On this date in history, 9/21/1998, I saw Aerosmith and Monster Magnet at Deer Creek. This was my 6th time seeing Aerosmith and they delivered an incredible performance like they did every time I saw them.

Monster Magnet were amazing, too…however, they were treated so rudely by the crowd, many of them so closed minded and stuck in their comfortable little box where the only music that matters is what they hear on the radio.

Consequently, I was in the minority as someone cheering as loudly as I could for Dave Wyndorf and his awesome band.  I wish people listened with their ears instead of their preconceived notions. I certainly don’t blame Aerosmith.

I saw Deftones open for KIss one time and Kiss’s audience were just obnoxiously mean to Deftones…damn it, people…the headliner will play when the opening acts are done! Give ’em a break…they’re trying really hard to give you something to accentuate your concert experience! Rant over…but try to keep an open mind. You never know what cool bands you will discover when you least expect it…everyone starts somewhere!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

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On this date in history, 9/8/2001, Tool and Meshuggah brought scorched earth, “take no prisoners” Math Metal to my favorite outdoor venue, Deer Creek. Meshuggah began the proceedings with a relentless display of their perfected brand of tricky time signatures with punishing precision.  Jens Kidman howled and barked out his impassioned vocals over a variety of battering ram rhythms, while Fredrik Thordendal executed scalpel sharp lead guitar work like a homicidal, über-angry Allan Holdsworth.

 

Tool proved to be the perfect counterpart to Meshuggah’s brutal devastation, providing a more artistic template to lacerate the willing and devoted fans on multiple levels of sight and sound.

Tool were supporting their Lateralus album, only their third full length record, but due to the abnormally long period of time between their releases, it had hit the top of the charts upon release.

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This was a visually impressive experience, complete with acrobatic performers suspended high above the stage, disturbing and provocative rear screen projections, and an innovative light show that was almost a fifth member of the band. Singer Maynard James Keenan never appeared directly on stage, instead showing up as a silhouette created by the impressive lighting. His vocals were fantastic and made up for his lack of physical presence.

Danny Carey’s drumming was simply phenomenal, propelling the music through all the nuances and harrowing intensity that are Tool trademarks. This show was a pairing of 2 titans of progressive metal at its finest.

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, 7/16/1998, I began my 18 year streak of all day metal festivals with my very first Ozzfest, at the fun and fabulous Deer Creek. I would be at every Ozzfest for the next 10 years until that festival stopped traveling, followed by all 8 of the Mayhem tours.

Ozzfest ’98 featured Ozzy Osbourne, Tool, Megadeth, Limp Bizkit, Soulfly, Sevendust, Coal Chamber, Incubus, Motörhead, Snot, Melvins, Monster Voodoo Machine, Life Of Agony, Ultraspank, Kilgore, and System Of A Down.

I was a rookie and I made a huge rookie mistake. I neglected to watch any of the second stage bands on this day, foolishly squandering my first shot at System Of A Down, Melvins, and the legendary Motörhead! I did, however, witness all the bands on the main stage and most of those performances ranged from pretty good to absolutely earth shaking (during Tool’s set, quite literally!).

Incubus started the festivities with a solid set. Brandon Boyd’s vocals were quite excellent and I enjoyed their time on stage.

Coal Chamber were next, kind of Marilyn Manson-light, but Dez Fafara hadn’t gained the power he would later weild so effectively with DevilDriver. Still, a formidable performance by an underrated band.

Sevendust were next, and I thought they were fantastic. Lajon Witherspoon’s vocals were particularly amazing and the band’s sound and energy stood out in a lineup of very solid bands.

Soulfly, the band that Max Cavalera put together following his departure from Sepultura, were probably the heaviest band of the day, and also brought their distinctive blend of Brazilian percussion to mix with their brutal grooves.

Limp Bizkit began their show by emerging from an enormous toilet bowl. Considering that their career eventually was flushed down that proverbial toilet, this was quite poetic and prophetic. The haters can say what they want to say, but back then Fred Durst and Wes Borland had concocted a sound and a stage show that got the crowds bouncing and producing an insane amount of energy. Megadeth brought their meticulous, surgically deadly riffing and Dave Mustaine’s patented sneering vocals along with about an hour of classic Mega-Dave songs in a fierce set that brought the crowd to the brink of the sonic devastation that awaited us.

I had heard the stories about how the crowd had started a “sod war” during Pantera’s headlining set the year before, and had witnessed a similar act of lawn massacre during a Ministry performance in 1992, but nothing prepared me for what was about to happen during Tool’s show stealing set.

As soon as Maynard James Keenan took the stage clad in an evangelist’s suit, accompanied by the hypnotic maelstrom of Tool’s sound, the carnage was instantaneous.

The lawn never had a chance, and the air was literally thick with flying chunks of earth, sod, grass, drink cups and various other items of debris. It was glorious, terrifying, hilarious, and unstoppable. Tool was so intense, it was as if they were so in the zone that they were oblivious to the World War III scenario unfolding up on the lawn.

As all good things must eventually end, Tool finally concluded their portion of the show and the spell was broken.

Ozzy proceeded with a killer set played by a stellar band (Ozzy always has the cream of the crop in his band, though) featuring Joe Holmes on lead guitar. Ozzy’s set was preceded by a wickedly funny filmed segment that put the exhausted crowd in a jolly mood (by metal crowd standards) and the Prince Of Darkness delivered a powerful concert closer that guaranteed I would continue this activity for 18 years running. Still ready to begin a new streak. The time is right for a brand new accomplishment!

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic

On this date in history

On this date in history, 7/15/2012, the 5th installment of the Mayhem Festival made its annual visit to Deer Creek, and my friends and I were part of the metal masses in attendance.

This show featured Slipknot, Slayer, Motörhead, As I Lay Dying, Anthrax, The Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria, Whitechapel, Upon A Burning Body, I The Breather, Dirtfedd, Betraying The Martyrs, Hemlock, and our hometown heroes, the mighty Threat Level.

I am unable to comment on each band, but will do my best to spotlight the bands I enjoyed the most and welcome comments from anyone in attendance who may wish to fill in the blanks and give a review on any of their favorites.

The first band to attract my interest was Upon A Burning Body, but as good as they were, they were absolutely obliterated by Whitechapel, who played a singularly vicious set, raising the brutality bar to the highest echelons of intensity.

Anthrax have long been a favorite of mine, and they appeared to be in fine form on this day, but I was only able to catch 2 or 3 songs before I had to make my way to the stage where my friends in Threat Level were set to detonate the crowd gathered for their crushing performance. The band; comprised of Frank Rapacki on vocals, Troy Welch on guitar, Jason Weaver on bass, and Chad Smith (not THAT Chad Smith) on drums, had won a regional battle of the bands to secure their spot on this show and they made the most of it, impressing the large and boisterous assembly awaiting the band’s powerful blend of groove and thrash metal, topped by Rapacki’s roaring voice. Some fierce pit action accompanied favorites from their Leading The Vicious and A World Beyond Devastation albums.

After a much needed break following Threat Level’s set, I was ready for the trinity of terror comprised of Motörhead, Slayer, and Slipknot. Lemmy and company were a band on my bucket list and they were every bit as wonderful as I expected them to be. Mickey Dee drummed like a man possessed, Phil Campbell provided the guitar carnage, and the immortal Lemmy played the superhuman, jet propulsion bass and rasped out his one of a kind and singularly irreplaceable vocals on a set full of thunderous Motörhead majesty, including  “Ace Of Spades”, and “Overkill”, with its 2 false endings and the furious finale with nothing but truth.

Slayer followed with their diabolical majesty, continuing the onslaught that wouldn’t abate until the concert ended. Dave Lombardo was still in the drum throne at this time, and for my money he is the undisputed king of metal drumming. Jeff Hanneman was absent by this time and Gary Holt from the band Exodus did an admirable job of filling some nearly impossible shoes to fill. Kerry King and Tom Araya did what they have always done, with King hammering the riffs with beastly intent and causing sonic disturbances and eardrum lacerations with his punishing leads, and Araya summoning up that VOICE, the mouthpiece for the Slaytanic war ensemble.

A crushing performance it was…and this left the 9, the masked minions of Mayhem, the circus of the damned known as Slipknot to take us to the finish line as only they can. Joey Jordison was the 3rd and final superpowered drummer I had the joy to witness back to back to back in this amazing display of ferocious multi limb dexterity. Corey Taylor added his voice to the hall of fame duo of Lemmy and Araya, and the rest of the Iowa based madmen did what they do, delivering visual thrills and chills and a whole lot of metallic bombast.

This one may not have been the strongest lineup overall, but it definitely was the one with the strongest 1-2-3 punch to end the show of any of the Mayhem Festivals.

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 7/13/2016, my friends and I braved some horrible weather to go see Slipknot and Marilyn Manson at Deer Creek. The show was originally set to feature Of Mice & Men also, but Mother Nature had other ideas. All things considered, we were extremely lucky to get to see the two headliners, because the sky was filled with lightning, thunder, and torrential rainfall.

When Manson took the stage he went right to work, but made sure to make one of his memorable comments, claiming that it wasn’t rain, it was God crying because Manson was here.

I have seen much better Manson performances, but even on a bad night there is something mesmerizing about his presence on a rock and roll stage. He can get by on less effort, but I long for the days when he tried a lot harder.

After an extra long set break, an announcement was made for everyone on the lawn to crowd in under the cover of the pavilion and finally Slipknot hit the stage. They made a valiant effort to give us our money’s worth, and I think they succeeded for the most part, but with the curfew I can’t help but feel we were cheated out of several songs.

This was my 8th time seeing both Manson and Slipknot, and on this night at least, I left the venue feeling that Slipknot was definitely the band that scored the victory. I look forward to increasing my numbers with both of these bands, because I know they both can deliver better the next time. The storm may have caused problems, but music won in the end.

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 7/13/1996, a pretty cool triple bill featuring Scorpions, Alice Cooper, and Cheap Trick descended upon Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. Cheap Trick opened with their always entertaining blend of cleverly rockin’ anthems and Rick Neilsen’s goofy and manic stage presence. Robin Zander sang his ass off and Bun E. Carlos and Tom Petersson held down the bottom end for Neilson and Zander’s guitar work. Their set was brief but filled with energy and no filler.

Alice Cooper was up next and suffered for the lack of nightfall to provide the properly ominous backdrop to his fiendishly spooky performance. Luckily for Cooper, he isn’t entirely reliant on visuals, possessing one of the richest and deepest catalogs of amazing songs in all of rock music. Alice also comes prepared with top notch musicians to provide the spark that ignites his superior stage persona. I personally felt that he should have headlined this show, but he made the best of what he was dealt, the consummate pro.

This was my first and only time seeing the mighty Scorpions, and they were a worthy main attraction. First of all they had a great sound mix, with the guitars blasting those German power riffs and skull ripping leads, thunderous drums and bass, and all of it topped by Klaus Meine’s distinctive and unmistakable voice.

That amazing vocal sound rode easily atop all the power underneath it and the set was a whirlwind of classic rock fury and choruses we all know by heart. Any of these bands can pull in a crowd, but all 3 together was definitely a memorable night of diversity.

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 6/29/2001, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, and Ted Nugent teamed up to play a show at Deer Creek that I was looking forward to enjoying every minute of. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

Traffic going into the venue was stalled for an unbearable amount of time due to an accident, so by the time my party arrived, we entirely missed Nugent’s set, and made it to the lawn just in time to hear Deep Purple play their final song, “Smoke On The Water.”

I had really wanted to hear the amazing Steve Morse play guitar with Purple, and while we were finally getting inside the gates, I could faintly hear him playing his showcase guitar solo. Oh well, maybe I will get to see him later this summer when Purple comes around with Alice Cooper.

Lynyrd Skynyrd rocked and I have to say they turned a big disappointment into an enjoyable end to the night. I was really bummed because I was mainly going to see Ted and Deep Purple, but every time I see Skynyrd I realize just how deep their catalogue is and how good they are even now with all the replacement parts. Hats off the Gary Rossington and his efforts to keep the Skynyrd flag flying high and proud.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History