On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 11/10/2021, my wife and I eagerly attended a sold-out show at The Black Circle in Indianapolis featuring Baroness. Anticipation and curiosity were running rampant in my brain as I wondered if this incredible band could top the life changing show that we had witnessed in 2019. The simple answer is “Yes, they did!” The more complex answer involved a number of factors…

1. There was no opening band at The Black Circle. This allowed Baroness to stretch out and play a longer show (one that was voted on by fans). No disrespect to the opener at the previous show we attended, but I really loved seeing Baroness in its purest form.

2. I was much more familiar with the Baroness catalog this time around. In 2019 I had attended just wanting to expand my musical horizons and check out a band I had been aware of but hadn’t really familiarized myself with.

After that show I quickly went back and purchased all their albums and explored the vast treasure trove of Baroness music.

3. Both venues we have caught shows at have been fantastic. However, The Black Circle is so intimate (capacity maybe 200 if packed in as tightly as possible) that there was a perfect storm of magical musical majesty happening. Oddly enough, we were standing almost directly in front of guitarist/vocalist Gina Gleason both times. Gleason and John Baizley (band leader/lead singer/guitarist) have this wonderful symmetry to their singing and playing that is such a beautiful thing to witness and hear. Their voices blend almost into a third voice when they harmonize, and their guitars build these tapestries of sound that are like cathedrals of almost heartbreaking beauty that suddenly rage into colossal riffs of crushing power. Equally important are the contributions of the terrific rhythm section;

Nick Jost pulls double duty on bass and keyboards, contributing tons of inventive grooves and ambience throughout the show, while drummer Sebastian Thomson plays super intelligent counterpoint to all the creativity bursting form this most exceptional band. Thomson can hit with the best of them, but he was fascinating to watch as he reacted and adjusted to all the myriad peaks and valleys of this challenging music.

Their dynamic range is staggering and inspirational, truly every shade of dark to light and a whisper to a scream is displayed throughout the performance. Our view of the entire band was perfection…every facial expression, all the interactions between all four Baroness members, and of course all the physicality and exuberance that are hallmarks of their passion for their music…in short, a concert experience of a lifetime.

I’ve been attending shows since 1976 and I’ve literally seen some of the legends of all time. I haven’t been this excited about a band in a long, long time. Baroness is an elite band, and I place them among the best of the best that I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot! But don’t take my word for it. By all means, go see for yourself…you can thank me later!

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 11/8/2021, I made my first trip to the Emerson Theater in Indianapolis. Suicide Silence brought an “all ages” show to the landmark Indy venue, featuring Hudson Hill, Eye Of Malice, Death On Fire, and Voice Of Sylas.

Due to the status of the attendance being wide open, I was able to bring my oldest stepdaughter to this one, and she thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I have to admit to feeling pretty proud that she is cultivating an interest in heavier music as she gets older. Nothing that the opening four bands played was really reinventing the wheel for me, but they all played proficiently and with plenty of youthful enthusiasm. I can only hope they will develop their craft to the point where their songwriting can catch up to their playing level. Suicide Silence is one of the first metalcore bands I became interested in after catching their set on the inaugural Mayhem Festival back in 2008.

On that tour, they were the first band to take the stage, and they came out with a raw ferocity that demanded attention. I saw them once more with the charismatic Mitch Lucker fronting the band before his tragic early death, and then once again with new singer Hernan “Eddie” Hermida, formerly of All Shall Perish. I remember at the time feeling that Hermida had some big shoes to fill, as Lucker was not only a riveting performer, but much beloved by the band’s loyal fanbase, and he did a great job in my humble opinion.

Fast forward to this night eight years later and the new guy has grown tremendously in his role in Suicide Silence, delivering powerful vocals with a fierce, yet friendly demeanor as master of ceremonies to the band’s relentless attack. Musically, Suicide Silence brought the heat throughout their career spanning set, and still showing they’re not too old to windmill their considerable hair without missing a note. Although the Emerson doesn’t have the best sound system in the world, visibility is good from virtually any spot in the room; and these guys used all that space wisely. At one point they orchestrated a small but committed Wall Of Death from the small Monday night crowd, and they tossed in a partial cover of Korn’s Blind and appeared to really enjoy the reaction it received.

With a little work and some serious renovation money, the Emerson could be transformed into a much nicer facility, but the practice of staging all ages shows is a solid plus for this venue. I have already been back twice since this concert and will always carry a proud stepdad memory of my first time there. Suicide Silence played a killer set, and it is great seeing them still delivering on the powerful presence they established in their early days.

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 11/6/2021, the historic Vogue nightclub in Broad Ripple hosted a terrific triple bill of terror featuring GWAR, Napalm Death, and Eyehategod.

As fate (or luck…or both) would have it, my wife and I secured a spot right on the barricade, directly in the blood zone in front of the stage; but more on that later. I have to share a few words about the stage in order to set the mood for this piece.

When I originally learned of this gig, the New York hardcore band Madball was also on this bill, but for reasons unknown to me, they were not in attendance at The Vogue. This was probably for the best as there was barely a 3′ x 8′ (and I’m being generous with this estimate) patch of open space on that stage. I doubt that another drum kit would have fit up there, let alone any more amps and band members. Eyehategod eventually appeared in their tiny allowance of real estate and wasted no time in filling the airspace with their claustrophobic brand of sludge metal.

I had previously missed them way back in the mid ’90’s when they opened for Pantera, White Zombie, and Deftones, and have been looking forward to rectifying that situation ever since. Although they played a relatively short set, the New Orleans based swamp lords delivered a crushing display of down tuned brutality, both in pure sound and lyrical spewage.

Mike Williams alternated between friendly and full of hatred towards anyone who had the audacity to yell out during any silences between songs. His vocals were delivered in an agonizing combination of screams, roars, and generally sounded like he was in major pain squeezing these inhuman sounds out of his body. Jimmy Bower cranked out riff after riff of deliciously greasy sludge guitar mastery, and the whole thing was anchored by a frenetic rhythm section. In short, it rocked balls.

Following the harrowing horror of Eyehategod was the legendary English grindcore band, Napalm Death. After the previous band’s equipment was removed from the crowded stage, vocalist “Barney” Greenway and his colleagues somehow seemed to have the exact same tiny patch of stage to commandeer for their blistering attack on our senses.

Napalm Death are the antithesis of Eyehategod in sound and approach, while being equally ferocious in pure violence of their chosen style. In other words, these guys play FAST! I’m not sure how many songs they leveled the capacity audience with, but it was relentless from the moment they hit the stage, and hit it they did. Greenway never stopped moving, appearing to be having some sort of mental breakdown at times, running in place as if he could somehow escape his miniscule strip of stage. Barney delivered a few heartfelt speeches leading into songs, but for the most part Napalm Death just laid the hammer down and battered us senseless; and it was exhilarating. Bassist Shane Embury was fascinating to watch, also. He is a big guy who plays his instrument with what appears to be a surprisingly gentle touch with his picking hand, fingers brushing across the strings like manic butterflies. The sound coming out of his amps was colossal and crushing, in direct opposition to the illusion of delicacy.

All in all, the concert had been immensely enjoyable up to this point…and then GWAR appeared and took us into the frenzy of their intergalactic and apocalyptic vision of a metal show.

Shortly after we arrived, a guy who I had just met briefly at another show where his amazing band Drude played, walked up to me and told me he was playing bass for GWAR that night. I later discovered that Jordan Smith is from GWAR’s hometown (not the one in outer space, but Richmond, VA, their base on this toilet earth). This made the show even more fun for me, since we happened to be standing directly in front of the substitute Beefcake.

The Mighty GWAR is primarily known and notorious for their visual impact, but being in the front, I was able to really enjoy the music and marvel at how difficult it must be to play cleanly with not only the cumbersome costumes, but just the general chaos going on for the duration of the show.

My friend Jordan was a great Beefcake and the entire band was on point…respect. I am fairly new to the whole GWAR experience, having seen them at their latest two appearances at Riot Fest in Chicago, but my wife (who has seen them many, many times) told me that the best place to see them was precisely where we were set to experience them, from the front row at The Vogue. She couldn’t have been more correct! Seeing all the crazy costumes, theatrics, and the nearly constant dousing of the faithful with staggering amounts of stage blood of varying colors (not to mention fake urine and semen…yeah, I said semen!) was a thrill that needs repeating for certain.

We arrived with dry hair and clothes (I was sporting a white Lucifist shirt purchased from their badass lead guitarist, Van Smith) and by concerts end my shirt would never pass for white again! We took before and after pics and it is hilarious to see the transformation that occurs at a typical GWAR show.

Needless to say, this isn’t entertainment for everyone, but for those in my tribe, this was a show that delivered a variety of musical and visual styles. It would have been cool (and rather insane) if they could have squeezed Madball onto that stage, but I’m not gonna be greedy. GWAR at The Vogue ruled!

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 10/30/21, Black Label Society, Obituary, and Prong staged an epic Halloween Eve invasion at Bogart’s in Cincinnati, OH.

This was my first time at the venerable rock club and it was definitely a memorable experience. Prong wasted no time in getting the enthusiastic audience involved in their thrash-y groove metal. Lead singer/guitarist Tommy Victor remains a bundle of energy, and his joy for playing live music is contagious after 30 years in the business.

Although their set was relatively short, Prong filled it with fan favorites like Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck and their mix was rock solid, the power trio sounding like a much larger band.

Next up was the mighty Obituary, one of the founding fathers of Death Metal. Prong had warmed up the crowd quite well, but Obituary effortlessly took us to a ravenous threshold with their crushing sound. The bedrock duo of drummer Donald Tardy and bassist Terry Butler delivered this massive bottom end that anchored the monstrous riffs of rhythm guitar mainstay Trevor Peres and the scalding leads of Ken Andrews.

Topping off the death metal ferocity was John Tardy’s distinctive roar. I would have expected a more ominous set of facial expressions befitting the subject matter of their material, but Obituary smiled a lot, too. Their setlist was full of brutality, including Slowly We Rot, A Lesson In Vengeance, Turned Inside Out, Deadly Intentions, Chopped In Half, Straight To Hell, and a cover of Celtic Frost’s Circle Of The Tyrants.

Obituary’s lights and sound were excellent, with suitably Halloween friendly hues of deep greens, purples and reds throughout.

Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society put the icing on the cake with a thrilling display of musical muscle, Wylde’s distinctive earthy vocal style, and a catalog of great songs. It had been a long while since I had last seen BLS, dating back to the Ozzfest days, so I was unaware that Zakk had a guitar player in his band that is on Zakk’s playing level. Dario Lorina traded leads with Zakk in a number of songs (most effectively in a segment where both guitarists played with their instruments behind their heads in a jaw dropping display of guitar gymnastics). Lorina also covered the emotional solos in the tribute to Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, In This River. Wylde sat at an electric piano and sang the heartfelt lyrics to this highlight portion of the show. Other BLS classics like Bleed For Me, Demise Of Sanity, Fire It Up, The Blessed Hellride, Spoke In The Wheel, Overlord, Suicide Messiah, and Stillborn were played with passion, precision, and power.

I was quite impressed with the bass playing of John DeServio and drumming of Jeff Fabb. Those guys are monster players who sometimes get lost in the shadows of Zakk’s super sized persona, presence, and talent. Make no mistake: Black Label Society is a BAND, and a supremely talented one at that.

I love the diversity in this tour lineup. Each group delivered a distinctive style and it all meshed together into a thrilling evening of larger than life metal music. My wife and I will be back for more at Bogart’s without a doubt.

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 10/1/2021, Slipknot brought their Knotfest traveling metal collective to Deer Creek (Ruoff Music Center if you prefer) for an evening of cathartic noise therapy.

In addition to the masked marauders from Iowa, this year’s lineup featured Killswitch Engage, Fever 333, and Code Orange. Due to a combination of work schedules and traffic conditions, we completely missed the two opening acts. I had done a little research and was tentatively looking forward to Code Orange, but missing Fever 333 was no big loss in my opinion.

It had been awhile since I had last seen Killswitch Engage, and Howard Jones had been their singer every time previously, so I was a bit curious to see how Jesse Leach would compare. Honestly, I prefer Howard as a vocalist, but Killswitch gathered momentum as their set progressed and I enjoyed their energy.

Slipknot basically brought out the same staging and lights from their 2019 tour, but like the Alice Cooper show we attended two nights before, Slipknot seems to have been reinvigorated from the extended time off. Their mix was superior this time around, but I missed the much stronger support bands from the ‘19 event.

On a side note, since it was the beginning of “Halloween” month and in solidarity with Slipknot’s masks, I decided to attend the show wearing a Devil mask and a Blackcraft Cult shirt that may or may not have said some Satanic stuff. Needless to say, I had a seemingly endless line of people coming up and asking to take selfies with me! There were some truly hilarious comments made, like the woman who said “I’ve always wanted to meet you!”

A number of friends actually saw me and didn’t discover my true identity until the next day. I’m glad I made the decision to start my Halloween celebration at a Slipknot show, and it gave me a sliver of understanding of just how much those guys suffer for their art. My face was sweating bullets and I was basically standing still. Love them or hate them, but Slipknot is not phoning it in.

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 9/29/2021, Alice Cooper and Ace Frehley combined forces and delivered a thrilling display of hard rocking, theatrical entertainment at the newly constructed TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park in Indianapolis, IN.

This facility improved on what was already a good thing; providing state of the art sound and lights with upgraded seating options that ensure great visibility from virtually any seat in the pavilion or on the lawn.

Ace Frehley got right down to business, playing a tight set loaded with Kiss classics and a handful of his best solo material. Frehley will never be regarded as one of the best vocalists around, but he still plays guitar with his own unmistakable style and tone. His band featured two additional guitarists (one of them contributing some good lead vocals), a bass player who also took on some lead vocal spots, and a drummer who kept things solid and exciting. I hadn’t seen Ace since Kiss’s reunion tour in 1996, and it was nice to hear him leading a band, along with some funny between songs chatter.
I have now seen Alice Cooper somewhere around a dozen times dating back to 1978 and have written so many reviews of his shows that I doubt I have much new information to add. I believe that the extended time off really did wonders for the man’s vocal chords and overall stamina, though.

Cooper and his supremely gifted band had been touring relentlessly for the past several years (I saw him twice in 2019), and on this night his voice carried more power and clarity than I had heard from him since 2016. The haunted castle set remained the same, but a few songs were added, including a brilliant reading of the Velvet Underground’s Rock And Roll. All the familiar theatrics (the giant-sized Billion Dollar Baby and Frankenstein monster, the straight jacket, the dead baby serenade and consequent beheading by Guillotine) were in place and remain such well loved and well executed aspects of Alice’s performance, that we practically experience them like they’re brand new every time we see them. Of course the band got a block of songs to shine on, and shine they did.

The larger stage, sound, and lights of the new facility elevated all that immense talent to produce one of the top 3 performances I’ve ever witnessed from one of my all time favorite artists…as I’m quite sure I’ve said many times before, “Long Live The Coop!”

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 9/19/2021, our Riot Fest marriage weekend provided us with a final day of rocking awesomeness. Aside from the actual wedding, my wife had made it crystal clear that Body Count was the primary objective of the entire festival. Judging from her reaction to their show, the wedding may have come in second to Ice T’s band’s performance, but we will get to that reaction in due time.

I don’t know if I have mentioned that Ilene possesses a super power when it comes to finding her way to the front row in nearly any concert situation, and Riot Fest was no exception. She determined that we should check out the band Health, who played prior to Body Count and then slide into the prime real estate when the crowd dispersed after Health’s set. Her plan worked beautifully, but not without a price…we had to endure Health (and a mercilessly brutal hot Chicago summer day), but Body Count finally hit the stage and the real fun began.

Their opening song was a scorching cover of Raining Blood/Postmortem by Slayer, and the intensity never faltered for a moment as Ice-T and lead guitarist Ernie C led the band through a blistering set including No Lives Matter, Talk Shit, Get Shot, There Goes The Neighborhood, and the ever-controversial Cop Killer. Bassist Vincent Price assisted on some super intense lead vocals, but Ice-T was firmly in command of the rapport between the band and audience. He was clearly enjoying playfully insulting the half of the crowd (not our side, thankfully!) who were not raging and moshing hard enough, but he got the results he was looking for.

Later in the set he brought his adorable daughter on stage, claiming she was the youngest Body Count fan in attendance! Something I haven’t addressed yet was the disappointment of several acts canceling their appearances, and the Riot Fest organizers’ admirable substitutions.

Nine Inch Nails were replaced by Slipknot, Faith No More by Rise Against, The Pixies by The Flaming Lips, and Mr. Bungle by Anthrax. As luck would have it, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian was to have performed with Mr. Bungle, so his main band was an inspired substitute for the other Mike Patton fronted group.

Anthrax were in dependably fine form, playing their deep cache of thrash metal classics (including Got The Time, Antisocial, Indians, Madhouse, Efilnikufesin, and Caught In A Mosh and being accompanied throughout their hour set by a seismic circle pit that filled the air with a tsunami of dust. Before their final song, Ian instructed everyone to join Anthrax and go watch Devo. We had already planned to check out the legendary Devo, but it was still pretty surreal to hear that level of support from Anthrax.

This was my first time seeing Devo, and they were just impossibly fun, quirky, and unique. They changed outfits twice and utilized the big screens framing the stage with some truly odd multimedia displays. I was thrilled to witness Jocko Homo, Whip It, Peek-a-boo, Girl You Want, Uncontrollable Urge, Secret Agent Man, and their deconstructed/reconstruction of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones. By the time they finished up with Freedom Of Choice, Devo had amassed a gigantic crowd.

The last performance we caught on our final day was The Flaming Lips, and we just saw the first song. Singer Wayne Coyne performed Race For The Prize in his trademark plastic bubble from the stage after making a speech concerning COVID-19 safety. Reasoning that we were going to see Slipknot back home in Indiana on October 1st (and having a long drive ahead of us), we walked away as Coyne and the Lips launched into Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1. I really love The Flamming Lips and wish we would have possessed the extra stamina to make it through their set, but it was time to go.

On our way out to catch the train, we heard a band called The Ghost Inside, and they sounded really good. I need to give them a proper listen one of these days. That is my report from Riot Fest 2021. I got married, I got rocked, and I gained a treasure trove of wonderful concert memories!

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 9/18/2021, we entered day 3 of our Riot Fest adventure with the realization that we needed to slow down our pace somewhat in order to save some energy for the final day. Even with a more laid back approach, we managed to catch several killer acts.

First on the list was the ever entertaining GWAR, performing their landmark Scumdogs Of The Universe album. After nearly being crushed to death during GWAR’s 2019 appearance, we decided to hang further back this time around. Oddly enough, this year’s crowd was far less violent, but the stage violence was dependably GWARiffic, and I love the fact that GWAR are a Riot Fest institution. My wife was eager for me to see Gogol Bordello, and we secured a spot in the front row to wait for their set. While we waited, we could hear a really great sounding band called Best Coast.

This female fronted band from Los Angeles had great energy and strong vocals with a nice power pop style. The same can’t be said for the band playing prior to Gogol Bordello. They were called Les Savy Fav. I want to accentuate the positive stuff about Riot Fest, so I’m just going to say that Les Savy Fav was not going to include me in any new fan lists. But I digress…Gogol Bordello did convert me as a huge new fan. Their style of music is a frenetic blend of gypsy punk, Latin, polka, folk, Romani, dub…just maximum high energy FUN.

The six members of the band who appeared on the Roots Stage (two others were unable to perform due to COVID-19) never stopped moving, and neither did the audience.

Everyone was jumping up and down, stomping, and grinning throughout the band’s super entertaining one hour set. Band members are from all over the globe, but based in New York City. I highly recommend Gogol Bordello, undoubtedly my favorite discovery of the entire festival.

We stuck around for several songs from Rancid, the venerable and well loved California punk band. They were awesome, but we decided to cut out early and skip Saturday’s headliners in order to recharge our batteries for the final day, which promised some really amazing acts…to be concluded soooooon!

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 9/17/2021, the wife and I (this was our first full day of shows as a married couple…nice!) decided to pursue quality over quantity, and set our sites on a few key favorites.

We made our way to the Radical Stage to secure a good spot near the front to wait for Fishbone, who were going to perform The Reality Of My Surroundings in its entirety. When we arrived, a singer/songwriter billed as Amigo The Devil was playing to an enthusiastic crowd that seemingly knew the lyrics to all his songs.

I love making these discoveries of musicians I’ve never heard before, and I will definitely be paying attention to this guy….his stuff was really good. After Amigo The Devil finished his set, we slid effortlessly into some prime real estate along the rail in the front row, where we would remain for both Fishbone and Living Colour.

I have been a big fan of Fishbone since seeing them a couple of times in their heyday of the early to mid ‘90’s, and the prospect of seeing them play my favorite album of theirs filled me with huge anticipatory excitement. That excitement grew exponentially when I realized that all the original members (with the possible exception of the guitarist) were back together. After a bit of a shaky start sound wise, Fishbone quickly established dominance and delivered a blistering display of the rock/soul/ska/metal/funk gumbo that influenced so many of their contemporaries back in the day.

We had already seen Living Colour a couple of months ago, so we already knew we were in for an incredible display of musical muscle. This time around we were on the bass player side of the stage, so it was really cool to get a different view of this flawless band. I must say that after seeing Norwood Fisher dominate the low end with Fishbone and Doug Wimbish doing the same with Living Colour, I was feeling the love for the Bass. Of course, Vernon Reid was his usual fire and brimstone self on this crazy new custom guitar he had recently acquired! Next on our agenda was a trip to the Rise Stage to catch a blistering set of hardcore punk from the legendary Circle Jerks.

Front man Keith Morris (one day shy of his 66th birthday) announced early on that they were planning to play 29 songs (in a one hour set!), and I’m pretty certain they got it done. As a matter of fact, we met a guy the next day who claimed to have seen the Circle Jerks set list and said it was four pages long. However high the number, the songs themselves were explosive and propelled by an airtight beast of a punk band.

The skies opened up and poured some refreshing rain upon the frenzied fans, who moshed and crowd surfed throughout the manic set.

After all that wildness, we wandered around a bit and stayed way back as Smashing Pumpkins played their headlining set at the Riot Stage. Billy Corgan and company had an impressive light show and sound mix, but try as I may, I just can’t take too much of Corgan’s whiny voice. I was happy they played Drown, though. That song from the Singles movie soundtrack has always been a favorite with all the layers of glorious feedback that Corgan and James Iha conjured from their guitars. They did a nice job of recreating that beautiful chaos at Riot Fest.

We stuck around long enough for NOFX to make their entrance on the Rise Stage. Singer/bassist Fat Mike made some funny remarks (including his opinion that Smashing Pumpkins suck!) and finally got around to blasting through a short burst of punk fury that would have fit right in with the Circle Jerks.

It had been a long and eventful day and as we rode the train back to where we were staying, the entire crowd on the train found out we had been married the previous day and gave us a suitably rousing Riot Fest cheer of approval! We have found our tribe!

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 9/16/21, Riot Fest returned to Chicago’s Douglas Park after being absent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were a few key changes implemented in this year’s festival; one being the addition of an extra day of performers, and another being the added attraction of a wedding chapel, which resulted in 32 couples getting married at Riot Fest. My girlfriend and I had launched our romance just prior to Riot Fest 2019 and we decided it would be the perfect location to make our love official, so now we can proudly say that we were the eighth couple to be married at Riot Fest!
Only six acts performed on the first day and we were busy with the wedding details during the first two, but we caught a good set by Joyce Manor, an energetic pop punk band from California. The band is made up of four guys, so I was curious about the band name and discovered it was the name of an apartment building nearby the singer’s house. They were well received and one of the many performers who talked about how great it was to be back on a stage. Next up was Patti Smith And Her Band, delivering an emotionally supercharged set that was breathtaking and proving beyond a doubt why she is a legendary figure in music. Smith’s final song was a tour de force rendition of Land and Gloria that went on for around twelve minutes and seemingly channeled Iggy Pop at his most feral. I caught it on video and it is simply mesmerizing. Alkaline Trio followed and fell short of Smith’s intensity, but they had a great light show, at least. Matt Skiba (vocals and guitar) told the crowd that he had hit his head on a tree prior to taking the stage and was pretty sure he had a concussion, so perhaps that rates them a pass.

Thursday’s headliner was Morrissey, who has certainly established a divisive reputation throughout his career. I overheard people talking about him all day, many speculating on whether he would even show up. Morrissey did indeed show up, and provided a show worthy of his top billing. His band was tight and the big screen projections and lights were excellent. Above all, Morrissey still possesses a glorious set of vocal pipes, and displayed them to full advantage. I was particularly thrilled that he opened with How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths, just an amazing song. Another tune featured the bass player rocking a stand up bass (reminiscent of The Stray Cats), and the guitarist playing a sweet gold top Les Paul with a Bigsby tremolo bar. Hearing Morrissey’s golden voice singing rockabilly was a nice surprise.
Being back at Riot Fest felt like a sort of homecoming. Being married at Riot Fest felt like sacred ground. Having Patti Smith and Morrissey perform at our wedding reception felt priceless!

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