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On this date in history, 8/22/1978, I saw Heart for the first time. The show was at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds, and Walter Egan was the opening act. I don’t have much recollection of Mr. Egan’s set, but I remember his one and only radio “hit”, called “Magnet and Steel”, and it was a pretty lame song by my teenage estimation. Mercifully, he only played about 45 minutes and was quickly forgotten as we all awaited the Wilson sisters and their band.

Heart were on fire that night, with Ann Wilson’s soaring vocals and bewitching stage presence, and her sister Nancy playing some fine looking Ovation acoustic guitars and singing angelic backups for her older sibling.

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Nancy was a vision to me in those days…a super hot chick playing guitar in a rock band? It was love at first sight, but even with all that sensory overload it was the music that hooked me in the first place. “Barracuda”, “Magic Man”, “Love Alive”, and this song called “Devil Delight”, where Ann shrieks, “I see the devil” and the sound man panned the vocals left to right on delay so every time she hit the word “devil”, we heard it 3 or 4 times…a truly spooky effect.

Needless to say, I found myself at several more Heart shows throughout the years, but the first time was always my sentimental favorite.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/21/1993, I saw Anthrax, White Zombie, and Quicksand at Deer Creek, in Noblesville, IN. Quicksand began the show with a punishing set of their own unique brand of post-hardcore metal. They were touring in support of their debut album, Slip, which went on to influence the likes of Deftones and many others.

White Zombie followed with their patented horror themed insanity. This was my first time to see all the bands on the bill, and from that day forward, anything Rob Zombie has been involved in has had my attention.

Anthrax were in the era when John Bush was their lead singer, and he did a tremendous job. I knew of him from his work with Armored Saint and have always loved his voice. He was a perfect fit for Anthrax, even though Joey Belladonna will always remain their most popular front man.

Bush sounded great on the classic stuff, but had also contributed heavily to one of the best Anthrax tracks of all time, “Only.” For bonus cool points, Anthrax threw in a crushing rendition of “Thieves” by Ministry…pure adrenaline rush!

My son Luke was 8 years old and had discovered the word “mosh” and he kept telling me he was going to mosh. I told him repeatedly that he wouldn’t be doing that, as he was too young and small.  When Anthrax played “Caught In A Mosh” near the beginning of their set, a colossal circle pit materialized in the center of the lawn and Luke ran down onto the walkway between the lawn and the pavilion and looked up at me in wide-eyed intensity and proclaimed “I’m not going in there!” I told him that was a pretty good idea and inwardly smiled a huge smile! Every band killed that night and Luke became a gigantic Rob Zombie fan. Proud papa? You bet!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/20/2000, I saw Santana for the third and final time. This was the first time I had trouble enjoying myself at one of his shows. He had recently released his gigantically successful Supernatural album and the song “Smooth” was inescapable that summer. Santana had ceased being “our” Carlos and had become the public’s Carlos, if that makes any sense.

Deer Creek was packed assholes to elbows and so many people were there who had absolutely no concept of concert etiquette…just rude, clueless ass clowns! Rant over…Santana played a great show as always and Everlast opened. Everything was fine except the crowd. They ruined it for me and I haven’t been back to see him since then.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

 

On This Date in History

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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