The Rave
Milwaukee, WI

On a breezy yet sunny day in Milwaukee, WI the historic Rave/Eagles Ballroom held perhaps the darkest performance they have held in quite some time. The fans lined up early covered head to toe in black. A multitude of Carnifex shirts spattered amongst them. The chatter amongst most was about the new album Necromanteum. At this point, the album is a month old and fans have had time to breathe it in. The consensus given was overwhelmingly positive. People were excited about it. That energy only amplified once the doors opened and people were led into the basement room better known as The Rave 2. The dimmed corners of The Rave came alive. After all, the ghosts of the venue were watching as well. The bartenders were busy with multiple lines around the room. The Carnifex merch area sold out of nearly most sizes of multiple types of tour shirts. They had all sorts of patches and trinkets available in limited qualities as well. They are one of the few artists that bring quality products with them on the road which makes it entirely worth the money. The two merchandise lines were all of the way to the back of the room all evening and the fans came prepared to support the deathcore legends. 

Covering six of their nine album releases the fans were given the older cuts while the band remained true to pushing a fantastic new album. Carnifex arrived on stage as one unit. The venue’s lights turned black and the stage’s strobes flashed. This lighting system is a constant for them. It has been a bread-and-butter move for years. The veteran deathcore band knows what works for their brand. Their silhouettes moved swiftly within the brilliant blast of lighting. From the second the first chord was strung the ambiance was set. Carnifex frontman Scott Ian Lewis lived on the edge of the stage. Leaning on his metal step at the center of the stage his physical size became imposing. He loomed over the fans pressed against the security rail while his vocals blasted throughout the room. They were deep, growl-filled, and ever so clean at times. He beautifully ripped through the new material with ease. There was no doubt Lewis only became better as the set moved along. Behind him on the drum kit, Shawn Cameron held a smile on his face while crushing his snare. For how impressively brutal the music is Cameron appeared to be having the time of his life. Peering out over the top of his toms he engaged with the fans in the front row by waving, pointing, and sneering at them. Despite all of this his focus remained intact and blasted away on his skins. The smashes made one’s heart pump harder and the bass kicks were smooth and efficient. He was the definition of perfection on the skins.

The evening as a whole was intensely fun from the start. The vibes entering, during, and leaving the room were all about fun. From the start, the circle pit spun at a lightning pace. It filled a majority of the floor space in front of the stage. Looking just above the crowd, you can witness Carnifex ripping through their set. Their light set up flashing as the heat from the pit rose to the ceiling. The room was filled with stage smoke and moisture. Fans head banged and chanted Carn-I-Fex over and over. Towards the end of the show, the circle pit raged while two patrons ran around it with massive trash cans above their heads. Everyone laughed and had a good time with it. Lewis was even laughing audibly over the venue’s sound system. Fear not despite the comical moment this show was everything a metal show should be. Fred Calderon’s low end rattled the floorboards. His foot stomping and hair-spinning head bangs were constant. As he moved around the stage each side of the room intensified their movements. Manning each end of the stage, long-time guitarist Corey Alford and new recruit and former Burn Halo guitarist Neal Tiemann lay down those magnificently down-tuned riffs. With each downstroke the tempo pushed and the adrenaline built. Tiemann moved around his half of the stage. Often moving back to the drum kit and then back to standing up on a metal box on the front edge of the stage. Alford kept positioned in one area. This positioning kept his fingers dancing across his fretboard. Additionally, he delivered brutal backing vocals. Together in unison they sonically pushed one thick sound across a raging audience. The riffs were mean and breakdowns ravaged The Rave. The band’s pace kept them pushing harder and harder with very little time in between songs to chat. 

In Latin Carnifex translates to butcher and refers to one as an executioner. This was a perfect encapsulation of what happened. The San Diego-based band came to Milwaukee and did what they always did, killed it. They were the executioners and every individual there was their prey. There is nothing one could say the task at hand was the only thing within their sights. They stood on that stage and gave every ounce of energy they had and pushed their fresh new songs onto the eager fanbase. Necromanteum has proven a perfect fit into their expanding list of titles. If anything it only improved their set list. They were sticking with what got them there, the heavy and crushing riffs paired with hauntingly brutal and destructive vocals. It was a masterclass in doing what works for the genre. This tour is impressive. When leg 2 of the tour is announced make plans to go. You will not be disappointed.

1. Dark Days
2. Pray for Peace
3. Necromanteum
4. Hell Chose Me
5. Torn in Two
6. Heaven and Hell All At Once 
7. Lie To My Face
8. Infinite Night Terror
9. Dark Heart Ceremony
10. Drown Me in Blood
11. Hatred and Slaughter
12. Slit Wrist Saviour

Apollo Theater AC

The amount of fear I had retained from that March evening stayed with me every day after I left that building. I was the last patron out the door. My night continued on Main Street helping people in need. The carnage is seared into my memory. Thunderstorms make me very uneasy and I slink to sturdy areas. When the wind is terrible it makes me shiver and I instinctually grab anything bolted to the ground. I already have sleep PTSD issues and they are compounded now. My natural habit is to fight back in healthy ways. The re-opening of the Apollo Theatre AC haunted me. It is why I inspect the ceiling of every building I walk into. This year has given me many amazing gigs to cover and this single event overshadows them all. Obviously, I am not the only person that deals with these issues. Everyone reacts differently over time. However, this day was the ultimate test of my mental health. Taproot was the headliner and one of my favorites through the ’00s. I could not miss their return to touring and the stage. This gave me comfort. The experience humbled me as a person and somehow reassured me of who I am as a person. I care about people. I have read the comments left by people at the show or the trolls trying to be dicks. My inbox filled up with comments and accounts of the night from others. We all made a choice to be there. We all got the warning on the phone. We all chose to ignore the staff’s suggestions of going to the basement. I tend to believe the Universe put us all there and gave us a choice to react. I wasn’t a fan of the people taking videos and not helping, but that was their reaction to fear. People sent me photos of myself lifting boards before I even left the venue that night. I know some didn’t like my publishing of events either. The venue employees and promoter all tried to get people to safety. They dug through the piles with all of us that were left behind. What I wrote is factual and my experience. It was a harrowing ordeal that Mother Nature put us all through. 20 feet either way and that tornado would have hit the bridge next to the venue or the strip of businesses on the other side. It didn’t though and we are now called survivors. The kid on the street that I helped get EMT attention is doing well and it gave me hope that we can slowly move along in life. The days following humbled me quite a bit. My body was thrashed. My moral crisis didn’t mean much once I faced it. I knew I was a bigger and better person than I used to be. I carry a lot of sympathy for those who were seriously injured or even killed. Witnessing all of this gave me a better hope in random strangers to do the right thing in most cases. In hindsight, I can honestly say I would do it all again to help the people I did. My PTSD is really menial compared to the larger picture of things. 

As I hit the highway on my way to the venue I realized I had the same hoodie, shorts, and shoes on as that night. Apparently, my clothes needed redemption as well. The little things flooded my head and my anxiety was at a fever pitch. It was a process. Approaching Main Street I began to get really nervous. My hands shook on the steering wheel. Why though? I made it out unscathed and helped as much as I could. The fear crept in on top of it. I parked unintentionally in the same parking spot I had that night. Again the Universe was putting me in that position once more. It took me a few minutes to turn the corner onto Main and walk up to the building. The building looked amazing and was completely rebuilt. The upper level from where the brick collapsed onto the roof was laid all over again. The metal sheeting covered the top once more. The marquee for the building was gone. The support chains hung loosely from the frontage. The exterior was fresh and clean. A medallion was embedded into the brick above the new venue doors. It read 1921. The establishment of the theatre. I sat outside of the building inspecting it and trying to get comfortable with it. The last time I saw it it looked like a war zone. Then I dug deep and knew I had to go in and comfort my senses. Upon opening the door I was greeted by the staff taking tickets. Smiles and friendliness instantly smacked me and I hadn’t even made it all of the way in yet. My eyes hadn’t focused on anything but the floor. I couldn’t look towards the stage or the roof above. The nerves were running hot yet. My anxiety lifted once my eyes scanned the entire room, it was a gorgeous space. People all around enjoying their time together. The walls were repainted with a new color scheme. Details in the decor popped. The flooring that was covered in rubble and dust had been replaced in spots and fully lacquered. it survived the abuse. Even the stage had an upgrade as the lighting was improved and the stage itself was carpeted. The historic building was once again a visual spectacle. Despite this, I still couldn’t look up or walk onto the main floor area just yet and that’s when I decided to walk through the door to the bar area. I stood in the same spot I was when the frontage ripped off into the street. The same window where rain ran horizontally gleamed with sunlight. Looking at the entire bar room once again, one would notice it was totally upgraded as well.  As I stood there I ran into my guy who stood with me when it all started and we shared a hug. We experienced the same things at the same exact time. It was comforting and something I never realized I needed. All of my anxieties about the evening decided to leave right then and there. That horrifying common thread turned into moments of beauty and art. It was so surreal.

The entire night was incredible. The fans poured in through the doors. The experience and history of what mattered six months earlier didn’t matter as much anymore. The community needed the Apollo. The fans needed the Apollo. I needed the Apollo. Eventually, my eyes fixated on the roof section that terrified me every day previously. The interior clearly had been rebuilt and reinforced. Everything was secure. I breathed with ease once again. My comfort level was back to normal. The ownership and folks involved obviously cared tremendously to get a place that is important to so many back and running. The crowd that filed in through those doors wasn’t bothered by the events that happened on those floors. They were happy again and that reaction was quite visible in their faces. The merch booths lined up in the same spots were busy. Music and metal have amazing effects on people to make things right in the end. Taproot being the first band back and headlining knew the importance of this evening for everyone that was involved and/or there that night. The audience lined the security railing and sang their hearts out like they always have. The circle pit spun with a heightened fever. Taproot delivered all they had and delivered that energy incredibly well. Armed with a setlist of bangers across 7 albums they had a performance of a lifetime. An adrenaline rush pumped throughout the rebuilt space. Stephen Richards had no issues leaving the stage to explore the room while performing. It turned into a unique way to highlight areas reborn. He joined the circle pit, walked around the backspace underneath the balcony, and then took the stairway up to the balcony then proceeded to leap from it into the crowd below open arms. The once dormant room was alive and full of euphoria. Their closing and arguably most popular song Poem created a stunning and unforgettable moment that signaled all is well and this moment in time was truly about all of us as fans. Frontman Stephan Richards invited all of the fans on stage to sing the song and they did. The microphone was being passed around with glee. I don’t know if that was planned but it sure felt unscripted and perfect. This period of time made it about all of us as a whole. Together. After the performance ended the band spent the rest of the evening talking to and signing various items for the fans. Jubilation overflowed. The atmosphere was electric and the vibes were pleasuring. While mixing it up with the band the realization that the space was alive and brimming with promise. This wasn’t a reopening it was a rebirth. The good times are back. Nothing is forgotten, but the gloom has lifted. Humanity and heart win again. Thanks to the heart and soul of the people involved it is a new dawn with the famed Belvidere attraction.

The final 2 paragraphs of the article I penned in the wake of the roof collapse still rings true and it shocks me how it resonated with my friends, family, and total strangers. I never really knew the reach and impact of the article I penned for Knotfest until I walked back through those doors. That is why it is extremely relevant to the incredible experience given to us all once again. If anything reread them again and let it sink in once again.

The heavy metal community gets a bad rap from those who aren’t in it, but you pick each other up and you help if able. That is the motto, that’s the responsibility of every metal fan. People’s race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, none of that stuff mattered. People, humanity, and caring for your fellow humans are what mattered during the worst of times.

I am extremely proud of everyone that stayed behind. People needed help and I ran towards it when others were running out the door. I also don’t blame people for running either. It was the hypothetical that everyone runs through their heads when they see things in the news. What would you do? Lately, I have been having a moral crisis in my head. I have done a lot of really good and a lot of garbage things. Now I know my past is just that, the past. I’m not that guy and never really was a bad person. It is building upon who I am now that is more important. I truly believe life puts you in places you were meant to be, good or bad. It is what you choose to do in those moments that matter most.

Asking Alexandria

Asking Alexandria
Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI

1. The Violence
2. Alone Again
3. Breathless
4. Killing You
5. Bad Blood
6. Moving On
7. Dark Void
8. Into The Fire
9. Where Did It Go?
10. To The Stage
11. A Prophecy
12. The Final Episode
13. Let Go
14. Alone In A Room

The Hu

The Hu
Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI

The Hu performed as direct support to Asking Alexandria on their Eagles Ballroom stop.

1. Shihi Hutu
2. Shoog Shoog
3. Huhchu Zairan
4. YUT Hovende
5. Tatar Warrior
6. Upright Destined Mongol
7. Mother Nature
8. Sugaan Essena
9. Through The Never (Metallica Cover)
10. Yuve Yuve Yu
11. Wolf Totem
12. This Is Mongol
13. Sad But True (Metallica Cover)

Chat Pile

Chat Pile
Majestic Theater
Madison, WI

1. Slaughterhouse
2. grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg
3. Rat Boy
4. Why
5. Crawlspace
6. Davis
7. Pamela
8. Tropical Beaches, Inc
9. Wicked Puppet Dance
10. Rainbow Meat
11. Cut
12. Tenkiller
13. Dallas Beltway
14. Garbage Man
15. Anywhere


Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI

There was only 1 location suitable for a show of this magnitude, the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, WI. Home to legendary performances since the 90s. Upper Midwestern life’s hardworking mentality and grit provided additional fuel for the fire. The night of the return of Dethklok was cool yet comfortable for a Fall evening in Wisconsin. The line to get into the venue stretched around an entire city block. The parking lots overflowed and street parking was non-existent. The chatter consisted of the setlist and Metalocalypse. Fans were eager to get their glimpse at the comedic metalheads live. Especially, since Dethalbum IV was released on August 22nd. It is still very fresh in people’s minds.

As the crowd filed into the massive multi-roomed venue, the courtyard was also packed with patrons. The beverage stands were packed and the line for the food trucks matched. Most impressively the merchandise booths have dual lines wrapping around the courtyard. When walking into the venue the bar room on the right-hand side was overflowing as well. The merchandise was hot and bought in bulk. The demographics of the fans were vast. The age range was impressive. Parents and children attended. Dethklok had become generational. It would be a major factor in how fast the concert had sold out. The 3,500-capacity ballroom swelled once the lights dimmed. One could barely walk around the room. The entire ballroom stage was black. The band themselves were on the stage bathed in that black and occasional red that moved across the room. Behind them loomed a massive screen that amazingly enough filled the entire length of the ballroom stage. It was a sight rarely seen at concerts held in the historic room. Projecting across the room on the gargantuan screen a warning about lighting and then in very Metalocalypse fashion it kicked into the cartoon and mocked everyone. You couldn’t have had a better and funnier intro to show they were back in their element. 

The show itself was rowdy. From the first note strummed by creator, vocalist, and guitarist Brendan Small the circle pit opened up wide. Bodies flew across the hardwood floors. The walls shook with every downstroke. Arms were raised and giving the metal horns at every turn. The Metalocalypse cartoon was of the same brilliance as the show. This iteration was an hour-long live event with no vocal commentary just those classic heavy riffs and gruff vocals. Every song was a different chapter being played above the band. The setlist for the most part was comprised of songs from their first album 2007s The Dethalbum. 10 of the 16 tracks were performed at this stop. It felt as if this tour was a reintroduction to the history of the band’s work. This reawakening was unique compared to the typical metal show. The Metalocalypse cartoon was the main focus of attention. Despite that, the band itself was tight and performed as a well-oiled machine. The efficiency of their set when matched with the entire hour-long episode was mightily impressive. The fans in attendance seemingly enjoyed the combination. 

Dethklok proved triumphant with their blending of art. You couldn’t have asked for a better venue to place this blended performance in either. There is no way one could ever miss another performance when they decide to tour again. With Dethklok being proficient in every aspect even the casual fan that attended would leave impressed. All in all, it was incredible all around. Us nerds got our cartoon fix and us metal heads got our head banging in. 

1. Deththeme
2. Briefcase Full of Guts
3. Birthday Dethday
4. Awaken
5. Bloodlines
6. The Gears
7. Hatredcopter
8. Dethsupport
9. Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle
10. Aortic Desecration
11. I Ejaculate Fire
12. The Duel
13. Murmaider
14. Thunderhorse
15. Fan Song

16. SOS
17. Go Into The Water


Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI

1. Babymetal Death
2. Gimme Chocolate
4. Distortion
5. BxMxC
6. Mirror Mirror
7. Monochrome
8. METAL!!
9. Megitsune
10. Headbangeeeeerrrr!!!
11. Road of Resistance

Jason Richardson

Jason Richardson
Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI

1. Tendinitis
2. Ishimura
3. Sparrow
4. Titan
5. Retrograde
6. Upside Down
7. Hos Down

The Melvins

The Melvins
The Rave
Milwaukee, WI

A crisp evening in Cream City provided a fantastic background to a busy night at the famed Rave/Eagles Ballroom. The line of fans waiting to enter the facility was a generational mix of people. Young and old came to see The Melvins do what they do best, grind. The performance being held in the Rave2 room of the venue provided a bit more of an intimate feel. It is located on the basement level and is a transformed bowling alley. All that is left is the hardwood floors. The amount of legendary acts that have shaken those floorboards is countless. The Melvins once again added their storied name to the list. 

The Melvins remain arguably one of the greatest sludge, grind, metal, or whatever genre you want to put them in artists. The cohesiveness they have managed to hold on to has sustained them over the last 30 years. Musically, they touch and experiment bending their hardened metal sound every album out. One thing you can absolutely bank on is the quality of their material. This tour is labeled Twins of Terror. With tourmates Boris on the bill you knew entering through those huge wooden doors you were in store for perfection personified. Buzz Osbourne or King Buzzo to most, represents the noise and sludge community in all of its glory. With his writing style being unconventional compared to radio-driven standards the songs build and layer on top of themselves allowing one to let it sink in. As with tradition, Buzz has his right set up like he always has using his ‘79 Sunn Beta solid-state amplifier, which is a gem and extremely rare in the world of touring musicians. Most use tubed amplifiers. His cabinets and pedals are placed in the same position almost religiously. Buzz often checks his tuning and sound rocking from his custom Empress cabinets armed with 15” and 12” speakers. Being such a music junkie his precision is a huge advantage as an audience member. Instinctually knowing you will have the best experience sonically only heightens the performance. Even the way he maniacally waves his hair around or slings his aluminum guitar head around while performing is a long-time patented move. Everything he does screams full effort. His fellow cornerstone Dale Crover unfortunately was unable to perform on this run of dates while he recovered from spinal surgery. His ability to control the tempo was sorely missed, but Coady Willis of High on Fire fame filled in. His energy was felt with every snap of his stick. Powerful blasts pushed the groups playing. He slid right in and met every demand of the position. On stage left, Steven Shane McDonald’s tall lanky physique towered over the crowd. Dressed in a red suit he visually grabbed one eye while delivering the low-end shakes of his bass strums. His engagement with the audience up front was fun and rather playful. He was there to put on a show. 

As a whole, they haven’t changed much at all and that is about as reassuring as it gets. They know their audience and they know their material. They do not care if you want to hear their most popular tunes. They are going to give you what they want to perform and what you really need to hear. This tour The Melvins paid homage to their 1991 release Bullhead. After 30+ years the material was still experimentally fresh every track performed was nailed note for note. The feel of the album’s straightforward chugging and wall of noise felt like a precursor to many of the larger acts you see today. Hearing it being performed nearly in its entirety was an adrenaline rush in and of itself. Glimpses of Buzz smiling in between continuing and haunting vocals often ended with his timeless grimace before riffing his way out of songs. Perhaps most notable on the opening track of the evening Ligature. Tucked behind the stage speaker a couple of the members of Boris watched and head banged along. It was unique since the track Boris is where the Japanese rocker got their name from. The Melvins also closed their set with the song. Of note later on Boris themselves covered the track to close out the evening. Nothing against the band Boris, but the old saying that nothing is better than the original rang ever so true. The most up-tempo and crowd-moving song of the evening It Shoved was a quick tutorial on the vast range of metal capabilities. Hearing the album in its almost entirety was an amazing thing to have witnessed. Albums that are huge within an artist’s discography will always be revered by its fan base. The Melvins are no different. This album set the tone for their entire history of work. Despite that, the eager audience also got to see easy setlist write-ins Honey Bucket and Night Goat off of their most popular album Houdini

When I was standing in line waiting to enter the venue a fellow patron said to me, “I just want to vibe out and let the music carry me tonight.” In all honesty that sentiment is the perfect way to describe The Melvins experience. They are always fundamentally sound and a well-oiled machine that continuously keeps turning out absolute rippers of songs. King Buzzo and company handle that experience with care live. The timing and structure of the setlist always complement one another. They do not talk much in between songs. They are there to perform and punch you in the mouth because that is what they are best at. In the rare instance they spend time on the microphone the commentary is about the music or thanking the crowd. The goal is always performance-based. That reason alone is why The Melvins will always be a band to never miss when they come to town. 


1. Ligature
2. Your Blessened
3. It’s Shoved
4. Anaconda
5. Zodiac
6. Cow
7. A History of Bad Men
8. Honey Bucket
9. Revolve
10. Night Goat
11. Boris


The Rave
Milwaukee, WI

1. Heavy Friends
2. Korosu
3. Dyna Soar
4. Wareruraldo
5. Soft Edge
6. Dronevil
7. Death Valley
8. Koei
9. Kane - The Bell Tower of A Sign
10. 1970
11. Boris (The Melvins cover)

Corey Taylor

Corey Taylor 
The Rave
Milwaukee, WI

1. Post Traumatic Blues
2. Tumult (Stone Sour)
3. Black Eyes Blue
4. We Are The Rest
5. Song #3 (Stone Sour)
6. Beyond
7. Before I Forget (Slipknot)
8. Sponge Bob Square Pants Theme
9. Snuff ( Slipknot)
10. Absolute Zero (Stone Sour)
11. Talk Sick
12. Bother (Stone Sour)
13. Through Glass (Stone Sour)
14. Duality (Slipknot)
15. HWY 666
16. Ace of Spades (Motorhead cover)

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