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On this date in history, 8/17/2003, my inner teenager was treated to a concert dream come true. Aerosmith and Kiss (with Saliva…who didn’t matter, as we arrived late and missed entirely) appeared together at Deer Creek in a truly epic match up.

When I was growing up and first discovering the joys of rock music, both Kiss and Aerosmith were in the process of conquering the scene, and dominating my formative musical taste. Back in those pre-MTV days, we learned about bands through magazines like Circus, Creem, Hit Parader, and to a lesser degree, Rolling Stone. Word of mouth was key, also, as anyone who saw a great band would have bragging rights and our undivided attention as they regaled us with the sights and sounds of their concert experiences.

Kiss and Aerosmith were direct rivals in those days, and sometimes the bands took shots at each other in the press. I remembered all this and was thrilled to learn that they would be touring with each other and possibly taking the rivalry to the stage in a battle of the ’70’s titans.

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Kiss played first and unleashed a monster set of primarily songs from their first 3 albums, so it was like Kiss Alive! was being performed before our eyes. Of course, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss had been replaced by guys who were forced to wear the classic makeup, a point that I take issue with, but it is the way that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley want it, so we just have to deal with it. That small complaint aside, it was a great Kiss show, and all these many years into their career, that remains a beautiful thing.

Aerosmith closed out the night with a barrage of greatest hits and classic bad boy swagger. The Toxic Twins (Steven Tyler and Joe Perry) brought their “A” games and they held serve. Each fan will have their favorite of these two monumental American bands, providing endless fun debates, but I like the idea that we all win in this type of scenario. These bands have long since ended whatever war they had going on back in the day, but that competitive nature provided all of us with a concert for the ages.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/16/1981, ZZ Top and Loverboy teamed up for a show at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. I’m not sure who thought this was a good combination, but it certainly brought in a diverse crowd.

This show took place during my party years, so I took the opportunity to sit through Loverboy’s set and elevate my happiness level for ZZ Top’s performance. In all fairness to Loverboy, they had a great sound mix and plenty of support from the young ladies who turned out in their best ’80’s fashions to witness the Canadian rockers.

Looking back, I’m not sure who all was with me at this show, but I know I wasn’t the only one sitting out the first half. I do remember having a conversation with some girls in the row behind us who just couldn’t fathom why we weren’t up dancing to the band’s music. Different strokes for different folks, and I was definitely there for the bearded bad boys from Texas. ZZ Top were touring the El Loco album and had begun the shift into a more modern version of their blues sound, a direction that would make them millions a couple of years later with the advent of MTV and their slick videos featuring fancy hot rods and fancier women.

In 1981 they were one of the first bands utilizing a state of the art laser light show, and had already begun incorporating the signature synchronized moves of Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, the 2 members with matching facial hair magnificence. Drummer Frank Beard was beardless in face only, apparently having Beard as a last name makes one exempt!

As modern as their approach was getting, the boys knew that a substantial part of their fan base expected the raw and dirty blues of their early years, and thankfully there was still plenty of that to go around.

Gibbons effortlessly pulled all kinds of nasty beauty out of his guitars and gave us the “how how how’s” in La Grange just like we have them ingrained in our memories from the countless times we have heard that song throughout the years. Sometimes these odd combinations make for a great concert and this one worked out just fine.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/15/1996, Joe Cocker, Buddy Guy, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Radiators appeared at Deer Creek to serenade us with their blues and classic rock soulfulness.

This was one of those shows where my companions and I arrived a little late, so I can only report on the final 2 acts. This was my first time seeing the legendary Buddy Guy, and it was magnificent, to say the very least. Chicago blues at its finest, played with a fiery intensity that would have done a much younger man proud.

Buddy was a spry 60 year old at the time, singing and playing with such authority and command of his art, literally turning the outdoor arena into an intimate club with his charismatic delivery. Buddy’s band were all exceptional players, too. His keyboardist definitely stood out on a number of great solos.

Joe Cocker is a legend in his own right and played a really good set of his classics, but I personally felt he should have yielded the top spot to Buddy Guy, who had more fire and passion in his music. That is just a small observation, though…both artists were complimentary of each other’s styles, and the audience benefited from the deep catalogs of amazing music from two hall of fame worthy performers.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

Motionless-in-White-motionless-in-white-37815829-500-281On this date in history, 8/14/2015, Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Bullet For My Valentine, and Motionless In White combined to play an impressive show at Deer Creek. I had seen each of these bands at least twice, but the teaming up of 4 such diverse bands made for a really enjoyable time.  Motionless In White kicked off the show with youthful energy and the charismatic presence of Chris Motionless, a less menacing version of the goth icon, Marilyn Manson. Whether one labels them metalcore, goth metal, or whatever other metal subgenre one wants to use, Motionless In White write great songs that translate well in big outdoor shows.

 

imagesBullet For My Valentine played the best show I have ever seen them play, doubtless spurred on by what preceded them and mindful of the titans that would follow. They had just released Venom, their 5th album, and it seemed they were fired up to make it successful.

Lamb Of God also had recently released a new album, VII: Sturm und Drang, the latest in a long line of crushing collections of brilliantly constructed mosh inducing mayhem.

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Indeed, as someone who was up in the lawn area, the pits were quite volatile and ferocious, a perfect accompaniment to the precision attack of the Richmond, Virginia maestros.

Few bands could follow Lamb Of God on a good night, but Slipknot are one of them, and follow they did, playing probably the most impressive set I’ve yet to see them play.

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Everything was louder, brighter, simply MORE…a 9 ring circus from Hell…the Iowa based madmen bring the spectacle and I’m quite sure they have done for young metal fans what Kiss did for me in my formative years, which is to say they act as a gateway to so much discovery. One just has to peek behind that door and walk in to a world of music and entertainment.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/14/2007, Ozzfest made its final stop at Deer Creek. This was the free show that had generated tickets with an online code.  I scored seats on the back row of the center section of the pavilion and they were awesome for both audio and visual enjoyment of the main stage bands. Speaking of bands, this Ozzfest featured Ozzy Osbourne, Lamb Of God, Static-X, Lordi, Black Tide, Hatebreed, Behemoth, DevilDriver, Ankla, Nile, The Showdown, 3 Inches Of Blood, Daath, In This Moment, and Chthonic.

The first band, Chthonic, are from Taipei, Taiwan. They were quite interesting visually and didn’t sound like anything Ive ever heard before. Next up was In This Moment, touring in support of their debut album. Maria Brink was obviously a star in the making, and her vocals have since elevated her band to great success. They played a rock solid set that day.

The next band that I really liked was The Showdown, a more traditional hard rock styled band, but full of attitude and energy just the same. Great vocals and rockin’ tunes gained them some new fans, no doubt about it.

Nile followed with a set of supreme brutality, as the Egyptian themed death metal juggernaut played with crushing precision and confidence, absolutely astonishing technical ability from top to bottom.

I don’t recall much about Ankla, either good or bad, so I’m guessing I must have been distracted or just missed them entirely.

DevilDriver kept the intensity going with their manic metal meltdown providing mosh ready material for their entire set.

The second stage area was a dust bowl that day, and all the really heavy bands had to contend with a continuous white haze of stirred up earth creating a perpetual fog in the air.

I didn’t think it would be possible to be more powerful or heavier than Nile, but somehow Behemoth pulled it off. I can’t even describe how insanely, monstrously METAL their sound was…literally like a seismic, F5 tornado velocity propelling their blackened death metal onslaught.

Hatebreed followed that and suffered somewhat for it. They are always solid, and Jamey Jasta certainly knows how to whip a crowd into a frenzy, but as heavy as Hatebreed is, they couldn’t compete with that performance that proceeded them, in my humble opinion.

All in all, a lot of diversity coupled with some of the heaviest bands ever on the second stage made this final Ozzfest one of the most memorable second stage lineups.

The first band on the main stage was Black Tide, an extremely young band that showed great potential. Nothing exceptional musically, but everyone has to start somewhere, and Ozzfest is a pretty cool place to call a beginning. Lordi were up next, and they were pretty horrible, to be blunt. Borrowing (okay, stealing!) liberally from GWAR, Slipknot, Mushroomhead, and any other band that has ever worn masks, and not bringing anything of musical merit, quickly earned them a hostile reaction from the discerning metal masses.

Static-X set things right with a sizzling performance. Wayne Static led his “evil disco” band through a high energy holocaust of a performance that set the stage for my favorite band of the entire show, the mighty Lamb Of God. LOG crushed all in their path, earning the coveted headliner status and playing directly before Ozzy himself came out and finished the show, and his namesake tour, in grand fashion.

I attended Ozzfest in 10 consecutive years and I have countless memories of those shows. I salute Ozzy for bringing so many great bands on tour and for nurturing so much talent in the heavy metal universe.  Lots of bands that passed through this system became major stars following their association with Ozzfest. That in itself is a pretty amazing legacy.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/13/2008, the inaugural edition of the Mayhem Festival arrived at Deer Creek In Noblesville just in time to fill the void left by the dearly departed Ozzfest, which had ceased to be a touring fest after the free show the previous year.

Mayhems’ first lineup featured Slipknot, Disturbed, Dragonforce, Mastodon, Machine Head, Airbourne, Five Finger Death Punch, Walls Of Jericho, Dead Broke, Underoath, 36 Crazyfists, The Red Chord, Black Tide, and Suicide Silence.

I always love finding a band I’ve never heard before and getting to witness a set that makes me a fan. Such was the case with Suicide Silence…they just took that stage and OWNED IT…just an absolutely crushing set of brutality, insane energy, and pure confidence.

The Red Chord made me a fan, too. I didn’t get to see much of their set because I was in the process of meeting Machine Head when they were on stage, but as I was talking to Rob Flynn, he suddenly jumped up on a chair and told me to check out an event that was taking place during The Red Chord’s set.

They did a “Wall Of Death” that was utterly crazy…first time I had ever seen one of those. Rob Flynn, who has most likely seen everything that metal has to offer, took the time to make sure I got to see it, and I glanced over at him and marveled at the gleam in his eyes and the huge grin on his face and realized that he is just as much a fan of our beloved metal music as I am. Needless to say, my love of Machine Head grew 3 sizes that day, much like the Grinch’s heart in the Dr. Seuss fable.

A few quick words about Walls Of Jericho before I get back to the mighty Machine Head…they were so amazing! Candace Kucsulain, the ginger headed female lead singer of the metalcore band, was literally like the Tasmanian Devil, exhorting the metal masses to start circle pits, crowd surf, and just jump up and down and scream their heads off. She knows how to get a crowd into it, and her band used that skill set to great advantage.

I put them right up there with Suicide Silence on the intensity Richter Scale! Machine Head were the final band on the second stage, and they were phenomenal. Flynn’s vocals were just massive and perfect, and the band were tighter than anything this side of Megadeth…just a fine tuned killing machine, I mean Machine Fucking Head!

Mastodon began the proceedings on the main stage and brought their own precision to their unique brand of progressive metal. Brann Dailor is one of the best drummers in metal, perhaps in all of rock music, and his playing is the perfect style for the band’s ever shifting canvas of complex riffs.

I’m not a fan of Dragonforce (although I have to acknowledge that their guitar players are extremely gifted players…the vocals and rehashed Iron Maiden ripoff rhythm patterns by the drummer and bass player just ruin it for me), and I actively dislike Disturbed, so I took a break during their sets and gathered energy for the storm that is Slipknot.

The 9 finished the virginal edition of Mayhem with a colossal show that the Iowa bred madmen have perfected over the course of their long career…everything louder, brighter, faster, and crazier than everything else…and that’s a good way to close out a show that had just begun a great 8 year run!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

 

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/13/2002, Ozzfest made the annual tour stop at Deer Creek. This time around the metal smorgasbord featured Ozzy Osbourne, System Of A Down, Rob Zombie, P.O.D., Drowning Pool, Adema, Black Label Society, Ill Nino, Down, Hatebreed, Meshuggah, Lost Prophets, Chevelle, The Apex Theory, Neurotica, The Used, Mushroomhead, Seether, Glassjaw, Switched, Otep, and Pulse Ultra.

This show ended up being sort of bizarre for me. First of all, I went alone, because my son went with a bunch of his friends, so I was on my own. No problem there.

A few days prior to the show I had accidentally washed one of my contact lenses down the sink, so I wore my glasses. Again, no problem. I just determined to stay out of the mosh pits and everything would be just fine!

I enjoyed some killer sets by Otep, Meshuggah (unbelievably brutal and fantastic!) and Hatebreed, along with okay sets by Neurotica (who did a pretty cool cover of “I Am The Walrus” by The Beatles, The Apex Theory (who actually benefited from a brief rain storm that united the crowd in an act of drenched solidarity) and Mushroomhead (who suffered from technical issues that were probably out of their control).

Phil Anselmo and the mighty Down were the headliners of the second stage and I had managed to maneuver my way to the very front of the stage. The first two songs were crazy good, and then the unthinkable happened!  A crowd surfer’s foot made contact with my head, and my glasses fell to the ground, instantly trampled and destroyed! I blindly pushed back through the crowd and found a payphone and called my roommate who was coming to the show later to see Ozzy and System Of A Down.

I luckily got her to bring my one remaining contact to me. While I waited, blind as a bat, I at least got to listen to Black Label Society and Drowning Pool (coincidentally, their lead singer’s last performance before he was found dead on his tour bus the next day) and finally my contact was delivered just in time for me to see Rob Zombie’s final song!

System and Ozzy finished in stellar form and that is my report for Ozzfest 2002. Moral of the story…be careful when rinsing contact lenses!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

 

On This Date in History