few moments to shine with a shred induced guitar solo. Fingers elegantly maneuvering up and down the fret board with a quickness that showcased the fact that Eddie Van Halen has perfected the hammer on/hammer off and fret tapping technique. Finishing the show with The Kinks “You Really Got Me” “Panama“, and 80’s rocking favorite “Jump“. It has taken us a long time to finally see Van Halen and it was well worth the wait. From start to finish the guys looked to be enjoying their time on stage together. Maybe it’s possible any previous animosity has been put behind them and we can get a few more tours. I wonder if it’s too much to wish for a Van Rothgar Tour to happen?

There are still a few shows left of the Tokyo Live Tour. If you can catch one, here are the dates!  http://www.van-halen.com/2015tourdates.html

Big Things Are Coming, Check Back Soon!

Baltimore’s biggest festival is back September 19,2015 in Carroll Park. I will be adding material in the next few days of all the crazy shenanigans from through out the day and I may even have a few surprises in store. Here’s how the line up looks :

Set Times

Hope to see you there!

   

 

And so it begins. Our friends in Guns out at Sundown have kicked off the Shindig 2015 in the best hard rocking way possible. We will be live updating throughout the day so stay posted.