Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

Riot Fest finally returned after a veritable eternity of waiting that included an agonizing number of cancellations and substitutions of major bands. The long running Chicago showcase of musical diversity celebrated its 16th anniversary (once again in Douglas Park), providing four days of entertainment spread out across five stages, virtually guaranteeing that no two attendees have the exact same experience. When all was said and done, it was well worth the wait, and Riot Fest 2021 resulted in a marriage, new friends, tons of smiles, laughs, and unforgettable performances. I will be writing a separate review for each day of the festival in order to spotlight the major events as they happened.

The performers for Riot Fest 2021:
Thursday – Morrissey, Alkaline Trio, Patti Smith And Her Band, Joyce Manor, WDRL, Kristeen Young.

Friday – The Smashing Pumpkins, NOFX, Lupe Fiasco, Coheed And Cambria, Circle Jerks, Dirty Heads, Beach Bunny, Motion City Soundtrack, Thrice, The Lawrence Arms, Sublime With Rome, Eyedress, Pinegrove, Circa Survive, Anti-Flag, Living Colour, Beach Goons, Meg Myers, The Sounds, Radkey, Fishbone, Kississippi, Envy On The Coast, Oxymorrons, Amigo The Devil, Jackie Hayes, Meet Me @ The Altar, Seratones, Girlpuppy, Senor King.

Saturday – Run The Jewels, Rise Against, Taking Back Sunday, Dropkick Murphys, Andrew W.K., Vic Mensa, Gogol Bordello, Mayday Parade, Rancid, Bayside, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Bollweevils, Best Coast, Les Savy Fav, State Champs, Hepcat, Ganser, Big Freedia, Joywave, Four Year Strong, GWAR, Night Moves, Just Friends, Man On Man, Citizen, The Bronx, Bearings, Action/Adventure, Spider, The Orphan The Poet, Devon Kay & The Solutions.

Sunday – Slipknot, The Flaming Lips, NewFound Glory, Machine Gun Kelly, The Weak Days, Devo, Anthrax, Knuckle Puck, The Ghost Inside, Ratboys, Body Count, K. Flay, Thursday, Simple Plan, Bleached, Health, Alex G, The Bled, Fever 333, Melkbelly, Facs, The Gories, Mother Mother, KennyHoopla, Gymshorts, 3OH!3, BLACKSTARKIDS, Airstream Futures, Pet Symmetry.

On This Day in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 9/10/2021, St. Vincent brought her Daddy’s Home Tour to Old National Centre’s Egyptian Room in Indianapolis, IN. Annie Clark is St. Vincent in much the same way that Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails, meaning that she is the composer, multi-instrumentalist and overall sonic architect of the St. Vincent brand. For this particular tour, Clark has assembled an irresistible collection of musicians and backing vocalists, including musical director Justin Meldal -Johnsen on bass, keyboards, and vocals, Jason Falkner on guitars and vocals, Mark Giuliana on drums, and Rachel Eckroth on keyboards. A trio of soulful backup vocalists (Sy Smith, Nayanna Holley, and Neka Hamilton) provided exciting visual energy and enhanced the old school ‘70’s vibe that permeated the entire production.

I have been a big fan of St. Vincent for several years and one of the things I enjoy the most is the way Clark reinvents her songs. There is a marriage of icy modern technology and vintage r&b/soul sensibility in this current show that is unlike anything else I have heard recently (okay, maybe Beck, but it’s different than his stuff, too). As good as her band is (and they are phenomenal, make no mistake), it is nearly impossible to look away for long from the main attraction. Annie Clark is simply magnetic; her vocals are pitch perfect, her guitar skills are subtly scintillating, and her moves (with or without a guitar) are a lot of fun to witness. Every song was filled with inspired performances, collaborations, interactions, unique staging (including a rotating circular platform that housed a gigantic mirror on one side that was used to great effect), and the brilliant writing that continues to flow out of St. Vincent seemingly effortlessly.

She played eight songs off the new album and she shared the wealth from the rest of her catalogue: Digital Witness, Actor Out Of Work, Birth In Reverse, Daddy’s Home, New York, Sugarboy, Los Ageless, Marrow, Fast Slow Disco, Pay Your Way In Pain, Cheerleader, Live In The Dream, and an absolutely mesmerizing The Melting Of The Sun. Encores included Down And Out Downtown, Year Of The Tiger, and Fear The Future. I remember thinking if they would have played Black Rainbow, my life would be complete. Well, they didn’t play it, so I plan to keep going back for more. St. Vincent is pretty smart. It’s probably part of her master plan!

On This Date in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 9/8/2021, Guns N’ Roses brought the big rock show to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

There are only an increasingly smaller number of bands capable of playing the stadium sized gigs in this day and age, and I have to admit I was more than a little curious to see if these guys still had the magic touch.

For starters, someone had the good sense to book a really solid opening act, Mammoth WVH, featuring Wolfgang Van Halen on lead vocals, lead guitar, and keyboards. I was impressed with their music and positively blown away by the young Van Halen’s singing. He has written stuff that doesn’t trade on his legendary father’s style or legacy, and I think he has put together a band that has the potential to make a nice career for themselves. The headliners were generous with Mammoth WVH, giving them ample stage time and good sound and lights.

Speaking of those key ingredients of a successful stadium extravaganza, GnR provided an ever shifting blend of big screen projections and lighting pyrotechnics to supplement their hard rocking attack.

It does need to be said that Axl Rose is no longer in his prime as a vocalist, but he played it smart and stayed in his lower vocal register at the beginning before working his way into the higher notes. He lacks that scalpel sharp, laser beam edge that he wielded with such swagger in the days of his youth, but he got the job done, and he tirelessly roamed the stage and worked the crowd.

Axl appeared to be in a genuinely good mood and that was definitely at odds with his attitude when I last saw these guys in a different stadium (The RCA Dome) and with a different set of touring partners (Metallica and Faith No More).

Of course, Slash has returned to the band, and his golden toned lead guitar work was prominently featured throughout the evening. Slash sure does have some nice guitars, and he coaxes that unmistakable signature sound out of all of them.

Duff McKagan held down the bottom end and provided a host of key backup vocal parts, too. The rest of the supporting players did solid work and helped round out the current version of the super-sized GnR.

Guns N’ Roses have cultivated an impressive catalog of music along the way and most of the obligatory tunes were represented; It’s So Easy, Nightrain, Mr. Brownstone, Welcome To The Jungle (with a teaser of Link Wray’s Rumble in the intro), November Rain, Rocket Queen, You Could Be Mine, Civil War (with an outro jam on Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix), a really long blues jam after the band introductions loosely based on Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters that had Slash taking an epic guitar solo, then directly into Sweet Child O’ Mine. There were some excellent cover tunes, also: Live And Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings, Slither (Velvet Revolver…absolutely killer!), The Seeker (The Who…featuring Slash playing a wicked Flying V), I Wanna Be Your Dog (Iggy & The Stooges, with Duff on lead vocals…awesomeness!), Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan), and perhaps the strangest and most unexpected cover of the night, Wichita Lineman (by Jimmy Webb and famously covered by Glen Campbell). A couple of songs from the infamous Chinese Democracy album were performed (and fit in perfectly), and the show was capped off by an extended four song encore culminating in the anthemic Paradise City.

Although I generally prefer a more intimate venue, there’s something to be said for the decadent grandeur of a stadium rock show. On this night, Guns N’Roses made me both nostalgic and hopeful that this rock thing might just stick around for awhile after all.

On This Date in History

Former MÖTLEY CRÜE singer John Corabisays that there is “zero chance” of him ever going back to the band.

Corabi joined CRÜE in 1992 as the replacement for the group’s original singer, Vince Neil, who was dismissed due to personal differences. With Corabi on vocals, MÖTLEY CRÜE released one critically acclaimed full-length CD, which ended up being a commercial failure in the wake of grunge despite a Top 10 placing on the album chart. When Neil returned to the fold in 1997, Corabi was left on his own and formed the band UNION with ex-KISSguitarist Bruce Kulick.

After a recent article emerged online claiming — falsely — that CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx issued an ultimatum to Neil to lose a significant amount of weight for the band’s comeback tour or be fired and replaced by Corabi, adding that CRÜE held a series of rehearsals in Los Angeles late last month with John on vocals, Corabitook to his Facebook page to write: “Ok Gang, I’ve recieved a TON of messages from a lot of you who have unfortunately fallen for this ‘CROCK OF SHIT!!!!’

“Here’s the real deal… I can categorically state here once and for all that the chances of my ‘return’ to MÖTLEY are 0%…

“1) There is No Way, Nikki ordered an ultimatum to Vince, and used me as leverage! 2) There were absolutely ZERO secret rehearsals… And 3) After my incredibly STUPID portrayal in ‘The DirtMovie,’ and the ludicrous shitty statements of one of the band members in regards to my contributions and lack of ‘writing talents,’ yours truly is NOT even remotely interested in doing that again…

“Don’t buy into the ‘CLICK BAIT BULLSHIT!!!!!’

“I wish TOMMY, NIKKI, MICK, and VINCE the best on their tour, and their future endeavors!!!!”

Corabi in 2016 said that he would avoid talking about MÖTLEY CRÜE in the future because he didn’t want his comments about Sixx to descend into a feud.

In an interview with Sweden Rock MagazineNikki said that writing the “Mötley Crüe” LP with Corabi was a prolonged and difficult experience. He went to call it “a very unfocused record” that was “painful for me, because John Corabi can’t write lyrics, and I had to do all that work.”

Corabi initially responded to Sixx‘s comments by saying that he didn’t “give a shit” about what his ex-bandmate had to say, but later told an interviewer, when asked about it again, “I have no idea why Nikki feels that I’m the biggest piece of shit to roam the Earth.” He then proceeded to take to his Facebook page to claim that he would “officially have nothing to say about any member of MÖTLEY CRÜE ever again,” adding that he was “not backing this bullshit stirring that is happening to start a feud.”

In February 2018, Corabi released a live album of his performance of MÖTLEY CRÜE‘s entire 1994 self-titled album, recorded on October 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. “Live ’94: One Night In Nashville” documents the album in its entirety along with the bonus track “10,000 Miles”, which was originally released as a bonus track on the Japanese version of the “Quaternary” EP.

Corabi recently completed work on his autobiography. Titled “Horseshoes And Hand Grenades”, it was written wih the help of MÖTLEY CRÜE historian/author Paul Miles, and is due on April 12, 2022 via Rare Bird Books.

JOHN CORABI Addresses Rumors That He Will Be Replacing VINCE NEIL On MÖTLEY CRÜE’s ‘The Stadium Tour’

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 8/19/2021, Hall & Oates brought their arsenal of hits to an enthusiastic crowd at Deer Creek (Ruoff Music Center) in Noblesville, IN. I just looked up their tour itinerary and discovered that the show my girlfriend and I attended was just the seventh of their current run after the extended COVID-19 shutdown of live entertainment. This, and the basic reality that these guys are in their mid-seventies now, sort of guaranteed that we didn’t get Hall & Oates at the height of their powers. Honestly, that didn’t matter that much, anyway. For one, Hall & Oates have a great band backing them, and most of that band have been in place for a long stretch of road. Second, and perhaps most importantly, the hits I alluded to in the opening sentence are an absolutely stellar collection of pop gold, all sautéed in that delicious Philly Soul that these guys have perfected in their 50 + years career. They hit the stage with Maneater, and followed with Out Of Touch, Method Of Modern Love, Say It Isn’t So, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling (possibly my favorite of the whole show!), She’s Gone, a long soulfully sweet Sara Smile, and wrapping up with I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do). But wait! There’s more! Hall & Oates returned for a four song encore consisting of Rich Girl, Kiss On My List, Private Eyes, and You Make My Dreams. Darryl Hall has lost some of his range, but he is still a formidable vocalist and he found alternative ways to bypass some of the high notes of days gone by. The band seemed a trifle off kilter and rusty at times, but they got the job done, and the healthy sized crowd lapped it up like candy; dancing and singing along to nearly every syllable. It is a palpable feeling that music fans are starving for the live experience, and Hall & Oates were triumphant in emotional content even if their show wasn’t full strength. English pop rock veterans Squeeze played an enjoyable warm up set that was suitably complimentary to the headliners stylistically, and they were rightfully well received. I have to thank my girlfriend for coaxing me out of my comfort zone. I’m certain I wouldn’t have been in attendance without her, and I found myself semi-amazed at just how many great songs Hall & Oates have amassed in their time together. I walked in with an open mind, but I walked out a fan! Live music sure makes life more interesting.

On This Date in History

THE ROLLING STONES have paid tribute to Charlie Watts with a two-minute video featuring various photos and footage of their late drummer over the years.

The clip, which was uploaded to the band’s social media accounts on Friday, is set to the 1974 track “If You Can’t Rock Me”and concludes with a photo of Watts‘s drum set that has a “closed” sign hanging on it.

Watts‘s publicist said that he “passed away peacefully” on August 24 “in a London hospital surrounded by his family.”

Charlie‘s death came just weeks after THE ROLLING STONES announced that Wattswould be missing several U.S. tour dates while he was recovering from an unspecified medical procedure.

The 12-date “No Filter” tour will reportedly take place as scheduled, with Steve Jordan taking Watts‘s place.

Although Watts wasn’t a founding member of THE STONES, he had been with the band since January 1963.

He battled throat cancer in 2004 but got the all clear after undergoing two operations.

Following Watts‘s death, THE ROLLING STONES guitarist Keith Richards shared the same drum set photo that closed out the video, while singer Mick Jagger posted a smiling picture of Watts. Guitarist Ronnie Wood shared a photo of him with his late bandmate, writing, “I love you my fellow Gemini ~ I will dearly miss you ~ you are the best.”

THE ROLLING STONES Share Video Tribute To Drummer CHARLIE WATTS

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Elegance…grace…style…serenity. These are not words that automatically come to mind when thinking about The Rolling Stones, and yet Charlie Watts had all of that and much more. He was the very personification of the eye of the storm. Charlie was the pulse, the heartbeat, the foundation upon which the Stones built their entire history. By cultivating a minimalist approach and steadfastly serving the songs, Watts garnered nearly unanimous respect from musicians (particularly drummers) and fans on a global scale. His career in music spanned nearly sixty years, but his legacy will cast an enormous shadow. Charlie Watts was a true icon and the world is a better place due to his contributions.

Remembering Icon And Legendary Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 8/1/2021, The Black Crowes and Dirty Honey brought an old school rock show full of bluesy swagger to Deer Creek (aka Ruoff Music Center) in Noblesville, IN. On an evening of near-perfect summertime Midwest weather, many of us witnessed our first outdoor concert since the pandemic shut live music down in 2020. Dirty Honey wasted no time in getting the music starved audience up and moving to their bare bones, ‘70’s influenced party approach. With a classic drums, bass, guitar, and lead vocalist template, the Los Angeles based band played with a seasoned assurance and confidence not often found in a group that has barely been together for four years. In particular, Marc Labelle’s voice was the perfect instrument for Dirty Honey’s vintage style. They delivered a scorching take on Aerosmith’s Last Child early in their set as a reminder that they are fully aware of the tradition they are helping to keep alive. These guys are young and hungry, and if they continue to refine their attack, I expect to be hearing great things from them for years to come. Big respect for the headliners for including them in this perfect pairing of dynamic bands. The Black Crowes began their show with a complete run through of their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, and continued on with a number of fan favorites, including Thorn In My Pride, Wiser Time, Soul Singing, and Remedy. Although singer Chris Robinson and his brother Rich (guitar) are the only original Crowes currently in the band, the musicians on stage faithfully recreated the magical soulful vibe that has always been The Black Crowes’ calling card. Kudos to the sound and light crews, as both bands sounded and looked phenomenal on the stage. It is difficult to put into words how amazing it felt to be back in a live music outdoor venue, but more specifically it fills me with joy that there are young bands like Dirty Honey carrying on the tradition of guitar driven, blues infused, soul drenched, hard rocking, good time music that so many of us hold near and dear in our hearts. I salute The Black Crowes for settling their differences and reuniting to continue their great legacy. I saw them for the first time in 1995 and they still display the passion and the fire that lives eternally in all the best music.

On This Day in History