Sum41

12/15/2019
Sum 41 @ The Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

Punk rock legends Sum 41 came to The Apollo Theatre to finish off a long tour with a blast. It was the largest crowd I have ever seen there. It was so busy that the line to enter the building was down around the corner at one point. The bar room was almost to the point of lines all over it. There was no doubt it was going to be an extremely fun night of people watching and kick ass tunes.

I really wanted to attend this show after they first announced it. Their new album “Order in Decline” is a banger. Rock hit after rock hit line the album. Their live show has become so good. It is painfully obvious that with their maturity as musicians came a set list of material that covers all types of punk fans. They had a song off of nearly every album. Their album “Chuck” had more than their fair share though. It was in dedication to it having been released 15 years ago. As for the stage set up, it had zero front lighting, but it had a ton of fast and bright lighting that spread around and flashed from small mounts on stands around the stage. You will see the effects in my images posted below.

Upfront the entire show were the 3 original members frontman Deryck Whibley, guitarist Dave Baksh and Bassist Cone. In the back, Tom Thacker was on a platform playing guitar, keys and singing back up. Next to him, drummer Frank Zummo slammed hit kit with efficiency all night. He is a helluva drummer and extremely entertaining to watch crush it. Whibley though, was in true rock star form. He gave no guff and was 100% effort while running all over the stage. The vocals were strong and precise which is quite amazing considering this was the end of the tour. Baksh, slayed his tasty solos and crafty riffs while spending most of his time standing up on a thick metal stand located next to his microphone on stage left. With his tall and lanky physique, Cone, had no problem swinging his bass and delivering those floor shaking strokes. All night he primarily had one foot up on his metal stand while singing into his microphone. They were in sync and fun as can be.  

With a plethora of sing-a-longs through out the night, Sum 41, mixed in a great lighting display backed by the occasional CO2 cannon burst at the front of the stage. When it was time for “Fatlip” graffiti shot across the room filling up the entire air above the GA section.
In the end, this show had a little bit of everything.  This is a huge reason they are still an extremely successful band after all of these year and why I would highly suggest to check them out if you ever get the chance. You never know what songs they are going to play or how funny the commentary inbetween is.

Set List:
Turning Away
Hell Song
Motivation - 88
Fake My Death
We’re All To Blame
Some Say
Out For Blood
New Sensation
Walking Disaster
Makes No Difference
Pieces
No Reason
Over My Head
In Too Deep
Still Waiting
Machine Gun
Fatlip
Pain for Pleasure (Listed but not played)


Through Fire

12/13/2019
Through Fire @ The Annex
Madison, WI

Set List:
Breakout
Where You Lie
Damage
All Animal
Listen To Your Heart (Eurythmics Cover)
Sick and Tired
If You Love Me, Leave Me
Breaking Point
Blood
Breathe
Stronger


Like a Storm

12/09/2019
Like A Storm @ The Annex
Madison, WI

Like A Storm came to Madison right in the middle of their “Freek Show US Tour”. That isn’t misspelled either. The unique part about the entire tour was the fact it was completely free. Yes, F-R-E-E, free. If you signed up on their website you were guaranteed entry if the venue reached over 250 people. I did just that. I missed their last performance in Janesville, WI, so this time I was making sure there was no chance of me missing it. This band hails from New Zealand, so when they are out on tour you have to hit them up when you have the chance to.

They are a straight forward rock band built by three brothers. Chris Brooks on lead vocals and backing guitar, Kent Brooks on bass and backing vocals, Matt Brooks on lead guitar and backing vocals and the only non blood relative back on the drum kit was Zach Wood. There is nothing flashy about them. There are no gimmicks although at times they use an instrument native to their homeland, the didgeridoo. It is used in their set for a few songs, but Chris towards the end of the show performed a few minute solo. I am a fan of how active they are on stage though, between the head banging and random stage jumps they engage with every single person in the crowd. Giving out high fives, cracking jokes and even signing a few autographs at a few points during the evening. 

A very neat moment occurred in the middle of the set. Matt Brooks moved to center stage. He then began to explain how they’ve toured with Linkin Park and were in shock about Chester Bennington’s suicide. This led into a very slow and somber version of “Crawling” that had quite the sing-a-long from the crowd. Dead center, Matt, performed solo while the others prepared for the rest of the show. It was the highlight of the entire show.

All in all, the night was fantastic. The audience members were fun. The band themselves were extremely tight and primed. It is small shows like these that leave impacts on people. I look forward to the next time they come through.

Set List:
Intro
Complicated
The Bitterness
Gangsters Paradise (Coolio cover)
Become The Enemy
Solitary
Crawling(Linkin Park cover)
Wish You Hell
Chemical Infatuation
TNT
The Devil Inside
Pure Evil
(Didgeridoo Solo)
Love The Way You Hate Me


Mushroomhead

11/30/2019
Mushroomhead @ The Rave
Milwaukee, WI

Set List:
43
Kill Tomorrow
Qwerty
Sun Doesn’t Rise
We Are The Truth
Among The Crows
Destroy The World Around Me
Before I Die
Out of My Mind
The Dream is Over
Empty Spaces (Pink Floyd cover)
Born of Desire


Static-X

11/30/2019
Static-X @ The Rave 
Milwaukee, WI

I have had the pleasure of photographing this tour twice in one year. After having do so I can say this wasn’t just a celebration of Wayne Static’s life, but the bands revival. It was a timely coincidence that it was also the anniversary of their “Wisconsin Death Trip” album. To celebrate both things with 2 North American legs and a European dash in the middle was the best way to reignite the fires of their self proclaimed evil disco. Static-X brought this fire to The Rave. Originally, set to take place in the smaller basement room or Rave 1, they nearly sold out the larger Rave 2 room. Walking through the main foyer, a larger Static-X Wisconsin Death Trip skrim was set up. It was a great place for photos with friends and to remember the epic evening.

The show itself was amazing. The set list was the same as when I previously saw them. It didn’t matter though they blew that show out of the water. It was obvious they were more comfortable and enjoyed the experience more. It was infectious. Hard to not enjoy what was being thrown at you. The lighting set up was designed to perfection. It looked even larger and brighter on the larger stage than before. Random images of Wayne Static flickered during each song. Each time the crowd erupted. It was a much different feeling than other homage shows I have attended. This time they genuinely promoted the life and contributions to the history of metal. Xero, the new mysterious front man, often mentioned the love and accomplishments of the man. Xero, not only wearing a mask in the likeness of a zombie Wayne Static has the voice that is almost dead on. Back in their heyday, I had seen Static-X about a dozen times (I had to dig up old ticket stubs to confirm). Everything that occurred through the evening had my in goose bumps. It felt like those good old days again. 

From the beginning of the night, stage right of the room about 3 people deep from the front, a child about the age of 7 or 8 was up on his dads shoulders jamming away. The members of Static-X pointed him out a few times early. Eventually, they just brought him and his dad up to stand on stage to watch. This kid was loosing it on stage. The guitar tech handed him a set of drum sticks and he was air drumming in synch with drummer, Ken Jay. Dare I say, it was adorable?

In the end, It was a killer show with several memorable moments. For how long this complete tour was I became pretty sad at the end that it wasn’t going back out again. I truly hope that if you are reading this you didn’t miss it.

Set List:
December (intro)
Bled
Wisconsin Death Trip
Fix
Sweat of The Bud
Love Dump
I AM
Ostegolation
Trance
Get to The Gone
Black & White
This Is Not
Destroy All
Start A War
Behemoth
Cold
I’m With Stupid
Push It


Dope

11/30/2019
Dope @ The Rave
Milwaukee, WI

Set List:
Blood Money
Bring It On
Everything Sucks
Debonaire
Die, Boom, Bang, Burn
You Spin Me Round (Dead or Alive cover)


Wednesday13

11/30/2019
Wednesday13 @ The Rave
Milwaukee, WI

Set List:
Necrophaze
Zodiac
Serpent Society
Prey For Me
Decompose
What The Night Brings
Keep Watching the Skies


Hellyeah

11/26/2019
Hellyeah @ The Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

Hellyeah came storming into The Apollo Theatre on their “The Celebration of The Life of Vinnie Paul” tour. The late Pantera/Hellyeah drummer was certainly eulogized in the only way fans of his could have by moshing, drinking and screaming lyrics out loud. 

There was so much that happened. The photography pit was pure insanity. We were warned beforehand we couldn’t stand right next to the stage but, in the walking path. That was to move quickly out of the way due to the amount of bodies flying over the top. We also had a surprise when vocalist Chad Grey flew off of the stage into the crowd and pretty much spent the entire set out in it. It was straight up one of the greatest things I have seen at a show in ages. He crawled across the fans. They held him up, slapped hands and screamed lyrics into the microphone when he jammed it into their faces. Another fantastic tidbit was Stone Sour drummer, Roy Mayorga, is filling in on drummers for the tour. The stage was lined with Stone Sour road cases. Most notably they stood next to large TV screens that were placed on each side of the stage. As most know, Mayorga, is quite the showman behind the skins. He slapped with brutal force and efficiency. It was a great fit for the tour. Kyle Sanders was a wild man on the bass. He flung his instrument around his body and screamed into his backing mic often. On each side of the stage, guitarists Tom Maxwell and Christian Brady shred. Tom in his signature cowboy hat, move back and forth playing with a smirk on his face. Brady, stood behind a backing microphone giving total effort. The band performed as a complete unit. They were an intense fury of metal carnage. 

Over the years I have seen Nothingface, Mudvayne and Stone Sour. The previous bands by these artists. Nothing compared to that onslaught of metal madness. I was pretty awestruck by the whole evening. Simply put, any time Hellyeah come back around I will be trying to attend. It was one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever had at a metal show. 

Set List:
X
Oh My God
Demons in The Dirt
Sangre por Sangre
Moth
333
Say When
Black Flag Army
Love Falls
Welcome Home
I’m Broken (Pantera Cover)
Walk (Pantera Cover)
Waging War
Hellyeah!


Nonpoint

11/26/2019
Nonpoint @ The Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL



Set List: 
Breaking Skin
Chaos & Earthquakes
Dodge Your Destiny
Milestone
Fix This 
That Day
In The Air
What A Day
Bullet With A Name


Deepfall

11/26/2019
Deepfall @ The Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

It was suggested to me that I request a photography pass to check out this band called Deepfall. Normally, I am skeptical when others suggest artists for me to check out. Generally, It turns out to be a band I would never listen to. The bill was extremely solid with Hellyeah and Nonpoint at the top of it. Knowing this it couldn’t be bad. Happily I can say it wasn’t. In fact it kicked major ass. After the show, I was so impressed by their performance that I downloaded their album “Broken”. A 7 song rock roller coaster. Performance-wise, Deepfall, were tight and not what I was expecting. Between the guitarists punk jumps and the bassist foot slams it was hard to tell who was more into it. Vocally, they were strong and defiant. It was straight forward rock with a punch. Included in the set was a shout out for those whom and are serving in our military. It was a somber moment. Early on though they had a small mosh pit open up. The crowd was into it. The front row hand their hands stretched out hoping for hand slaps and high fives. I am looking forward to them coming back through when they open up for Alterbridge in February.

Set list:

I’m Sick
Monster
Ghost
Separate Ways (Journey Cover)
Wasted
Voice of the Broken


Third Eye Blind

11/22/2019
Third Eye Blind @ Coronado PAC
Rockford, IL

To say I was excited for this show would be an understatement. I have been on the Third Eye Blind band wagon since their debut album in 1997. The first concert that I was allowed to go to with my friends and no parental chaperone along. My ex and I still to this day go to 3eb shows because it is our thing. In fact we went to this show together. They are one of those bands that have meant so much to so many people across the last 22 years. In fact the age range of those in attendance was quite large. Children decked out in 3eb gear to seniors enjoying an evening together.

The Coronado Theater is a historical location in downtown Rockford. The inside of the common spaces are covered in gold. Literally everything is covered in gold. The patterns and trim are extremely elaborate. Once in the hallway in front of the theater doors there is a massive set of mirrors that line the wall and run to the ceiling which is multiple floors. Multiple chandeliers line the rooms. When walking through the double doors to enter the theater you see velvet covered seats running from the back wall all the way down to the orchestral pit which was also lined with premium package seating. To say this venue is high class and beautiful would even then be understating it. The stage itself is massive. Light panels line the entire back of the stage. In front of those panels is an elevated stage with a drum riser and keyboard set up on the opposite end. At the front of the stage are three microphones . All in all it was a well planned out and simplistic set up. 


The band itself walked out onto the stage with smiles on their face. The crowd was eager. Everything was set up for a wonderful evening. The band didn’t disappoint. The set list covers their entire discography. Newer fans had a plethora of newer songs to enjoy, while those of us in the long time fan category had virtually every big hit and cult classic to enjoy. Despite that, they are out promoting their newest full length release “Screamer”. An album that literally screams out to me about the current social movements, hope and future to come.

This show had a little bit of everything. On drums, Brad Hargreaves, the longtime kit man, destroyed his kit. I mean he punished it. I had a unique view from about straight on. The best part was the smile on his face. How can you not enjoy watching a band if they aren’t enjoying it themselves. Stephan Jenkins gave all of his usual facial expressions, but seemed to be more into the business of kicking ass. With his collar up and sharp glares, Jenkins had the look of a rock n’ roll enlightened man. By the end, you could tell he was physically exhausted. Covered in sweat and giving a smirk while walking off the stage. He literally gave it his all. It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening.

3 Best songs:
Kids Are Coming - The song itself is so up beat and projects that sense of hope lyrically. The light panels in the back ran through several faces of young and inspiring activists. Most notably Greta Thunberg. The song was accompanied an extremely strong vocal performance by Stephan Jenkins. He sang it with a ton of heart and power. The sound was flawless. You could pick up each and every word sung. Also my entire section at the time, either had their hands up and waving in the air or were dancing.

Motorcycle Drive-by - Pretty much another song that full engaged the crowd in a sing-a-long. Front and center on the stage Stephan Jenkins stands with a dimly lit spot light overhead. There he plays on his acoustic an ever so calming lead riff. From there he softly echos his words over the 2,300 seat theater. With ease he then builds up to the time signature change and the full band joining in. It was a rock show again. Lights blast from behind the stage illuminating each artist. This song instilled a feeling that was only enhanced by hearing the vocal sensitivities from the one whom wrote it. Bravo!

Semi-Charmed Life - An obvious pick. When one of the best songs of a decade is in your set list it will wind up as an instant favorite. The entire room erupted when the guitar riff kicked in. Every single person in the building was singing at the top of their lungs and bouncing around. In fact it was so loud the band themselves didn’t have to even sing the words. Behind the band the light panels lit up spelling out “Third Eye Blind” in 3 separate columns. That light spread across the room with the smokey haze engulfing the entire stage. It was an awesome effect.

Set list:
Thanks A Lot
Never Let You Go
Wounded
Can You Take Me/London
Graduate
Screamer
Kids Are Coming
Walk Like Kings 
Ways
Slow Motion
Motorcycle Drive-by
How Soon Is Now/Another Life/Palm Reader
Anything/Say It/Crystal Baller/Blinded
Jumper
Light It Up
Semi-Charmed Life
Hows It Going To Be?


Exhumed

11/18/2019
Exhumed @ Crucible
Madison, WI

What an incredible night. I had been looked forward to this show for months. Crucible is basically a huge room with a stage straight ahead when you walk through the door. Off to the right and lining the walls is the bands merchandise area. Death metal/grindcore bands have the best merchandise and nothing can change my mind about it. I managed to snag Exhumed’s horror Blockbuster themed tour shirt. It is pure fire. 

The stage which is straight ahead when you enter the room is sizable but, the stage lighting is pretty dim and harsh. No real alternating between multiple colors. Regardless, the sound definitely fills the room and isn’t bad at all. You can hear the vocals rather cleanly and it is mixed well, so a round of applause to the man behind the mixer. 

The show itself was everything a horror movie and metal fan could have asked for. Their Slaughterhouse Maniac character was ever so present throughout the entire show. He came out with vhs tapes and loaded them into televisions posted next to the bands cabs. He then came to the front of the small stage and destroyed a vhs by ripping it up and threw it into the hungry audience. I was positioned between co-founders bassist Ross Sewage and frontman Matt Harvey. Straight back was drummer Mike Hamilton. It was so poorly lit back by him I literally couldn’t see him at all. On the bright side you could hear him thrash his with ease and timeliness. On my far right was a newer recruit Sebastian Philips on guitar. 

Their set list covered multiple albums, but clearly their newest release “Horror” would have the most tracks. I was hoping they’d play “Matter of Splatter” but, I can’t really argue with how kick ass the tunes they picked were. I was right up front for the first three tracks, all of which were off the new album. I can tell you it was nothing, but perfection. They started out with an absolute onslaught of grindcore bangers. They played so quick it was hard to pick up behind the camera lens at times. The cool thing was they did make sure to give me some opportunities for snaps. Musically, they were so tight. Vocals were dead on. Harvey, projected his signature scratchy screams strongly while ripping solos left and right. He had no problem moving around the stage and leaning into the crowd when the chance opened up.  Sewage, was also extremely fun to watch up front. His eyes burst open with power every time he approached the microphone. He was brutal as hell on the bass strings. You felt it. He had no problem engaging with those of us upfront even allowing people to hit the strings at times. 

I moved to the side of the room to ditch my gear and watch room and watch from on top of a platform. It only got better being able to watch the chaos from afar. I never noticed the circle pit going insane behind me. It took up the entire middle space of the room. You could see the steam rising up to the ceiling rafters. I could also watch other guitarist Sebastian Philips stand upfront and over the top and right in front of everyone flipping his hair and laying down those tantalizing riffs. When the slaughter maniac emerges from the back he grinded the guitar strings on a guitar and threw sparks over the crowd during “Forged in Fire” which illuminated the room and was awesome as hell. At the very end as the band closes on a Venom cover “Countess Bathory” the maniac wheeled up an old popcorn maker. Staying with the horror theme he then removed a severed head and poured the blood out over a patron, whom bathed in it, then sprayed blood out across everyone stage right. From there he turned the televisions off and the stage went dim ending the engaging show.

After 20 years worth of albums and touring these guys still are good as ever. They reached every expectation I had going into seeing them finally. Frankly, I cannot wait for them to come back around again. Their “Horror” album is pure gold and their set was the same. Thank you for having me out!

Setlist:
Re-Animated
Ravenous Cadavers
Slaughter Maniac
Coins Upon The Eyes
Limb From Limb
Naked, Screaming, and Covered in Blood
Dysmorphic
Decrepit Crescendo
Forged in Fire
Defenders of The Grave
Utter Mutilation of Your Corpse
The Red Death
Playing With Fear

Death Revenge

Deadest of The Dead
Open The Abscess/The Countess Bathory (Venom Cover)/Open The Abscess


Smile Empty Soul

11/14/2019
Smile Empty Soul @ Back Bar
Janesville, WI

It was a pretty fantastic night of early 2000s grunge. Sean Danielson the lone remaining member of Smile Empty Soul brought his band to the Back Bar on what should’ve been a relatively slow evening. The room was filled leaving just a path in the back to get from side to side.

Having caught Smile Empty Soul right after debut self titled release (which is certified Gold), I already knew it was going to be a fun night. The set list encompassed every album they have had released. I was positioned right in front of Sean for the first half of the show. Vocally, the strength of his voice was quite impressive. The voice I heard was stronger than the album recordings. Part of the time you could hear him at the back of the room when he stepped away from the microphone. At one point people were yelling over and over for “Silhouettes” and “Nowhere Kids”. Sean simply laughed and replied “Its coming later”. Gotta love when a band just goes with it. Overall, these guys were in sync and one of the more fun concerts I went to this past year. Everything ripped and was pleasurable to the ears. No embellishment to their music in the slightest. It was performed as written. 

It was a fantastic evening of rock. Safe to way I really want to see them perform again next year when they come around. On another note Sean took time at the merchandise booth to meet, greet sign and take photos with every single person in the building. I had the pleasure of having one of the album covers I brought signed. Very humble guy. The moment left a great impression on me.

Set List:
Black and Blue
Self Inflicted
Don’t Ever Leave
Chemicals
Food Chain
Sitting Ducks
Out To Sea
Van Nuys
Silhouettes
Sides
Faceless
False Alarm
Bottom of a Bottle
Nowhere Kids


Cannibal Corpse

11/10/2019
Cannibal Corpse @ Apollo Theatre 
Belvidere, IL

The death metal legends came to The Apollo Theatre on a cold and snowy night. That didn’t stop them from doing what they came to do and that was kicking your ass. Being able to snap such a legendary band in their genre was an absolute honor. As I entered the venue the line for merchandise was already long. If there is anything to take away from it was that they still produce some of the sickest tour shirts out there. I’d say a healthy third of the crowd was wearing them.
The set list looked like a greatest hits concert. These guys have so many popular song it was incredible to see it all listed out. Seeing Corpsegrinder walk out on to the stage I knew it was about to get real in the room. He picked up the microphone and went right into a circle head bang. Hair was flailing everywhere. He then leaned of the front monitor and went right into growls with the mic buried under his hair. Looking like Sumara from “The Ring” but, actually a bit scary. The intensity oozed from the stage. Corpsegrinder literally wasted no time inbetween song with small talk and chatter with the crowd. He filled the occasional gaps with death stares and smirks. Fill-in guitarist Erik Rutan and long time guitarist Rob Barrett occupied both ends of the stage. Barrett held his spot towards the front and ripped with efficiency. Rutan on the other end swayed and head banged. He moved around the whole half of the stage freely. He was totally cohesive with the rest of the band. Never skipped a step. Bassist Alex Webster and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz laid the foundation of the music down thunderously. It truly was art performed to perfection. 

It was an honor to watch and capture images of such a legendary and controversial band. My bucket list had a huge check mark placed on it. I truly hope my images do the event justice. Such a fun evening on an absolutely miserable time outside.

Best Songs:
Code of Slashers - It was remarkable how fast they jumped into it. The hyped audience was ready. Bodies started to fly over the barricade almost immediately. It projected a mean and aggressively intense rush.

Hammer Smashed Face - Lets be real here. This is their most popular tune by far. For how strong the show already was it felt like they saved all of their energy for home stretch. The drums were so loud. Out in front the circle pit was large and at warped speed. 


Set List:
Code of Slashers
Only One Will Die
Red Before Black
Scourge of Iron
Staring Through The Eyes of The Dead
The Wretched Spawn
Devoured By Vermin
Unleashing The Blood Thirsty
Gutted
Kill or Become
A Skull Full of Maggots
Evisceration Plague
Firestorm Vengeance
Death Walking Terror
I Cum Blood
Make Them Suffer
Stripped, Raped and Strangled
Hammer Smashed Face


Thy Art is Murder

11/10/2019
Thy Art is Murder @ Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, Il 

Setlist:
Death Squad Anthem
Make America Hate Again
Fur and Claw
Slaves Beyond Death
Holy War
No Absolution
Human Target
The Son of Misery
New Gods
Reign of Darkness
Puppet Master



He is Legend

11/09/2019
He is Legend @ Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

Setlist:
White Bat
Burn All Your Rock Records
The Seduction
The Widow of Magnolia
Attack of The Dungeon Witch
Everyone I Know Has Fangs
Boogeywoman


Atreyu

11/09/2019
Atreyu @ Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

When this show popped up I geeked out so hard. Atreyu are one of those bands that I have listened to weekly for years. I enjoy this band so much that I would drag my friends who don’t enjoy this type of music along to their shows. This being the 20 year anniversary tour you knew they were going to pull out all of the stops. They did just that starting with a poll about which songs should they play. Allowing fans to pick their favorites on their website. It is always appreciated when artists are so open to sharing the shows entire experience with those simply clicking a button on a web page. 

The show itself was fantastic. Atreyu was filled up with so much energy. They let loose in ways I haven’t seen out of them in a long time.  Several antics included jumping off of elevated drum risers, crowd surfing from the back of the room, sitting up in the balcony and playing next to fans in the seats and leaning into the photo pit and playing. There was so much going on it was almost hard to keep up. The stage lighting was intense. There were sizable panels on each side of the drum riser. The drum riser was center stage with two sets of stairs on each side. Both sets of stairs had a small platform in the middle separating them. 

The evening was a grand spectacle of headbanging and metal riffs. There were 3 songs that stood out above the rest. 
1.) Right Side of The Bed - The explosion of screams and the shaking of the floor made this song the undisputed number one pick on the night. Vocalist, Alex, was out front on top of a metal stand. He was letting everyone feel his presence by screaming at every into the microphone fiercely at every turn. Drummer Brandon Saller sang at the top of his lungs while pounding his kit high up on the riser. I caught myself head bobbing while moving side to side in the photo pit. The song really had me jacked up.

2.) Five Vicodin With a Chase of Clarity - Personally, anything off of the “Suicide Notes” album would be sweet perfection. This song always bring the room to a full on mosh. That is exactly what happened. A giant circle pit opened up in the middle of the room. I watched from the balcony. Musically, it was done to perfection. It seemed to be even heavier and a step faster than the previous times I have seen them play it.

3.) The Crimson - I could probably make a very good case for this song being an all-time goth anthem. Every single time I have seen this played it has turned into the biggest sing-a-long ever. Atreyu clearly know this. Dan Jacobs, Marc McKnight and Alex Varkatzas literally stand with their toes gripping the edge of the stage and engage with the crowd. They allow the crowd to sing for them. One reason this will always be amongst the greatest Atreyu tunes.

It is easy to say Atreyu give performances that are always for the masses. They truly are a band that cannot be missed. They have perfected their craft over the last 20 years. I know I will keep attending when they come around.

Set List:
The Time is Now
Right Side of The Bed
Ain’t Love Grand
Doomsday
My Fork in The Road
Ex’s and Oh’s
Our Sick Story 
The Theft
Blood Children
Bleeding Mascara
Demonology and Heartache
The Crimson
Her Portrait
Bleeding is a Luxury
House of Gold
Becoming The Bull
Falling Down
Blow
Five Vicodin Chase with a Shot of Clarity
Untitled Finale
Lip Gloss and Black


Theory

11/04/2019

Theory @ The Apollo Theatre

Belvidere, IL


On a warm up tour for their forth coming album “Say Nothing”, Theory, come storming into The Apollo Theatre. That album will be released in late January of 2020. One thing was absolutely clear heading into the sold out show, Theory fans were ready for it. I heard many people while waiting in line talking about how great the newly released single, “History of Violence” is. Personally, I have to agree. It really gives us all something to look forward to besides their past hits.


Their stage set up has 8 pillars of lights that each have a foot wide strobe in the middle. On the floor directly in front of them are large spinning spot lights. These pillars line the entire back of the stage. Behind those pillars are 5 drapes hanging from the ceiling that look like one of those mountain walls you climb on. In front of those are lights that flash straight up.  Theory’s drummer, Joey Dandaneau’s kit sits dead center of the stage on top of a foot tall riser. Past that the stage upfront is fairly bare. Well, bare besides throw rugs that are underneath the three microphone stands that are right up front and spread across the stage. Those mic stands each have huge spotlights illuminating them from overhead. The set up really seemed to allow for maximum light to cover all areas and allow movement by the band. 

Having seen Theory 3 times previously, I knew I was in for a great show before I was even at the venue. Theory are that unique rock band that consistently delivers great albums while backing it up with a tremendous performance on tour. This was a Monday night in virtually nowhere Illinois and they sold the place out. I was told it was over a thousand tickets sold in just pre-sale. That is mighty impressive. I had a feeling these facts clearly did not phase them in the least. I know I walked away feeling fantastic having witnessed them played virtually all of their radio singles. Hearing “RX”, “Santa Monica”, “Hate My Life” and “Bad Girlfriend” especially.

The Canadian rockers being towards the end of tour wasn’t noticeable. There were no visible wear, tear or slowing down issues. They had their own style and vitality. Bassist Dean Back and guitarist Dave Brenner were all over the spacious stage. Both were a joy to watch perform. Back, moves back and forth all while swaying and landing some foot stomps. On occasion he joined Brenner for some joint mic shares on stage right. Brenner in his own right commanded a lot of attention away from everyone else. His performance was physical, yet fun. He used every square inch given to him to roam and sling his guitar around. Tyler Connolly, was quite the showman. His vocal fire is only matched by his guitar finesse. Belting out every popular lyric with a smirk and snarl. Ever so briefly he would grab the mic off of the stand and stand on the edge of the stage to engage with the crowd. The reception to it was certainly met with female screams and banter. Between delivering heat or somber moments he produced at a high level. Essentially meeting true rock star status in the process. Finally, the drumming of Joey Dandaneau. This guy slayed on this skins. He delivered such emotion and enthusiasm with each moment. He felt like the heart of the show perched higher up and center. 

Overall, I loved everything about this performance. It literally had it all. The manliness, heart break, love and fun that every show should deliver. This was a clinic. On my drive home I did something I never do. I made a playlist of the set list and cranked it all the way into my garage. Safe to say they are on my do not miss list.  

3 Best Songs:
History of Violence - The brand new single that is openly about domestic violence. For a band that has a long history of writing break up songs mixed with a few about social issues it was a somber reminder that there are other things in life outside of personal problems. Judging by the reaction through the room that point wasn’t missed either. That reaction was overly positive. So many people singing the lyrics. Pretty amazing considering the album hasn’t even been publicly released yet. 

Lowlife - For me there was no other song to kick of the performance with. This gem from “The Truth Is….” It punches you in the mouth with pure energy. From behind the barricade the ladies lining the front entire row seemingly agreed by singing at the top of their lungs. Brenner hits the stage and goes absolutely wild standing literally on the edge of the stage. No joke. His feet were literally just over the edge while engaging enthusiastically with the audience. Dandaneau absolutely loses it on his kit. Slamming the sticks across his snare and floor tom with overwhelming force all while looking out across the packed room. The true spirit of Rock n’ Roll was on display from the start.

Wicked Game - This Chris Issak cover set the mood for the second half of the night. Then entire stage was decked out in a cold blue lighting with frontman Connelly, sitting every so solomnly behind a keyboard. This set up was just off to the right of center leaving in full view Mr. Dandaneau’s kit. The words hauntingly echoed across the theatre as a few lighters in the sold out crowd swayed back and forth. It was eerily calm and extremely mesmerizing. Absolutely spectacular to have witnessed.  

Set List:
Lowlife
Blow
Bitch Came Back
Not Meant To Be
Santa Monica
So Happy
History of Violence
Wicked Game
All or Nothing
Straight Jacket
Drown
Angel
Hate My Life
RX
Paradise City (GnR Medley)
Bad Girlfriend



BurgerKill

10/24/2019
BurgerKill @ The Back Bar
Janesville, WI

The veteran Indonesian thrash hardcore kings came to the US to “kick ass and pick up fans where ever they can” atleast that is what they told me. Despite the sparse crowd they absolutely made fans out of those that were in attendance. When I arrived I had many different conversations with those involved in the show. The individual members each expressed their own love of playing across America. General consensus though was that every show so far was fun and they were just doing what they knew how to do. Which is playing fast and hard. I can easily say that wasn’t out of context at all. Collectively, BurgerKill do just that with such professionalism. 

As they come on to the extremely wide stage they waste no time starting up their short programmed intro. Instantly their faces went from smiling and happy to stone faced and ready for business. With an absolutely killer and action packed set list the attitudes matched it track for track. BurgerKill’s vocalist Vicky, is jumping and bouncing around the entire stage. Unleashing ferocious screams while grasping the mic with two hands nearly all evening. He was on a whole other level. Vocally, he was on point. He literally sounds like he does in their Youtube videos. Also sharing the middle of the stage is bassist, Ramdan. His picks were hard, clean and his stage antics were stoic at times. After the show he said how much he enjoyed the stage. It showed in his casual smile. On the first extremely cold day of the Fall they warmed up the room in no time.

My Overall impression of BurgerKill is extremely positive. I was almost too excited to see these guys and it was worth every penny spent. The band themselves are well conditioned for continued success. Watching theme perform even had me moving my body a bit. It is impressive because I am a watcher and don’t get into it too often. Their most recent release “Adamantine” is a must buy. I picked up their only copy on the table and haven’t taken it out of my CD player yet. It is so damn good. If anything this show further proved to me that music is a Universal language with no boundaries. 

3 Best Songs:
Only The Strong - A straight punch you in the mouth anthem off of “Venomous” had the attendees moshing around in the open floor area. Starting off fast with a nice little lead turns into a hardcore gem. Both guitarist(Ebenz and Agung) shred with legs up on the monitors while throwing their hair everywhere. They are obviously extremely skilled and very in tune with each other.
Beyond Coma - Starting your set off after the intro with an instrumental is almost unheard of. Nonetheless, it felt amazingly ballsy all the same. Just shredding and head banging for 4 minutes to warm up the audience.
Superficial - Simply, heavy as can be with unique time signature changes laced with slick guitar riffs and solos. Truly a song for the metal head in all of us. It is so creative that it sounds like two completely different songs that mesh together perfectly. 

Set list:
Intro
Beyond Coma
Darah Hitman Kebencian
Under The Scars
Integral
Shadow of Sorrow
Superficial
Only The Strong
Aturaku


Jinjer

10/23/2019
Jinjer @ Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

This Ukrainian foursome came into the Apollo Theatre just days before their highly anticipated album, “Macro” is to be released. The line to enter the venue was all the way down the street and it buzzed with excitement. As soon as I got through the security I turned to the right to buy a tour shirt and there was already a sizable line. Safe to say the excitement this unique metal band has developed has blown up over the last year. I was at their Route 20 show just a year earlier and they were direct support to Devildriver. Regionally, a lot of people discovered who they were that day. Without a doubt that tour lead to a good chunk of the ticket sales for this gig.

The line to enter the venue started around noon. Once doors were about to open it led down the street. A clear sign of the anticipation. Another telling sign of the bands recent success was the never ending merchandise line. I managed to snag myself 2 more shirts. Pretty darn reasonably priced in the World of band merch too. 

The photography pit was over packed with photographers. Many whom had no clue who they were until the tour was announced. Seeing as this is one of my favorite bands out there I already knew where I needed to claim my spot at. After my first time snapping them at Route 20 a year previously, I had a few types of images I wanted to get that I missed last time through. Needless to say I landed everything I wanted and more. I was more excited to hear the new tunes. “Judgement” and “On The Top” had just been released, but “Retrospection” was also in the play list and I was savoring the chance to hear them all played live. The other cool thing was they also released “Micro” right after their previous US tour. Having performed “Ape” already I wanted to more. Which they basically play the entire EP just not “Micro”. Every album but their very first full length “Inhale, Don’t Breathe” had something off of it. They couldn’t have picked a more perfect set list. 

The band themselves are the total definition of a well oiled machine. Very few performers are as precise and fluid as musicians as this quartet. Eugene on bass is like watching art in motion. His emotion is written all over his face as he plays. His riffs are heavy, fast and accurate. He spends most of the show in roughly an area of five feet. From there he sways and stomps through sets giving the occasional fist in the air at the end of songs. Vlad, back on drums absolutely slays. His slaps are loud and well timed. He very rarely strays from looking either looking down on his kit or face forward. Often though, you catch him smiling and enjoying the moment.  Their guitarist, Roman, plays fast. He spent a lot of the time upfront and standing over the monitor head banging. Vocalist Tatiana, is arguably the best new voice in all of metal. Her vocal range is rather dynamic. Several people I know have asked, “Are her growls and screams as strong as the albums?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” She is a force to be recognized by her piers. All evening, Tatiana, blasted out crisp and strong screams while stomping her feet, head banging, flipping hair and flying high off of metal stands up front. Safe to say she embodies everything you want in front person.

This was probably the best concert I went to all year. This band is about as perfect as it get in my book. Their live show leaves you wanting more. Their catalog of albums are masterpieces. I highly suggest if anyone gets the chance to see them to purchase a ticket immediately. They will be back stateside in May so buckle up! I will be there.

Set list:
Teacher, Teacher
Sit, Stay, Rollover
Ape
Judgement
I Speak Astronomy
Dreadful Moments
Who’s Gonna Be The One?
Retrospection
Perennial

On The Top
Bad Water
Outlander
No Hoard Value
Cloud Factory
Pisces
Captain Clock


Motionless in White

10/18/2019
Motionless in White @ Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

Having worked on a tour in which Motionless in White were direct support, it has been a very neat experience following their progress. The remaining member are still extremely nice and hands on in the show experience. The macabre imagery and feel of the stage fits the overall essence of the show. Very little on the stage is lit up except the Jack-o-lanterns that are spread throughout. The stage lights up on occasion with red and blue strobes that pierce through the smoke cover. Visually it is quite the spectacle. 

One by one each member comes out onto the stage. Both guitarist are finely dressed up in dress shirts and slacks. Bassist and drummer are covered head to toe in black paint. Finally, out walks their vocalist Chris, whom is wearing a shirt that screams and homage to Beetlejuice and face make up similar to that of Marilyn Manson’s early days. 

3 Best Songs:
Undead Ahead 2 - A true rock symphony in a nice and tight 4 and a half minutes. A pumpkin headed character running around on stage adding to the initial excitement of starting the show as well. It was a masterpiece in chaos. 
Immaculate Misconception -  Its just heavy as hell. It made the audience bounce up and down. From my vantage point in the balcony it looked like a huge wave of people moving front to back. From above the sound board I could also say it was the best sounding song of the evening.
Reincarnate - With this being the second song in the set it was basically continued on from the opener Undead Ahead 2. It was perfection though. For how heavy it is from the get go the room was buzzing. The entire band was head banging and doing in place spins as often as possible.

Set List:
Undead Ahead 2
Reincarnate
Necessary Evil
Disguise
Abigail
Broadcasting From Beyond
Voices
Headache
Immaculate Misconception
Not My Type
Brand New Numb
Catharsis
Eternally Yours


After The Burial

10/18/2019
After The Burial @ Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

Set List:
Lost In The Static
Collapse
Behold The Crown
Exit, Exist
In Flux
Aspiration
A Wolf Amongst Ravens


Madame Mayhem

10/17/2019
Madame Mayhem @ The Back Bar
Janesville, WI

There is a simple beauty in showing up to watch the others on a bill. Not just the headliners. Sometimes you will find hidden gems. This is how I discovered the ever so powerful vocal chords of Madame Mayhem. She was direct support for Adelita’s Way that night. Frankly, I was blown away at the time. Since that show I have jammed her “Ready For Me” album numerous times. It holds up as a one of the better albums I have bought within the last year or so. This is a huge reason I was excited for her to come back and play in the area again.  

The Back Bar is a small biker bar that is known for its hard rock and heavy metal gigs. Inside is a long and wide stage giving the artists room to roam. The Madame Mayhem entourage took full advantage of that. Madame Mayhem(Natalie Cohen) herself comes out onto the stage decked out in all black leather and lace with a studded jacket over top. She owns the all black look. She maybe short in stature, but she exudes an impressive aura of confidence. It is well earned after putting in years of work to fine tune her craft. The extensively trained musician commands attention the moment she enters from stage right. With a bright addictive smile she glares across the room. When the first note is strummed she unleashed one of many hair flips on the evening. From there she dances and bounces every square inch of the stage. Showing precise control of her dynamic vocal range you feel every word, note and emotion exuding from her. Lyrically, she expresses a lot about love, loss and life in general. Her voice fills the venue. She is so strong vocally it even drowns the instruments out at times. You cannot help, but enjoy the show. The banter and engagement in between the songs gave the audience multiple memorable moments for each individual there in attendance. All in all, the entire set was all wrapped into a very tight 40 minute set. They even threw in an Audioslave cover(Cochise) which was so freaking good I actually loaded it up on my playlist after the show.

Madame Mayhem’s backing band are extremely tight and in sync throughout. Extremely slick instrumentally as well. They are not a group that simply stand around. In their own right they demand attention with the same tenacity and resolve as their front woman. They move freely around the stage making it known they are simply not just any backing band. They force you feel every riff, note and chorus. 

Overall, I firmly believe you will be hearing more from Madame Mayhem in the near future. After the show is completed, she runs her merchandise stand. Once again she is amazingly approachable and kind to everyone. Giving out hugs and hand shakes. I brought one of the albums she sold me at the previous show to have signed. There was no issue with having that done. We chatted a few moments and I moved out of the way for others. These are the things some artists forget to do once they get some sort of success. This along with relentless touring and banging songs, there is no doubt it is only a matter of time before the country knows who she is. When she comes back through I will for sure be there again.
3
3 Best Songs:
1. War You Started. The song is performed at the top of the set list with such an intensity and vigor there was nothing to be skeptical about for the rest of the evening. The lyrical content and her pipes mesh so well that your just body moves and sways on instinct alone. It is a perfect lead song.
2. Broken. This is her current single. An absolute masterpiece that puts her vocals out there on full display. It is also backed with some unique guitar pieces. The tune is extremely fun to hear live. Especially after having spun it dozens of times at home.
3. So Wrong. It is simply a strong song. On stage this song was performed to perfection. Having Madame Mayhem out front and center singing ever so passionately into the microphone on a simple stand. It was rather impressive. You just felt empathetic to the story put out there. 

Setlist:

War You Started
Stand Up
Innocent
Breaking Down
Broken
Left For Dead
Cochise(Audioslave Cover)
I Am More
Cruel Heart
So Wrong
Monster


Cold

10/16/2019
Cold @ Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

This show popped up on my radar 2 months beforehand. I was ecstatic. I have been listening to Cold albums since 1999. Despite them being spread so far out over the years I have them all. The new title “The Things We Can’t Stop” is their first release in 8 years. The disc is another gem. The last time I saw Cold was back in the early 2000s. Since then I have found my hidden photography skills and I was not going to miss this chance to capture a favorite of mine.
The stage at The Apollo Theatre is wide and deep. At the back of the stage is a huge white screen that has the new albums cover projected unto it. The stage fills with smoke as the entire band minus Scooter Ward take their places on stage.  After a the crowds initial screams Ward hits the stage. Just as if it was 2000 again the band hangs back in the darker corners while the smoke haze floats all over the room. Scooter as he always has wraps seemingly 3 feet of cable around his arm while cupping the microphone in the way only he can. The face and musical heart of Cold stands right on the edge of the stage nearly the entire performance. The lighting is almost non-existent. 2 large strobe pulse and spread across the stage and room. The ambience if I dare say it felt cold and crisp. It was ever so perfect.
Musically, they were very tight and on point. Cold’s bassist Lindsay Manfredi sways and moves back and forth all while laying down thunderous rumbling. I think the best part is she delivers it with a smile and grin the entire performance. It was something to remember. Sam McCandless back behind drums after joining after the tour started was a special treat. The long time off and on member felt right at home back there. Scooter often walked back towards him and exchanged words in between songs. Guitarists Nick Coyle and Jonny Nova are precise and in tune with each other. They couldn’t have more contrasting styles. Nova, gives the vibes of extreme professionalism. He doesn’t run around a stage, infact he is upfront swaying and feeling every riff he is dishing out. Coyle, is a showman. He provides a different feel. The former lead vocalist of Lifer gives the audience something the others don’t. He provides that erratic bounce. Coyle uses as much as the stage as he possibly can. In the end it is extremely hard to not be impressed. Personally, they have only gotten better under this line up of musicians. They are able to harness the essence and heart of the music easily.
I am so glad I was able to document a group of artists that still care about the visual aspects of performing. Before the show I ran into Scooter and Manfredi, I simply exchanged hellos and nothing more. They stopped and took photos with fans as well. When the headliners are hanging out in the crowd watching the openers it just shows that they “get it”. The bands established name and history leave no doubt they are going to continue gain interest in what is almost deemed a comeback tour. Producing such an unbelievably amazing album to tour on should help garner that. I for one will be there if the come back through
.
3 Best Songs:
Remedy - One of Colds better songs in my opinion set the room on fire. The song was performed like you were listening to it on the album. The audience sang it loud and clear. A fantastic way to kick the evening off.
Stupid Girl - Frankly, I was amazed by this. I personally am not a big fan of this song compared to others off of this album. Nonetheless it is a fan favorite. The best part about it was Cold literally rewrote the entire song and performed it at a much slower pace. It was so unique. I actually saw an interview with Scooter talking about wanting to rewrite songs at times. I truly hope they re-record it this way someday for all to hear.
Just Got Wicked - There is no better way to come out for the encore than to play your most well known track. Scooters voice was dead on despite not screaming at full pitch to start it. Memorable doesn’t explain the feel of the room nor the bands perfection playing this song. 

Set List:
Everyones A Devil
Remedy
Give 

Without You
No One 
The Break 
Suffocate
It’s All Good
When Angels Fly
Happens All The TIme
Confessions
Ocean
End of The World
Gods Song
Shine
Stupid Girl
Run
Just Got Wicked
Feel It in Your Heart

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