Pop Evil

Pop Evil @ The Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

Having seen Pop Evil a couple of times beforehand, I knew I was in for a great show. It was a rather neat evening that revealed they were playing an extended set list. This included songs they claim to have not played in a long while. Just hearing those words made my levels of anxiousness rise. Nothing like having a rock band that is high energy performing more than expected. It also made sense since the doors were opened earlier than normal. 

All in all, the band(whom is heading towards the end of their current run of shows) was in peak performance mode by the time they hit the Apollo Theatre. I was blown away by how proficient and technically sharp everyone was. I mean they were spot on note for note. Hayley Cramer destroyed her drum kit. Quick and tight snaps on the snare while also slinging across her symbols up top. She did this all while engaging with the crowd at every opportune moment. Its been a while since I’ve seen a drummer put on a show like that. 

Three stand out songs:
Trenches - Performing their hit song off of the “Onyx” album Pop Evil gave the enthused audience a moment to remember. Having additional vocals for the choruses provided by Justin Benlolo(Brkn Love) and Daniel Carriere(Royal Tusk) Pop Evil executed with an absolute proficiency. The guitar lead ripped by Nick Fuelling is an extremely catchy hook. Those string bends backed by thundering 808 hits shakes the room. The song itself exudes power. Physically, you have to move your body and head bang. Having all of the touring frontmen belting out “We have to dig our way out of the trenches” on the front edge of the stage was simply awesome. 

100 in a 55 - Slowing the show down with a song that led the entire room singing quite boisterously was marvelous. At one point it gave me the goose bumps. To hear the lyrics sung with such a bluesy grace live had my head really thinking about the words being sung. A true rock ballad in every sense. Leigh Kakaty gave possibly the best vocal rendition I’ve seen of the tune. It was stunning, dazzling and appreciative all wrapped into one. This is why the studio recording will never match a live performance. 

Colors Bleed - Another great tune with fantastic guitar leads. It is the song that really got the crowd moving. Nothing too flashy, but its the punch you in the mouth early 2000s song style that the entire band head banged and jumped all over the stage for. A real body mover for sure. Bassist Mike Dirito, jammed the hardest out of anyone. Having stomped and hair flipped through the entire song from his platform above the guitar cabs on stage left. 

Before I end this I just want people to know that bassist Mike Dirito has a cancer charity for kids called, Star Treatments. As a cancer patient myself I cannot love this enough. Check it out at  https://www.facebook.com/StarTreatmentsOrg/

Set List:
Footsteps (Go Higher)
Take It All
Ways to Get High
Last Man Standing
Bosses Daughter
Monster You Made
Behind Closed Doors
100 in a 55
Colors Bleed
Deal With The Devil
Torn to Pieces
Waking Lions


07/21/2019 Dope @ The Apollo Theater

Having seen Dope on their tour for the “Felons and Revolutionaries” album almost 20 years ago I was really looking forward to seeing them again all of these years later. The best part about catching up with this band live is to see what has changed. Frankly, not much. They still kick ass in a live setting. Granted there has been turnover here and there the core 4 members are still there and giving it everything they have. To this day I still bump the Felons album so it was pretty cool to hear they would mainly be playing content off of it this tour. The best part is digging out all of their other albums and jamming those too just in case they sneak anything else into the set list. Absolutely worth the time invested.

As I stroll into The Apollo Theater, I spot some familiar faces and say “Hey” then I work my way up to the stage. The crowd has already filed in for this vintage bill and it was buzzing. Up front were a handful of fans decked out in Dope t-shirts. Quickly, I decided that was probably a great spot to stand and get clicks from. 

One by one the members of Dope take the pitch black stage. Once set the stage illuminated with their insignia on the backing digital board covering the entire back stage. The band fires into “Blood Money” as Edsel hits the stage with a strut and swagger that years on the road can only give you. From behind a metal pedestal the Dope front man lets out a growl along with several head bangs. the show is off and running. The folks behind me decked out in Dope gear screamed every song word for word. The rest of the packed crowd sang and moshed through the set. In all honesty it was almost deafening to be up front in the photo well. The band clearly soaked up the energy and projected it back through their physical performance. Edsel’s vocals were strong, heavy and intense. He completely controlled the stage. 

Even through the proclaimed “Shittiest song in history” a cover titled “Spin Me Round”. Acey and Virus gave in your face performances. Quite literally. They were on the edge of the stage engaging with the enthused audience. Hell, they leaned over and went right into my lens a few times. Note for note. Pick by pick. These guys were on it. High flying off of the metal pedestals when the opportunity arose. My images do not do the shows awesomeness any justice.

Best song of the night was “Debonaire” outside of a cover this was probably the most popular song of theirs. When the lead started the room really came alive. Bodies started moving around at a fevered pitch. The drums seemed to smack even louder than before. Ricci Shay really punished his kick all show. The whole band had really kicked up the intensity and power. I think that really goes to show their overall vitality and long term stamina. A true ability to survive and kick ass after 20 years in the business. 

With any luck I am hoping to get in for their Milwaukee show in December. They were so good I have to go back and catch them again on their anniversary tour. Kudos Dope, you made this album owner very, very happy. 

Set List:
- Blood Money
- 6 6 Sick
- Bring It On
- Debonaire
- Die MF Die
- I’m Back
- Sick 
- Burn
- Addiction
- Spin Me Round


Static-X @ Apollo Theatre AC
Belvidere, IL

Set List:
Wisconsin Death Trip
Sweat of The Bud
Love Dump
Get to the Gone
Black & White
This is Not
Destroy All
Start a War
I’m With Stupid
Push It

From Ashes To New

From Ashes to New @ Apollo Theatre AC
Belvidere, IL

Set List:
Pray For Me
My Fight
Through It All
Finally See
The Future
My Name
Breaking Now


Palisades @ Apollo Theatre AC
Belvidere, IL

Set List:
Shed My Skin
Better Chemicals
Player Haters Ball
Let Down
Erase The Pain

Ice Nine Kills

Ice Nine Kills
The Apollo Theatre
Belvidere, IL

Set List:
American Nightmare
Merry Axe-mas
The Jig is Up
Thank God Its Friday
Rocking the Boat
A Grave Mistake
Stabbing in the Dark
Me, Myself and Hyde
Communion of the Cursed
IT is the End

Madame Mayhem

Madame Mayhem @ The Annex
Madison, WI

Not knowing anyone on this bill outside of Shim, I was blown away by Madame Mayhem. This woman’s vocals are so strong they easily filled the room. On stage she was quite active. She moved around engaging with fans up front. It was a really in your face type of set. Tales of love and growth. I was so impressed I actually asked her what her favorite album of hers was and promptly purchased it. Next time she comes around I will be there for a full breakdown of her set.

Set List:
War You Started
Stand Up
Hurt Me 
Left for Dead
Something Better


Shim @ The Annex
Madison, WI

Set list:
A Brand New War
Odd One
All of Me
Our Time
You’re Going Down
Sting Like a Bitch


Bobaflex @ Crystal Grand Theatre
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Set List:
I am a Nightmare
Mama(Don’t Take My Drugs Away)
Chemical Valley
Better Than Me
Say What You Will
Bad Man
Never Coming Back 
Spider in the Dark
Moon and Shadows
Lights Out
I’m Glad You’re Dead

Hey You
Bury Me With My Guns On


Wayland @ Apollo Theatre AC
Belvidere, IL

Set List:
Bloody Sunrise
Welcome to My Head
Through The Fire
Come Back
On My Knees
Through The Fire(played twice)
Indiana Jones
Shopping For a Saviour

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

Deadset Society

Deadset Society (Final shows as a band)
12/07/2018 @ The Apollo Theatre AC, Belvidere, IL
12/08/2018 @ The Annex, Madison, WI
12/09/2018 @ Route 20, Sturtevandt, WI

Set List:
Since You’ve Gone Away
Every Lie
Rearview Mirror
Born Again
Outside Looking In
Desperate Times
Like a Nightmare
Porn Star Dancing
Fall Apart

September Mourning

September Mourning

12/07/2018 @ The Apollo Theatre AC, Belvidere, IL
12/08/2018 @ The Annex, Madison, WI
12/09/2018 @ Route 20, Sturtevandt, WI

Set List:
Angels to Dust
Eye of The Storm
Stand By Me
Heart Can Hold
Skin and Bones
Till You See Heaven
Children of Fate
Glass Animals
20 Below


Underoath @ The Rave, Milwaukee, WI 11/30/2018

A riveting performance by a band that is on the comeback trail. With a history of drug abuse and mental health issues, Underoath, are proving that redemption is possible through trial and error. Such as the story of life.
They stage was one of the most incredible set ups I have seen in years. 2 separate platforms one for keyboard and samples. The other for drums. Backed by huge light boards that run the entire stage length above and below it. The whole stage was illuminated in a multitude of colors all set. Please see images below. I do it no justice with my poor description.
Due to an injury to a member of the support band Underoath played and extended set list. It included songs that they have openly said they hadn’t played in years live. One of the coolest parts as a photographer was they gave us unlimited time in the photo pit to shoot. Not that I really need it past 2 or 3 songs, but it is a nice and welcomed gesture on the bands behalf.
Truly though, this is a show I will remember for a long time. They were so on point and extremely tight in their execution. The mix of old with the new especially out of the gates with “On My Teeth” into “Young and Apiring” basically signaled their gratitude towards long time fans, but gave those unfamiliar outside of their more recent stuff something to enjoy as well. Every song hit with maximum impact. Spencer Chamberlain’s vocals were stronger than ever. So precise in his delivery you could swear you were listening to their albums. Even when dialing back for the acoustic cover of “Heart Shaped Box”. This was a perfect evening of music and fan appreciation. Safe to say I dug out all of their albums to jam again.

Set List:
On My Teeth
Young and Aspiring
In Regards
Breathing In
Blue Note
Dangerous Business
Desperate Times

I Hate It
Reinventing Your Exit
It Has To Start
No Frame
Too Bright
I Gave Up
Heart Shaped Box
Writing on the Walls

Crown The Empire

Crown The Empire @ The Rave
Milwaukee, WI

Set List:
Memories of a Broken Heart
What I Am
The Fallout


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.

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


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 @ 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. I love this band so much I dropped a hundred bones in on merch. #worthit

    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 @ 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!

    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 @ 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.

    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

    Using Format