On this date in history November 13th 2015 the blues-rock band Eagles of Death Metal are in the midst of performing their song “Kiss the Devil” at a sold-out show at Le Bataclan in Paris, France, when the venue is attacked by terrorists armed with automatic rifles, grenades and explosive suicide vests – one of many attacks throughout the city.
The band escapes unharmed through a backstage door, but 89 audience members are killed, including the band’s merchandise manager, Nick Alexander. In the wake of the tragedy, band members Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme start a campaign asking fellow musicians to cover a track from their Zipper Down album, “I Love You All The Time,” with 100% of the publishing proceeds going to the Sweet Stuff Foundation to aid victims of the attacks.
They explain: “Whether you’re Soul or R&B; Hip Hop or Hippy; Garage, Goth, Country, Punk or Pop; Death Metal or DJ; It matters not. Whether your version is faithful to ours, instrumental, uses only lyrics or fragments thereof or is completely reimagined in every way, it matters not. Your individual musical differences become our collective strength.”
Acts like The Dean Ween Group and My Morning Jacket are among the first to join the challenge. Duran Duran helps out by donating royalties from the Eagles of Death Metal cover of “Save a Prayer” to charity.
Eagles of Death Metal included the above illustration with their statement regarding the attacks.)
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 4/8/2022, my stepdaughter and I attended The Trinity Of Terror Tour at Blue Ribbon Pavilion on the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This show featured a trio of bands with three-word names: Ice Nine Kills, Motionless In White, and Black Veil Brides, with opener Lilith Czar.
Originally booked at a smaller venue, this triple headliner tour had to be relocated to the much larger State Fairground location due to aggressive ticket sales. I’m the first to admit that I was not the target demographic for this one, but my stepdaughter Emma has been developing a taste for heavier music and I am both proud and supportive of her growing love of attending live shows. Having said that, I had previously seen Motionless In White and Black Veil Brides, and I knew there would be some high energy entertainment and I wouldn’t automatically hate being there. Taking one for the team is one thing, but Emma knew I wasn’t going against my will. Not too long ago her musical taste was obsessively consumed with K-pop, so anything hard rock or metal related feels like victory.
I knew next to nothing about Lilith Czar prior to the show, and I’m certainly not going to lie and say I became a big fan, but she proved to have a strong vocal presence and a genuinely grateful attitude that built a visible excitement in the crowd as her set progressed. I didn’t hear anything revolutionary going on musically, but after doing a bit of research I learned that she has been steadily building her career for the past decade and that she is married to the Black Veil Brides’ singer, Andy Biersack.
Lilith Czar appears to be a band on the rise. Speaking of Black Veil Brides, they confirmed what I had already determined from my previous experience of their live performance; these guys are an extension of the best qualities of glamorous L.A. hard rock that ruled the late ’80’s. With singalong choruses, gigantic riff fueled anthems, blazing guitar solos (both singular and harmonized), and endless energy, Black Veil Brides collectively never stop moving and absolutely never forget why they are on that stage…they are there to entertain the predominantly young female fanbase and they do it with enthusiastic excellence.
Front man Andy Biersack has charisma to spare and doesn’t stray from his comfort zone vocally, which allows him to stay on pitch and full voiced. The rest of the band are adept with support vocals and are definitely great players. I knew going into this show that they would likely be the highlight for me and indeed they were.
Motionless In White followed and arguably had the most rabid crowd response of the evening. Some of that comes from having the best time slot, but a lot of it was due to the performance of Chris Motionless, who (like Biersack) knows his audience and relentlessly involves them in the gang choruses and hype points of his band’s music. I had last seen Motionless In White on a package tour in support of Slipknot and Lamb Of God in 2015. Clearly, MIW have grown enormously in the past seven years and absorbed lots of lessons from some of the heavyweights in the extreme metal community.
Overall, I think I enjoyed them more when they were an up-and-coming band. Back then they felt like a more wholesome alternative to Marilyn Manson. This time around they felt a little too derivative of Manson to me, but once again, I’m not their target and their target was ravenous, so hats off to them for their growth. Ice Nine Kills performed the final set of the night and I have both good and bad opinions concerning the horror lyric based metalcore band. First of all, I love the staging, the visuals, and the horror stuff. Everything happening on stage looked so good to me, unfortunately (as is usually the case with bands I don’t like) the vocals just killed the vibe for me.
Ice Nine Kills have been described as symphonic metal at times, but to me it was almost more appropriate to label them opera metal…and I just couldn’t get around my inability to ignore all that high pitched (i.e., whiny) sound.
Emma and I decided to call it a night and leave early, both concluding that we had enjoyed a tremendously entertaining evening of heavy music with great theatrics, visuals, energy, and production values.
Blue Ribbon Pavilion doesn’t have ideal sound, but it was certainly packed with all the elements of a rock show that featured young bands that are carrying the torch for heavy music and helping spread the fire to a hungry young audience. I applaud Ice Nine Kills, Motionless In White, Black Veil Brides, and Lilith Czar for their efforts and their continued success.
Aug. 30 – Denver, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre# Sep. 03 – Omaha, NE – Liberty First Credit Union Arena (buy tickets) Sep. 04 – Pryor, OK – Rocklahoma* Sep. 06 – Fort Wayne, IN – Allen County War Memorial Expo Center (buy tickets) Sep. 07 – Cleveland, OH – Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica (buy tickets) Sep. 09 – Scranton, PA – Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain (buy tickets) Sep. 10 – Alton, VA – Blue Ridge Rock Fest* Sep. 11 – Asheville, NC – Exploreasheville.com Arena (buy tickets) Sep. 13 – Milwaukee, WI – Eagles Ballroom (buy tickets) Sep. 14 – Sterling Heights, MI – Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill (buy tickets) Sep. 16 – Bonner Springs, MO – Azura Amphitheater (buy tickets) Sep. 17 – Saint Charles, MO – The Family Arena (buy tickets) Sep. 18 – Cincinnati, OH – ICON at The Andrew J Brady Music Center (buy tickets)
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 4/4/2022. Hi-Fi in Indianapolis hosted an evening of pure brutality as Obituary, Gruesome, 200 Stab Wounds, and Cadaverous combined forces to bring a smorgasbord of extreme death metal flavors to the table.
Indy’s own Cadaverous opened the show with an efficiency and ferocity that set the template for all that would follow. The power trio is not the preferred format for a death metal band, but Cadaverous made it work.
200 Stab Wounds followed up with a much more thrash-oriented variant of the death metal style. Similar to the “fast” zombies in horror films, this style of death guarantees the band will catch and kill the listener at a much quicker pace. In the months following this show 200 Stab Wounds have generated a lot of buzz in the metal community.
Both Cadaverous and 200 Stab Wounds are relatively new bands and welcome additions to the scene, always a good circumstance. Gruesome have been around a bit longer, and the self-proclaimed tribute to Death (the seminal band that influenced myriad fans of the genre that bears their name) took things to the next level with their ferocious twin lead guitar onslaught.
At this point I have to reiterate what I had previously said about the Hi-Fi’s superior sound and staging; every band I have seen at Hi-Fi has benefitted from the excellence of this club. I’m sure these opening bands would have been fine at a lesser venue, but Hi-Fi complimented everything that was good about them and elevated them beyond what they are accustomed to.
My previous experience with Obituary was at another fine club, Bogart’s in Cincinnati, but they were a support act for that show (and a killer one for certain) and as the headliner at an arguably superior venue, Obituary brought their “A” game as always. I was both amused and thrilled to see the band hit the stage for a buildup riff that went on for several minutes before singer John Tardy made his entrance. This was a technique famously utilized by James Brown in his heyday and it was proven to be a fine entrance for a death metal legend in a completely different musical universe. Tardy even borrowed deceased comedy icon Sam Kinison’s signature move of emitting a mighty primal scream away from the microphone. Luckily my wife and I were in the front row (again!) and Tardy basically yelled right in our faces! Throughout the set, Tardy tirelessly prowled the stage and acted as hype man for his bandmates and showed the appreciative crowd his enormous grin repeatedly. Donald Tardy’s drums were bestial and perfectly crushing, as was Terry Butler’s glorious bass tone. The guitars of Trevor Peres (rhythm) and Ken Andrews (lead) were ferocious, chunky, and lethal, and Obituary delivered a monstrous set of death metal elite tunes. The band seemed relaxed and fully aware of the pristine sound, lights, and stage setup. It seems that Hi-Fi will be a club I will eagerly attend for a variety of musical styles. If they can make death metal sound that surgically clean, I can only imagine what they can do for more subtle styles of music.
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 3/5/22, The Industrial Strength Tour utterly destroyed the Madison Theater in Covington, KY. Ministry, Melvins, and Corrosion Of Conformity were the featured bands on this monumentally entertaining showcase of musical muscle.
Of course the Madison wasn’t literally destroyed, which is good, because it is a fine venue for displays of vulgar power. Not to mention the fact that we (the wife and I) are going back in May to witness The Bay Strikes Back tour (but that’s another story for another time). I wanted to say a few words about the Madison Theater, because it has a different physical layout than most rock palaces. This one is set up in tiers, with three separate sections on ground level, complemented by a nice balcony set back and above, providing for a pretty wide array of viewing options. We chose to be down in front, which proved to be a wise choice (it generally works out that way!) when Ministry hit the stage. More about that in a minute… I want to start at the beginning for this show.
It had been 27 years since I last saw Corrosion Of Conformity, and I was pleasantly surprised that they were equal to, if not better, than they were back in the middle of the grunge era. Original drummer Reed Mullin passed away in early 2020, but John Green (a former roadie for the band) proved to be an able replacement. The front line of Pepper Keenan (lead vocals, guitar), Woody Weatherman (guitar), and Mike Dean (bass, vocals) were a force of down-tuned ferocity, creating a swampy groove that was like a tidal wave moving in menacing slow motion. I love the way they started their set. Dean appeared from behind his amplifier, seemingly to check his bass tone, but quickly set up a repeating pattern that mutated into a serious chromosome rearranging wall of low frequency feedback. Green walked casually to his drum kit and set up a beat as Dean resumed the pattern, and then the guitarists arrived and added their sonic fury to the proceedings. Once established, COC were an unstoppable juggernaut of crushing force. Although their set only contained seven songs, the Southern sludge lords set the stage for all that followed. Paranoid Opioid, Vote With A Bullet, Albatross, and Clean My Wounds were my personal favorites, but trust me when I say there wasn’t a moment of weakness in this entire concert.
Up next were (the) Melvins, who I had last seen in 2009. At that show they had two drummers, but on this most incredible night they performed as a trio (a POWER) trio, comprised of Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne (lead vocals/guitar), Steven Shane McDonald (bass/vocals), and Dale Crover (drums/vocals). Something I always remembered about Melvins was the way their entire set was uninterrupted by any breaks the first time I saw them. Admittedly, I don’t know their material all that well, but it seemed to me that they played one incredibly enjoyable song that went through a myriad of changes and lasted an entire hour. However, this time it was easier to tell what was going on. King Buzzo and McDonald would finish a song and turn around to tune their instruments, but Crover never stopped playing. Instead, the apparently indefatigable drummer would play a mini-drum solo or simply set up a new rhythm bed for the next song. As a drum fanatic, I was fascinated with the man’s stamina (and chops…a literal boatload of chops) as this fantastic live band blasted through an immensely impressive set that included Anaconda, Queen, Charlie (Red Kross cover), Billy Fish, Evil New War God, Hooch, and Honey Bucket.
In addition to their prodigious musical skills, Melvins are a lot of fun visually. King Buzzo has this amazing mop of white hair (which was made for head-banging, which he did…a lot), and was dressed in something that was sort of like a modern wizard robe. McDonald’s clothes were similarly flamboyant and his tall stature and amusing facial expressions made for some interesting viewing. Crover was marvelous simply by his combustible energy. Speaking of energy, the buildup of anticipatory adrenaline began as soon as roadies brought out the infamous chain link fence that was set up in front of Ministry’s impressive stage set up. This was, to my knowledge, the first time that “the fence” had been utilized since the early ’90’s. Al Jourgenson’s band of industrial metal titans have had an ever-changing lineup since their formation in 1981. The 2022 lineup includes former Tool bassist Paul D’Amour, drummer Roy Mayorga, keyboardist John Bechdel, guitarists Monty Pittman and Cesar Soto, and Uncle Al on lead vocals, occasional guitar, and orchestrator of chaos.
I don’t think I can adequately describe how important Ministry is to me, but I shall try. I originally saw them at the top of their success during the second year of the now iconic Lollapalooza tour. On that date in 1992 Ministry appeared in the middle of the afternoon with no light show and still managed to be the most powerful, scary, and dangerous band I had seen up to that time. Fast forward to 2019 and an opening slot on Slayer’s farewell run of shows where I was delighted to finally see Uncle Al’s creation with a properly blinding light show. Trouble was, we were so far back that lights were all we were able to see. No complaints, because the sound and those crazy strobing patterns were incredible. All that aside, on this magical night, my lovely wife and I were poised to see Ministry at the height of their glorious power. Ground zero at a proper Ministry performance is not for the weak. It is a demonstation of sensory overload at its absolute zenith. The light show is potent enough to cause seizures in a very literal sense…the music in all its industrial metal glory is crushingly loud; battalions of martial drums, sublimely lethal bass tones, anarchic stabs of keyboards filling any sonic space that isn’t otherwise occupied, and thick waves of pulverizing guitars, all topped by Al Jourgensen’s unmistakable raging voice.
Uncle Al has perfected a production style that uses massive delay on his vocals, so that when he holds out a note or a scream, that sound is bionically enhanced and sometimes warped into unearthly noises not possible to produce by human beings. Additionally, Al Jourgensen is possessed of an extraordinary stage presence. He doesn’t move fast and he doesn’t necessarily do anything overly theatrical, but he is a magnetic presence, and it is nearly impossible to take one’s eyes off him for long. His mannerisms and subtle facial expressions ultimately enhanced this performance for me, being the first time I could properly see him up close.
Ministry hit the stage with a handful of classics (the concert was advertised as a celebration of their 1989 release “The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste” and their current album “Moral Hygiene”). Opening with Breathe, then directly into The Missing, Deity, and Stigmata, Ministry had established dominance from the beginning. They went on to drop a trio of covers (Supernaut by Black Sabbath) and a pair of songs by Pailhead (one of Jourgensen’s myriad side projects), Don’t Stand In Line and Man Should Surrender. These covers were perfectly placed, and added a blast of excitement to an already superb set list. Next up were some of the “Best Of” Ministry fan favorites; Burning Inside, N.W.O., Just One Fix, Thieves, and final song So What. Following a short break in the action, Ministry returned with three songs from Moral Hygiene (a most excellent album). First up was Alert Level, followed by Good Trouble, and finally ending this ultimately satisfying show with Search And Destroy (by the infamous Iggy & The Stooges).
In true Ministry fashion, they did an incredible job of remolding all the covers into their own utterly unique style. I have seen far too many concerts in my lifetime to legitimately rate them, but when a show is this good it tends to stand out. The Industrial Strength Tour was first class in every sense of the word. I jokingly said that Ministry, Melvins, and Corrosion Of Conformity should just exclusively tour together from now on. Come to think about it, maybe I wasn’t really joking!
I can’t remember precisely the first song I ever heard by Primus, but I do recall being aware that I had never heard anything quite like it before (or since). I have chosen their major label debut, Sailing The Seas Of Cheese, from 1991, because it contains Tommy The Cat and Jerry Was a Race Car Driver, 2 prime examples of the twisted genius of Les Claypool. Primus isn’t for everyone, one big reason why I like them so much. As musicians, these guys are off the charts, but they have Mr. Claypool’s odd vocals and even stranger lyrics, and that creates a line that many just aren’t interested in crossing. For those of us who appreciate the eccentric nature of this phenomenal band, this album contains Here Come The Bastards, Sgt. Baker, Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweakers, and Fish On, all rich tales of weirdness and whimsy. If you don’t care for the vocals, try focusing on the insanely talented Claypool, playing some of the best bass guitar work in the music business, or the quirky guitar wizardry of Larry “Ler” Lalonde, or the octopus armed drum attack of Tim “Herb” Alexander. One more thing before I sign off, Tommy The Cat features Tom Waits as the voice of the cat, just one more thing I love about this album. Primus Sucks!
November 16, 1999. Korn released the timeless classic “Issues.” It instantly became my favorite Korn album. This was first album that I owned that I could listen to from start to finish. It’s ironic it falls on the same day as my mother’s birthday. Or as ironic as “Life Is Peachy” falls on my grandmother’s birthday October 15th. Without them, I wouldn’t exist. Almost as if I was destined to be into Korn. As far as Metal goes, they are my gateway band after all. Haha.
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, 8/10/2000, I saw my third consecutive Ozzfest at the familiar confines of Deer Creek. The lineup that year included Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Godsmack, Static-X, Incubus, Methods Of Mayhem, P.O.D., Queens Of The Stone Age, Taproot, Apartment 26, Soulfly, Kittie, Disturbed, Reveille, Slaves On Dope, Pitchshifter, The Deadlights, Primer 55, and Shuvel.
Out of all those bands, there were only a handful that stood out for me on that day. Soulfly headlined the second stage and rendered all the other bands on that stage null and void with their thunderous tribal warfare.
Max Cavalera stood on the stage like a metal Bob Marley, bringing his people to the promised land of the almighty riff. Queens Of The Stone Age were out of place on this tour, but Josh Homme and company executed their set like ninja assassins, playing with deadly controlled ferocity and elegance.
Incubus were reliably excellent as well. Brandon Boyd sang at a level most metal singers can’t attain, which is to say that Incubus never claimed to be a metal band in the first place. This departure from the norm always suited them and let them separate from the pack in the best way.
Static-X, led by the always unique Wayne Static (R.I.P. Wayne), played their brand of ‘evil disco’ and got the crowd moshing and bouncing throughout their frantic set. Godsmack were the band onstage when the inevitable sod war began. Front man Sully Erna managed to put a quick end to it when he announced that if it didn’t stop, neither Pantera or Ozzy would perform.
Needless to say, the lawn raping came to an abrupt finale then and there. Godsmack played a killer set, but the best was still to come.
PanterA took the stage and top honors for the day. Phil Anselmo’s commanding presence, fearsome vocal power, and drill sergeant crowd control whipped the masses into a crazed volcanic moshing cauldron of humanity. Dimebag’s guitar cut through our souls and melted all in its sonic path, while Rex Brown’s bass rearranged our chromosomes to Vinnie Paul’s crushing beats.
Ozzy capped it all with a set full of the Ozzman’s finest tunes. Only the Prince Of Darkness himself could follow the Pantera attack and still bring more out of us, but that is precisely what he did. Even on a day where there were quite a few sub par bands, Ozzfest still managed to be the show of the summer.
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic
On this date in history, 8/6/2004, Linkin Park, Korn, Snoop Dogg, The Used, and Less Than Jake joined forces for the Projekt Revolution Tour at Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. I arrived in time to see Snoop Dogg play an entertaining and enjoyable set of his instantly identifiable rap. Snoop’s pimp hand was strong and his flow was as smooth as it gets. I’m not a rap fan, but I recognize quality, and Snoop is the epitome of cool in his delivery and his persona. Korn delivered a thunderous performance as they always have in all the times I have seen them. I was fully expecting them to blow Linkin Park off the stage, but that most definitely did not happen. Instead, Linkin Park delivered a superb closing set filled with exceptional sound and light, high energy playing from a really tight band, and Chester Bennington’s amazing vocals, clearly the best element of that band for my taste. I had previously seen them at one of the Ozzfest shows and had been unimpressed, to say the least. On this night in 2004 they showed their growth and their depth, and I had to give them the respect they so obviously earned. For their encore, they played a spot on rendition of “Wish” by Nine Inch Nails that was truly inspired. Writing this so soon after Chester Bennington’s tragic death brings back just how much talent the man had and it makes me glad that I got to see such a progression in their career.
Written By Braddon S Williams aka The Concert Critic
On this date in history, 8/6/2016, The Return Of The Dreads Tour invaded Deer Creek with a blast of high energy rock. Rob Zombie, Korn, and In This Moment were the bands, all bringing their own distinctive flavor to a concert full of great lights, stage sets, and wild theatrics. In This Moment began the proceedings with a well crafted performance that showcased Maria Brink’s powerful voice and penchant for dramatic showmanship. I hadn’t seen them since earlier in their career and was pretty surprised at how different their whole presentation had become. I prefer their older songs, but recognize that the crowd was totally on board with what they were doing, so I’m glad it is working for them. Korn followed, and took to the stage with a vengeance, fully energized with the original guitar tag team of Munky and Head locked into their monstrous groove behind the frenetic performance of Jonathan Davis, vocals dripping with emotion from the depths of his tortured soul. Rob Zombie headlined with the best performance I have seen him deliver to date. This is saying a lot, as I have seen him play crushing sets with White Zombie and many stellar shows with his always impeccable solo band. John 5 in particular, just gets better and better, probably one of the best lead guitarists in rock. Ginger Fish on drums and formally of Marilyn Manson’s band (like John 5, another Manson refugee) had fully transitioned to Zombie’s style of shock rock dynamics, and the result was apparent as the band just decimated the capacity crowd. As if the music wasn’t enough, the lights and over the top theatrics and props just made this show a sensory overload of the best kind. May Rob Zombie continue to tour for decades to come!
Written By Braddon S Williams aka The Concert Critic