I was fortunate enough to cover a huge number of guitar heavy hitters in one fall swoop this week: Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi; all currently on the Generation Axe Tour. Five very different guitarists that cover Heavy Rock and Blues, to Neo-Classical Metal and Experiment Progressive. One thing is for damned sure: each man is at the top of their game and love playing the highest quantity of notes in the shortest period of time possible. As Bettencourt put it so succinctly: The promoters could not figure out how to pay all of these slingers and decided to pay each per note. No doubt, these gentlemen would come out on the winning end of that deal!
I think it is safe to say that everyone came to the show to see one or two of their favorite artists. That certainly holds true for me. I have seen Steve Vai quite a few times over the years and loved every show, Zakk Wylde with Black Label Society a couple of times which, of course, is always ear-splitting and fun, Nuno Bettencourt years and years ago with Extreme, Yngwie Malmsteen once in the mid-80’s (he was one of my primary motivators), but I have never seen Tosin Abasi or Animals As Leaders live, so I was especially excited to see this 8 string wonder shred the wood off of his fretboard. When it was all said and done, favorites mean nothing because the bar for this show was off the scale. It would become nit-picking or simply a matter of a subjective style and taste. Personally, I sat in the third row, center stage (Thank you so much, Scott!) and was moved, highly entertained and awed for three and a half hours. I love it all…
I have been listening to Lord Almighty out of Boston at the advice of others on our staff for a couple of weeks now and was excited to find out that they were playing here in Jax. It is always nice to put a face to a name so I jumped at the chance to see these guys live. I was not to be disappointed!
Random and spur of the moment concerts are always amazing. While out in Las Vegas earlier in the month I just happened to make it to a Dead Kennedys show that was totally unplanned. The concert took place at the Las Vegas Country Saloon on Fremont Street (yes, DK played a country saloon). One of the best things that can happen at a concert happened that night. Other than the Dead Kennedys I knew none of the bands on the bill. I was absolutely blown away by the 3rd band of the night. The band Sheiks Of Neptune was not only the best band I saw that night but one of the most active and best stage shows I have seen in years. (And I have seen a shit ton of shows, trust me) These guys take the stage and every eye in the room is on the stage. The whole theme of the band helps build their stage presence, but when the vocalist known as “Sheikenstein” comes running out its non-stop energy until the set is over. A ride-able toy spaceship, a beheaded Barbie doll and a Marvin The Martian style ray gun are just some of the props used to help their show come to life. Continue reading →
Slayer playing shows by themselves is more than enough to get metal heads out to a show. When you add Testament and Carcass to the bill that makes the tour a must see. Any of these 3 bands could headline a show or festival and draw a massive crowd. I knew we were in store for a massive turnout at Express Live in Columbus, Ohio. The first band of the night to take the stage was the Liverpool band Carcass. They quickly came out and got the crowd’s attention opening the show with their song “Unfit for Human Consumption”. When you are in the crowd it’s always great to catch a guitar pick, drum stick or really anything the band throws out at you. Bassist and singer Jeff Walker threw out more picks that night than I have ever seen anyone throw. The crowd kept growing and growing with each song Carcass played. By the time they were playing “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System” there wasn’t even enough room to scratch your own ass. Carcass sounded flawless on stage. Note after note everything was perfection. It’s always amazing when the opening band is on stage and they blow you away. Carcass then played one of my favorite songs which is “Heartwork” the title track of their 1993 release. The song just has this fast paced shredding guitar riffs that flow into some slowed down groove section of the song makes you want to move around the mosh pit and tackle people. I am not the only person that feels this way, because during this song the pit was going absolutely insane. Continue reading →
It has been many, many years since last seeing Mr. Satriani (I believe it was the “Surfing With the Alien” tour in Louisville, KY; back when he had hair for you younger folks), so this was a particular thrill for me. Being self-identified as a guitar nerd, I have however kept up with all of his music and love everything he has produced. I was about ready to come out of my skin waiting for him to take the stage…
Uli Jon Roth. Jennifer Batten. Andy Timmons. Drop the name of any of these guitar gods and adjectives like virtuosic, spectacular and legend are sure to abound. The stars and planets have aligned now that Uli Jon Roth has chosen to tour with Batten and Timmons on “The Ultimate Guitar Experience” tour. Big words in a day when there are so many good guitarists out there. On the second night of their tour at The Plaza LIVE in Orlando, excitement and awe was palpable in the line waiting to see these three phenoms. What was waiting for us inside was beyond what any of us could have expected. Continue reading →
Freezing temperatures couldn’t keep things from heating up in Chicago Friday night as Black Sabbath brought show 2 of their final tour, appropriately titled “The End”, to the United Center. The 23,000 Plus arena was sold out and filled to the brim by the time the metal masters took the stage. But first Long Beach, California rockers Rival Sons took the stage to get the crowd warmed up from the cold outside.
It’s not often you get to see two amazing bands at a small hole in the wall venue. When I say hole in the wall venue I of course mean that lovingly to the fullest extent. The Hideaway in Johnson City is one of the best smaller venues/bars to see a show. Havok have recently been on tour with several other bands as immediate support. Some dates had Extinction A.D., Black Breath, and Psychosomatic. While we do enjoy all of those bands we felt very lucky we got the pleasure of seeing Black Fast open for the mighty Havok. It always helps as well when a regional act is put on the bill and they step up to the stage and totally kill their set and make a shit ton of new fans. That regional act would be Wise, Virginia natives Grave Rat. Continue reading →
Soulfly is usually always touring with amazing bands. Even a Cavalera family reunion is a great touring package aka Maximum Cavalera Tour from the past. The family tree has amassed several kick ass bands. On this particular night we would be partaking in not on Soulfly, but Swedish metal legends Soilwork, Shattered Sun, Earthside and local Knoxville natives Scent of Remains. There was a couple downfalls on this night that led to some heartbreak. First and foremost it was very disappointing that Decapitated was unable to get their visas and thus not being able to get onto U.S. soil. So can we all please raise our middle fingers to the guy in immigration that wanted to be a douche and prevent them from making the tour. We were highly looking forward to banging our heads to their particular brand of metal. With an already early start time newcomers to the tour package Earthside and Scent of Remains played before we even made it to Knoxville’s premiere music venue The International. Those bands got a start a little sooner than even listed for the event. Although we missed those bands I will tell you now that Scent of Remains is a brutal band that will be a nationally touring act in their own time. So get your ass to one of their shows you will thank me later. Continue reading →
Louisville, Kentucky’s premier rock festival has once again come and gone. It was the 2nd annual Louder Than Life festival in Champion Park and music wasn’t the only thing drawing crowds towards the Ohio River. Before we get to the music, which was our whole reason for being there we have to chime in on the gourmet man food, whiskey, craft beer, and this year NXT wrestling was added as well. I think all of these things are amazing and just add to the reasons to attend the festival. The wrestling brings people into the festival that may not have any interest in music, it’s just another selling point the promoters came up with that seemed to work rather well. This year’s lineup of bands was a little more mellow and southern rock than it was last year. I like the idea of a theme with the bands. Last year seemed to be more of a 90’s throwback lineup and this year was more of a southern rock year it seemed. It leaves everyone curious what we are in store for next year. Continue reading →