Farewell To Fear

Farewell To Fear @ The Back Bar 02/23/2019

Once again another show at The Back Bar that I eagerly waited for. I heard about these guys through a friend of mine. That conversation eventually led me to downloading their “Voices” debut album. A fantastic spin. It really had me wondering if these gentlemen held up to that standard live.

Despite them being the direct support for the show it was quite obvious that most of the room was there to see them. Plenty of fans wearing F2F gear and waiting out the openers to have their spots up front for the performance. The change over was fairly quick despite a few problems on the venues end. The band wasted no time what so ever hitting the stage after everything was ironed out. Opening with “Dead Generation” couldn’t have been more perfect. It is a great song to get fired up to right away. I wasn’t the only one who thought so either. Vocalist Mike Craig gave an strong and spirited performance through out. Giving solid head bangs and a plethora of mic stand leans into the crowd to simply engage those up front. Personally, his best performance was during “Underneath My Skin”. It felt as though it had deeper meaning than the others on night. His vocals were so, so tight all night. 

All in all, Farewell to Fear are nothing more than a straight forward punch you in the mouth kick ass rock band. To say I am eagerly awaiting a return gig would be an understatement.

1. Dead Generation
2. Wake Me Up
3. Your Cure
4. Broken Wings 
5. Underneath My Skin
6. Let GO
7. Waiting For Sunrise
8. Diamonds
9. Voices



P.O.D.

P.O.D. @ WJJO Studios, Madison, WI 11/29/2018

Once again, I had the honor of attending and clicking an in studio appearance with WJJO Madison. The Johnny and Greg Half Assed Morning Show is extremely popular and extremely funny. The Gentlemen from P.O.D cracked plenty of their own jokes and even poked fun at the DJs themselves. The off air banter is really where events like this are fun. Stories and conversations of broad topics always pop up. For instance: We found out that P.O.D. took Linkin Park out on their very first tour. The guys personalities really shined and would’ve made even the casual fan perk up and listen. I was impressed and had a blast. 

As for the Performance, they played 4 songs(which are posted below). Arguably their biggest hit “Youth of the Nation” lead the event off. Requested by Johnny Danger, the band obliged an played the hit. It was a bit slower acoustically, but Sonny(vocalist) sang it with much heart and feeling. Kind of tugged at the heart strings. With how much is going on in the World today the songs meaning hits home more now than ever.

The final three songs are off of the two week old release “Circles.” They are extremely catchy. Listening to them made the head bob and body rock. Smooth is the best way to describe them. It was one of those small performances that packs a large punch. When I got home I put “Circles” on my album list. I guess it made a strong impact then.

Setlist:
1. Youth of the Nation
2. Always Southern California
3. Circles
4. Panic Attack



Doyle

Doyle @ Ruby Lounge, Madison, WI 11/24/2018

 Releasing “Abominator” in 2013, Doyle, extensively toured the country to back it. Presently with “Doyle II: As We Die” being released last year the same has accompanied it this Fall. The “As We Die. World Abomination Tour” is a 3 month long trek that has crossed the country and has finally made it’s way to Madison. It’s not everyday that a punk rock legend brings his own punk spook show through town. Let alone plays a small intimate venue like Ruby Lounge. Ruby Lounge is a tucked away gem in the college area of Madison. The basement room is heavily tinted ruby red and black for obvious reasons, but has a small elevated stage for all to see the performers. The lighting is dark but with plenty of rotating lights on the stage. Kind of the perfect room for such an event.

No time was spared when the band entered the stage area. They got straight to it. Ruby’s stage isn’t very large. The 8 cabs with Doyles caricature are spread with 4 on each side 2 on top of the others. The drum kit splits them in the middle of the stage. Leading with “Abominator” and it’s hard driving riffs and perfectly paced melodies, Doyle dishes out everything a punk, rock, or metal fan could ask for to start a gig. The rhythm section of drummer Wade Murff and bassist Brandon Strate force the audience to feel the energy from the get go. Every blood pushing bump is felt. This led to the pit opening up right away. Bodies were moving. I don’t think Ruby knew what it was in for. 

Having listened to “Abomination” for a few years now I was really anxious to finally hear the mean as hell vocals of Alex Story. Engaging with growls and barking loud vocals the “Wolfman” dominates the entire stage. Leaning over the monitors into the crowd he emphatically screams and howls into the microphone. Story defines the meaning of punk rock. With hair flips, jumps and mic throws he flashed what it takes to front a band. His collection of tats resemble a colorful tour of early punk history and his larger than life side burns only add to the Wolfman’s powerful presence. Story’s on stage banter such as “This song is a love song and you can dance to it if you want to.” was quite funny. Giving the die hards in the crowd much joy. 


The imposingly dominant figure of Doyle himself stands out front on the right of the stage. His muscular physique prominently on display as normal. I stood right in front of him for a bit and the physicality of his playing is easily noticeable. Down stroke after down stroke across his World famous Annihilator guitars forces your head to bang faster and faster. Far and away the star of the show, Doyle, lays down tasty riffs and chunky power chords. This ghoulishly monster figure stomps and walks around the stage swinging his signature “Devils Lock” with devilish smiles as well. He simply oozes with legendary punk experience.

Doyle was without a doubt in my mind a show worth attending. Everything was on point and tight. A classic performance in an excellent venue. You’d have to actually be dead to not check these guys out.



  • Devildriver

    Devildriver @ Route20, Sturtevant, WI 11/12/2018

    Strolling back into Route 20 for the second time in 3 days, I was completely hungry to snap in the room again. That anxiousness has only doubled with Devildriver as the band. I have listened to Devildriver from the beginning. Owning all 8 of their releases gave me more incentive to get off of my ass and try to photograph this event. There was no real photography area to snap from so it was a free for all to get a spot close enough to get a remotely decent angle. I did walk away satisfied with a few images I enjoy. Basically the name of the game in the long run. 

    I was impressed with Devildriver’s calmness while hitting the stage. This impression was the definition of the phrase “seasoned pros”. I grabbed my position on the corner of the stage with the hopes of hearing 3 songs specifically. One of those songs I got right away “Hold Back the Day”. The song seemed to set the room off in an explosion. The mosh pit made a huge push towards the stage and flexed the barricades. With Dez Fafara giving those signature growls and screams the rest of the band bounced around head banging. It was not missed upon everyone in the building that Devildriver was there to kick their asses.

    I love the song “My Night Sky”. It is simply a slow grinding mean as hell song that makes you swing your shoulders and slowly head bang. By nature I am an observant concert goer. Meaning I watch the show and normally don’t get caught up in it. This song had me doing all of those aforementioned motions.  

    The intricate lead guitar riff only built the anticipation during the bands cover of AWOL Nation’s “Sail”. This was never a song I would’ve imagined being covered by a metal band, yet it completely works. It was done to perfection. I would almost suggest it sounds better this way. In the circle pit people would stop raise their hands and scream “sail”. With foot stomps and knuckle bumps Dez made sure the front row felt the love of the non drug approach to life that was spoken before the intro hit.  

    Finally, it comes down to “Cloud Over California”. Which is ever so unfortunately fitting with all of the fires happening across the bands home state. The build up is the best part about the song. The lead riff exploded into well timed chugs. Judging by the crowds reaction I wasn’t the only one waiting for this metal masterpiece. It was apparent that the band had saved all of their stamina for these final two songs. The accuracy of the song was true to album. Sooooo good. It felt like they projected every immense amount of energy they had to close it out.

    I was floored and tickled pink after the show ended. I felt great even though I just just had my ass kicked. With a few dates left in California I can only imagine they ratchet it up a bit. I am so jealous of those attending those shows.

    Devildriver’s new album “Outlaws ‘till The End” is available now. 

    Set List:

    1. Ruthless
    2. Hold Back The Day
    3. Heartache
    4. Whiskey River
    5. Grin Fucked
    6. My Night Sky
    7. Sail
    8. Hang Mans Noose
    9. I Could Care Less
    10. Clouds Over California
    11. End of The Line


    Jinjer

    Jinjer @ Route20, Sturtevant, WI 11/12/2018

    About a 10 months back I stumbled upon this CD. This CD was “King of Everything” by Jinjer. I happened to find it at my local library. Yes, my local library. I checked it out and then eventually bought a copy of it because it kicked so much ass and artists deserved to be paid for their work. As a photographer I get it. From their I also purchase their “Cloud Factory” which is an amazing disc. Past that having no clue the dynamic of this band I did a quick google and youtube check. I was blown away. This Ukrainian 4 piece had me extremely pumped to attend their show. 

    Easily the most technically proficient band as a whole I have witnessed in a long time. The show was an absolute mastery of heavy metal. Its hard to pick out a handful of things that made the show so great. With that pointed out I’ll write out a few things. 

    The stage is a foot off of the ground and the barricade is the width of a chair from it. So I managed to crouch in between there at center stage. It was great for photos, but once the pit started everything started to crash in. I clicked for 2 songs and got the hell out of there. The band took notice and gave me some awesome looks. Plus I’m sure it was appreciated.

    They worked as a whole. Everyone knew their places and timings. I was blown away. Tati Shmailyuk the front woman took the stage and commanded attention. I was curious if what you see and hear is just as impressive in person. Needles to say, it was much more impressive. She kicked major ass. Using her full vocal range inbetween he brutal growl and screams proved to me she is one of the best metal vocalists out there. She isn’t afraid to get up in the crowds faces nor head bang heavily. Individually this band is so amazing. It was hard to watch one more than the other. Drummer Vlad Ulasevish pounded his low set kit. He was so fast and slick. Luckily I had an AA pass so I was able to get a little closer than others. This had me gawking ever so awkwardly at him punishing his set up. Standing stage left, bassist Eugene Kostyuk, crushed his thundering riffs. With his hair flying everywhere he swayed and let his finger smack each string with devastating accuracy. Then the precise execution by Roman Ibramkhalilov on guitar instantly created a frenzy in the pit. Admittedly, I didn’t get to watch too much of him letting it rip, but from where I was you could hear his play. 


    Jinjer are that metal band that leaves you beat up and bruised. The best part is you just want more in the end. Playing their newest single “Ape” was a pleasant surprise as well. They have also announced an EP release for January so yall better be on the look out for this group.

    Set List:
    1. Words of Wisdom
    2. Ape
    3. I Speak Astronomy
    4. Dreadful Moments
    5. Pisces
    6. Whose Gonna Be The One
    7. Perennial
    8. Sit, Stay, Roll Over.


    John5 and The Creatures

    John 5 and The Creatures @ Route20, Sturtevant, WI 11/10/2018

    Having never been to Route20 before I was pretty impressed. Part eatery and club. Good food too! The room itself is large and you can get right up front and literally stand right in front of the stage. There is also a second level overlooking the entire room. Sometimes it is awesome not having a barricade between the performer and  audience, but clearly necessary at certain gigs. I took advantage of getting in a little early by heading right up front where John 5 would stand. Pre-planning has always been key with me. 

    Normally, I’m not one to be floored enough to become speechless. John 5 and The Creatures accomplished that and with ease. An impressive stage set up only added to it. My only complaint was the drummer was buried so far back and crammed between two beautiful LCD stand. Those LCD stands played clips of classic horror movies. Such as “The Exorcist”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and so on. Next to those were blow up Halloween scenes that the members entered the stage from on either side. On occasion in between songs A person dressed up as a character would walk on stage and perform a task whether it was peeling a mask off of John 5 or throwing out candy to the crowd. 

    John 5 and the Creatures were a relentless assault of the eardrums. So, so efficient and technical. True to form, John 5 gave those famous grins and head shakes while ripping solos.  With the vibrant scene I became enamored. Visually stunning. Then came the actual music. Walking in I figured he play mostly stuff off of his 8 solo albums. The medley played towards the end of the set clearly encompassed all of the music John had either loved growing up or has had his hand in writing.  It was an eclectic mix or classic rock to alternative to metal. The crowd lost its collective minds. When it was all said and done. The band itself was tight as can be. Not one of them skipped a beat and played off of each other quite well. It was a masterful event. I would highly suggest getting out to this show at all costs.

    Set List:
    1. Making Monsters
    2. Flight of Vulcan Kelly
    3. 666 Pickers from Hell, CA
    4. Rifle
    5. Hellhaw
    6. 1st Victim
    7. Season of the Witch
    8. Zoinks
    9. Nutjam
    10. Behind the Nut
    11. Blackgrass
    12. Crazy Ones
    13. Mando Jam
    14. Sandman
    15. Medley
    16. Triple D & Solo
    17. Guitars, Tits & Monsters


    Eve to Adam

    Eve to Adam @ The Back Bar, Janesville, WI  11/08/2018

    Once again I find myself back at The Back Bar. I’m starting to really like the room. It is a challenge to snap in because of the lighting. Nonetheless I was pretty eager to get to snap a group of long time road warriors in Eve to Adam. The last time I saw these guys there were playing at Rockfest up in Cadott, WI. Just a straight forward rock experience that punches you in the teeth. Now I have the chance to get the whole club experience with them. I was thrilled.

    When a group of artists are out front with the crowd supporting the opening acts you know you are in for a good night. Eve To Adam were those guys. With PBR tallboys in hand Eve To Adam hit the stage and fittingly open up with “Bender.” With Jeremiah Bennett and Jerry Morte lay down a fantastic back and forth that lasts all show long. Bennett sways and head bangs with dreads flying everywhere. Giving guitar leads and solos while providing some backing vocals, there was no skipped note on the evening. Morte on the other side wasn’t a push over either. Stepping to the front of the stage and getting right up infront of the crowd. Definitely stringing together picks and strums at the same time while holding the guitar out from his body giving at fantastic look to his impressive level of talent. Their brother on the low end of the scale, Llyn Nathaniel, steps on each light box and head bangs while deliver bass lines that are felt through out the venue. The rumble is in fine timing with the guitars. Back on the kit, Jeff Raines, pounds the skins. During the decisive slaps Raines give the sticks a twirl and throws up the devil horns to those watching. Finally, Taki Sassaris came out and absolutely owned on vocals. With pitch perfect precision he delivered a masterful performance. Whether it was in a straight jacket or his leather jacket, Taki, gave the crowd a ton of love. Even pointing out the veterans up front and shaking hands.

    All in all, it was a fantastic evening with a great group of artists. Eve to Adam are one of those can’t miss acts. The energy from a group of guys who love playing music while engaging with audience members every song leaves you with a full feeling. Giving every ounce of enthusiasm and expertise during their 12 song set was extremely impressive. Afterwards the band shared birthday shots and plenty of friendly conversation with those left. Very down to Earth fellas.  


    Set List:
    1. Bender
    2. Locked and Loaded
    3. No Easy Way Out
    4. Lucky
    5. Emergency
    6. Fortune Teller
    7. Hurt Me
    8. Landfill
    9. Straight Jacket Landfill
    10. Tongue Tied
    11. Immortal
    12. The Price 


    Amberstein

    Amberstein @ The Back Bar Janesville, WI 11/03/2018

    There are a few things that irritate me over the last 20 years of concert attending. Local artists whom either have no control over their vocals, play virtually the same stuff I’ve heard out of every other rock band or have a stupid gimmick. This seems to cover virtually 90% of the locals. Understanding you have to start somewhere isn’t lost upon me either. It doesn’t change the amalgamation of junk locals.
    With this mindset, I ignorantly walked into The Back Bar saying to myself, “I’ll just chat it up until the headliner pops out.” That plan was interrupted by a foursome called Amberstein. Probably the most polished local band I have seen this past decade. Not a joke.
    The opening riff of “The Room” absolutely reeled me in. With epic vocals blasting through the room my ears perked up very quickly. When a group of artists can master solid and almost soulful harmonies, I’ll be captivated from beginning to end. With Bassist and lead vocalist Jake Warne up front belting out choruses that are easy to pick up and sing gave room for the rest of the band namely, guitarist Brock Betz to roam freely. Betz has no problem giving us photographers great poses, but he even has no problem tapping, picking and strumming up front and on the edge of the stage. He also stands in the concert goers face letting them know what awesomeness they are experiencing. Ivan Mallory on the other guitar was no slouch either. While more contained due to his backing vocals duties, he swayed and moved while laying the foundation of the set. Finally, we get to the to what I feel is the bones of the band, drummer Andrew Farrar. In my opinion, he seems to set the pace. He has no problem laying down solid slaps while providing backing vocal as well. When a guy is on, a guy is on. 
    Not knowing any of their songs made me take note of the song numbers that I really liked. “The Room” “War” “Hold On” and “Toast to the Wicked” were my stand outs. I had to message them to get the actual names which was a little embarrassing. Then again when you’ve stumbled into a gold mine of sweet music is it really? I’ve had them loaded on my youtube since Saturday night. Good job fellas. You’ve got a new fan.  
    On a side note: They reminded me of one of the best local bands I have ever seen, Down and Above. DNA were quite popular in Minneapolis back in the early 2000s. Youtube them and you’ll be blown away as well.

    Set List:
    1. The Room

    2. War

    3. Life After You

    4. Demons

    5. Stand Up

    6. Rise Today (alterbridge cover)
    7. Hold On

    8. Toast to the wicked

    9. Attack



    Devour The Day

    Devour The Day @ The Back Bar, Janesville, WI 11/03/2018

    Rising from the ashes of what was left of Egypt Central in 2014, Devour the Day have managed to build up huge momentum over the last 4 years. Pumping out solid albums (Time & Pressure and Soar) backed by extensive touring in support and headlining the band are once again back at it with a new album freshly drop on October 26th. “Signals” is an album hard rock fans should be clamoring for. 

    From the moment Devour The Day hit the stage a blast of pure energy moved through the packed Back Bar crowd. With the stage covered in black, orange and red, Devour The Day’s bassist and founding member Joey Chicago assertively and emphatically punishes the stage. While giving his weapon of choice a pounding, Chicago stomps, head bangs, and screams the lyrics all show from stage right and open center. Probably one of the more active artists on stage that I’ve seen in a long time.

    Drummer Ronnie Farris was quite impressive back on his kit. The word I would use is efficient. I actually ended up watching him quite a bit more than the rest of the band. Quick and decisive on the handful of symbols set up and backed with strong strikes on the skins. A driving force behind the amazing show.
     
    Giving an all out effort vocally, Blake Allison gave a performance that those in attendance will remember. When an artist can shoot the shit with the crowd and kick their ass at the same time it adds a level of personality that can only add to already being a fan. Allison accomplished this very easily when not up on the mic singing. He also had no problem walking to the edge of center stage and exchange high fives, smirk and even a drink early on in the set. I was just hoping he didn’t spill the drink on me seeing as it was right over my head. Nonetheless, the riffs were on point as were the vocals. 

    Devour The Day just started touring for their newest album, but it was pretty straight forward that they were already a well oiled machine. Moving effortlessly through a multitude of fan favorites. Such as “Good Man”, “The Bottom” and “You and Not Me”. Even better though was the newest single “The Censor”. While I wasn’t able to get the full set list just know they performed all of the singles and a few surprises. I left the venue that night knowing I heard every song I wanted to and witness a band just starting to hit its stride. Bravo!

    Setlist:
    1. You and Not Me
    2. Good Man
    3. Faithless
    4. Blackout
    5. The Bottom
    6. The Censor
    7. Give It Up
    8. Respect


    Starset

    Starset @ The Leinies Lodge, Chippewa Falls, WI 10/26/2018 

    Through some contacts of mine, I was given a chance at a very cool opportunity. A 94.1 WJJO sound lounge with Starset playing acoustically. I was the only photographer given this access. The Leinie’s Lodge is the gift shop and tour sign up location for Leinenkugel’s Brewery. It is literally a huge room with the interior decked out as a log cabin. Set up in front of the monstrous stone fireplace were the 7 members of Starset. Starset themselves were in black pants and white matching coats. No drum kit, no digital backing tracks and most no noticeably suits. Their orchestral section filled in for their lack of digital tracks. It was pretty amazing. In front of the band were 2 long tables and the 94.1 WJJO morning show doing their show live. If you haven’t listened to them before I highly suggest you stream them. Some of the funniest stuff around.

    The nicest things about the entire gig was the availability of the band members themselves to the crowd. The crowd members had open bar taps, so the beers were flowing. This also meant the band was drinking with the audience and chatting. I had the chance to speak briefly with band members and even had 3 of my images from their set at Sonic Boom 2017 signed. Naturally, I tried to not show how much I was geeking inside. I like Starset a lot. Their visual creativity and nerdiness blows my mind. I had the pleasure to speak with vocalist Dustin Bates about his experience teaching at the International Space University and how Starset got going. You have to love a band that is so personable. 

    In between songs the band were interviewed by the morning show. Some awkwardness in places, but overall very enjoyable and extremely funny. Everyone was asked the question what was their favorite albums growing up. Guitarist Brock Richards said, “36 Crazyfists’ A Snowcapped Romance”. I was floored. That album kicks ass and I would have never expected that response. Songs that stood out to me were “My Demons”, “Frequency”, “Ricochet” and “Carnivore”. A Starset super fan was given the opportunity to sing “Ricochet” with the band. He interchanged verses and choruses with the Starset frontman. He did a great job. Clearly, nervous and shaking, but ultimately owned it. Stuff like that makes events like this fun to attend. To see a group of artists stripped down from what their original art is supposed to be just goes to show how talented a band like this really is when you have to make rearrangements. The Orchestral section is out of this World good. Pun intended. Despite being stripped down playing 10 songs in new arrangements might be the most extraordinary part of it all. Dustin Bates still screamed through all of the normal parts as well. To say I was blown away is an understatement. I am really looking forward to them finishing their new album next year. Hopefully, I will get the chance to snap them in a club setting someday. Fingers crossed.

    Setlist:
    1. My Demons
    2. Unbecoming
    3. Satellite
    4. Frequency
    5. Monster
    6. Space Oddity(Bowie cover)
    7. Carnivore
    8. Ricochet
    9. Into The Unknown
    10. Die For You



    SOiL

    SOiL @ Stormys in Beaver Dam, WI 10/13/2018

    Having received a message asking if I wanted to snap SOiL I jumped at the chance. Back in the day(2004ish) Redefine was an album I wore out, so this seemed like a no brainer. I took the 40 minute drive North to Beaver Dam. Beaver Dam is a small yet quaint town. Pulling up to the venue I had a chuckle because it looked like it was on the corner of a retail/office complex. That chuckle was soon replaced with a pretty solid gut punch. Walking into the venue the stage is straight ahead and off to the right. The stage itself is at the same level with the crowd and only a wooden bar separating the artists from the fans. A perk in my book. As you step in you can only go to the left which is where the bar is at and it was packed all night. The rest of the room is a wide open dance floor with a DJ platform in the back corner. The lighting and sound were spectacular all night. Having met and chatted with my contact for a few I was off to snapping the openers. Sanctus is a Wisconsin local that shreds. I have seen these kids a few times before. Worth checking out if you ever have the chance. The touring openers consisted of The Outfit and Beyond Threshold. The Outfit were a straight forward rock band. Gave me a few hints of Face to Face vocally in the early part of their set. Beyond Threshold is another metal band that was just that a metal band. Nothing in between. Some sweet licks though.

    Having never seen SOiL before I really didn’t know what to expect past them playing their largest hits. Opening set with “Breaking Me Down” upped the tempo of the stagnant crowd almost instantly. With Vocalist Ryan McCombs leaning over the edge of the stage singing and growling I couldn’t help but snap some nice up close shots. For virtually the entire set McCombs remained up close and personal with the crowd. The love was reciprocated. Bassist Tim King performed to perfection. The backing vocals were crisp all while flailing and moving around the stage jamming. Been a while since I’ve seen a bassist give it to an audience like that. On the right side of the stage guitarist Adam Zadel shreds and provides the sweet licks everyone craved. Swaying back and forth, Zadel tucks the guitar close to his chest as his fingers dance across the frets. Towards the last third of the set I positioned myself on his side of the stage. I was mesmerized. The band itself along with new drummer TJ Taylor slapping the skins made it very hard to believe it was one of their first shows of the tour. SOiL were a well oiled hard rock masterpiece. Clearly a band, I regret waiting to see.

    Set List:
    1. Breaking Me Down
    2. Hate Song
    3. Need To Feel
    4. Pride
    5. Cross My Heart 
    6. Redefine
    7. Amalgamation
    8. 37 Stitches
    9. My Own
    10. Unreal
    11. Halo
    12. Black Betty



    Hedpe

    Hedpe @ The Annex,  Madison, Wi 09/25/2018

    Having seen Hedpe back in 2000, I honesty had no expectations walking into the venue this time. Already knowing they give it their all I just wanted to hear a nice mix of songs across all of their catalog. The Annex once again is a nice room with rad sound and excellent lighting. Midwest Mix-up guru Jake Olson always comes through on his produced shows.

    Having purposely walked into the venue early to watch the 3 local openers it never ceases to amaze me as the level of talent around town. The touring support Mammothor came out and banged their songs one by one with the crowd eating them up. The bill was quite the mix. Hip hop to rock to 80s rock. 

    Hedpe were everything I remembered them to be from back in the day. The crowd of a few hundred people sang from open to close.  Stepping onto the stage from the left and giving those notorious hard stares, Jahred gives pleasantries to those in attendance and leads right into “Killing Time” with an emphatic growl and head bang. The ever so noticeable chorus of “Just Killin Time” sung by guitarist DJ Blackard and bassist Kurt Blakenship filled the room. A powerful intro to what will be a pretty awesome show. Slowing the show down and creating a bit more reggae version of “Let’s Ride” was a creative surprise. The song was clearly dependent upon Jahreds ability to rap while telling a story. The ability of an artist to manipulate their own art over time to fit their interpretation in and ever changing World will always stick with me. 

    After banging out fan favorites “Black Out” and a more riveting version of “Swan Dive”. Came the middle of the show where the band headed into the more “adult” part of their catalog. Spending plenty of time conversing with the crowd and sharing plenty of laughs and stories. Hedpe drummer Jeremiah Stratton a.k.a. Trauma laid down the beat for three songs that needed that strength and pop that only he could provide. “CBC”, “Crazy Legs” and “Comeova2nite” do nothing but make you bounce to the beat and try to keep up with the lyrics. You feel it so much more live than listening to them on disc. Backing those songs with a much more subdued and rastafied “Sophia” still had its punk filled moments, but the appreciation tune seemed to fit at that point. From there Jahred walked off stage and we headed into a small encore break. 

    Hedpe were so tight. The band sounded like they have been playing together for years. After the band regroups on stage they bust straight into their biggest hit to date “Bartender”. With Jahred flowing with absolute precision the room was bouncing up and down singing word for word. His unique screams filled the air. Trauma smash his kit emphatically while providing some great facial expressions for the camera. “Renegade” and “Waiting to Die” closed it out. I lost my voice from singing. Nothing like jamming to songs that take you back to a time in your life when all you did was listen to music and go to shows. I clearly wasn’t the only one. Hands flailing, heads banging and bodies moving best describes the entire encore.  

    With the entire stage paint in straight blue and red lighting all evening it made the photography end of things  bit tricky. I was always told to be better than your gear, so I pushed its limits. Despite that the concert itself kicked major ass. I’m looking forward towards their 2019 return to Madison with a new album in tow.
    Setlist:
    1. Killing Time
    2. Lets Ride
    3. Blackout
    4. Swan Dive
    5. CBC
    6. Crazy Legs
    7. Comeova2nite
    8. Raise Hell
    9. Sophia
    10. Bartender
    11. Renegade
    12. Waiting to Die


    Fozzy

    Fozzy @ Taste of Madison, Madison, WI 09/02/2018

    Having spent the weekend covering Taste of Madison I was extremely happy to round it out with Fozzy. I was lucky enough to cover them at Sonic Boom in 2017. In my opinion my images from that set were not that great. Which has always made me want another crack at covering them. The band itself are the remnants of Stuck Mojo. A fairly influential rap rock punk band from the 90s and 00s. Fozzy though is not that in any way.  With straight forward rock riffs and extremely catchy choruses it is no surprise they have gained the following they have. 

    Songs that stuck out were “Judas” “Burn Me Out” “Elevator” “Lights Go Out” and “Bad Tattoo”. The set was action packed. The entire band are extremely active. Founding member and guitarist Frank Ward might be the most active of them all. Ripping solos and sweet licks while standing on the edge of the stage, dancing around or jumping is no doubt where the eyes go to. Most of the crowd is there to see former WWE superstar Chris Jericho. Pretty obvious by the chants of “Y2J”. Jericho is no slouch though. He commands the stage while vocally performing to perfection. His on stage antics whether facial expressions, a CO2 gun, caressing the mic stand, jumping off of platforms and engaging the youth in the crowd only solidify his status a boss frontman. 

    Hearing “Judas” as the opening tune was quite the surprise. Arguably their most popular song to date. Hearing the harmony of “I become” whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Despite the inclement weather approaching, the crowd stretched from the stage all the way up the street towards to Capital Square right in front of the state capital. A pretty great attendance. 

    “Burn Me Out” another hit of theirs was pretty early on in the set, but the timing mixed well the other songs around it. The song projects a that party excitement and pleasure. Guitarist Billy Grey stood on the stage stand and engaged the crowd more over this song than any other. In what I feel is a pretty signature move of his, Grey rests his guitar on his hip vertically up right and shreds. 

    The final 3 songs played seemed rushed but for obvious reasons. The rain. By this point the it had been raining for half of the set. Fozzy refused to stop playing and finished their set out. “Enemy” a slow starting song was rushed. It still boomed with great effectiveness. “Bad Tattoo” gave the crowd a heavy blast of rock that is naturally faster paced. The band seemed to put the most energy and love into this song. It displayed how much these artists loved this song. At this point it is pouring and I packed up my stuff in my water proof bag. If anything I am always prepared. I ran to the tents behind the stage and listened to the final song “Sandpaper”.  I like most of the crowd took off when it began to rain heavily. Fozzy though made it through their set. That took guts with the conditions down grading to being absolutely poor.

    Regardless, Fozzy easily is a must see band. They are pure fun with a no nonsense presence on stage. I have seen a ton of bands through the years and these guys are the most active while performing. They nailed every single song performed. Most definitely a must see.

    Set List:
    1. Judas
    2. Drinkin’ with Jesus
    3. One Crazed Anarchist
    4. Sin and Bones
    5. Burn Me Out
    6. Painless
    7. Spider in My Mouth
    8. Elevator
    9. Do You Want To Start a War
    10. SOS
    11. Lights Go Out
    12. Wolves at Bay
    13. Enemy
    14. Bad Tattoo
    15. Sandpaper




  • Deadset Society

    Deadset Society @ Taste of Madison, Madison, WI 09/01/2018

    Having been a fan of My Darkest Days, I was instantly intrigued seeing the newest incantation of the band listed on this bill. They did not disappoint. I have to preface this by saying you cannot think of them as being anything like their previous form. In fact they are much better and kick more ass on stage. Frontman Reid Henry is a straight up rock star. Nothing but pure energy from the first note to the last. In my opinion they were one of if not the best band at Taste of Madison performance wise.

    Opening with “Since you’ve gone away” a nice solid rock song with heart break laced a sense of relief. Leading into “Numb” another tunes that projects and almost anthem like chorus of “I go numb. I can’t believe what I’ve become”. Guitarist Dane Hartsell whose licks are infectious execute each strum and pick with power. He was hard to take your eyes off of while performing. It didn’t hurt that he triggered his inner Slash with a top hat. 
    I wasn’t expecting DSS to play 2 extremely popular tunes back to back and early on. “Automatic” kicked in with a Henry growl and a Brendan McMillan head bang. Clearly, the crowd sang word for word. It was hard to not sing myself. Its a struggle for me because it seems almost unprofessional at times. Nonetheless, the infectiously deeply tuned strings backed by digital tracks exploded onto the eager crowd. Not even skipping a beat “Every Lie” started up. A My Darkest Days cover. Almost seemingly trying to not run from their history, the song garnered the most crowd applause in the set to this point. 
    With the crowd fired up the artists slowed the set down with 3 profoundly slower songs. Each having what feels to me a different meaning. Music is all about the listeners interpretation. “Rearview Mirror” basically gives me the idea of leaving an abusive relationship behind. “Born Again” projects almost as a love song. The double guitar riffs and melodic beat gave me the feels. When there is one person who can pick you up off of the ground in your darkest hours and help you become new. It’s a simplistic take, but it forces me to think about certain people who’ve assisted in my growth. This song is an instant body sensation for me. “Outside Looking in” and obvious break up song had the audience singing the chorus “Thinking of You…..” it was impressive.
    With the intro to “Like a Nightmare” kicking in you could feel the power, intensity and strength of the band itself. With head bangs and foot stomps Deadset Society rips into one of their singles with absolute perfection. Engaging the crowd by screaming the lyrics and holding the microphone out emphatically. By the end of the song everyone wanted more. Announcing they are closing with a My Darkest Days song, everyone on the square knew they were talking about “Pornstar Dancing”. It was easily their largest hit as a band collectively. With bassist McMillan head bangs and dances around the stage playing the infectious riff we all know, Reid jumps down to the front row. While standing on the barricade singing and high fiving audience members the band sounded its tightest. I was so blown away by the performance that I downloaded their album as soon as I got back home. It was amazing. I am really hoping I get another chance to see them again soon. 


    Bobaflex

    BobaFlex @ The Back Bar, Janesville, WI 04/26/2018

    The true road warriors of rock and roll slid into The Back Bar with their truly unique brand of soulful yet up beat Southern rock. Maintaining success and sold out shows by hard working McCoy brothers Sean and Marty(of the historically famed American rivalry Hatfield and McCoys), BobaFlex brings a sound that is particular to their Ohio/West Virginia roots. 
    The Back Bar in Janesville, WI is a fantastic place to watch a show. The stage itself is fairly sizable. Walking through the doors of the building well enter you directly into the “venue”. The performance area is no more than 50 feet in front of you. The bar is off to the right of the entrance and there are tables and chairs all over the room. It is pretty nice. In front of the stage is an open area for those who want to stand right up front and jam. Needless to say this is where I hung out all show. 
    With smoke filling the stage drummer Tommy Johnson walks out and gives a wave before settling in behind his kit. As the intro song “I Am A Nightmare” off of their new release “Eloquent Demons” begins the rest of the band minus front man Shaun McCoy appear. Once the lyrical parts of the song kick in McCoy runs out frantically and gives a quick scream. Leaning over the monitor belting out note after note you knew it was the perfect song to set the evening off.
    The pure energy projecting from the band, the audience then gets loud and starts squeezing closer to the stage. Second on the setlist was “Momma Don’t Take My Drugs Away”. An absolute rock banger and party anthem. The strong backing vocals full of “Hey ey ey” filled the air. The multiple fist pumps and hair flips add to the already building hypnotic harmonies. Fittingly “Chemical Valley” then kicked up the speed and vibe throughout. Having both guitarists out front of the stage showing off the sweet guitar licks that make the “Chemical Valley” so attractive to the ears is truly a great attention getter. I was glued. It also help that I freaking love that song. My history of illness and the amount of meds and narcotics I’ve been on it resonates to the chaos my life went through until very recently. Every time I hear it live it hits a chord of understanding and realization. 
    Moving on to more newer songs “Moon and the Shadows”, “Lights Out” and “Say What You Will” the band flexed their growth within the rock genre. The songs itself have the typical Bobaflex sound and vibe, but pushing more individual lead guitar work with a bit of an 80s vibe. “Lights Out” is more of a forward rock tune that capture the crowds attentiveness and had the ladies in the front head banging. It completely clicked within this portion of the set.
    Slowing the mood down a bit and already having given primary vocals over the Marty McCoy, The next anthem “Bad Man” polarized an already captivated and ruckus gallery. The guitar twang and deep heavy vocals provided a moment to breathe from the already upbeat show. With the ability to slow down and ease the mood it brought a dynamic into to play that will continuously run until the end of the show. Also I’m not gonna lie here, it was probably my favorite song from the entire set. It changed the entire complexity of the performance. Having already paced the speed slower, a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” loomed and was executed the BF way. An homage yet with familiar southern like twang. Amazingly enough, a couple of kids behind me had no clue it was a cover. I was rather surprised by that notion.
    After a slight recess from their up tempo styling they slid right into “Vampire” off of the “Hell in My Heart” album. The persistent yet thick bass smacking and constant chug by Jymmy Tolland were vibrating the room on every note. Marty McCoy out front with the microphone swayed back and forth with one hand out to his side mesmerizing all singing along. Shortly after the final “Oh Ooooh”, brother Shaun McCoy gives an almost Zakk Wylde toned guitar riff which is repeated during every bit of the next tune “Long Time Coming”. It was one of those occasions where I literally put my camera down and just watched with great enjoyment. It gripped me. More than likely because I didn’t think they would perform it after what I presumed was a foreshadowed vibe change earlier. 
    This was a perfect time for the break before a 4 song encore. Hell, it gave me time to re-evaluate my viewing spot. I managed to move to the center of the room in time for “Home”. Clearly performed for the long time fans and there were plenty in the room judging by the singing. Backed right up with the overly popular “I’m Glad You’re Dead”.  All started by Johnson’s bold and thundering floor toms and bass kicks. The melodies were being sung with heartfelt tones and a brute force when needed. The best part of attending a Bobaflex show is it isn’t all about the lead vocals. The backing and harmonies are just as impactful to the guts of the music being played. None more than perhaps on this song being performed live. Needless to say it was executed to perfection. Following that up was “Spider in the Dark” a heartfelt song with an acoustic/clean beginning leading into a heavier sound. Not to mention dual lead vocals during its entire duration. It was obvious this portion of the show was meant to play the living crap out of even the bands favorite works. The smiles and mannerisms from the artists really says it all. Giving patrons high fives and handshakes during their efforts being put forth added a welcome closeness with all in the room.
    The grandiose sound of “Bury Me With My Guns On” closed the joyous evening out. Having attendees virtually losing it whether by dancing, singing or standing on chairs the finale was indeed the best to bury the night with. Having harmonies blaring and flashes of bright light across the venue I was in a happy place. I felt fantastic and energized. Having the entire band out front to say good night to all gave the event an appreciative feel.
    I have seen a lot of Bobaflex since I first encountered them back in Minneapolis in 2002. With all honesty I can proclaim this as the best incarnation of the band. The McCoy brothers swapping of vocals/guitar over nearly every song is something that almost no artist has the balls to do let alone try. It works whether it is live or on disc. Safe to say I would see them every day of the week if I could. I encourage you to attend a show and get the warm fuzzies.


    Black Veil Brides

    Black Veil Brides
    Jan. 19 2018 - Milwaukee, WI
    Jan. 20 2018 - Chicago, IL

    Being as I am a huge Black Veil Brides fan these dates were circled as soon as they were released. Having seen the band nearly a 100 times and no it’s not a joke. I have actually seen them nearly a 100 times. My excitement was too much to contain. They just get bigger and better each time I see them. From tiny 200 people clubs to now 4,000 seaters its been a fun journey to watch. Filling up half of the Eagles ballroom is an impressive feat. With the stage sitting in the middle of the ballroom and walling off the back half it gave great views for everyone to watch even at the back of the bar. The stage was large and had tons of room to move. The stage set up had a long foot wide running metal walkway right at the front of the stage. Dead center at the back was their drummer CC’s kit up on a pedestal. The entire back wall of the stage was a massive running LCD board. During the performance the board flashed logos, fire and personal images all correlating to the song in the moment. The accuracy of it was rather spectacular. This set up didn’t change between the two venues. I will say the Milwaukee crowd was much larger and much more lively than those attending the Chicago date. The Rave/Eagles ballroom in Milwaukee is one of the best venues in the country. Rather impeccable when compared to other legendary spots. The Chicago venue, The Riviera, seemed like a popular venue with good reviews. Stepping into the building I was rather taken aback by how beat to shit it was. Every time the bass drum hit you would see dust fall from the ceiling and paint chipping off of its already beat up walls. Pretty gross. Despite that it was something not in the bands control and the show went on. 
    Playing identical sets at both venues, Black Veil Brides, appeared on stage with the “Faithless” intro of church bells clanging through out the venues. Drummer CC perched on top of his drum kit with both hands in the air jumps down and starts slamming in his snare and floor tom. Bassist Ashley Purdy on the mic enticing the crowd to fist pump with the guitar leads of Jake Pitts and Jinxx. With Frontman Andy Biersack standing front and center pumping his fist emphatically in the air while stomping his foot on the metal walkway, he then stopped and gave the crowd a smile before he unleashed a ferocious screamed into his microphone. With that you knew we were off onto a high energy fast paced show. 
    Keeping with the theme of fast paced action it led right into “Coffin” which was released only on Itunes. With its popularity growth through a strong Youtube following it was the perfect fit for this set. Heavy riffs and harmonies are BVBs bread and butter. The catchy chorus had the crowd singing note for note. With Jake and Jinxx riffing faster and harder each moment it was pretty difficult to keep up at times. Slowing down a little with their new song “Wake Up” which was of of their freshly released album “Vale” the band seemingly put their stamp on their political leaning with a song that implies all politicians suck. Not that I disagree. From there they ripped into “I Am Bulletproof” which kicked up a small mosh pit in each venues. By this point you have to wonder if Jake Pitts fingers were blistered or on fire. Lick for lick and string by string he nailed every solo he had with precision and accuracy. Then came “Rebel Love Song”. If there were an anthem to young love and adventure I’d sure like to hear it. The sea of people must’ve agreed because you would see couples embrace and sing the tune at the top of their lungs. The next three songs “When They Call My Name”, “Shadows Die” and “Lost It All” continued the theme of life, love and loss that we all experience. With extremely strong vocals from Andy Biersack and Ashley Purdy, the emphasis on those subject hit with such vigor and defiance it was difficult to not have a heart string pulled a little. Maybe it was just me and my maturity as a human. Regardless, I walked away overly impressed with that sequence of songs.
    Kicking the energy up in the room again with “The Legacy” and with the heavy lead intro bodies started to get pushed around room and the crowd surfing began right away. Accompanying the raucous guitars, Biersack unleashes an unruly and authoritative growling scream. Easily capturing the already attentive crowd. Purdys solid backing vocals and flirtatious stage antics just tease the crowd making their playing of “Wretched and Divine” all the more pleasing. With “Knives and Pens” following up it the venue exploded with joy throughout . Their oldest “hit” resonated within their long time fans. The growls, screams and guitar licks the band then went into a short break before an impactful 3 song encore.
    Once again CC heads back out to the drum kit and entices the crowd to get rowdy. He then starts to snap on his kit. Then rest of the band proceeds to hit the stage and perform “Perfect Weapon” to a very active and loud audience singing with every word. From where I was sitting you could here it loud and clear. It didn’t stop until the final note was played. “Fallen Angels” was written for the arena rock experience and you cannot change my mind about that. The harmonies and choruses are sung to perfection. The band perched along the front walkway on the stage just playing with the crowd and the mischievous atmosphere surrounding the stage. All in preparation of the finale “In The End”. Perhaps their most popular song. The song projected the exact feeling of the moment. A cheerful bliss. Celebrating the Present. All being capped off with a full band bow hand in hand in its conclusion. 
    For how long I have been following Black Veil Brides there is no doubt they are simply at their best currently. No miss queues or lighting issues. All engines are a go. Easily stated that you would be absolutely stupid to miss out on them when they come around your location again. The Resurrection Tour Part 2 hits the road again April 26th 2018 


    Adelita’s Way

    Adelita’s Way @ The Annex, Madison, WI 03/31/2018

    Having been an Adelita’s Way fan since 2012 with the release of their first album. I had only seen them play on festival stages. Partially my fault by always maintaining a busy schedule. When I saw they announced a date at a smaller and much more up close and personal style venue I jumped at the chance to acquire a photography pass. After a few email exchanges I was set. Walking into the venue after last being there in 2007 for a Bobaflex show I was surprised by how much nicer the place got.  Great lighting and fantastic sound. With how great the lighting was it made my photography job easy. I mean if you couldn’t snap in the lighting you should quit photography all together. Not joking.
    After the 3 openers played I managed to weasel my way right upfront. 3 really nice people let me in there to snap for a few songs. Opening the show with “Bad Reputation” and setting the tone the guitar intro started up. Front man Rick DeJesus slowly walks up on the stage in what looked like a house coat and his hair tightly pulled back. Belting out word after word backed by thundering snare snaps and banging high hat hits it was quite apparent Adelita’s Way were completely in sync. After cruising through 2 songs they took a brief break to swap guitars. After playful banter with the crowd AW led right into one of their hit singles “Alive.” With the crowd singing word for word it started to drown out the lead vocals a bit from where I was standing. I’m not much of a singer at shows, but even I was singing word for word. The vocals from what I heard were so strong and powerful it made the lyrical content even more heartfelt. From there they strolled into their new single “Notorious.” From there I started to move around the room to get different views. “Notorious” from the album with the same title sounded even louder and tighter in person. At this point I began kicking myself for never seeing these guys in a club before. They were the definition of fantastic. At this point in the set they slowed the shows down a bit with a 3 song acoustic like bit. Once again the friendly talk between the band and the crowd key the mood fun and light. Most was circling around the lack of a bar stool to sit on. After having a very larger patron offer to act like a bench a stool showed up. Needless to say the jokes stopped and drumming of Tre Stafford kicked the acoustic part off. The slow down didn’t keep the crowd from continuing to sing loudly to “Somebody Wishes” “Last Stand” and “Tell Me”. As a photographer, I always try to get images of every member, then a spotlight image and then finally a group shot. With vocalist DeJesus up and out front singing so perfectly it was hard to not focus on his mannerisms. Tavis Stanley, playing fill-in guitar and also of Die Trying fame slayed every song with precision. Smiling and swaying back and forth, Stanley, made it look as if he were in the band from it’s inception.
    Rounding out the evening, Adelita’s Way banged out a fan favorite in “Cage The Beast”. A song that I was hoping they would play. Closing with arguably their most popular hits, the Las Vegas rockers seemed to get louder and heavier. Strumming and snapping every note the band smashed out “Criticize” to a crowd still singing word for word. Leading straight into “Sick” and the short intro Dejesus teased the crowd with his hand gestures then belted out the powerful lyrics. The band itself pick up steam. Drummer Tre Stafford smashing more and more emphatically on his snare with every passing second. Firing on all cylinders would’ve been and understatement. With a brief jam session as an encore Adelita’s Way finished the evening with “Invincible” which is exactly the way I think everyone in that room felt. Belting out the chorus “I feel invincible tonight” The Annex crowd swayed and danced with their hands in the air. With an enthusiastic break down to end the set people screamed for more. It was a performance that left me blown away. I actually wound up kicking my self because I never saw these guys in a club before then. They kick ass. Hearing “Alive” in person gave me the feels and made me think of a certain someone. When I exited the venue I proceeded to call and talk to that person. If a single song being played can illicit that response then you know you’ve done your job and done it damn well.


    Whitney

    Whitney @ Majestic Theater, Madison, WI 11/29/2017
    Whitney returns to the Majestic Theater for the second time in roughly a year and both times I attended. Both times I snapped shots. Only this time I didn’t accidentally delete my card while attempting to upload from my D750. Small victories to an excellent night. The thing I love about Whitney is their ability to be completely humble and talkative to a large room. The Majestic Theater is a 600 person sized venue. Both times Whitney has sold the room out. Each time the group has created an atmosphere of warmth and fun. As the crowd sways and dances with every song front man and drummer Julien Ehrlich delivers. Each break brings friendly some banter with the audience. Backed by fan favorites “No Woman” and “No Matter Where We Go” the set list was familiar to fans whether new or old. With soothing and smooth vocals coming from the stage the crowd enthusiastically sang along word for word. Adding in the guitar licks of Max Kakace, Whitney put on one heck of a show. Backing them up were 3 artists with the ability to play multiple instruments through the set which created a much fuller sound being projected for the stage. Overall, Whitney is a bright and warm breath of fresh air. This up and coming group do not disappoint. I can easily say I will see them when they return again.


    Louis The Child

    Louis The Child @ Orpheum Theater, Madison, WI 11/17/2017
    Having moved the show over to The Orpheum Theater I became a bit more excited. The venue is a great place to watch a show and the balcony is fantastic to sit up in. Having missed Louis The Child the last time they played in Madison I marked this on my calendar as soon as it was announced. I love EDM shows mainly for the lights. Some of the most elaborate stage set ups come from these shows. LTC was no different. With their gear on a table out front and middle the duo from Chicago kept the crowd dancing all evening. On the stage behind the artists were 5 huge lighting boards stretching the entire length of the stage. Those monstrous light boards were backed by the Orpheums strobe lights. Louis The Child had the college crowd dancing start to finish. Firing off confetti cannons through out the night the upper balcony was covered and people danced right through it. While I personally do not know the titles to their songs I know they played their popular mixes. Familiarity to my ears and the audiences reactions let me know that. Overall I was extremely impressed. Their jump in venue size was definitely warranted.




    Bully

    Bully @ High Noon Saloon, Madison, WI 11/05/2017

    Strolling into the High Noon Saloon at the beginning of a young tour to back the newly released album “Losing”, Bully came out onto the small stage seemingly captivating the crowd almost instantly. Front woman Alicia Bognanno, the creative mind behind Bully’s lyrical content and much of the production work, introduced the band and chit chatted briefly with the crowd while tuning. From there a few swipe of the strings by lead guitarist Clayton Parker and off they went opening the set with “Either Way” leading right into “Brain Freeze”. With raspy screams and head banging, Bully kept the sizable crowd entertained. Every three songs the band tuned their instruments mixing in light chatter back and forth between the crowd and band members. This was a common theme throughout the evening. The middle of the set gave off vibes of 90s alternative rock. Nostalgic to say the least. Banging the skins Stewart Copeland smiled and banged through the set with efficiency only to help keep the rooms mood fun and light as the audience members swayed their heads collectively to every song. An encore consisted of 2 songs “Running” and “I Remember”. Cranking out tunes such as “Feel The Same”, “Not The Way” and “Hate and Control” from their brand new album it gave the fans more incentive to purchase at the venue. Almost immediately after Bully finished they left the small stage and headed back stage. Bully then emerged from the back room together to greet fans by autographing items and snapping photos.

    Having already pumping out a critically acclaimed album titled “Feels Like” a majority of the set seems dedicated to the newer material while effectively mixing in songs from their previous release. In my humble opinion this is a must see show if you are a fan of rock……period.





    Snakehips

    Snakehips @ Majestic Theater, Madison, WI 11/02/2017

    The internationally recognized duo arrived in Madison missing James due to health reasons. Nonetheless Oliver went out and worked the 300+ in the crowd. Armed with a mix drink and his gear he spun multiple songs created by the duo. Many were new over the last few months. Having accidentally run into Snakehips tour manager he offered for me to snap a few shots on stage right behind him while he worked. As the opportunist that I am I snatched the chance up. From there I moved back out to the packed floor. As everyone moved around dancing I sat back and enjoyed the fist pumps and antics displayed up on stage. Playing their Worldwide hits “All of My Friends” and “Don’t Leave” the room erupted with screams and joyous laughter. While spinning all of the UK chart topper under their belts it was only backed by a fantastic light set up. A platform with a rolling screen siting the bands name illuminated the room. Paired with backing pink, purple and white lights setting the vibe, Snakehips was a rather pleasant surprise. If a fan of EDM or DJs I would highly suggest seeing them next time they come around.



    Freakfest Madison

    Madison Freakfest 10/28/2017 Capital Square/State Street, Madison, WI

    For those that have never been to Madison, WI for Freakfest, I can easily say you are missing out on one of the coolest parts of living here. Held every year on a Saturday around Halloween the gang from Frank Productions and True Endevours put together plans for 3 stages worth of music lining the State Street strip. The area is blocked off to traffic allowing those onto the street who have purchased a ticket.
    The night started off slowly due to the chilly temperature out. Having rolled onto the street at 7pm the opening acts started. I walked my way up the street to the Gilman stage to check out local artist “Birds Eye”. A mixture of blues, hip hop and rock the band played a solid set for the faithful that made their way out early. From there I moved my way up the street enjoying the sights and sounds. More and more people started to flood the street. Lines for the bars and restaurants became a bit longer as the evening moved along. Which meant more artists to watch. Not really knowing a majority of the artists performing wasn’t really a bad thing. In fact it was quite enjoyable hearing music that was fresh to my ears. The Clyde Stubblefield All-Stars and Kweku Collins really surprised me. Outside of just doing my preshow youtube preview of each artist I did a little reading up on each artist. Sometimes homework is a great way to find out an artists tendencies on stage. With the All-Stars I managed to just catch the last 3 songs of the set. It was fun and funky. The entire crowd that built up around the Capital stage was dancing and singing along to the songs. After a short break and dance party headed by Madison DJ Djay Mando, the Chicagos up and coming hip hop artist Kweku Collins hit the stage. Pure energy would be the words I would use to describe Collins set. Armed with smooth melodies and deep poetry turned into lyrics it was easy to see why Kweku was a fan favorite. Playing notable songs such as “Stupid Rose” “Death of a Salesman” and “Ghost” from his “Nat Love” album his impact was felt through out the crowd.
    From there I managed to move back out to the street to snap some images of folks in costume. Its pretty much my favorite part of every Halloween party. How can it not be? At that point in the evening you couldn’t get into an establishment without a long wait. The crowd that amassed at the Capital stage pushed all the way down to the next street. Despite the cold air the mood was quite festive.
    The next two artists to hit the stage were the ones I was looking forward to the most all evening. I mean who doesn’t love them some George Clinton? The mid 70s musical legend played nothing but classic hits such as “Atomic Dog”, “Give Up The Funk” and “One Nation Under a Groove”. The new version of The Parliment-Funkadelic was stupendous. Hitting note for note musically and boasting thunderous and powerful backing vocals the band had the crowd jumping and grooving along to the power of the Pfunk. Each song lead right into another. Even at some points extending into the next. A masterful showing.
    From there I turned and burned 3 blocks down to catch the last two-thirds of Mutemath. There was no way to be disappointed in their performance. Energetic front man Pat Meany, dazzled the crowd with his wild gyrating moves. Dressed as Mozart, Meany pounded away on a piano while emphatically singing lyric by lyric of their most popular tunes. Performing songs such as “Placed on Hold”, “Break the Fever” and “Light Up” the set list covered multiple album. The costumed crowd soaked up the amazing performance. With purple and yellow lighting backed by the occasional blue the stage matched every note change Mutemath pushed.  All in all it makes me wonder why I waited so long to have seen them live before.
    Back up the capital stage I awaited Dram’s performance. Having missed him at the Majestic theater a few months earlier I knew I wasn’t going to miss it again. As the masses of people dance to DJay Mando in preparation of Dram I had the opportunity to go out center stage and take a few crowd shots all the way down State Street. It was quite the visual spectacle. The volume of people in the crowd is virtually unnoticeable when down on the streets. From there I made my way down to the photography pit. The stage was lit up in a velvet color. The stage itself was wide open. The DJ and drummer were at the very back of the stage leaving a single mic stand out front dead center. Dram walked out onto the stage with peace signs given with a huge smile. While wearing a winter coat, Dram warmed up the stage with soulful notes from opening songs “Get It Myself” and “Misunderstood”. From there he lead into the groove laden ” Outta Sight” which set the tone for the evening. Banging out the smooth tunes with a boisterous applause after applause from the crowd, Dram, kept the night playful by consistently interacting with the crowd. Whether talking about their costumes or throwing water bottles the crowd ate it up. Bouncing from left to right along the stage the DJ sounds of a cash machine. Dram then delivers the message about being broke then getting cash leading into his hit song “Cash Machine.” Rounding out the night Dram teased the crowd while they chanted “Broccoli”. The huge radio hit was clearly the final song. Leading into the first beats an explosion of singing, dancing and jumping was most impressive. Dram didn’t disappoint. I’m so glad I was able to shoot the event. To those that have never been I highly suggest checking it out next year. It is a huge monstrous party with quality music acts.


    Butcher Babies

    Butcher Babies @ Majestic Theater, Madison, WI 10/14/2017
    Having seen the Butcher Babies on an outdoor festival tour a year before I was felt like seeing them in an indoor setting probably would’ve been much more beneficial for their live show. I wasn’t wrong either. Having a nearly pitch black stage except for random back lights blasting from all over the stage the band came out opening their set with “Burn The Straw Man”. Quickly after, Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepard growled through the newest single “Lilith” with the result of the newest song having the sold out crowd moshing and moving around the packed floor. The band as I describe as being “A cross of Nu Metal and Shock Rock” rolled effortlessly into two of their more popular songs “Monsters Ball” and “The Butcher”. With Guitarist Henry Flury (of Amen fame) out front head banging all while laying down riff on top of riffs the rockers poured into one song after another with very few breaks. Clearly, in an attempt to give the fans every minute of live music they could. Not many artists these days leave it all out there like that anymore.  The set list was compromised of songs across both of their previous releases along with their newest album “Lilith” which releases October 27th 2017. For an support act it is easy for me to say they brought it just as much as the headliner.
    Setlist:
    Burn The Straw Man
    Lilith
    Monsters Ball
    The Butcher
    The Huntsman
    Korova
    Iwokeuplikethis
    Pomonoa
    Theyre Coming To Take Me/Igniter?Magnolia BLVD
    Headspin
    Underground and Overrated


    Every Time I Die

    Every Time I Die @ High Noon Saloon, Madison, WI 10/20/2017
    In my experience when bands get towards the end of tours they try to cash it in and coast towards the end. Every Time I Die are definitely not those guys. They unloaded everything they had on the sold out crowd and the crowd overwhelmingly reacted in joy. Having been to plenty of shows at the High Noon I have never seen anyone crowd surf in the tiny venue. That streak ended with ETID on stage ripping through song after song. Safe to say the entire show was nothing but pure energy. Opening with “No Son of Mine” and leading it right into “Floater” lead to the first of dozens of crowd surfers throughout the evening. Guitarist Jordan Buckley hit note for note all night shredding while supplying the crowd with plenty of high fives, hand shakes, punk jumps and in your face guitar playing. It was none the more evident during the middle of the set by playing “Decayin’ With The Boys” and “Petal”. Vocalist Keith Buckley was on point all night. Encouraging the the circle pit to get opened up and people to crowd surf to the front of the room. At some points in the gig, Buckley shared vocal duties with the crowd surfers that actually made it up to the front making the event a truly fan friendly showing. Having played songs covering 16 years worth of albums it was easy to say that ETID are still just as powerful as the first time they came out. This show was so much fun and I am still aching from moving around so much. Fantastic night with a boss band.


    Hollywood Undead

    Hollywood Undead @ Majestic Theater, Madison, WI  10/14/2017

    Having seen Hollywood Undead multiple times across the years and never once having been disappointed I knew I was going to have a great time. This time though was the first time I have every seen them play in a club setting. With long time member Da Kurlzz recently departing the group I wondered if the dynamic would’ve changed. It didn’t change at all. In fact they came out stronger and seemingly much more cohesive as a band. With “Whatever It Takes” as the lead song off of their new album “V” HU had the sold out Majestic crowd riled up and bumping. Each front man made their entrance over the first 2 songs. It was nothing but pure energy from the get go. The musicians got through their third song of the set then ditched said masks. Once they left the masks sitting on their cabs they rolled right into a few songs from their debut and second albums. The crowd swayed back and forth of the packed floor all evening. Seemingly exploding when “Comin’ In Hot” the group then slowed everything down to pay homage to the recently passed music legend Tom Petty. In doing so, they covered the 1990’s hit “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. It was excellently done. As soon as they were finished they rolled into 4 more songs before closing it out with a short encore. Finally, closing out the show with their popular tunes “Everywhere I Go” and “Hear Me Now”. With a mixture of songs from every album it was a show for the new and long time fan. All in all a very impressive night.

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