Author: LivingDedGrrl

Body Count (Ice-T) at the Marquee Theater (5/25/2018) Tempe, AZ

 

 

 

Fresh off the set of Law & Order: SVU, Ice-T made a fast getaway from the filming of next season’s popular crime drama, on which he has played Detective Sgt Fin Tutuola since 1999, and traded in his NY badge for his iconic black LA baseball cap and black work gloves. From PD to OG, Ice-T is many things…Predictable is not one of them, but being a grand showman certainly is.

Ice-T lit up the Marquee stage with long-time collaborator Ernie C. Together, in 1990, the two formed the controversial LA thrash metal band Body Count. While the band is most famous…or rather INfamous…for their controversial 1992 self-titled album release, Body Count has successfully produced five additional studio albums:  Born Dead (1994), Violent Demise: The Last Days (1997), Murder 4 Hire (2006), Manslaughter (2014), and Bloodlust (2017). Even though most of the band’s set list was comprised of their more popular hits from the 90’s, their subsequent releases such as their 2017 Bloodlust cover performance of Slayer’s “Raining in Blood” is consistent with the Body Count feel and sound that made them famous and fit right in among the BC classics all the way back to 1992’s “There Goes The Neighborhood”.

 

The show opens with sirens and the Body Count title track, including the 9-1-1 “Smoked Pork” dispatch conversation voice-over introduction and the call to order that is the “Body Count Anthem” and “Body Count’s In The House”, both found on the same album. But while in the past the band has focused more on certain people groups, today the message is a bit more refined, pointing fingers at humanity in general. It’s everybody’s fault: #NoLivesMatter. Ice-T picks on every subject from racism to economics. Nothing is sacred. No one is safe. He says what he wants. He makes no apology. He’s not wrong, but at least he sings it to you in a way that makes you want to smash along with him. Body Count is a thrash metal band, and as such may seemingly lack some of the pleasantries and fine-tuning of modern metal music. This is no-frills, straight-up, old-skool. The sound may be raw and the message reality, but there is no shortage of talent in the band’s ranks. Straight outta Compton, Ernie C is still the band’s lead guitar, and he’s anything but typical. Growing up in LA, he was never impressed with the lack of showmanship found in the average R&B artist. He was influenced by bands like The Isley Brothers, but he wanted to live the adrenaline that only rock ‘n’ roll can provide. Now nearly 30 years later, through the iconoclastic anti-establishmentarianism that is BC, Ernie-C’s slick fingers still deftly noodle through Ice-T’s profanity-riddled “Talk Sh*t Get Shot” pimp lyrics like a knife through hot, face-melting butter. It’s melodic, but at the same time it’s mayhem….kinda like his hair. And even though the guitar players are usually the famous guys in the band (next to the lead singer) Body Count wouldn’t be Body Count with the same amount of impeccable rhythm and groove driving the low end. For many years now, Vincent Price has been the Tiffany lamp shade hanging in the fight club barroom that is Body Count…He really ties the room together. First he’s on one side of the stage, then he’s on the other. He’s looking at you, then he’s pointing at me. Encouraging a sing-a-long and shmooving along to the music in love songs such as “KKK B*tch”, nobody goes to a rock show to stand still and be bored, and Vincent Price makes sure you are neither. Over the years, the Body Count line-up has changed slightly. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a BC show, you’ll notice their new guitar player, Evildead’s Juan Garcia, who joined the band in 2013, and Ill Will on drums since 2009. But somebody’s gotta hold down the fort, as they say, and that is the same Sean E. Sean…the man behind the curtain (even though he’s right there on stage), working magic and running the samples for every song as he’s done since the very beginning. Every show ends with a bang, and Ice-T makes sure to finish everyone off with the heart-wrenching ballad “Momma’s Gotta Die Tonight” followed by the one track that scattered all the record execs back in the day and put the band on the map….”Cop Killer”.

 

Despite his hardcore presence, Ice-T has always invited others to share his stage and his spotlight.  In the video single for “All Love Is Lost” off the Bloodlust album, Ice-T features SVU co-star Kelli Giddish, who also plays Det. Rollins on the show. Co-starring in tonight’s performance was Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta with his side project “Jasta”, with a surprise performance by former Killswitch Engage front man Howard Jones. Ice-T and Body Count appeared at The Marquee Theater in Tempe, AZ before shipping off on their European tour to support their latest album.

All photos Copyright ©2018 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). All Rights Reserved. Do Not Use without permission. Do not remove watermark.

Nightwish at the Marquee Theater, Tempe, AZ

Listening to Nightwish is a lot like biting into a York Peppermint Pattie…you get the sensation of flying into their ethereal images and the feeling of fantastical transportation, weaving through a complex, otherworldly sonic tapestry. Their symphonic metal overtures transmute sound to adventure through a delicate alchemy of crunch and vigor gilded with elegance and intellect. Close your eyes and you’re the hero in your own Skyrim or Finnish version of Final Fantasy. And that’s just the album by itself….

Nightwish live is the most decadent of guilty pleasures. They sound lux and exquisite, yet their stage presence is warm and welcoming. The hauntingly iconic Nightwish sound of Troy Donockley playing the Uilleann Pipes and tin whistle set the tone for the evening as a sort-of call to gather at the feet of a famous storyteller awaiting the tales of  Man’s daily trials and tribulations told with bardic flair and contemplative depth. Quoting such celebratory sources as Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Charles Darwin, keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, the mastermind behind the music, is an exquisite wordsmith who transforms the doldrums and challenges of average life into thoughtful sonnets of celestial intensity. The music has motion and groove driven by a seraphic mix of electronics, beat, and signature metallic grunge, while the lyrics portray the excitement of one eloquent escapade after another. Every song is a miniature opus. The curtain opens with End Of All Hope from the 2002 album “Century Child”, an appropriate phoenician tragedy in the lyrical spirit of Hamlet which inquisitionally chronicles the struggle and previous death of the band and its resurrection into the magnificence that currently graces the stage. As one chapter closes, another one opens and transitions down the setlist to the raucous Wish I Had An Angel, a brutally romantic reflection of the emotions of a Mercution friend in love with his Romeon rival’s Juliette.  As the band meets its fans all across the globe in this their 2018 Greatest Hits tour entitled “Decades”, Nightwish has carefully added these and others of their most riveting and emotional selections to their set list from their past accolades from all across the calendar, including Come Cover Me from one of the band’s earliest releases, year 2000 album “Wishmaster” which back then featured former lead singer and three-octave soprano Tarja Turunen, and Elan, the release from the most recent 2015 album “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”, which was the subject of a scandalous pre-release sabotage which leaked the album’s debut single. As a special gift for their guests, we were given copies of their compilation album “Decades” with which to remember this night.

Floor Jansen is my spirit animal. Your hostess for the evening, Nightwish’s lead singer is one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the musical stage. She is the epitome of strength and grace. Her voice is rich and full of passion as she captivates the audience with her hypnotic transitions from operatic goddess to Death’s Roar incarnate. She floats across the stage in heels and a fluttering asymmetrical hemline dress. She is an elegant siren. Her luring and fan-lulling is fashionably disrupted periodically, juxtaposed by a blast of icy, earthy reality in the raspy vocals of bassist, Marco Hietala. Founding member and lead guitar player Emppu Vuorinen lights up the stage with his smiling eyes and his variety of technique, rhythms, and lofty melodic solos, occasionally ripping and shredding behind the tinkling, contrapuntal piano sprinklings of Tuomas Holopainen in such songs as Gethsemane. To enhance the marriage of emotion and music in this most grandest of evening illusions, the stage was brilliantly lit with ginormous LED screens that flickered complementary breathtaking imagery from beautiful animated snowscapes to the grandeur of Monument Valley.

Photos ©Copyright 2018 LivingDedGrrl™. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission. Do not remove watermark.

 

From Ashes To New hits Marquee Theater (Tempe, AZ)

Following on the heels of their viral success, upstart rap ‘n’ rock artists From Ashes To New joined alt metal veterans 10 Years on their 2018 How To Live As Ghosts tour, appearing at the famous Marquee Theater in Tempe, AZ. This young power pop group brings to the stage not only a “hometown American boy” story, but a big set full of empowerment and positive vibe to match their uplifting presence and affirmative energy.

When you think of Lancaster, PA, rock ‘n’ roll music isn’t exactly what immediately comes to mind. In fact, most people think the opposite…horses, buggies, furniture, and cheese…but while it’s true that Lancaster is the country’s oldest Amish settlement, it’s also a place where dreams came true for a couple of kids who are now living the American Dream:  Six guys trying to salvage the efforts of various different failing musical projects, putting their heads together to have one more go at this “music thing”, which has turned out to be a rapidly growing success. But while the band has been its own brand of persistence, they cannot take all of the credit for their Cinderella story.

As humanity submerges more and more into the digital world, we are learning to harness the power of unity through electronics. From Ashes To New owes much of their success to their social media followers, particularly on Instagram and Facebook. This is the latest version of Peer-To-Peer networking, where arts and ideas can be shared exponentially with others across devices and platforms at the click of a button. That’s not to say that there isn’t still a lot of work that goes into the creation of such a beast. For something to go viral enough people have to not only approve of the selection, but be moved enough to share it. From Ashes To New began with a humble internet offering of their first song, “Through It All”…just something for friends and local fans to enjoy. The posting made its way to the Octane facebook page, where it was seen by the station’s programming director, who subsequently added it to the rotation. In just a few short years, From Ashes To New found themselves successfully sharing a label with bands like Papa Roach and touring with 10 Years.

The idea that some Unknown can still make a song and hear it on the radio is often overshadowed by the notions of contracts and huge record conglomerates, but From Ashes To New is a modern-day throwback to guys like Johnny Cash and Ritchie Valens, who just did what they did and played what they played, and eventually somebody heard it, grabbed the nearest person by the shirt sleeve, and said, “Hey! You gotta hear this!” Although their success has been like riding on a rocket ship, From Ashes To New maintains their humble beginnings throughout their music and tour appearances. They are still very much connected to their fan base, which is evident in the intimacy of the environment they create, regardless of stage size. They know where they came from, they know who put them there, and their audience is just as much a part of their performance as any guitar or microphone.

While many musicians use the medium to vent their angst and troubles, exploring their darker sides, From Ashes To New puts on an upbeat show on a well-lighted stage. Vocalist Matt Brandyberry also writes the band’s music, and while it may still express negative feelings and emotions, his music encourages its listeners to go one step further than their misery and view their situations from an alternative, more positive angle. The band has also made inclusion a focal point of its music, reminding listeners and fans that whatever their struggles are, they are not alone and they don’t have to feel alone. FATN has created somewhat of a revolving door in its existence…the people like the songs, so they write more music about the people. The band not only has a passion for their craft, but a heart for who they play for. This was felt throughout the theater from the first note to the last song. You won’t find anything in their repertoire about hookers and blow, but what you will find is a band who hates the idea of another kid cutting himself or committing suicide, a band that hates bullying, and a band that really wants to create a life raft for someone who’s hurting.

All photos Copyright ©2018 LivingDedGrrl™. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without permission. Do not remove watermark.

 

Davey Suicide Headlines MADE FROM FIRE Tour 2018

While Davey Suicide is no stranger to the stage, their latest manifestation is the culmination of their hard work and determination to make it in an ever-fickle industry. Clawing their way from the pit of Hollyweird, Killafornia, Davey Suicide has done their fair share of time in the trenches from surviving the seedy underbelly of the music world to supporting other up and coming bands. But 2017 marked a significant change in the band’s status in the industry. Always the bridesmaid never the bride, the wait is over. The Made From Fire tour, which spans 2017 and 2018, brings Davey Suicide front and center to finally headline the main stage. You’ve seen them once, you’ve seen them twice….but you’ve never seen them like this.

 

While Suicide fans will already be familiar with the setlist, they should be prepared to experience Davey’s songs and sonnets on and entirely new level. Along with their latest honor as headliner comes a brand-spankin’-new stage plot and set up. No more house RGBLEDs. No more “Time’s up! Get off the stage!”. Nope. Not this time. Now we get to experience Davey Suicide in the way they were meant to be seen…and heard. With full-on light displays, fog, and costumery, Davey Suicide really comes to life in a stunning sonic and visual experience fans won’t be disappointed with. From appearing as the ringleader for the power hit “Too Many Freaks (Not Enough Circuses)” to a heartfelt interpretation of a battle-weary soldier, Davey Suicide invites audience members to take a deeper look into the monster machine by sharing his personal stories, his inspirations, and his aspirations.

 

For me personally, even though I’ve met the band loads of times and shot their shows on several different occasions, all I could think was….WOW! I was entranced by the lighting and effects. I found it both hypnotizing enough to distract me from my camera work and inspiring as a concert photographer. I wanted to stand there and take it all in, yet at the same time I was so in love with the colors and stark imagery and had to restrain myself from just holding down the shutter button and taking a million more pictures than I usually do. The show was well thought out, and the stage plot very well conceived and choreographed to match the tunage. I really enjoyed the warmth that Davey expressed as he spoke between songs, and I really appreciated his openness and candor in sharing this particular part of his life with his fan family.

No matter how many times you’ve seen them in the past, go again and witness the band in this rare form…the result of their many years’ toils and tribulations. The ride has been rough, and there were many times it would have just been easier to give up, but where many artists would have just gone home, this band has persevered and fought hard to rise above their circumstances. They have earned the right to title their headline debut tour Made From Fire because that’s exactly what they are and where they’ve come from on their musical journey. You may already know the songs, but given their change in status the show is fresh and new, and you’ll experience their music as if you’re hearing them for the first time…and in a way, you are. As the band reaches a new level in their career, both old fans and new are embraced with the same love, unfailing energy, and humility as always. If you are a new fan, come see the band in all their glory. If you are an old fan, come and celebrate the band’s musical victories with them.

All photos Copyright ©2018 LivingDedGrrl™. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without permission. Do not remove watermark.

Lords Of Acid, Club Red Mesa

For nearly 30 years, Belgian post-industrial techno group Lords of Acid have been bringing sex and sexy to urban nightlife. Lead by original founding member Praga Khan still on lead keyboard, the Lords came to Mesa, AZ as part of their Sextreme Fest Tour 2017. In true Lords form, complete with rocking live instrumentals and blow up dolls, the Lords rocked the Club Red house to a not only a venue packed with EDM fans, but also a stage line-up of ear candy making the band’s current manifestation a powerhouse of awesomesauce. Featuring bassist DieTrich Thrall from Doyle von Frankenstein’s solo project DOYLE on bottom and Pig/Primitive Race guitarist and programmer Joe Haze, a Lords of Acid show promises not only a night of sensual bedlam for the casual fan, but also an evening of InTellectual IT (see what I did there?) bliss for nerds of all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re there to be sexed up or just to bring your geek squad to a fun night of technological frivolity, no one will be disappointed by the Lords’ electric energy.

 

Lords of Acid may be one of the oldest techno bands to ever run in the mainstream, but their presence and sound continue to be fresh and relevant for new and young fans while older constituents will find the band has not sacrificed its top shelf sound that we grew up with, even in their newer music and line-up. Lords is currently fronted by Kansas City native DJ Mea (Fisher), whose pink hair, cat ears, and BDSM wardrobe only elevates the concert experience by adding visual context to her soaring banshee vocals. Being the innovative technology group that they are, DJ Mea is the perfect front woman for the Lords, having changed the face of EDM herself during her beginning solo career. In the early 2000s, DJ Mea made a name for herself on the Chicago house scene by singing live over top of her DJ sets. The resulting sound was an instant success and is the perfect match for a band like Lords of Acid, whose live appearances are often more industrial and musically power-packed than what you would experience on the album. As if her vocals weren’t enough, DJ Mea truly enjoys her center mic position. Backed by En Esch (KMFDM) bombshell Erica Dilanjian, Mea’s passion is electric in its own rite, bringing a surge of energy to a crowded room that rivals any traditional concert.

Synonymous with sex, Lords fans are encouraged to dress for the occasion. Fishnets and stilettos, short skirts and skimpy shirts are the order of the day…er…night, and the more “of the night” you dress, the more fun you’ll have. Regardless of body type and size, all people are sexy when Lords of Acid take the stage. In fact, NOT dressing for the show might even earn you more stares than a pair of lime green fishnets would. However, no matter how sexy no outfit is complete without the signature devil horns that appear on many of the bands album covers. Don’t have any? Walgreen’s says it’s not Halloween? It’s OK. They sell them at the door. Turn your horns on as Praga Khan turns you on with one of the band’s original early 90’s releases, “Rough Sex” from the 1991 release Lust. Lords of Acid take control with a set-list that spans their entire career from the early Lust days all the way up to their 2016 album release Smoking Hot, including the tongue-in-cheek version of the 1928 Hollywood Golden Age hit “Loved By You”, which we now know and love as “Scrooed Bi U” from the 2000 Farstucker album. And if you’re lucky, you can find your way to the stage to dance with the Lords to everyone’s favorite super sexy song….. =^.^=

Lords of Acid headline the Sextreme Fest 2017 tour supported by Erie Loch and the WICCID duo from Sacramento, California along side Christian Death, Combichrist, and KMFDM’s own En Esch.

All photos Copyright ©2017 LivingDedGrrl™. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission. Do not remove watermark.

Interview with Erie Loch from Dark Synth Futurepop duo WICCID

Veteran Sacramento songwriter and performer Erie Loch discusses his creative processes, the evolution of IT in the music industry, and his new futurepop project WICCID along with many of his collaborations over the years with such artists as Prong, Ministry, Pop Will Eat Itself, Lords Of Acid, and many more. You can hear the By Design album on Spotify and download the album from Bandcamp. WICCID appears on the Sextreme Fest 2017 tour with Lords of Acid, En Esch, and Combichrist.

 

Check out the WICCID “Torn” single below:

All photos and audio are Copyright ©2017 LivingDedGrrl™. All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission. Do not remove watermarks.

Overkill at Club Red Mesa (9/22/2017)

When you “put your nose to the grind stone”, you are making a statement about the efforts and ethics of your endeavors. When you’re “back to the grind”, it means you’re working hard. And when you release more albums than any other metal band in your class and consistently toured for nearly 40 years, and you’ve earned the right to call your 18th studio album The Grinding Wheel. In support of this, their 2017 album release, Overkill appears as the top act on the Metal Alliance Tour 2017.

What does it take to stay relevant in a world where image is everything? Wornstar Clothing, costumes, Kabuki make-up, multimedia LED displays…whatever you can do to capture the audience’s attention. So,when a 36 year old thrash metal band from New Jersey takes the stage in jeans and t-shirts, they better have something up their sleeves to compete with cell phones, hot chicks, booze, and boobs that often distract concert-goers from a simple stage. If you’re Overkill, that trick is music:   no tricks, no tracks…just good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll…the kind of music that music cut its teeth on back when you had to be good or go home. While the pomp and circumstance of a well-manicured full-sensory production has its own place in pop culture, it’s refreshing to know that bands like Overkill are still out there, with their noses to the grind stone, making records and selling out shows with nothing but a few light stacks, a bitchin’ frontman, and some thread-shredding guitar solos. For nearly 40 years, Overkill has produced good, solid, pure music.

The lights go down, the crowd chants “O-VER-KILL!”…”O-VER-KILL!”…”O-VER-KILL!”, and the band takes the stage in a fog of flashing lights and Jason Bittner, who joined the band in April 2017, reaches into your chest and your heartbeat stomps along to the beat of the opening drum riff for “Lean, Green Killing Machine”, the first track off the Grinding Wheel album. The unmistakable grit of Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s vocals rip through the air like a piece of fine vintage shrapnel. It’s hard to believe that this song is less than a year old because without missing a step, it fits right in with their second opener “Rotten To The Core” off the 1985 album Feel The Fire. And that’s exactly the type of honesty you can expect from a band who forged their sound before computers did it for you.

On stage, Overkill spans nearly four decades of top shelf thrash metal, and although the names and faces of the lineup may have changed, original vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and original bassist D.D. Verni remain the core of one of the best metal bands to ever grace our blistering eardrums. They are joined by Dave Linsk on lead guitar, who’s quiet charismatic smile and squealing guitar are a perfect compliment to his sardonic stage right counterpart, rhythm guitarist Derek “The Skull” Tailer. Special guest Eric Knudsen from fellow thrash metal group Flotsam and Jetsam brought an already enthusiastic crowd to their feet in a sort of boss level bonus round of songs, sharing the center mic with Bobby. The sound bounces off the walls and there’s not a dry t-shirt in the house…it’s impossible to stand still while they’re playing. Whether you’re 16 or 60, the band still brings the raw energy they did back when we were all wearing worn out acid wash jeans (the first time it was cool).

But for as much shock and raw as the music is, Overkill uses music to focus on a spirit of community in these troubled times. As he leans waaaaaayyyy back on his mic stand, the message Ellsworth brought to the desert this night was that we’re all members of the human race. None of us gets out alive, so we just need to work together and live together…and listen to really good music that brings us together. The band closed out the night with the song “Horrorscope”, the title track off the band’s fifth studio album, which lyrics exemplify the consequences of human conflict resulting in the End Times.

 

All photos Copyright ©2017 LivingDedGrrl™. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission. Do not remove watermark.

 

Invidia (ex Skinlab, 5FDP) at Club Red, Mesa (9/22/2017)

From Las Vegas, NV comes nu-metal’s latest collaboration of artists, Invidia. Originally fronted by current In This Moment bass player Travis Johnson, Invidia brings to the stage ex-Skinlab guitars Brian Jackson and Marcos Medina, and ex-Five Finger Death Punch bassist Matt Snell. Although the  band enjoyed some brief initial success, Travis Johnson’s decision to leave abruptly to honor his commitment with In This Moment caught Invidia off guard just before their tour began, leaving them searching frantically for a new singer. While it may be Travis Johnson that appears on the band’s As the Sun Sleeps album, it is newly acquired lead singer Evan Seidlitz who now brings his own presence and energy to each performance. As the Sun Sleeps may have been met with mixed reviews when it debuted earlier in 2017, but new people and changing staff always bring new life and fresh perspective to music, and the addition of a new lead singer gives this band a potential leg up to earn a second look from modern metal lovers.

Invidia appeared on this Fall’s Metal Alliance Tour with Overkill, Crowbar, and Havoc, bringing their own sound and talents to the Club Red theater stage. Supporting a lineup of heavy-hitters who have been roaring their way through the business for 40 years, Invidia was welcomed warmly by the Southwest, who was ready to rock, and their set was vibrant and energetic. Evan Seidlitz has a real flair for getting people to participate. For me, personally, I liked the way he was dressed…or maybe it’s because he looked an awful lot like the guy who does all my piercings. Whatever it was, he sang with a lot of expression and had a really personable, engaging presence. Despite being on a highly old-skool metal tour, there were quite a few people who turned out for the set for as early in the evening as it was, and the energy that Invidia brought to the stage made them entertaining to watch. No one stood around with their hands in their pockets like they did for a few other acts.  As the band’s only album was released just six months ago, the set list was limited to the tracks appearing on As The Sun Sleeps, and some of them like “Feed The Fire” and “Marching Dead” were punchy and driving and actually sounded better live than they did on the album, possibly due to a new and different personality on the center mic. Sometimes all a story needs is to be told with a different voice.

Invidia is nu-metal, not old school, so if you are planning to attend the Metal Alliance Tour, you may find that they are somewhat different from the crunchy monotone growling of the co-touring thrash and doom metal bands. Nu metal has a different sound and scream than the darker metals:  You will find Invidia to have a more modern, melodic song structure with a bit more pop mixed in with the intensity. Look for song lyrics to be more romantic and brooding. If we were to describe the tour using alcohol, one might say that the other bands might be just a straight shot of whiskey, neat, but that Invidia is more like a Moscow Mule. Sure, it’s got a little bit of pop in it, and they might be a little trendy, but it still has a bit of a kick…and it’s fun. I would perhaps like to see them a year from now when their new lead singer has had time to infuse the band with his own creative influences and put out an album with his band mates rather than merely singing someone else’s music.

On another note, I do feel that 5pm was incredibly early for a Friday night rock show in the East Valley. In the Phoenix area, rush hour begins at 3:00pm and ends at 7pm, and the freeway system wasn’t designed to convey as many vehicles that use it. It literally takes 2 hours to drive 20 minutes on some days, and Friday happens to be one of them, as everyone wants to get home for the weekend. I live only 9 miles from the venue, but it took me an hour to get there. In order to attend such an early show, concert goers must either request the day off or fall on the good graces of their superiors and request an early release. I do feel that this band was somewhat short-changed with an early start time, as they did put plenty of butts in the seats, but not nearly as many as they could have with a later slot.

 

All photos Copyright ©2017 LivingDedGrrl™. All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission. Do not remove watermark.

 

 

Rise Against at Ak-Chin Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ (7/9/2017)

Arizona? Oh, yeah….we go wayyyyy back. For several years, Chicago-based punk band Rise Against refused to play shows in Arizona in protest of Senate Bill 1070, which was a piece of controversial legislation passed in 2010 that segregated citizens’ rights according to ethnicity. In 2012, the prejudicial law which required law enforcement to arbitrarily violate Mexican-Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights and demand on-the-spot citizenship documentation was challenged, and Rise Against appeared at Mesa Amphitheater shortly after. Many artists were part of this state boycott, refusing to entertain fans here in hopes to incite more displeasure at the immigration law in a state whose population is largely Latino. While the band loves their fans, they have their qualms about the legislature and remained reserved in their returns. Rise Against did play UFEST 2015, and in 2016 the State Of Arizona entered into several legal agreements with a coalition of civil rights organizations and imposed limits the over-sweeping carte blanche law had previously bestowed on law enforcement. Whittling away at the overwhelmingly unpopular “show-me-your-papers-or-else” law and undermining several copycat laws in neighboring states was the defeat of long-time racist and minority bully Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was gloriously removed from office in the 2016 General Election. Rise Against once again graced the stage in Phoenix, AZ at Ak-Chin Pavilion, co-headling the show with So Cal’s own Deftones whose own front man Chino Moreno; Chino’s father is Mexican, and his mother is Chinese. True to their genrical form, nothing at a Rise Against concert is ever “just because”. During their portion of the show, Rise Against’s visionary and conceptioneer, Tim McIlrath, said that they weren’t going to pass over Arizona like a “satellite” anymore, which segued into the song selection of the same name, which was the fourth track on the Endgame album. Endgame‘s release in 2011 was the first time the band had officially drawn a line in the sand outlining their stand on human rights issues, particularly pertaining to the LGBT community. Animal and human rights are a largely prominent theme in all of the band’s lyrics.

While RA has been touring to support their new album, Wolves, which was released in June 2017, much of their song selection centered around The Sufferer And The Witness and Endgame…albums from the band’s more outspoken past that carry a much more gritty ear’s-eye-view of the band’s notable social and political stances and more aggressive musical styling than the more mainstream showings of Black Market and Wolves. The show opens with a general wake-up-and-pay-attention anthem “Ready To Fall“, which is off the 2006 Sufferer album, and followed up with the brilliantly worded “The Good Left Undone” from the same album. The band followed along with “Re-Education (Through Labor)“, which is about the sad immortality of Chinese sweat shops. Rise Against has had a long-running partnership with Vans Shoes, all of which are Vegan-safe, which not only means that the shoes do not use any animal products or animal product processes in their manufacturing process, but that the shoes are manufactured according to Fair Trade standards, which prohibits the use of children and exploited labor forces in developing countries where the product may be outsourced. The band continued their all-too-short powerhouse set with “Help Is On The Way“, which is about the debacle that resulted in Hurricane Katrina becoming as much of a man-made disaster as a natural one. Included in the set was a special selection of “Bricks“, who’s lyrics juxtapose the phenomenon of tolerance double speak regarding LGBT community issues. The song ended with the band’s ginormous LED screens displaying a rainbow flag. Half way through the set, front man Tim McIlrath was the lone player on the stage, offering a sad and mournful plea for unity in a solo, spotlight performance of Black Market’sPeople Live Here“, where he talks about how much music has helped Man work through His problems, individually and as a whole, and how music can unify us and help us work together because we all have to share the space. Just as the song says…”people live here”. McIlrath has always had a gift for eloquently turning the problems of society into a poem, and his monologue ends in the band’s exciting call to arms, “Survive“, from The Sufferer and the Witness, whose lyrics reiterate the band’s over all message for the evening:  “How we survive is what makes us who we are.”

Even though Rise Against is somewhat aggressive and immutable in their beliefs and in their message, the concert was warm and inviting. Tim McIlrath is a gracious host, even if you don’t subscribe to all of his tenets. The music is real, it’s live, and even if it does make the occasional disparaging remark, it is not sad or depressing. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The band is exciting to watch and the music is upbeat and engaging. Rise Against is fun with a purpose. They do not use tracks or tricks to produce their set, and over all the atmosphere felt close and intimate despite the vastness of the venue. Rise Against appeared with The Deftones as part of a colossal summer tour supported by Frank Iero and The Patience and Thrice.

All photos Copyright ©2017 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission. Do not remove watermark.

Iron Maiden in Phoenix, AZ (6/28/2017)

As the Golden Age of music draws to a close, we are constantly saddened by the frequent passing of not only our favorite musicians, but the musicians who made the music what it is. They were the dreamers and the game changers. As the twilight falls around us, the magic ages. After decades of touring, many of those bands we coveted as kids are slowly winking out, losing their exuberance to age, health, and change. But there is one band who defies the laws of God and nature, gives the finger to cancer, and refuses to go away…refuses to give up…and refuses to give an inch of ground to the fade of mediocrity. While everyone else is winding down, they’re winding up.

The only fade you’ll ever get from Iron Maiden is when the lights go down just before a ginormous blast of a pyrotechnic display, which is exactly how the show opens. Shrouded in fog, a dark figure hunches over a cauldron atop a giant Mayan stone wall. The mains rumble with the dark, eerie lows of orchestral strings. The crowd is silent. The mournful wail of a synth flute wafts down from the rafters as a hooded figure stirs the pot rolls the fog down over the stage. A lone voice cries out, “Here is the soul of a man. Here in this place for the taking…”. As the voice finishes its soliloquy, the stage suddenly erupts in fire; there is a burst of music. The hood is thrown off and the figure of Bruce Dickinson, in his usual cargo pants and boots, runs down the wall, and catches some superbig air, landing just in time to spin his microphone stand and sing the chorus of If Eternity Should Fail, the band’s opening number. You can barely hear it over the roar of a sold-out crowd of 18,000, and I thought to myself that, in all my years of concerts and photography, this may very well have been the first and last time I wished I had my earplugs, but not because the band was too loud….but because a crowd loved a band enough to drown them out.

Much of the setlist was in support of the band’s Book of Souls album. From If Eternity, the band ran right into the head bobbing, more cowbell, 80’s metal-esque Speed Of Light off the same album. It’s really hard to hold the camera still. I can’t decide if I want to rock out or take pictures. There’s just so much energy, and it isn’t until later that I realize that my 4k video of this song’s performance has me howling along with Bruce in my own metal-opera voice in a rousing chorus of “Shadows in the stars…We will not return…Humanity won’t save us…at the speed of liiiiiiiiight…”. I think there’s even a hair flip in front of the camera. Oh, well. The lights are just going crazy. Spotlights float over the GA floor crowd. People are starting to crowd surf. Security isn’t happy, but it’s Maiden. The devil doesn’t make them do it, Eddie does.

Talk, talk, talk…..shhhhhhh….Steve Harris time. Steve Harris is the brain-child behind much of Maiden’s music. One of the most brilliant bass players to every walk across a stage, the opening bass riff from Wrathchild thumps over the mains, and I’m a happy girl. I might have let out a little squee….just a little. Wrathchild is track two in the wayback machine, from their first major studio album (when Adrian Smith joined them on guitar) released back in 1981 when Paul D’Anno was the singer. The cover is a gnarly yellow Eddie with a slimy hatchet in his hand getting his lapels pulled by the begging hands of his unfortunate victim. It’s my favorite incarnation of Eddie. I’m even wearing a dress that’s made out of the album cover art. I like all Maiden, but the early cuts are my jam. The kids in the audience get a little quiet. This one is before their time, but that just opens up the dance floor in front of our seats for us old folks to cut a little rug. But that’s OK! Because as the song comes to a close, Bruce wants to have a word with the “youngers”, and by youngers he means everyone born after 1982. Surprisingly (or not), literally half of this crowd is Generation Y and Millennials, and they’re VERY loud. 1982 was the year that launched Iron Maiden into the spotlight to make them one of the biggest powerhouse bands that music history has ever known. 1982 was the release year for the band’s first big studio album The Number of the Beast. Not only did Number reach No. 1 on the UK Albums chart, but it was the band’s big introduction of their new lead singer…the man who would become a legend in rock ‘n’ roll, noted for his tireless, unwavering energy, his NBA-worthy jumps, his never-ending voice, and his knack for transforming his personal passion for history and literature into song…Mr Bruce Dickinson. Ironically, after addressing the vastness of the younger crowd, Bruce ends the segment Dickinson suggested that 1982 was, of course, the year everyone began having sex to Iron Maiden songs (wink wink), though citing that it’s very difficult to have sex to an Iron Maiden song because “even though they’re long, they just sorts of stop and start and stop and start.” In keeping with his tongue-in-cheek monologue, and the band performed Children of the Damned, which was a track from that year’s album.

The show went on. Bruce went on and on and on, and little Nicholas the drumset teddybear held on and on. Sprinkling the past with the present, the band took the audience all the way back to the beginning and brought us forward. In between classic selections were no less theatrical highlights from the Book of Souls album, including one Bruce Dickinson bouncing about on stage in a monkey mask dangling bananas in the face of Dave Murray during his Death Or Glory guitar  solo. Steve Harris slayed The Trooper from 1983’s Piece of Mind album. Bruce donned his Red Coat and waved a tattered Union Jack from his post top the big stone wall, draping Janick Gers with it during the guitar solo that everyone who listens to rock music can sing note for note. The lights went green, the backdrop changed to a new Eddie, and the crunchy guitar chug-chug-a-lug chugga-lugga of Powerslave (1984) began with Bruce leaping around the stage in the essence of the Luchadore mask he wore for that specific occasion. A towering Eddie appeared on stage to challenge a dueling Dickinson for his heart during the title track performance from Book of Souls, and later, a touching moment came when the lights went down and the audience came together to sing “Ohhhh” and sway along to the hollow, haunting guitar verse of Fear of the Dark (1992), which, of course ended abruptly with Nicko-coordinated flame bursts. The band ended the official set with a line drive all the way back to their very first release Iron Maiden, the title track off the self-titled album Iron Maiden from 1980.

The band’s appearance at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Downtown Phoenix was part of the band’s Book Of Souls world tour. The stop was an installment in the Part 2 of the band’s longest  tour since their Somewhere On Tour run in 1986. The Book Of Souls tour, which began in February 2016 and is still running strong into the summer of 2017. In 2017, this particular tour found the most iconic metal band in all of music history debuting their performance in Beijing and Shanghai China and also in El Salvador. The concert in El Salvador went on record as being the country’s largest event in its history, and the band received a special Thank You from the Ministry of Tourism there. At the end of the show, Bruce triumphantly announced that when this tour is over, “We’re not going to stop!”

All photos Copyright© 2017 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission. Do not remove watermark.

Ghost at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ

Swedish heavy metal band, Ghost, opened for Iron Maiden at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Downtown Phoenix AZ on Wednesday, June 28.  Referring to themselves as “the clergy”, their 2016 single, “Cirice”, landed them a Grammy for Best Metal Performance. In January 2017, Ghost became the first Swedish heavy metal band to ever peak the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart with their Popestar single release “Square Hammer”, which opened the show with its iconic Munster-esque organ anthem reverberating through the rafters. Taking the stage as five Nameless Ghouls and an archtypal anti-Pope, Ghost delivered a set of heavy visuals and if-ABBA-married-Anton-Lavey melodies, including fan favorite “He Is“.

The show opens with what would be, in keeping with the band’s theme, a call to worship. The slow chant and mystic music of Jocelyn Pook’s “Masked Ball“, from the Stanley Kubrick’s film Eyes Wide Shut, plays over the mains, announcing the arrival of the band to the stage. From there, parishioners of music are treated to a church/horror themed rock show in which lead singer, stage named Papa Emeritas III, occupies the stage in his papal vestments creating a striking visual to accompany the catchy and toe-tapping rhythms of the music. The five Ghouls, who have no names, represent the 5 Elements: Water, Earth, Fire, Wind, and Either. While the Ghouls wear identical masks and costumes, their elemental designation is represented on their instruments. Fire (Alchemy fire symbol.svg) plays lead guitar. Water (Alchemy water symbol.svg) plays bass. Wind (Alchemy air symbol.svg) plays keyboards. Earth (Alchemy earth symbol.svg) plays drums. And Ether (Aether symbol.jpg) plays rhythm guitar. The band prefers the anonymity of the musicians, including Papa Emeritus III to allow fans to more easily enter the dark church fantasy that Ghost creates on stage, which is brilliantly executed and results in the treating of fans to an altogether immersive experience.

All photos Copyright© 2017 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). All Rights Reserved. Do not use without written permission. Do not remove watermark.

Davey Suicide Returns To Mesa 6/16/2017

For three days, now, there has been a song stuck in my head. All day long I hear, “She’s got the eyyyyyyyyes of an angellllll….”. It happens every time I come home from a Davey Suicide show. The more I get to know them, the more I like them, and it’s not just THAT song that sticks in my head. After the show, I had the chance to pick up their latest album Made From Fire, and there are quite a few catchy tunes on it. I run to keep fit, and I’ve already added the entire album as the soundtrack for my street beats. It has a nice, overall uptempo feel with a good, driving beat to keep you moving forward, which goes along perfectly with the name “Suicide”. The name “Suicide” came from the notion that unless you stop yourself, there’s no reason you can’t achieve whatever you want in this life.

Davey Suicide came back to Mesa on Friday, June 16, and they sounded just as good live as they do in my headphones. They have a warm and engaging stage presence and plenty of energy…so much energy that despite their support position in the tour, it was their music that followed me home in my head and stayed there for the next few days. As a concert photographer, it is fairly easy for me to separate myself from the music and objectively cover the event for publication, but damn if Davey Suicide doesn’t make it hard to not get caught up in the moment! Getting a great, solid, sharp photo means standing still, taking a deep breath, slowly exhaling, and squeezing the shutter button. These are things I have done routinely for many years, yet when it comes to a Davey Suicide set, I have to literally tell myself to stop bouncing…stop nodding your head…stop singing. It’s infectious, and they are as sincere as they are theatrical. The sound invades your whole body. Their energy makes YOU have energy. Whether you want to or not, you can’t help but get caught up in their moments.

Davey Suicide appears as part of the Doyle “Abominate The World/As We Die” tour 2017.

All photos Copyright ©2017 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). Do not use without permission. Do not remove watermark. All rights reserved.

Interview with Doyle & Misfits Guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein

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Blood, Lust, Death Tour 2017 feat. Dope, Combichrist, Davey Suicide, and September Mourning 4/8/2017

 

 

 

As if the desert couldn’t get any hotter, Saturday night in Mesa proved everyone wrong when the Blood, Lust, Death Tour 2017 came to town at Club Red Mesa. While it may seem that the venue is small, the walls are only there to protect music lovers from all ages from the soaring temps and searing sun of the Valley of the Sun. There is no shortage of butts in the seats when a tour like this comes to town. For this tour, Club Red opens up the BIG room, and they have to because a line-up like this brings industrial metal fans of all ages who line up outside and down the block even before the doors open. They’re here to rock, and they’ll go home tired…Dope, Combichrist, Davey Suicide, and September Mourning will see to that.

First up for the night was nu metal underground artist Davey Suicide. If there was ever a hero story, this would be it. The music industry has its problems, but it does our hearts (and our ears) good to hear that when bad things happen to good music, that doesn’t have to be the end. Music has always been a vehicle for transforming thought into action, and recent events in the Davey Suicide timeline have added their story to the “Never Give Up, Never Surrender” chapter of Music History. It was heartbreaking to hear him talk about the struggles he’s had to bring the music that people want to hear. You want so badly to be able to help somehow, but then you realize that you’re there. At his show. You ARE helping. The performance he delivered to a full house gave the finger to every suit and tie that ever did him dirty. The setlist for the evening revolved around his latest album Made From Fire, which was his “going to war” album, with a sound like Marilyn Manson meets Motley Crue, inspired by his struggle to survive in the face of adversity, and his performance of the album’s single Resurrection let everyone know that Davey Suicide can take all comers.  He’s been quoted as saying that he’ll never get the last five years of his life back after a long, arduous battle with his record company, but the intensity of his voice and the fire in his eyes says he’s going to at least make up for it…and it kinda felt like he was going to make up for all five years in just 45 minutes.

Next, on a dimly lit stage, the story of unfinished destiny unfolded as Mesa, Arizona became part of one woman’s war between worlds. For the unsuspecting soul, September Mourning is a transmedia creative project that combines story into song of a journey into darkness and purgatory. Beginning as a dark fantasy comic and graphic novel, September Mourning uses song and print to advance concept and character. Portrayed by creator Emily Lazar, herself, September Mourning is a half-human, half-reaper hybrid with no past and a dark present full of voices. Her songs tell the story of a tormented being torn between two worlds, charged with reaping the souls of the broken and escorting them to meet Fate, who has turned against humanity and now secretly plans to gorge himself on the souls of the worthless and destroy the world. Struggling with the balance of dark and right, September is charged with bringing the souls to Mortem, the netherworld where Fate lies in wait in his tower of shadow and stone. Learning of his twist, September tarries the souls in her Hotel Sanctuary, helping them to complete the last unfinished deed from their life which releases them from their impending destruction. This infuriates Fate who sends The Dark Man and his minions to find her. Aided by the voice of her Skullfly tattoo, September stands against Fate to give the world a second chance. On the stage, Emily Lazar appears as the half-reaper September come to life straight from the illustrated page. Flanked by a band of Fate’s reaper minions — Riven, Wraith, Shadou, and Stitch — September Mourning sings through her own struggle between worlds with the songs Skin and Bones and Before the Fall. As she absorbs the energy of the audience, September becomes the embodiment of the stories of her souls in such songs as 20 Below and Eye of the Storm, which are about finding release from cycles of abuse and violence through encouragement and inner strength.

I’m not sure what’s in the water over there in Scandanavia, but whatever it is, those Norwegians can crank out some fantastic metal that rival much of what the 90’s left behind. Combichrist is no exception.  Combichrist is the nominal incarnation of a 90’s punk rock messiah fanzine character created by Andy LaPlegua, and the music very much lives up to the character’s name and attitude. The band is a punk/industrial crossover, blending the heavy industrial techno beat with aggro punk-style guitars and lyrics, fueled by the corrosive beats of not one but TWO drummers on stage. Drummer Joe Letz never disappoints, donning hot pink pigtails complete with bikini top and tutu while tossing sticks back and forth and with co-drummer Nick Rossi. While the two bang away at your heartbeat, frontman LaPlegua raises the room to mosh pit riot status with his searing vocals and menacing stares. “Can’t wait to get back on the road in the US and actually play a full show for all of you again. Hope you’re all ready to party, because shit’s getting serious. We are packing the set full of old classics as well as our new favorite tracks”, said Andy LaPlegua, prior to the tour’s start. This is definitely not a show to bring your breakables to, and maybe not your best leather, either. Even if you don’t participate in any of the rougher expressions, Combichirst will still turn the air into cottage cheese and raise the temperature with their smiles and energy by about 15 degrees. You will sing. You will sweat. You will go home happy. On the Blood, Lust, Death 2017 tour, Combichrist is co-headlining with Dope and will play a full set.

Wrapping up the evening was long running nu metal band, Dope. Edsel & co never fail to bring a certain realness to the stage. He likes to talk between songs, and when he talks, you hear how much he genuinely loves his fans. Fans are family. The more times you see Dope, the more you feel like you know them even if you’ve never met them. Dope is a balanced blend of hip hop and old skool metal that you can listen to even if you don’t particularly like or the other. On the set list was Debonaire, which was featured in first The Fast And the Furious movie along with selections from their latest album Blood Money. Going to a Dope show is like being inside a music video. When the music starts, there’s a lot of supporting imagery playing out behind the band on large LED screen. So, you see the graphics and hear the music just like you would if you were sitting on your couch at home, and then he talks to you like you’re old friends. And then you all sing a rousing chorus of long-time fan favorite Die Motherf*r Die.

The Blood, Lust, Death 2017 tour wrapped up its public performances for the season at Club Red in Mesa, AZ and completed the tour with a private viewing at the Regent Theater in West Hollywood, CA.

 

All photos Copyright ©2017 LivingDedGrrl™. Do not use without written permission. Do not remove watermark.

 

Davey Suicide

 

 

September Mourning

 

 

Combichrist

 

 

Dope

 

The Reaper Comes To Phoenix: September Mourning at Club Red – 4/8/2017

It was a clear desert night when the stage became the page, and a house packed full of souls was saved by the songs of the reaper, September Mourning. On a dimly lit stage, the story of unfinished destiny unfolded as Mesa, Arizona became part of one woman’s war between worlds.

For the unsuspecting soul, September Mourning is a transmedia creative project that combines story into song of a journey into darkness and purgatory. Beginning as a dark fantasy comic and graphic novel, September Mourning uses song and print to advance concept and character. Portrayed by creator Emily Lazar, herself, September Mourning is a half-human, half-reaper hybrid with no past and a dark present full of voices. Her songs tell the story of a tormented being torn between two worlds, charged with reaping the souls of the broken and escorting them to meet Fate, who has turned against humanity and now secretly plans to gorge himself on the souls of the worthless and destroy the world. Struggling with the balance of dark and right, September is charged with bringing the souls to Mortem, the netherworld where Fate lies in wait in his tower of shadow and stone. Learning of his twist, September tarries the souls in her Hotel Sanctuary, helping them to complete the last unfinished deed from their life which releases them from their impending destruction. This infuriates Fate who sends The Dark Man and his minions to find her. Aided by the voice of her Skullfly tattoo, September stands against Fate to give the world a second chance.

On the stage, Emily Lazar appears as the half-reaper September come to life straight from the illustrated page. Flanked by a band of Fate’s reaper minions — Riven, Wraith, Shadou, and Stitch — September Mourning sings through her own struggle between worlds with the songs Skin and Bones and Before the Fall. As she absorbs the energy of the audience, September becomes the embodiment of the stories of her souls in such songs as 20 Below and Eye of the Storm, which are about finding release from cycles of abuse and violence through encouragement and inner strength.

September Mourning appeared as part of the Blood, Lust, Death 2017 tour with Dope, Combichrist, and Davey Suicide.

 

All photos Copyright ©2017 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). Do not remove watermark. Do not use without written permission.

After A Long Creative Hiatus, Orgy Returns to Club Red Mesa, AZ 1/25/2017

 

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Bands change lineups like they change their socks.  Humans, however, are creatures of habit:  resistant to change and afraid of the new and untested. So, when the bands we know and love disappear and suddenly resurface with completely new lineups, their reception is often the same as that of a sequel to a good movie. Yet every now and then there is a stroke of brilliance in that sequel’s conception, and the second act defies our resistance, proving to be as good or better than the original. After a long hiatus, Orgy’s creator, front man, and visionary Jay Gordon has created such a sequel.

 

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I remember picking up the Candyass album back in 1998. I gotta admit, I really only bought it because of Blue Monday, but I ended up liking the whole thing. It became an instant favorite of my collection. Good, solid Orgy from the late 90’s and early 2000’s is still on the rotation for my ears when I go to the gym. It was a good time for heavy metal innovation, and Orgy was part of the new industrial/sci-fi metal movement. I was disappointed when I learned of their dissolution shortly after the release of Vapor Transmission in 2000, but….it happens. In 2012 it was announced that Orgy would make a return, however, Jay Gordon would be the only original member. It takes more than one person to make chemistry, and the sound of only one member out of 5 can make the idea of a comeback “iffy”.

 

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It’s  been a bit of a slow climb for the band, but as of 2017, we can officially say that Orgy is back…Orgy 2.0, if we follow with the digital protocol theme. If you liked Orgy in the 90’s, you will love how the band has evolved as if they never went away.  If you have never heard of Orgy and you are looking for some new music, you, too, will love the sound and feel of this industrial metal powerhouse from L.A. In 2015, the band released a brand-spankin’-new album, Talk Sick, with its new lineup. 2017 is turning out to be a stellar year for Orgy as they co-headline the Set To Stun tour with Powerman 5000 in support of Talk Sick and an additional coming attraction called Entropy, another full-length LP due to release in a few months. Fans old and new will appreciate the unwavering passion that Jay has put into this band and its creative process and resurrection.

 

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At Club Red in Mesa, AZ, it was impossible for the audience to not be captivated by the lights and sounds of the Orgy metal sci-fi experience. They played the stuff you loved to hear, and they played it with all the feels you remember hearing it with. From past favorites to present releases, the digital computer undertrack that gives Orgy their industrial power kicked up the heartbeats of the crowd. It was exciting, and it was impossible to stand still. The band’s makeup and stage presence iced the cake and matched the sonic digital experience. They showed up to rock and made it look like they’d been here all along. There was some new music I hadn’t heard yet from their upcoming album. It was well-composed, matching the style and energy of their past accomplishments, and it fit into the set list like it was just another one of their Greatest Hits. It was a fun show even if you didn’t know the words. Jay Gordon is a front man with a commanding presence on the stage, knowing exactly what to say to connect with his audience and keep them engaged. If you were a casual fan waiting for Blue Monday, they had something for you, too. Orgy finished their performance with audience participation as Jay cruised the audience floor handing his microphone over to ecstatic fans to help sing lines of Blue Monday. It was fun like family, so much so that the supporting bands also joined the Orgy crew on stage for a rousing final chorus of their most famous hit song.

 

 

All photos Copyright ©2017 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). Do not remove watermark. Do not use without written permission.

Avatar’s Big Top Freak Show Rolls Into Phoenix – Joe’s Grotto, 10/21/2016

 

I haven’t been to the circus in a VERY long time. So, I caught up with Avatar in Phoenix at Joe’s Grotto. It looked like a freak show, it sounded like a freak show…it even smelllllllled…..like a freak show.

Avatar is a highly theatrical melo-death metal band from Gothenberg, Sweden. Making their way around the States to show off their latest outstanding Feathers & Flesh album, Phoenix was their first introduction to the American Southwest. Phoenicians know good music when they hear it, and the evening with Avatar was no exception. With a venue packed to the gills, the band put on a spectacular show, debuting their latest singles – Night Never Ending, The Eagle Has Landed, and For The Swarm – in a performance that transported fans into a dark carnival realm straight out of a Ray Bradbury fantasy freak show novel.

 

The show opens with a circus cage draped in big top colors, a big blast of confetti, and the ride is a carousel of madness from the first note to the last breath. Matching Olde World circus costumery, complete with twisted kabuki clown make-up and freak eyes, fog, lightening strobes, Avatar presents a stunning visual experience in addition to their sonic genius. Sprinkled with subtle Scandanavian cultural overtones, Avatar offers a unique, refreshing musical alternative in a daily barrage of “sounds like”. Avatar “sounds like” Avatar, and that’s pretty much it. Even though their music isn’t over the top or overly ornate with grandiose technicality, there is no shortage of instrumental mastery. It is a fine balance of melodic old school twin axe attack and modern active thrash – the perfect marriage of classic metal the older fan can appreciate  while the kids bounce to the heavy bass. Singer Johannes Eckerström emcees the show, elegantly ringmastering the polite melodic vocals before transforming into a figure of roaring, dark metal vox with his signature wild eyes and psychotic smile, pulling the audience into a twisted mirror maze of sight and sound. Eckerström’s villainesque banter vaguely channels that of everyone’s favorite Dark Knight bad guy, completing the overall circus creep show experience. Despite their appearance and antics, Avatar was quite a personable and engaging band, treating fans like family…maybe more like the Addams Family, but family just the same.  Move over Ringling…there’s a new Greatest Show on Earth.

 

All photos Copyright ©2017 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). Do not remove watermark. Do not use without written permission.

 

Red Sun Rising @ Pub Rock Live 04/17/16 Scottsdale, AZ

 

Mike Protich, Red Sun Rising

At some point, every kid who picks up an instrument fantasizes about making it to the Big Time. Everybody has a song about the journey to shooting stardom and what it takes to be a jukebox hero, and if you’re two guys from Akron, OH, you keep that dream alive.

I remember the first time I saw Red Sun Rising. I walked in the gate at Carnival of Madness at the Time Warner Amphitheater in Cleveland. There was a band playing off to the side with a small stack of mains and a couple of monitors. With an incredible amount of energy exploding from this corner, it was impossible to walk past them without stopping to have a listen. That listen turned into an entire set, and I even got a look at the kick drum head so I could check them out later, and check them out later I did! This little band has such an impact on the people around them… enough to make you remember them even long after an exhausting all-day festival with all your favorite national acts. A few days later, I found myself the proud owner of their first (and only) self-produced album.

 

My friends call me a “music nazi”. I’m really not, I’m just THAT particular about the music I listen to. That being said, out of all the music I own, that Red Sun Rising record (and subsequently every one after that) became my favorite. If it was vinyl, I would have worn it out twice by now. I started stalking all the band guys on Twitter. I found a link to their only video, “Beautiful Suicide” on YouTube. Wow……they have presence, they have energy, and more than anything else….they have real talent. This isn’t a couple of college kids banging out some chord riffs. Ryan can play….and I mean PLAY. He makes that Gibson SG sound like it’s supposed to. I’ve heard a lot of music in my time, but these guys are crafters. They have that classic rock sound with a modern rock feel. You know, that groove from the glory days when those guys really knew their way around a fretboard and the songs were more than a couple of cookie-cutter chords strung together to satisfy a formula. And when Ryan isn’t soaring above the groove, Mike is. His vocals are reminiscent of an era where rock ‘n’ roll was about feelings and things you thought about and things that happened to you: They are gritty and real and you believe him. He’s engaging. He has an incredible stage presence that makes you want to participate: This ain’t no sittin’ down music. No, it’s true. It was hard to just sit and listen to this band without checking their Twitter for concert announcements. I went to all their shows. I dragged my sister to all their shows. I even sent copies of their album to a friend in S Carolina.

For the next couple years, this band would put the same amount of energy into their music career as they did their music. There were many bumps in the road. There was a time when, after years of hard work, the unthinkable occurred and they had nothing but a legal pad to write down email addresses for a newsletter. They didn’t have anything to give the crowd except themselves, and that’s exactly what they did. They never wavered. They just kept swinging for the fences. RSR wasn’t done. They had big plans. Huge. And what’s more, they were humble throughout, and they continue to be so. They are stand-up guys. So, when they called upon their fans for help with their next album, they were met with overwhelming support, and in true RSR form, in a swing-for-the-fences move, they hurdled the next mile stone, which led them to the break that sent them to the top of the Billboard charts…..twice.

Mike Protich, Red Sun Rising

 

From the beginning, this has always been a band that was about music and people. They write their own songs, and they do it their way. They never use pre-recorded tracks at their shows. What you see is what you get, and what you hear on the record is what you get live. They have integrity both on and off the stage. People are what got them where they are, and they have never forgotten where they came from. I am old enough to remember the old time rock ‘n’ roll, and yet here is a new band that I can sit and listen to with my teenage daughter. It is music for all generations, and this was no different at Pub Rock Live on Sunday night. To my left were college kids. To my right, well, let’s just say I’m not sure who loved the band more…the elderly gentlemen or his wife. The stage was smaller than the festival stage they’d played the night before, but that doesn’t mean the show was. This band only knows how to go to 11. The crowd pressed closer to see them. Older folks were rocking out with younger, and from start to finish, Red Sun Rising put every ounce of energy they had into the show. Mike even threw in their cover of Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited”, which sent out a hypnotizing hush over the captivated crowd. Two guys were talking next to me, and I overheard one of them say that Mike Protich could be the next Eddie Vedder. This band carries with it a certain vibe. It brings people together, which is the true spirit of music. After the show, people were sharing their stories of how Red Sun Rising impacted their lives, sharing stories not just with the band, but with other strangers. There were fans from all over the Southwest, and even some from the home team in Ohio, who could say they knew them “when”. I have been to many concerts in my time, but never have I made as many friends out of strangers than at RSR shows. The band just naturally facilitates a “family” atmosphere. So, in a way, their success is kind of a dream come true for us, too.

Ryan Williams

 

 

All photos Copyright ©2017 JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). Do not remove watermark. Do not use without written permission.

 

Smart Zombies Love The Downrights (Cuz Braaaiiiinnnnnnzzzzz)

It was the end of the world, or at least we all pretended it was for the annual American Red Cross Run For Your Lives 5k zombie infested obstacle course in Darlington, MD on October 27, 2012. One band after another took the stage during the day-long Apocalypse Party, where runners, spectators, and of course, off-duty zombies came to hang out and relax after their grueling duels in the woods. What started out to be a bright and sunny day eventually turned to gray, and just as Hurricane Sandy began to roll in, an incredible sound from New Jersey took the stage by storm.

I’d been at this thing all day. I was tired, hungry, thirsty, and a little bit cranky. As I sat on the ground scowling at my unvinegared french fries, I heard the familiar style of a two-step beat and a raunchy guitar. I stood up quickly, grabbed my camera, and once again pushed my way through the zombie horde to the stage. Within minutes, I was bobbing up and down to the beat of “The Kids Are Coming” by The Downrights. It was then that I had a “moment”. My artist heart said, “Hey, these guys are REALLY good!” and my uneaten, music nazi brain agreed.

The Downrights brought some serious punkabilly chizz. They had all the look, the feel, the class, and sound of a multi-platinum put-together, the message and drive of a classic punk band, but all the fun and personability of a party with the boys next door. The band sounds like a 90’s punk throwback to the late 50’s with a dollop of Bill Haley frosting on top, and if sound alone isn’t enough, there is no lack of real talent in this group. Not only were the rip shredding guitar solos spot on and well woven into the fabric of the music, they were the kind of licks and leads that rock and roll was built on. To prove it, when they played Chuck Berry’s famous “Johnny B. Goode” the crowd roared, and if you didn’t know better you’d have sworn it was Chuck himself up on stage laying down the law. They had drawn a fairly decent crowd to the stage, considering the venue, and it’s worth mentioning because they were the ONLY band out of 9 that day to draw any sort of a crowd at all. The band was fun to interact with between songs and took as much of an interest in their dancing spectators as the fans did of them. It was one of those shows where the set was just too short. I, myself, would have listened to them play everything twice, and I pretty much did in the car on the way home after scoring their album from the merch table after the show.

After a long day, it was great to hear some music we could all get into. I loved The Downrights, the audience loved them, and dare I say it, my mother even dug these guys. Clearly, zombies don’t eat brains of people who know good music when they hear it. To survive any future apocalyptic events, check these guys out at www.TheDownrights.com and follow them on Twitter twitter.com/thedownrights.

All photos copyright (c) 2012 J.A.M. Vaughan

Eye Empire “Ignites” Martini Ranch

On Sunday, September 30, 2012, Eye Empire lit up Martini Ranch with an amazing performance, and while the band is no stranger to the road, their “Impact” on the Scottsdale stage was part the band’s first of what we all hope will be many headlining tours.

Grateful for the grassroots fans this independent powerhouse has gained, frontman Donald Carpenter and bassist Corey Lowery showed nothing but love as they interacted with the small but enthusiastic crowd that threatened to share the stage with them. Fist bumps and devil horns came from both directions while BC Kochmit on guitar brought down the house with his impeccable licks and shreds, the likes of which rival the masters from the good old days when we used to listen to the songs for their mid-tune guitar solos. Of course, the one band member who did not engage in the fan interaction was drummer, Ryan Bennett, holding down the fort with his clean, driving beats. He was, however, caught signing sticks and laughing with fans after the show.

AC/DC said, “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll.” Ringo Star said, “You gotta pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues cuz you know it don’t come easy”, and no one knows that more than the emerging stars of Eye Empire. Across the country, Carpenter preaches the message loud and clear: It’s about the music – the soul, the passion, the spirit, the energy, and the release. Eye Empire has the balance, the passion, the perseverance, and the drive to make it where others fail. The crowds may not be selling out yet, but Eye Empire knows that good music doesn’t happen over night. As Carpenter said, “The empty rooms and small crowds…this is the beginning. This is where it all starts.” Truer words were never spoken, and someday when they make it to the top, we’re going to say, “Remember when…” just like we do with all the other greats who’ve come before them.
Eye Empire’s debut album “IMPACT” is in stores now, also available on iTunes, and at the band’s website http://www.EyeEmpire.com. Follow @EyeEmpire on Twitter to receive future tour updates. Check out their new “IMPACT” single “I Pray” below:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOBXz1rU79k]

 

All photos copyright (c) 2012 J.A.M. Vaughan

Photo Gallery: Rise Against 09/28/12: Mesa Amphitheatre – Mesa, AZ

Rise Against 09/28/12

Mesa Amphitheatre – Mesa, AZ

Photos by LivingDedGrrl

For the first time since 2010 Rise Against set foot on stage in Arizona. Having called of their participation in the Sound Strike’s Boycott of the state after lawmakers passed SB 1070, the band returned to play a fierce career spanning set. Check out some photos from the night down below.

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