GODSMACK, THREE DAYS GRACE, ASKING ALEXANDRIA, WAGE WAR & LILITH CZAR Takeover Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

After two cancellations due to Covid-19, the Twin City Takeover finally rolled into Minneapolis, Minnesota and filled the Target Center for a night of music. It was a five- band bill headlined by Godsmack and featured Three Days Grace along with Asking AlexandriaWage War and Lilith Czar

Lilith Czar hit the stage first with the rocking track “Feed My Chaos.” The track is taken from her newest record, ‘Created From Filth And Dust,’ which was a rebirth of sound and style for Juliet SimsLilith Czar is her alter ego which saw her blonde hair replaced with jet black hair and a shift to a heavier rock sound as opposed to pop. It is always a tough spot to be in when you’re the opening act and going on early. People are still filing into the venue but she made the moment hers and showcased her voice and style brilliantly. Draped in a red dress she stuck with material from the new album and hit “Lola,” “King,” the cover “Edge of Seventeen” from Stevie Nicks and “100 Little Deaths,” which goes back to her Juliet Sims era, but both the cover and that track are on the newest album. Her short set ended with “Anarchy” which left me wanting to see her again as this was my first time catching her and hopefully, she will make her way back here again soon.

When you looked at the line-up, there was no question what band was going to bring the most aggression to the Target Center and that is exactly what Wage War did. Opening with “Relapse” from the newest album, ‘Manic,’ they set out to destroy the place. It was forty minutes of an all-out sonic assault as they ripped through an eight-song set that included “High Horse,” “Teeth,” “Godspeed” and “Circle the Drain.” There wasn’t any doubt that they had a lot of fans anticipating their set as the energy amped up instantly as soon as they started. Wage War have been kicking around since forming in 2010 under the name Empires in Ocala, Florida. Every release has shown the bands growth, capped with that brilliant latest album, and they continue to build their fan base by utilizing every minute of stage time to get their music in the ears of anybody that will listen. 

Asking Alexandria opened with “Alone Again” which appears on the latest release ‘See What’s On The inside’ which came out in 2021. The British rock band from York, North Yorkshire have been mainstays in the metalcore genre and have built up an extensive catalog of material over seven albums. The band has continued to explore other avenues of sound as they have incorporated a more melodic approach with anthemic rock songs as opposed to sticking strictly to the metalcore playbook. Despite the change in aggressiveness, the live sound is still boisterous and rips as it comes off the stage. The set was ten songs and the bulk of the material was pulled from the ‘Like a House on Fire’ and ‘Asking Alexandria’ releases which included “Antisocialist,” “Down to Hell,” “The Violence,” “Into the Fire” and the closer “Alone in A Room.” I’ve seen these guys so many times over the years and they always pull of their stuff very well and give you a good show and this performance was no different.

“So Called Life” from the brand-new record ‘Explosions’ opened the set for Three Days Grace. It was the start of a ten-song set that saw the band focusing on the hits of the catalog, and a little bit to my surprise, they have quite a few. I lost track of this band after the first two albums and when vocalist Adam Gontier split from the outfit I completely lost touch with the band. This was my first time seeing the band live and I was pleasantly surprised just how great they sounded and the non-stop energy the newer front man, Matt Walst who took over vocals back in 2013, had throughout the set. The obvious cuts like “Animal I have Become,” “Never Too Late,” “Riot,” “Home” and “I Hate Everything About You” were certainly the backbone of the night and rightfully so as the crowd sang every word but I really liked “Mountain” and “Painkiller” as well. It was one of those shows where I fully realized how many hits this band has and why they continue to draw fans to their shows. The sound was so tight and each song sounded perfect as Brad Walst (Bass) and Neil Sanderson (Drums) handled the rhythm section while Barry Stock handled the guitar along with Matt Walst also doing some guitar. That live experience, as I have always said, is so important as it’s an hour commercial to showcase what you are and give people an opportunity to buy in and this show made me a believer in Three Days Grace.  

Godsmack have almost three decades under their belt. The band formed in 1995 in Lawrence, Massachusetts and have accumulated a tremendous amount of success over seven studio albums. The quartet of Sully Erna (Vocals, Guitar), Robbie Merrill (Bass), Tony Rombola (Guitar) and Shannon Larkin (Drums) took to the stage with “I Stand Alone” to a very excited crowd. The band has had three consecutive number-one albums on the Billboard 200 along with 25 top ten radio hits, including 18 songs in the top five so its quite apparent, everybody knows a Godsmack song or two, even if you were there to see some of the other bands and were not a die-hard fan. The hard-hitting set included “Keep Away,” “Speak,” “Straight Out of Line,” “Awake” and “Whatever.” The stage had a simple set-up of amps with flame throwers lined in front of the them which was first unleashed during the third song of the set called “1000hp.” Although time continues to march at a tremendous pace, the band sounds and feels just as did decades ago. Not much has changed as Erna still sounds as impressive as he ever has and the music still pummels in a glorious heaviness that first put the band on the map. The encore included Erna playing piano on “Under Your Scars” and then closing the show with The Beatlescover “Come Together.” This show was just another reminder of the legacy of Godsmack and how important they were in the musical landscape in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. It seems like just yesterday when the appeared at Ozzfest in 1999 along with the likes of System Of A DownDeftones and Slipknot. Bands that were just starting to navigate themselves in the music industry and now are some of the biggest bands we have today. These are the guys that are inspiring the bands we will hear in the future. Truly, another great show from Godsmack

DOROTHY, JOYOUS WOLF & CLASSLESS ACT Bring The Rock To Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota welcomed Dorothy as she brought her “Gifts From The Holy Ghost Tour” for a night of uncompromised rock-n-roll. It was night that would feature two other bands that soak themselves in the classic rock sound that seems to be on a bit of a revival in the current musical landscape. 

The first band to hit the stage was Classless Act. The band features Derek Day (Vocals), Dane Pieper (Guitar), Griffin Tucker (Guitar), Franco Gravante (Bass), and Chuck McKissock (Drums). Hailing from Los Angeles, California, they embodied a supercharged version of 70’s rock fused with a modern-day bombastic sound that comes off the stage fast and loud. The songs were laced with catchy hooks and melodies with a couple stand-outs being “This Is For You” and “Give It To Me.” Knowing that this was the first time for most of the audience seeing and hearing them, they threw in a great cover of the GNR classic cut “Civil War” towards the end of the set that people really got into. I was really impressed by these guys and loved how they attacked the night. They may have been the opener but they were there to be seen and heard and leave an impression on every person in that venue and I truly believe they did. Classless Act is something to start paying attention to. 

Another band straight from the Southern California sun, Joyous Wolf, opened the set with “Quiet Heart.” The band consists of Nick Reese (Vocals), Blake Allard (Guitar), Greg Braccio (Bass), and Robert Sodaro (Drums) and they have a sound built on the blues that hits your soul. Joyous Wolf dropped the EP ‘Place in Time’ back in 2019 which showcased their infectious grooves and melodies that are intertwined all over that release. We finally got a brand-new track called “Fearless” last year and it was a highlight of the show hearing it played live. The strong rhythm sections allow Allard to shine as he effortlessly delivers his guitar parts with a tasteful precision of notes that seem to dance around the other instruments. The lasting image of a Joyous Wolf show is definitely the antics of Reese. Along with being the mouthpiece of the band, he can also be labeled the acrobatic of the group as well. He is all over the stage and does jumps, spins and splits as he works though the set. He also cut the crowd in half and jumped from the stage, over the barrier, into the cleared runway to further ignite the crowd. He was non-stop energy from start to finish. The band ripped through a nine-song set list that closed with “Mother Rebel.” Joyous Wolf is certainly one of those young bands that continue to show they are a force and hopefully their next album can take them up to another level. 

The headliner, Dorothy, hit the stage with the tune “Down to the Bottom.” Vocalist Dorothy Martin instantly showed the power of her voice and the command of the stage. Her band in simplest terms, absolutely smoked. The skill of the musicianship was obvious as they provided the jet fuel for Dorothy to showcase her talent and take the songs to another level sonically. The first quarter of the set included “Gun In My Hand,” “Ain’t Our Time To Die” and “What’s Coming To Me.” I was a bit surprised that the material was from the past albums ‘ROCKISDEAD,’ ’28 Days In the Valley’ and older singles as opposed to hitting with newer cuts. She also slipped in a great cover of “Sweet Dreams” from the Eurythmicsbefore getting to some songs I was anxious to hear. Her third album, ‘Gifts from the Holy Ghost’ just recently dropped and we finally got a couple tracks from it. Both songs, “Rest In Peace” and “A Beautiful Life,” are stand-outs off the newest record that features a lot of driving guitar rockers. The set contained twelve songs that seemed to fly by. Some other songs that made the set were “Medicine Man,” “Raise Hell,” “Flawless,” and “Freedom.” Every song came across in pristine form and for me, the first time seeing them, solidified the strength of the material and talent of the performers. 

This is a really great tour package. Every band offers a different twist of sound while all being based in the good old rock genre. The night was full soaring guitars and powerful vocals that kept the night rolling at a an extremely fast pace. If you’re a rocker, this tour is for you. 

THE WARNING Bring The Mayday Tour to Minnesota

The Warning brought the ‘Mayday Tour’ to the Fine Line in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A loyal and dedicated fan base packed the venue to witness the trio’s first performance in the city. You could feel the excitement and anticipation for the band to finally hit the stage after rescheduling the date due to covid. 

The Warning features three sisters from Monterrey, Mexico that have been quietly building up momentum since blowing up YouTube back in 2014 with their version of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica was put on the platform. The Villarreal sisters, Daniela (guitar, lead vocals), Paulina (drums, lead vocals, piano), and Alejandra (bass guitar, piano, backing vocals) formed the band in 2013 and now, with almost ten years behind them, the secret of this bands talent and infectious sound is about to be unleashed into the rock world. They signed a record deal with Lava Records in 2020 and dropped a new E.P. called ‘Mayday’ in 2021 which contained half of the upcoming third studio album. Based on the success of the singles and being able to get in front of people to showcase their music, the sky is the limit for this young trio.

The set opened up with a couple of rockers, “Z” and “Animosity,” that set the table for a blazing hour set. Both songs are laced with high octane energy that show the power and the heaviness of the band without sacrificing melody and hooks. What you quickly realized was just how tight the music was and synergy the sisters have on stage. The play off each other in such perfect unison which brings a dynamic boost to the songs are they come off the stage with a lethal strike. The new tune “Money” has been an immediate fan favorite since its release this year and got a massive reaction from the crowd. This show wasn’t just about the songs on the newest release but also a time for fans to hear some of the older material off the first two studio albums ‘XXI Century Blood’ which was released in 2017 and ‘Queen of the Murder Scene’ which dropped in 2018. Songs like “Dust to Dust,” “Dull Knives (Cut Better),” “Survive,” “Queen of the Murder Scene” and “When I’m Alone” were met was as much enthusiasm as the newer tracks were. The also pulled out a couple songs sung completely in Spanish called “Narcisista” and “Martirio.” The Warning also have a track on “The Metallica Blacklist” album as they performed a new cover of “Enter Sandman” for the album that also featured Alessia Cara on the recording. I would have to admit I am always skeptical of covers and hadn’t heard this version on the record but when they played it live, I was blown away on how they took that song and made it their own. Some of the backing vocals really gave it a much darker and haunting atmosphere that really sounded great. The grunge crushing “Choke” was another big song that had the crowd moving and another definite stand-out moment. “Disciple” and the set closer “Evolve,” both off the ‘Mayday’ release rounded out the set. 

Despite being so young, The Warning performed like seasoned pros. Daniela flourishes in getting people involved in the show and is that perfect bridge between the band and the crowd. Her energy and spirit are the catalyst that make the live show go although Paulina, back on the drums, is quite entertaining as well and brings another great voice to take over lead vocals which frees up the guitarist to shred. Alejandra isn’t as demonstrative as her sisters but delivers her bass parts with precision and completes those three-part harmonies that gives many of the songs such a strong dynamic. As good as the individual pieces are in this band, it’s the collective unit that makes The Warning so impressive and for the first show ever in Minnesota, it was a big win for them and the crowd that came to see them. This headlining club tour is an award for the fans that have been supporting them since they began. It’s a chance to see them play a full set and celebrate how far they have come since the band’s inception. In July they will hit the road as an opener for Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless in bigger venues and with audiences that may be getting their first taste of The Warning and I suspect they will turn a lot of those people into fan despite playing a shorter set. I think you will this bands popularity rise very quickly and my only regret is this tour in not coming to my state as it will be a great night of music. 

SHINEDOWN, THE PRETTY RECKLESS & DIAMANTE Bring The Fire To South Dakota [Review & Photo Gallery]

Shinedown brought The Revolutions Live Tour to the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota withThe Pretty Reckless and Diamante in support. The bar is always set high when it comes to Shinedown putting on spectacular shows and you could feel the anticipation as people filed into the venue. As the night played out, it was apparent that all three acts rose to the occasion and put on fantastic shows.

Diamante started the night with her hit “Ghost Myself.” She has the flair and style of a pop music star but also has a bite that lends itself to hard rock. She dropped her second record ‘American Dream’ in 2021 which showed the artists growth from her debut ‘Coming In Hot” which was released in 2018. She has continued to hone her craft by extensive touring and the opportunity to open this run of dates with Shinedown has allowed her to introduce herself to thousands of people every night. Her set consisted of “Haunted,” “American Dream,” “I Love Myself for Hating You” and a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls hit “Iris.” As with most opening acts, the set was short and came and went very quickly. What she lacked for in time, she made up for with quality. Her voice sounded fantastic and she seized every moment to give the crowd an entertaining set and lasting memories of her hook induced songs that stick with you long after she has left the stage. 

It has been a very long time since anybody has seen The Pretty Reckless on stage. In fact, the last tour was back in 2016-2017. For fans, it’s been a long wait, especially after dropping, what could be, their best album to date, ‘Death by Rock and Roll,’ back in early February of 2021. The band is led by vocalist Taylor Momsen and when she took the stage and kicked into the Soundgarden cover “Loud Love” the crowd let out a tremendous roar. Your immediately struck by the strength of her vocals as she invited you into her world. They pulled out the track “Since Your Gone” from the “Light Me Up” release second and then the title track from the newest record. The way Momsen delivers her vocals, changes up styles, from all out power to raspy seduced venom, gives The Pretty Reckless it’s uniqueness and sound. Call them hard rock, alternative, post-grunge or whatever you want, I simply think they douse themselves in good old-fashioned rock-n-roll and light the match. Although the vocalist steals most of the praise and attention, the band is top-notch and supply the foundation for which Momsen stands on. Guitarist Ben Phillips, bassist Mark Damon and drummer Jamie Perkins really brought the songs alive in their full sonic thunder. Other songs from the night included “Going To Hell,” “Heaven Knows,” “And So It Went” and “Take Me Down.” It was great to see The Pretty Reckless back on stage, they absolutely killed it and sounded like a band that is now on a mission to make up for lost time. 

What can be said about Shinedown that already hasn’t been said? They pride themselves on bringing a bombastic live show and energy that engulfs the venue from the very first moment they take the stage. Shinedown Nation is a loyal one and they love this band, so the pressure is always on to produce a bigger, better and more exciting show than the one before it. This tour is the introduction to the new album coming called ‘Planet Zero.’ The album was supposed to have dropped on April 22, but due to delays in physical product, the wait will be a little longer as it now will be released on July 1. The stage was unique, a narrower one that shot much further into the crowd which gave many fans a front row view of the stage. In front of the drums was giant screen. After a short clip about the band getting ready to tour again after covid, a giant door, that was the screen, opened up and band walked out to the middle of the stage. From that moment it was on, they unleashed the pyro, blasted into one of the new cuts called “The Saints of Violence and Innuendo” and the crowd went nuts. The brilliance and aggressiveness of the song cut though the venue, a song truly served best in a live setting. The energy coming off the stage was being quickly shot back at it from the people rocking with the cut. Then when the moment seemingly can’t get any better, it does, as blasts of fire shot through the floor of the stage adding another shot of adrenaline to the moment. The show didn’t slow with the next two songs played either as “Devil” and “Planet Zero” hit next. Shinedown members Brent Smith (Vocals), Zach Myers (Guitar), Eric Bass (Bass) and Barry Kerch (Drummer) understand a concert is more than just playing the songs, it also is delivering an experience, a moment where the only thing that matters is that music, in that venue, with Shinedown. They work hard to bring everybody into the show and it shows by the response they get every night. The set as usual, is packed with powerhouse songs and hits. “Cut the Cord,” “Enemies,” Bully,” “45” and the closer “Sound Of Madness” always go over big. They also take some time to slow it down and bring up a piano from underneath the stage and acoustic guitars and played “Simple Man,” “Call Me” and a cover of the Foo Fighters “Wheels” with Myers and Bass on vocals. It’s a pretty simple formula but so few bands pull off such an exciting show tour after tour like Shinedown does and ‘The Revolutions Live Tour” is just another great example of what they do and how they do it. 

TOOL Brings Fear Inoculum to Minneapolis, Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

The lights went down, at the near compacity Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as drummer Danny Carey, sporting a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, took to his throne. The crowd took to their feet as guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor took to their positions and the journey, that is known as “Fear Inoculum,” began to pulsate through the arena. The stage was wrapped with a translucent curtain that projected images that circled around the stage. In the darkness, a mohawked Maynard James Keenan, took to one of the two platforms that flanked the drums, and let the crowd know he was there with his instantly recognizable voice. We had all officially been welcomed to the world of Tool

The band is still in full support mode for the album they dropped in 2019 called ‘Fear Inoculum.’ The set was built upon the album, along with the title track, they took us through “Pneuma,” “Invincible,” “Descending,” “Culling Voices” and “Chocolate Chip Trip.” The second song in the set was the real gem of the night. A reworked version of the song “Opiate,” which was originally released back in 1992, has been given new life three decades later. It is a perfectly blended mix that still contains the essence of the beginning of the band with a heavy injection of where Tool is today. The rest of the set just touched on past albums, songs played were “The Pot,” “Pushit,” The Grudge,” “Undertow” and “Hooker With A Penis” that really got the crowd going before the intermission. 

Watching a Tool show is like no other. There is almost no interaction between the band and the crowd. Only an occasional comment from Maynard, but besides that, the band itself, the players, almost become a secondary afterthought. The music being made on stage engulfs the venue and simply takes centerstage away from any anything else. Once that curtain was removed, about midway through the show, the stage seemed much more open and a very impressive laser show shot across the arena. Even with that, it was still the about the music and the atmosphere it created. People reacted in various ways, some looked like they were at a Metallica concert and were banging heads, some did the air-drums, an impossibility to shadow Carey, but some good attempts, while some just stood up with their arms in the air and eyes closed, letting the music move their body. This show didn’t have the pyrotechnics, fire, explosions and lights that left you blind for three days after the show. This show was about the creation of music. The other thing is the material they are playing are not three-minute burners that come and go in heartbeat. It’s like they are slowly constructing a building with each song and at the end, it all comes crashing down and they have to start all over again with the next song. 

Tool are truly one of the most unique bands out there. They operate on their own musical plateau without any rules that adhere to many other popular acts. The fanbase supports them and give them full autonomy to create music they want to make, not what is popular or the latest fad. As I watched the band close out the night, I think back to when I first heard them, that iconic bass sound from the song “Sober” echoing through the dorm halls from a room down the hall. I had to know what that was so I pounded on the door to get the answer. I didn’t have a crystal ball, I would have never guessed that decades later I would be sitting in a packed arena watching Tool play and hoping for that song that got it all started, “Sober,” would be played, but in true Tool fashion, they didn’t’ play it. That’s exactly how this band rolls and judging by people tonight, nobody would have it any other way. 

THE DARKNESS and THE DEAD DEADS Show Their Motorheart in Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

The Darkness dropped the album ‘Motorheart’ in 2021 and are currently supporting it in a tour that is going across North America. The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota welcomed the band with a full house of loyal fans anxious to see them, especially since previous bookings had been cancelled due to covid.  

Before the headliner would take the stage, a band called The Dead Deads would accept the task of warming up the crowd. They are based in Nashville and what was once a five-piece band has now settled into just three members. Being fans of sci-fi has led to a stylized face make-up that each member wears. The trio consists of Meta doing lead vocals and guitar, bassist Daisy and drummer McQueen. They dropped a full-length album back in 2021 as well, ‘Tell Your Girls It’s Alright,’ and it features a track that one of rock and metals biggest voices, Corey Taylor, sings on called “Murder Ballad II.” The band has a sound that encompasses many different styles and influences. When you dive into the catalog, you’re going to get rock, hard rock, punk, metal, alternative and indie all being blended into the formula that makes up The Dead Deads. This was my first time encountering them so I had no idea what to expect or any of the songs they played. I found myself being swept into the performance and the songs were catchy with addictive melodies that kept things really fun. They got a great crowd reaction and Justin Hawkins of The Darkness was standing side stage rocking out as they played, just like the crowd in front of them. I’ve since checked out the album and there is some great stuff on it, songs like “First Tooth,” “Deal With Me” and the heavy nineties alternative rocker “Hey Girlfriend” stood out immediately. It’s always a great bonus moment when you’re hitting a show and a brand-new musical gem pops up before the headliner plays. Check out The Dead Deads as they have a really cool thing going on. 

The Darkness struck first with the opening cut off the newest record “Welcome Tae Glasgae.” The quartet consisted of drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, bassist Frankie Poullain, guitarist Dan Hawkins and the flamboyant and unforgettable lead singer and guitarist Justin Hawkins. The song got people jumping with its hard rocking attack and from that moment on, the band held the Varsity Theater in their hands for the next hour and a half. When Frankie walks out with the cowbell, you know two things are going to happen, first off, everybody starts yelling “more cowbell,” the second, “One Way Ticket” is going to be the next song. Two of the biggest sing-alongs of the night were that song followed by “Growing On Me.” The Darkness sounded absolutely fantastic as they juggled a setlist built around seven studio albums, the debut record, now almost twenty years old, ‘Permission To Land,” provided seven of the sixteen song set. So many good songs went by in a heartbeat, “Solid Gold,” “Open Fire,” “Heart Explodes,” “Barbarian” and “Friday Night” were some of the stand-outs but quite honestly, nothing in the set was less than amazing.

Justin Hawkins is always the wildcard when you discuss The Darkness with any rock fan. It is impossible to ignore his signature voice, costumes and stage antics. You are either against him and that wicked voice or a willing passenger on his musical journey that refuses to be defined or boxed into any specific genre, except good old rock-n-roll. A good example of this can be found in a couple songs in the bands show. They played the title track from the new record, ”Motorheart,” it is a song that pushes in different directions, sounds and tempos which completely breaks away from the simplicity of another popular song in the set, “Givin’ Up,” which drives with an AC/DC type vibe. I always appreciate artists and bands that push the envelope and the fan base to listen to different styles and not simply repeat what has already been done over and over again. With all that said, everything they do, sounds uniquely The Darkness, and I’m always ready to continue that musical journey in any direction the band decides to take. 

The night really flew by fast and before I knew it, they ripped through “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” to a rousing response but the best was yet to come. After returning to the stage they had one song left, the enviable closer. They launched into the song that put the band in our laps, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.” However, shortly after they started it, they stopped. Justin asked to people to put away the phones and simply enjoy the song and the moment. They started the song again and the people were absorbed by the moment, the song and enjoying live music once again. What The Darkness truly understands, and this show is another testament to that, a live experience is not only about how well you can play your material, and rest assure, they play it well, but it’s also about performing and entertaining. They deliver such a high energy show that pulls people right on the stage. Even if you were not a fan, you couldn’t help but to sucked into its atmosphere the show creates. Anytime these guys book a show in my town, I will be there, they may truly be the last of their kind. 

MEGADETH, LAMB OF GOD, TRIVIUM & HATEBREED Bring Metal To Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

The Metal Tour of the Year came to its conclusion at the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a little over a month run across the United States. The bill featured co-headliners Megadeth and Lamb Of God with special guests Triviumand Hatebreed. Thankfully this tour didn’t succumb to cancellations like many other tours trying to cross the country. A sold-out venue waited for a heavy dose of fist pounding metal and this tour didn’t disappoint. 

Hatebreed came out with every intention of destroying the place. Led by vocalist Jamey Jasta the band blistered through a ten-track set that opened with “Empty Promises.” Jasta told the crowd it was Hatebreed’s job to warm up the crowd, and they did a lot more than that. Circle pits ignited to counter the massive energy coming off the stage. It’s impossible not to love and appreciate what they bring to the table every time they step onto the stage. The only thing that matches the intensity is how much fun they have and how they attack every second they have to play. The music is aggressive but the attitude is 100% positive and they have a way of uniting everybody in the building. The only true way to experience who and what they are, is too take in show and hear the material in its truest form, loud, unapologetic and without mercy. A couple of my favorite songs made the cut with “This Is Now” and “Looking Down the Barrel of Today” were highlights. The band ended the night with “I Will Be Heard.” 

Trivium has a brand-new album set for release called ‘In The Court Of The Dragon” and that’s where the band started as they took the stage. Kicking off with the title track the Florida based unit hit with a musical precision that sliced though the building. I thought the bands last release in 2020, ‘What The Dead Men Say,” was one of the best albums released that year and this was our first taste of hearing some of those songs live. Along with the title track we also got “Catastrophist’ which sounded amazing and left me wanting to hear more of that record. Plagued with a shortened time-slot and so much material the play, they went with “Strife,” “The Heart From Your Hate” and another brand new song off the upcoming album “Feast Of Fire.” It’s hard not to get anything from ‘Ascendancy’ or ‘Shogun’ but understandable giving the slot they are in. This set delivered everything you have come to expect from a Trivium show, lots of passion, energy and songs executed with perfection. The show ended with “In Waves” and now we wait for the next album to drop (October 8th) and I would assume there will be a tour right around the corner to support it. 

To put into the simplest words, the band that took over the stage next, was an absolute beast! Lamb Of God took the roof off with a set that any adrenaline junky would have enjoyed. The cement floor was bouncing like a mini-trampoline because everybody was jumping up-and-down as the chaos that was on the stage was seeping into the crowd. The energy that engulfed the Armory is something you just have to feel, and be part of, to understand its magnitude. They opened with “Memento Mori” and never looked back as they obliviated a twelve-song set. When vocalist Randy Blythe introduced the song “Walk With Me In Hell,” the stage became a fiery inferno. Flames shot up into the air throughout the stage as he stomped from side to side. The band provided its own fire that didn’t need pyro to fuel it. They were tight and ferocious and built the musical landscape to which Blythe used as his own personal playground as he leaped off anything, he could use to take flight and taking moments to windmill his dreadlocks. Some of songs that made it on to the list were “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For,” “Set To Fail,” “512,” “Ruin” and “Laid To Rest.” It was an explosive set that had fans absorbing every note as people sang, screamed, fist pumped and jumped into circle pits. The closer, “Redneck,” brought the house down and whatever energy people had left, they spent it happily. Lamb Of God put on an exhilarating show and after a long period of no concerts, people were clearly ready to go from the moment they took the stage. 

The legendary and proud member of the Big 4, Megadeth, would take the stage to close out the night. They opened the show with a track from one of the most important albums in metal history, ‘Rust In Peace,” the thrash classic “Hanger 18.” Just like the bands before them, you could hear the roar of the crowd as they took the stage. Dave Mustaine is the only original member left that created some of the most iconic and influential metal every recorded but the band he had assembled was flawless. Kiko Loureiro on guitar, Dirk Verbeuren was on the kit and James LoMenzo, recently tapped to cover bass for the tour, excecated the material that met the high standards of Megadeth fans. It was really a breath of fresh air to see Mustaine on stage and ripping through those massive riffs and shredding those blazing solos. We all know of the cancer battle he went through and then the pandemic shut the world down from concerts. I wondered if we had seen the last of Megadeth, but this tour, and seeing this band back on stage, is a heavy indicator that there is still gas in the tank. The perfect set-list could be debated for days but to close out the final date we got “The Threat Is Real,” “Sweating Bullets,” “Trust,” “She-Wolf” and the massive hit “Symphony Of Destruction.” The best was saved for last as, for me, the two most important songs in catalog came next. “Peace Sells,” was the tune that pulled me into the band, and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due,” a genre defining song, that never gets old live. As the lights went down on this show and the tour, I can only hope that this is just the beginning of tours to come. If you were born metal, live and breathe metal, this is exactly where you needed to be and where you need to go in the future.

SHINEDOWN, SEETHER, MAMMOTH WVH & AYRON JONES Shine in Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

After eighteen long months, the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, opened its doors for its first concert. Greeting the thousands of people that flocked into the venue was the 93X Family Reunion which featured Shinedown along with special guests SeetherMammoth WVH and Ayron Jones.

Hitting the stage first was Seattle’s singer, songwriter and guitarist Ayron Jones. He is out supporting his fantastic album ‘Child of the State.’ From the opening note of “Boys From The Puget Sound” he had my attention. Immediately his connection to the guitar and what came pouring out of it took hold of me and held me memorized. He is a product of so many influences and through that he encompasses various genres to create a sound that is uniquely him. There are elements of rock, grunge, soul and hip-hop fused throughout his songs. It becomes trivial to try to pin-point who or what he sounds like because as soon as you think he is this, he quickly morphs into something else. The real tragedy of the night was his extremely short set. He only got four songs that included “Supercharged,” “Mercy,” “Take Me Away” along with opening cut. He assembled a fantastic backing band that brought a ton of energy and fun to the stage and allowed Jones to take control with his singing and playing.  I would suspect Ayron Jones was the unknown entity on the bill but hopefully more people become aware of him as he is a fantastic artist that needs to be heard. 

The biggest buzz about the night hit the stage next. Mammoth WVH, featuring Wolfgang Van Halen, struck with “Don’t Back Down” to a rousing cheer from the crowd. The self-titled debut album was released back in June and Mammoth WVH have been on the road ever since supporting it. Just like the artist that played before him, Wolfgang knows there is strength in numbers and has put together a fantastic band to help bring his song to life on stage. Mammoth WVHblistered through six songs that included “Mammoth,” “You’ll Be The One,” “Your To Blame,” the ballad “Distance” and closed with “Epiphany.” The musical attack was precise and Wolfgang, playing both guitar and keyboard, sounded great vocally. There has been a real thrust of new bands playing rock/hard rock music but many of these young acts tend to pull form the seventies vibe for influence, but that is not the case with Mammoth WVH. They are an unapologetic arena rock band that have crafted songs with all the musical trappings, big choruses, catchy hooks, infectious melodies, that fit nicely on rock radio and appeal to mass audiences. This was another set that ended way too soon and I’m sure many people are hoping they come back on a headline set real soon. 

The band that formed in 1999 in Pretoria, Gauteng, Seether, took to the stage next and opened with ‘Gasoline.’ The bands longest serving member, lead vocalist and guitarist Shaun Morgan was flanked stage right while bassist Dale Stewart roamed the center section. Stage left was guitarist Corey Lowery and on the kit was drummer John Humphrey. The band’s style revolves around post-grunge, alternative, nu metal and hard rock. They have built up a tremendous mainstream audience with continued success of numerous singles that have charted on various charts. Many of those hits, ‘Country Song,’ ‘Fine Again,’ and ‘Fake It’ were scattered throughout the set. The song ‘Broken’ was stripped down with just Stewart on acoustic guitar and Morgan with his electric guitar while the other two guys left the stage. Seether released their eighth studio record, ‘Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,’ back in 2020 and that album was represented with ‘Bruised and Bloodied,” “Wasteland,” and ‘Dangerous’ all included in the twelve-song set. Seether has been a very consistent band and has a very loyal following and you could hear those people throughout the night and especially when the band cranked into the big hit ‘Remedy.’ It was a solid set that I’m sure fans of the band were delighted to see them and hear those songs again. 

The crowd let out a tremendous roar as the lights went out with the anticipation of Shinedown taking the stage. That anticipation quickly changed into euphoria as the song ‘Cut The Cord’ ripped through the Target Center air. The quartet featuring Brent Smith(vocals), Barry Kerch (drums), Zach Myers (guitar) and Eric Bass (Bass), despite the layoff, seemed like a well-oiled machine. The energy they had was infectious and it came right off the stage and engulfed the crowd. The band was all in and so was the crowd, it had a been a long eighteen months since the last show here and everybody was determined to take the roof off of the place. Shinedown has a thick catalog of chart success that built this machine to the arena level act they are.They have been a Billboard Mainstream Rock chart mainstay and have generated a mass appeal to people of all ages. The setlist contained so many favorites, songs like ’45,’ ‘Diamond Eyes,’ ‘Bully’ and ‘Enemies’ are brilliant and people sang every word with the band. I can truly appreciate a small intimate club show with one of my favorite artists but there is also something to be said about arena shows. It wasn’t that long ago that rock and metal acts made up the bulk of the music schedule for arenas across the country but things have slowed down and big shows like this are getting less common. It’s such an amazing experience and environment, the sound thundering through the crowd while the lights dance around the sound. That massive stage with the pyro and explosions, all these are staples of a live music show that only can happen here, the big venues, and its magical. Shinedown understands that, when your giving this opportunity, built up a tremendous fan base like they have, you must deliver every night, and this performance did just that. The night came to close with ‘Sounds Of Madness’ with fists pumping from the front row to the ceiling and flames shooting into the air…that’s what it’s all about. 

BEARTOOTH & WAGE WAR Bring The Below Tour to Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

Beartooth brought the highly anticipated ‘The Below Tour’ to The Fillmore Minneapolis in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The tour also featured Wage War in support. Dragged Under, who is also featured on this run, was unable to perform as they have momentarily stepped away from the tour for safety reason and hope to rejoin it in the near future. It was a packed house and you could feel the anticipation building as fans counted down the minutes until the lights went out.

Coming to the stage to a tremendous roar from the crowd, the band hailing from Ocala, Florida, was Wage War. Knowing the energy the headliner would bring, they were determined from the opening note not to be outdone. Opening with “Stitch” and then into “Who I am” the onslaught was on. The crowed returned that energy as a circle pit was quickly put into motion. Vocalist Briton Bond paced the stage as he ignited the fans to give the band everything they had. Flanking the singer were guitarist Seth Blake and Cody Quistad. The rhythm section consisted of bassist Chris Gaylord and drummer Stephen Kluesene. Two of the highlights from the set were the tracks “High Horse” and newly released single “Circle The Drain.” Both songs are featured on the upcoming album release, ‘Manic’, that will be dropped on October 1, 2021. Powering through a blistering set consisting of ten cuts, the band said goodnight with the closer “Low.” This was my first-time catching Wage War live and they were impressive, I look forward to hearing the new record and hope to catch them again real soon. 

With the intermission over, the lights dropped to the sound of ‘Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit blaring through the sound system of The Fillmore. What came next was nothing short of a purple tidal wave that engulfed the room with a sonic audio assault that could that hardly be contained by the walls that held the venue together. The energy in the room took over and that circle pit Wage War started earlier, was now twice as big and moving to the intensity of the music. Beartooth was now in command as they ripped into the opener “Below” and then “Devastation.” Not to be outdone by the sheer aggression of the sound, the lightshow coming off the stage was just as tenacious as the music was. It cut through the smoke with precision and at times you could barely see the stage.

Beartooth mastermind and vocalist Caleb Shomo took advantage of every second he had on that stage. He was non-stop movement as he ran from side to side igniting the crowd, that quite frankly, didn’t need any more inspiration to fully throw themselves into Shomo’s world. The fans were all in, singing every word as the crowd surfers made a steady stream to the stage. It didn’t matter what they played as Beartooth maneuvered through a set that included songs from all the releases. Songs from ‘Disgusting’ included “Body Bag,” “In Between,” “Beaten In Lips” and “In Between.” Tunes from the album ‘Aggressive” were “Hated” and “Sick Of Me.” Three songs from ‘Disease’ included the title track, “You Never Know” and “Bad Listener,” but tonight the celebration revolved around the fantastic 2021 release simply called ‘Below.’ Eight songs anchored the set highlighted by “Hell of It,” “Fed Up” and “The Past Is Dead.” The guys that were asked to deliver the musical goods were completely on task. Guitarists Zach Houston and Will Deely along with bassist Oshie Bichar and drummer Connor Denis provided the soundscape that powered the engine that brought the songs alive. As the night went on the crowd never let up, the pit just kept spinning and heat and humidity in the building built up to the point where the ceiling was dripping moisture. The brilliant night of music ended as they closed the show with “The Last Riff.” 

The biggest take away from seeing Beartooth for the first time wasn’t the explosive energy of the band or the blistering aggressiveness of the music that pulverized everything within earshot, and it wasn’t the bombastic light show that worked in unison with the music. All those things were impressive that made for an awesome concert. That thing that stuck with me was that connection between Beartooth and the people that jammed into that venue to see them. That connection is real, it’s something that can’t be manufactured, all those people screaming those lyrics and locking into every movement and word that came off that stage wasn’t lost on Shomo. He was so appreciative of those fans and just being on stage again. He, and the rest of the band, gave everything they had because every moment counts. We have learned over the past year that this can be taken away instantly. Let’s hope we get more moments like this in our futures. 

KORN & BREAKING BENJAMIN Power Up Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

Korn and Breaking Benjamin have joined together for a run through North America dubbed the ‘Winter Tour 2020.’ Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota saw fans flocking through the doors with a great anticipation of a night of heavy music . Bones UK provided support for the co-headline tour. Continue reading