Concert Review: Freedom To Rock Tour

“Freedom To Rock Tour”

Kiss, The Dead Daisies
Monday, August 29th 2016
Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Kiss blasted in to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY on August 29th as part of their Freedom to Rock 2016 summer tour. Along with the make-up clad Rock and Roll Hall of Famers was veteran rock super group The Dead Daisies. After an 18 year hiatus from the “Flower City” Both bands brought their A game to the near capacity crowd proving their return was long overdue.

Kicking off the night were The Dead Daisies a group whose current roster is made up former Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi, Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich, fellow Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy, former Ted Nugent/Thin Lizzy bassist Marco Mendoza and Australian guitarist David Lowy. The group seemed to be the perfect opener for the assembled Kiss Army as the band’s sound was the perfect blending of both classic and new rock tones. The hour long set featured original material from the group’s latest album “Make Some Noise” along with a sprinkling of covers which included a beefed up rendition of the Credence Clearwater Revival classic “Fortune Son” along with an in your face version of The Beatles “Helter Skelter” which the fans seemed to really dig. The set was fast paced as singer John Corabi and crew wasted little time addressing the crowd which in my opinion only added to the appeal of the group as they seemed to definitely be all about the music and their performance. After a thirty minute change over Kiss would take the stage where they proceeded to hold court for the next 90 minutes. This tours staging was much more scaled back than that of the previous “Monster” tour however the group performed just the same if not better than in subsequent years. The nights set list included a lot of the group’s staples including “Detroit Rock City” and “Love Gun” but also included lesser played songs like “Flaming Youth” and “Psycho Circus”. Despite a few missed vocal lines by Gene on “Cold Gin” and Paul’s voice starting to show it’s age the New York City natives did a solid job of transporting the crowd back to the groups 1970’s glory days.

From start to finish Kiss’s “Freedom To Rock” tour was a well oiled machine that provided an enjoyable concert experience for people of all ages. For the hardcore Kiss fans there may not have been enough diversion from the bands stock stage/set performance however for the band to still able to pull of this type of show in their 60’s is an impressive feat in its self. If your city is one of the few remaining on this season’s run then do yourself a favor and grab some tickets and get there early as you won’t want to miss either bands performance.

The Dead Daisies Set List:
1.) Whole Lotta Sabbath (Whole Lotta love/War Pigs mashup intro)
2.) Mexico
3.) Make Some Noise
4.) Fortune Son
5.) Lock n’ Load
6.) Long Way to Go
7.) Join Together
8.) The Last Time I Saw the Sun
9.) Devil Out of Time
10.) Helter Skelter

Kiss Set List:
1.) Detroit Rock City
2.) Deuce
3.) Shout it Out Loud
4.) Do You Love Me
5.) I Love It Loud
6.) Flaming Youth
7.) Bass Solo/ God of Thunder
8.) Psycho Circus
9.) Shock Me/Guitar Solo
10.) Cold Gin
11.) Lick It Up
12.) War Machine
13.) Love Gun
14.) Black Diamond
Encore:
15.) Beth
16.) The Star-Spangled Banner
17.) Rock and Roll All Nite

Concert Review: Gwar B-Q 2016

GWAR B-Q 2016
Lamb of God, GWAR, Against Me!, Dillinger Escape Plan, August Burns Red, Lagwagon, EyeHateGod, Murphy’s Law, Eat The Turnbuckle, The Death of Rock ‘n Roll, Occultist, Mobile Deathcamp, American Nightmare, Brain Tentacles, Sawyer Family, Ramming Speed.

Date: August 20, 2016
Venue: Hadad’s Lake, Richmond VA

Our score: 5 out of 5 stars

The 7th annual GWAR B-Q took place on August 20th and again proved why it is the summer’s premier destination place for Bohabs from all over the globe. The humble setting of Hadad’s Lake in Richmond, VA again played host to the event which featured a variety of events, vendors, food and of course plenty of music. Headlining this year’s event along with hosts GWAR included fellow Richmond natives Lamb of God, Dillinger Escape Plan and Against Me!

With temperatures creeping towards triple digits and with a thick layer of humidity permeating the festival grounds we weren’t quite sure how things were going to play out for the day’s festivities. Thankfully the intergalactic overlords of GWAR had everything in check to ensure all those in attendance didn’t have their day cut short due to the extreme heat. Throughout the medium sized 1950’s era water park were plenty of food and drink vendors eager to help keep you going throughout the day. Prices were very affordable which made it easy to part with your all mighty dollars in that bottled “Gwater” ranged from $1/$2 and beer (PBR talls and Oderus Ale) was $4/$6. The food also was in the single dollar ranges making this hand’s down the festival with the cheapest concessions.

The event featured 3 different stages which all varied in size and for the most part each had ample viewing room. The only one that I found to not have enough space at times was the “Slutman Pavilion”. The smallest of the three stages became quickly cramped for energetic sets by bands like Occultist and the aggressive in your face; wrestling meets metal antics of Eat The Turnbuckle. At times the crowd spilled out the sides into the festival walkways which did cause some holdups when transitioning between the two larger stages. Also littered about were a variety of merchandise tents include one from Gwar slaves Bob Gorman and Matt Maguire and another from GWAR’s very own manager the one and only Sleazy P. Martini. Other musical high points from the day included powerful sets from Louisiana’s EYEHATEGOD which featured guest vocalist Phillip H. Anselmo of Pantera/Down fame. The group laid down a solid set of sludgy, doom metal that had the crowd worked into an utter frenzy. Despite the absence of vocalist Greg Puciato(due to a flight cancelation), Ben Weinman and the rest of Dillinger Escape Plan blasted through a unique set of music which feature a guest saxophone player along with a member of the crowd who was brought up to fill in for the absent member. Against Me! could have possibly been considered the odd man out on this bill which featured mostly metal acts but surprisingly enough was a big hit with the fans and, easily one of my favorite performances of the day. The band sounded and looked great while their set featured both classic material and a handful of new tracks which will be on the group’s new album due out in September. Event hosts GWAR would commandeer the stage next and within seconds of being announced by manager Sleazy P. Martin the sweat and dirt covered crowd was painted blue and red by a host of sprays and splashes. There were no safe zones this day not even in the backstage area which made for a wet but fun time which no one but GWAR can provide. Closing out the festivities were none other than Lamb of God. From the time the band first took the stage till the last notes of their set rang out the crowd was a bevy of excitement and energy. Hovering over head was a massive dirt cloud created by the large crowd who varied in color (ranging from blue to red and all point in between), wetness and thanks to the available water park varying levels of clothing making for one of the most unique LOG crowds I have ever seen. Randy Blythe and company gave there all which the crowd certainly appreciated and in my opinion capped off a perfect day.

As more and more European type festivals start to pop up around the States it can be hard to figure out which ones are the real deal and which ones, well to put it bluntly just plain suck! I am here to tell you the GWAR B-Q is one hundred percent legit. From the cool location and amenities to the low priced concessions and impressive musical line-up it was damn near impossible not to have a good time. Yes this festival might cater to a certain genre or specifically “hardcore” GWAR fans however there is plenty of fun to be had even if you don’t fall in to one of those categories. No matter what you look like, where you come from or what you are into if you go to a GWAR B-Q your going to find tons of cool people, off the wall activities and great music which will create memories that last a life time.

“Rock Hall Three for All” Concert Review

Cheap Trick/Joan Jett/Heart
Starlight Theater
August 15, 2016

Our score: 4 out of 5 Stars

This year the good people at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame righted some wrongs by inducting, among others, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett and Heart into it’s realm.

Some brief “Mike” history: I was in a band in high school and the first song we played together as a group was “Surrender,” so Cheap Trick is a band I’ve seen on many occasions. Like me, Joan Jett is a big fan of the Baltimore Orioles so naturally I’d seen here in the past. The only unknown entity on the bill was Heart, a band I enjoyed listening to as a young adult, especially their rocking 70s stuff.

Cheap Trick took the stage first, with lead singer Robin Zander dressed in white (basically wearing the same outfit as the band wore on the “Dream Police” album cover). Zander was in fine form vocally, sounding much better on the higher notes than he did last year. The band played a few songs off of their new album, “Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello” and the crowd seemed to enjoy them. I know I did. They also did some of their classic hits, finishing up with “Surrender.” Musically the band was tight with a special shout out to drummer Dax Nielsen. The son of lead guitarist Rick Nielsen, the drummer very capably filled the shadow left behind by Bun E. Carlos.

Next up was Jett who, at age 58, can still look amazing in a body suit. Like Cheap Trick, Jett and the Heartbreakers played a few new songs as well as some classics, with Jett reaching as far back into her catalog to include “Cherry Bomb,” her hit when with the Runaways. The group finished with a great version of Sly and the Family Stones’ “Everyday People.”

Last but not least was Heart. Ann and Nancy Wilson have been doing this a long time and their rapport worked to their advantage. Too bad their sound people didn’t. For whatever reason, the band sounded terrible. The sound pretty much drowned out Ann’s vocals, which are, of course, one of the reason’s to attend the show. For whatever reason, Ann Wilson’s microphone sounded under-miked, which made it difficult to hear and understand. Oh well, at least if I ever get asked I can say that I’ve “seen” Heart.” Just don’t ask me if I’ve ever heard them live!

Set Lists:

Cheap Trick
1. Hello There
2. Big Eyes
3. California Man
4. Tonight It’s You
5. When I Wake Up Tomorrow
6. If You Want My Love
7. Baby Loves to Rock
8. Stop This Game
9. I’m Waiting for the Man
10. The Flame
11. I Want You to Want Me
12. Surrender

Joan Jett and the Black Hearts
1. Bad Reputation
2. Cherry Bomb
3. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
4. TMI
5. You Drive Me Wild
6. Light of Day
7. Soulmates to Strangers
8. Love is Pain
9. Fake Friends
10. Any Weather
11. I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll
12. Crimson and Clover
13. I Hate Myself
14. Everyday People

Heart
1. Wild Child
2. Magic Man
3. What About Love
4. Bebe Le Strange
5. These Dreams
6. Two
7. Straight On
8. Kick It Out
9. Beautiful Broken
10. Alone, Crazy on You
11. Barracuda
ENCORE
12. The Immigrant Song
13. Stairway to Heaven

Concert Review: “Weird Al Yankovic’s “Return of Mandatory Fun Tour”

Weird Al Yankovic
Date: August 8th, 2016
Venue: Starlight Theater

Our Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

If there was ever music icon that demanded your undivided attention at a concert, it is Weird Al Yankovic. His performance is a full-sensory experience. Obviously it’s a visual and audible treat for those who show up in tin foil hats, polka pants, Amish attire, or whatever reference they can make to the musician’s 40-year career. But Weird Al incorporates more theatrics into one show than most bands do throughout an entire tour.

The concert begins via jumbotron, displaying crusty black and white propaganda video repeating the phrase, “Mandatory Fun”, the title of Weird Al’s last album. We then cut to Weird Al’s his tour bus where he appears singing “Tacky”. Shoving show extras out of his way and teasing the audience with what’s to come as he enters the Starlight seating area, he comically drifts to the stage through elaborate cheesy dance moves. It doesn’t take the comedy king of polka to bust out the accordion or the new songs that helped him land at #1 on the Billboard Top 40 last year.

Because each song parodies a song or specific style of a band, this is a concert requiring a costume change in between nearly every song during the two-hour show. In between songs like “Fat”, “White and Nerdy” and “Foil” are pieced together video clips highlighting the pop-culture relevance of Weird Al. Everything from his appearance in the “Naked Gun” movies to his vocal talents being utilized on contemporary cartoon favorites like “My Little Pony”. For fans old and new, the clips are a relentless sampling of his lengthy relevance and influence in society.

The seemingly one man show is joined on stage by his bandmates, who match his intensity, comedic timing and quirks. The madcap nature of Weird Al is matched by everyone, even the stage hands who have to awkwardly stand and hold a harmonica during “Ode to a Superhero” or the intentionally unenthusiastic cheerleaders during “Smells Like Nirvana”. The dedication to the surreal nature of it all reaches its peak during the encore. During “Yoda” the band stops playing their instruments and becomes a choir of cartoon sound effects and madcap a capella.

Every song played that night was a unique and unforgettable memory for fans, even the moments of parody medley. Weird Al spends a solid 15 minutes cramming in 10 shorted songs to better cram in his lengthy catalogue of memorable parodies to please every concertgoer. There are even a handful of songs that can be viewed as interactive, on the audiences end and Weird Al’s end. My review could have easily been a recap of every wonderfully joyous moment experienced in each song.

Having seen him live 15 years ago, it’s impressive to see the same energy, if not more. There are signs of age in that jester smile and silly grimace that he flashes, possibly worrying fans that he may be nearing the end of his rich career. I highly doubt the man who truly loves entertaining the nerdy masses is going to retire anytime soon. But on the off-chance he’s getting closer to hanging up the accordion, do yourself a favor and see him now, and often.

Set List:
Tacky
2.) Lame Claim to Fame
3.) Now That’s What I Call Polka!
4.) Perform This Way
5.) Dare to Be Stupid
6.) Fat
7.) First World Problems
8.) Foil
9.) Smells Like Nirvana
10.) Party in the CIA/ It’s All About the Pentiums/ Handy/ Bedrock Anthem/ Another One Rides the Bus/ Ode to a Superhero/ Gump/ Inactive/ eBay
11.) Canadian Idiot
12.) Wanna B Ur Lovr
13.) Eat It/ I Lost on Jeopardy/ I Love Rocky Road/ Like a Surgeon (Acoustic)
14.) White and Nerdy
15.) Word Crimes
16.) Amish Paradise
ENCORE
17.) We All Have Cellphones
18.) The Saga Begins
19.) Yoda

Concert Review: Vans Warped Tour 2016, Syracuse, NY

Vans Warped Tour 2016

Date: July 7, 2016
Venue: New York State Fair Grounds, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The Vans Warped tour made a stop in Syracuse, NY on July 7th for what proved to be a great day of music and fun. Despite foreboding clouds which hovered over the event site earlier in the day the power of punk rock could not be stopped as once the music kicked off the negative weather took a quick turn towards the positive allowing everyone to stay dry and soak up some rays while listening to this year’s assembled line up.

For over 20 summers now the Vans Warped tour has been the go to for traveling one day festivals featuring alternative and punk rock music. This year despite sporting a thinned down roster, less stages and fewer activities the festival still proved to be just as good if not better than years past. The Syracuse venue featured a great lay out with side by staging for the 6 main stages and a 7th smaller stage was only a short distance from all the bigger action. Each stage offered plenty of viewing space, merch areas and facilities, there was even a massive shaded pavilion area which gave fans a place to escape the sun in between acts. Aside from waiting to get into the venue there were really no other lines to speak of throughout the day which again only added to the events over all appeal. Even the free water filling station which always seems to be a hot bed of action was easy and quick to access. This year’s lineup was a great mixture of up and coming bands infused with some of Warped tours biggest veterans. As the day started out bands like Teenage Bottle Rocket, Masked Intruder and Vanna would put on stellar performances which fit in perfectly between bombastic sets from Warped tour regulars Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake and New Found Glory. Other notable performances from the day included those by State Champs complete with inflatable waving men and bubbles, Old Wounds who in my opinion dominated the Full Sail Stage, The Interrupters who despite playing later in the day were able to keep the energy going as temperatures pushed towards the 90’s. To cap off an already impressive day the closing set of the festival belonged to Sum 41 who bashed out hit after hit to the massive crowd.

Despite a scaled down lineup and production this year I felt that Warped Tour 2016 was better than ever. Sure having a bunch of stuff to do in between acts is fun and all but, when you go to a rock show you are going essentially for the music. That was clearly the focus for this year’s tour as you couldn’t have asked for a more stellar line up. Aside from the extremely long lines to get into the venue the day was a lot of fun and we heard a lot of really great music. The tour runs through August 13th so be sure to grab tickets for one of the shows closest to you. You won’t be disappointed.

Line Up:
Against the Current, Assuming We Survive, Avion Roe, Bad Seed Rising, Ballyhoo!, Broadside, Cane Hill, Chelsea Grin, Chunk! No, Captian Chunk!, Coldrain, Crown the Empire, Cruel Hand, Dash|Ten, Emarosa, Every Time I Die, Falling In Reverse, Four Year Strong, From Ashes To New, Ghost Town, Gideon, Hail the Sun, I See Stars, Ice Nine Kills, In Hearts Wake, Issues, Knuckle Puck, Less Than Jake, Like Pacific, Masked Intruder, Mayday Parade, Mother Feather, Motionless In White, New Found Glory, Oceans Ate Alaska, Old Wounds, Palaye Royale, Pepper, Real Friends, Reckless Serenade, Reel Big Fish, Roam, Safe To Say, Secrets, Set It Off, Silent Planet, Sleeping With Sirens, State Champs, Sum 41, Sykes, Teenage BottleRocket, The Color Morale, The Heirs, The Interrupters, The Maine, The Story So Far, The Word Alive, Tonight Alive, Too Close to Touch, Vanna, Veil of Maya, Volumes, Wage War, Waterparks, We the Kings, Whitechapel, With Confidence, Yellowcard, Young Guns

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Concert Review: “Rock N’ Derby” Schaghticoke, NY

Rock N’ Derby
May 20th-May 22nd 2016
Schaghticoke Fairgrounds, Shaghticoke, NY

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Upstate New York came alive on May 20th- 22nd as it hosted the inaugural “Rock N’ Derby” festival in the humble town of Shaghticoke, NY. Despite only being in its infancy the three day event offered a sprawling layout and variety of activities from professional wrestling and demolition derby’s to performances by some of today’s biggest artists including Five Finger Death Punch, Lamb of God, Halestorm, Shinedown and Megadeth.

With more and more multi-day festival popping up around the country it’s hard to figure out which ones are the real deal and which ones are merely just jumping on the band wagon. I am here to tell you that “Rock N’ Derby” is in fact the real deal. Despite being in a rather remote location which require traveling a variety of back roads the 3 day festival was easily one of the most enjoyable concert going experiences I have had. The festival offered plenty of room to move around, ample vendors and facilities including three well placed stages that didn’t require a lot of walking back and forth. To top it off the sound at all three stages was top notch the entire weekend. Though we weren’t able to be on hand for the events first day we talked with plenty of people in attendance who stated that the day’s events were highlighted by some killer performances including those by Lamb of God, Clutch and Five Finger Death Punch. Knowing all of those bands bring incredible live shows I’m sure they set the bar for the rest of the weekend. The main stages for day two of the event kicked off around 2pm with an intense set by the Ohio metal-core band Miss May I. Vocalist Levy Benton and company did an impressive job early in the day setting the standard for those who followed. As we bounced back and forth between the two main stages (the Derby Stage and the Rock Stage) we caught some really great performances by acts such as All That Remains, Chevy Metal featuring Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters and as the day shifted to night Halestorm who put on an impressive set which included a full scale demolition derby taking place in the near fore ground. Closing out the night on the Derby Stage was the always energetic A Day to Remember. The band hit the stage with bursts of giant multi colored confetti and dozens of beach balls which bounced between the stage and crowd. The band sounded great and was very fun to watch as they played to one of the larger crowds of the day. Closing out things on the Rock Stage were thrash legends Anthrax. The NY natives also played before a very large crowd as they shredded through some of their classic back catalog which included songs like “Antisocial”, “Got the Time” before ending the night with “Caught in a Mosh”.

The main stages on the third and final day of the festival started up around 3pm with the hard hitting Trivium commandeering the Derby stage for an hour long set which helped re-energize the crowd from the previous day’s undertakings. Shortly after the opening of the Derby Stage the Rock Stage would be opened by none other than Dokken. Though only Don Dokken and Mick Brown remain from the bands classic eighties line up newer members guitarist Jon Levin and bassist Chris McCarvill handled their duties with ease as the band performed their hour long set. Aside from the days headliners the biggest talk around the grounds on Sunday was the performance of Ghost. The masked Swedish occult themed metal band played an incredible set that not only excited the festival crowd but also conjured up a wind and rain squall that added a different element to the bands theatrical performance. With the weather subsiding shortly after Ghost left the Derby Stage Nikki Sixx and Sixx A.M. got things going on the Rock Stage performing to a slightly dampened crowd. For me the performance matched the poor weather as they were one of the only acts over the three days that didn’t sound good. Sixx’s bass dominated the mix making the rest of the band barely audible and sent us back to the Derby Stage quicker than expected. Coheed and Cambria would take the Derby stage around 7pm putting on a stellar performance. The band was extremely tight making their intricate songs sound as good if not better than the studio recordings. It was great to finally here songs like “The Hardsell” and “A Favor House Atlantic” live as I had up until this day been unable to catch the band live. Needless to say they did not let me down. As the festival slowly started to come to a close Megadeth would be the last artist to take the Rock Stage where despite finding out about the passing of long time band member Nick Menza only a few hours before the group performed like true professionals. Mustain and his crew played a mixture of new and older material including “Hangar 18” and “The Threat is Real” prior to pausing and taking a few somber moments to recognize Nick’s passing. After a heartfelt moment of silence the band closed out the night and the stage with three of their more popular songs “Symphony of Destruction”, “Peace Sells” and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”.

While Shinedown was still holding court on the Derby Stage we made our way through the various camping locations and parking lots. Despite the large number of people at the festival things still remained uncluttered and in control. Festival goers moved freely out of the gates as did cars out of the lots. This was something I could greatly appreciate as anyone who has been to a concert of this size knows getting in and out can be one of the worst experiences ever. From our stand point “Rock N’ Derby” was a really fun and well organized event. Great acts, great vendors and a sizeable venue with ample facilities made the entire experience enjoyable and something we hope becomes an annual event.

Festival Line Up:

Friday, May 20th, 2016
Five Finger Death Punch, Lamb of God, Clutch, Parkway Drive, Wolfmother, Pop Evil, Scott Stapp, Corrosion of Conformity,        Red Sun Rising, Wild Throne, Schism

Saturday, May 21st, 2016
A Day To Remember, Halestorm, Anthrax, Chevy Metal, Hollywood Undead, Extreme, State Champs
Sebastian Bach, Bear Tooth, Memphis May Fire, We Came As Romans, All That Remains, Avatar,
Thy Art Is Murder, Stray From The Path, For Today, Cliver, Rings of Saturn

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
Shinedown, Coheed and Cambria, Megadeth, Sixx A.M., Ghost, Collective Soul, Sevendust, Dokken, Trivium, Enter Shikari,         Born of Osiris, Like A Storm, Currents, Bad Case of Big Mouth

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Live Review: Ace Frehley, F.M. Kirby Center, Wilkes Barre, PA

Ace Frehley, KillCode

Date: April 15, 2016
Venue: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes Barre, PA

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley made a stop at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes Barre, PA on April 15th, as part of a 12 show east-coast run promoting his latest album release titled “Origins Vol.1” The night was a series of ups and downs which at one point had the near capacity crowd on their feet cheering and the next moment had them scratching their heads while leaving the theater to a slow din of boo’s.

Being a huge fan of Ace I was certainly well aware of the fact that when it comes to the “Spaceman” you never know what you are going to get and, this night was certainly a testament to that. The show kicked off with the NYC based band KillCode whose modern rock tinged sound was met with a warm response from the Wilkes Barre. This could have been attributed to the fact that one of the bands guitarists was from the rural esque town or possibly that their performance was the most consistent of the night. Either way the band seemed well rehearsed and fit the opening slot well. After a brief set change and following the sounds of “Fractured Mirror” which played over the P.A. Ace and his band consisting of drummer Scot Coogan, guitarist Richie Scarlett and bassist Chris Wyse would take the stage. The group kicked off the set with one of Ace’s signature songs “Rip it Out” which gave way to several Kiss classics such as “Rocket Ride”, “Parasite” and “Love Gun”. It was at the start of “Parasite” that I began to notice that the night was in for an awkward turn. The songs tempo shifted back and forth as it seemed Ace and the rest of the band were clearly on separate pages. Thankfully after a bit of back and forth things leveled out and songs like Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald” and “Rock Soldiers” sounded great. Towards the end of the bands set Ace began to move less and less and at one point he was even sitting on one of his speaker cabinets. After a lackluster solo and his signature smoking guitar trick the band quickly ran through the Kiss/Ace staple “Cold Gin” before immediately leaving the stage. Previous shows on the tour featured a two song encore which the fans were anxiously waiting and cheering for. After several minutes the house lights came fully on and music began playing over the P.A signaling the show was over. As fans made their way out the doors loud boos and other un-pleasantries filled the air. With a set a set that ran just under 90 minutes there was certainly cause for such reactions.

Fast-forward about 12hrs. to when it was announced that immediately after the Wilkes Barre show Ace was rushed to a nearby hospital and treated for exhaustion and dehydration. (As a side note the last show of the tour scheduled for 4/16 was canceled) I understand people get tired and things happen but when you are at the level Ace is at and have been performing as long as he has shouldn’t steps be taken to prevent these types of avoidable occurrences? Especially on a tour consisting of only 12 dates! This however is the typical type of Ace behavior which partly makes him so entertaining yet which has also plagued his career since his early days in Kiss. Will it ever change? That’s very hard to say. What I can say is that on 4/15 Wilkes Barre was treated to classic Ace all the way.

Set List:

1.) Rip It Out
2.) Toys
3.) Rocket Ride
4.) Parasite
5.) Love Gun
6.) Snowblind
7.) Sister
8.) Emerald (Thin Lizzy Cover)
9.) Rock Soldiers
10.) Bass Solo/Strange Ways
11.) New York Groove
12.) 2 Young 2 Die
13.) Shock Me/Guitar Solo
14.) Cold Gin

Concert Review: Bermuda’s “Marcho Man Tour Part II”

“The Marcho Man Tour Part II”
Bermuda, Demolisher, Aminals
Date: March 7, 2016
Venue: The Warehouse, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

The metal band Bermuda made a stop in Syracuse, NY on March 7th as part of their “Marcho Man Tour”. Also on the bill for the evening were Demolisher from Chicago and the Boston thrash band Aminals. Despite it being a rather cold night in Syracuse the bands and a handful of dedicated fans filled the small multi use venue for a night of metal musings.

After brief sets from a handful of local bands Aminals would take the stage where the proceeded to absolutely crush their set! The band demanded the attention of the crowd and made sure everyone was aware of their absolutely jaw-dropping showmanship. You would have never guessed that this was their drummer’s first show with the group as the bands set progressed without incident and leaving the crowd wanting more. Next up was Demolisher, bringing almost a completely different style of metal and hardcore than the previous act. The band seemed right at home and embracing their surroundings which included skateboard ramps and a few unused motorcycles and a car. Yes a car. Demolisher turned the dusty DIY venue into an all-out brawl as clouds of dust arose from buildings industrialized floor

Tour Headliners Bermuda would close out the night and much like the acts before them took to setting up on the floor as opposed to the small confining stage. From the first snare hit, the crushing weight of this band’s brutal riff-age leveled the small crowd. The bands furious sound fueled an intense mosh pit that quickly overtook the area in-front of the band. The bands front man smoldered with steam as the mixture of sweat and cold air provided an eerie effect that fit the night’s mood perfectly. Definitely be on the lookout for when these guys come to town as you won’t want to miss it.

Aminals Setlist:
1.) Bitchcraft
2.) War Widows
3.) Ew, She Smells Like Brooklyn
4.) If You Hear Them Sing in a Hospital
5.) Population Controls
6.) Dirty Habits
7.) Rope
8.) Something Secular

Bermuda Setlist:
1.) Kuma
2.) Vertebroken
3.) Crown Crusher
4.) Grave Dancers
5.) The Wandering
6.) The Human Herd
7.) Parasitic
8.) The Recluse
9.) Intuitions
10.) Process of Drowning
11.) The Cancer Speaks

Concert Review: Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers

Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, David Dondero

Date: Saturday, February 20th 2016

Venue: The Waiting Room, Buffalo, NY

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Against Me! Front woman Laura Jane Grace made a stop at the intimate Waiting Room in Buffalo, NY on Feb 20th as part of a brief 8 show acoustic tour with her group the Devouring Mothers. Also on the bill for these handful of shows was veteran singer song writer Dave Dondero. The night was part storytelling and part music as both set of performers aimed to provide the audience with a nights worth of entertainment.

As fans were still making their way up the twisted steps of the dual stage venue opening act Dave Dondero took the stage for a less than energetic set. At several points through the 30/40 minute set Dondero asked the crowd if they were actually interested in hearing him play and if not he was ok with leaving. At first what seemed like a joke carried on throughout the remainder of Dondero’s unprofessional and lack luster set.

As the room began steadily filling in Laura Jane and the Devouring Mothers (a group made up of Against Me! drummer Atom Willard and producer/ bassist Marc Hudson) would take the stage and blast through over 20 acoustic renditions of some of Against Me’s material both new and old. In between such songs as “Tonight We’re Gonna Give It 35%” and “Androgynous” Grace read entries from her upcoming book which will be made of countless journal entries and experiences. The set by Laura Jane and company was like a cooler version of “VH1’s Storytellers”. The set was a nice mixture of both new and old tracks which provided something for the various levels of fans the packed the intimate club setting. Missing from the set however was the song “500 Years” which was released in 2014 as a Record Store Day limited edition 7”. Despite this being the perfect setting for the somber number other tracks like “Because of the Shame” and “Two Coffins” filled the void nicely and, despite the of the night being a bit rocky Laura Jane, Atom and Marc did a great job as they more than made it up to the Buffalo fans.

Set List:
1.) Ache With Me
2.) Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
3.) Tonight We’re Gonna Give It 35%
4.) You Look Like You Need a Drink
5.) Sink, Florida, Sink
6.) I Keep Forgettin’
7.) Pretty Girls (The Mover)
8.) How Low
9.) Searching for a Former Clarity
10.) Joy
11.) Androgynous (Replacements Cover)
12.) The Ocean
13.) Harsh Realms
14.) Conceptual Paths
15.) Because of the Shame
16.) Two
17.) True Trans Soul Rebel
18.) Bamboo Bones
19.) Transgender Dysphoria Blues
20.) Black Me Out
(Plus 2 song Encore)


Concert Review “Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY”

Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY
Mahaffey Theater
Saint Petersburg, FL

I feel that Arnie Roth outdid himself with this show. I’ve seen another show that he produced and I liked this one even better. Every show is a little different. As they have over 300 songs to choose from over the Final Fantasy series, there is always a different selection. Some staples are at every show, though, with things such as the Prelude. You just can’t start a Final Fantasy show without that one.

This is a combination show. There is a live orchestra with a live chorus. The music is performed in time with a pre-recorded video showing clips of various Final Fantasy games. For example, if you’re listening to Final Fantasy VII music, you will see clips from the games as well as from the Advent Children movie. So, there isn’t much else to say about this show, because you just have to go yourself. I wanted them to keep right on playing when it was over. I can’t wait until the show is in town again. Go get your tickets. GO!

Lamb of God/Anthrax- Philadelphia, PA Concert Review

Lamb of God, Anthrax, Deaf Heaven, Power Trip

Date: Saturday, January 16, 2016
Venue: Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

Media Mikes Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Lamb of God made a stop in the city of brotherly love on January 18th as part of their winter headlining run which is in support of the group’s most recent release “Sturm Und Drang”. Along with the Richmond, VA natives were NY thrash metal legends Anthrax, black metal group Deafheaven and the crossover/thrash 5 piece Power Trip. The historic venue was packed to the rafters with energetic metals fans who were more than ready to live up to their “Killadelphia” name sake.

Starting of the night was the impressive Texas based thrash band Power Trip. The group blazed through a 30 minute set which grabbed the crowd’s attention and didn’t let go. Front man Riley Gale put on a stellar performance that was two parts vintage 80’s thrash and two parts modern metal making for a great start to the evening. Deafheaven would take the stage next basked in an eerie green glow that did little to win over the Philly fans. Despite the lack of vocals in the bands overall mix the group’s unique sound only further agitated the crowd who were not shy about showing their displeasure for the group. This displeasure from the crowd was returned with several gobs of saliva courtesy of lead singer George Clarke. Thankfully things did not get too out of hand as the bands set came to a rather unimpressive end.

Anthrax would follow giving the night the proverbial shot in the arm it needed after the previous bands rough time. The band sounded tighter than ever and looked great. Each of the members worked the stage like the veterans they are as they shredded their way through classic tracks such as “Caught in a Mosh” and “Antisocial” before performing their newest song “Evil Twin” which is the first single of the bands upcoming album titled “For All Kings”. Though the bands set was brief they packed every ounce of energy they had in to those 9 songs bringing the sold-out venues energy to maximum levels. Headliners

Lamb of God would close out the night in the city they consider their second home as Philadelphia was one of the very first cities to really embrace the band and their sound. Lead singer Randy Blythe made several notes of the bands relationship with the city to which the capacity crowd responded with huge applause. The groups set was a perfect mixture of both new and old as in between such classic LOG songs as “Desolation”, “Walk With me in Hell” and “ Now You’ve Got Something to Die For” were new tracks such “512” , “Still Echoes” and the bluesy tinged “Overlord” a song I was certainly excited to hear live. Despite vocals being a bit hard to hear at times the bands set was tight and well rehearsed. I am sure it will only get better as this was just the second night of a tour that runs through mid February.

If the combination of a capacity crowd and a solid bill of heavy music wasn’t enough to make you have a good time this evening then you may have wanted to check your pulse. As the sweat soaked fans spilled out on to the chilly streets on Philly it was safe to say that most if not all in attendance got their monies worth and then some.

Anthrax Set List:
1.) Fight’Em Til You Can’t
2.) Got the Time
3.) Caught in a Mosh
4.) Antisocial
5.) Evil Twin
6.) March of the S.O.D.
7.) In the End
8.) Indians
9.) Among the Living

Lamb of God Set List:
1.) Desolation
2.) 512
3.) Walk with Me in Hell
4.) Still Echoes
5.) Ruin
6.) The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion
7.) Overlord
8.) The Faded Line
9.) Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
10.) Set to Fail
11.) Blackened the Cursed Sun
12.) Erase This
13.) Vigil
14.) Laid to Rest
15.) Redneck

Concert Review: Wizards of Winter “The Magic of Winter” – Syracuse, NY

“The Magic of Winter”
Wizards of Winter
Date: Sunday, December 27th 2015
Venue: The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater
Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The Tri-State area based Wizard of Winter brought their own unique brand of holiday cheer to the Syracuse, NY area on December 27th as part of the group’s 2015 “Magic of Winter” tour. The night proved to be a great extension of the Christmas holiday as the night’s performance took you on a magical music adventure which made for a very enjoyable concert experience.

With this being the groups first time in Syracuse anticipation was certainly high as concert goers filled in the seats at the multi tiered Crouse Hinds Theater. The show began promptly at 8pm as the band kicked off their impressive 26 song performance with a song from their debut album “The Magic of Winter” titled “Flight of the Snow Angels”, a fitting opening number which set the stage perfectly for the rest of the night’s performance. Former Trans-Siberian Orchestra narrator Tony Gaynor would take the stage several times painting a vivid picture of the upcoming number which helped those in attendance sink deeper into the spirit of the night’s performance though, I personally found these moments (which also included a 15 minute intermission) to sort of halt the night’s momentum as it seemed like the band would no sooner start to get in a groove only to have it broken up by brief pieces of commentary. All of the members of the group put on stellar performances including several standout moments by former Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist Guy LeMonnier, Violin/Vocalist Natalia Niarezka and lead guitarist Fred Gorhau who blazed his way through intricate solo after solo without missing a beat. Songs such as “Ebeneezer” Savatage’s “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”, “Season’s Lament” and the upbeat “Gales of December” sounded really great as they made their way into every nook and cranny of the theater prolonging the Christmas holiday just a touch longer.

As the night’s performance came to a close the Syracuse crowd seemed pleased with the show they had just witnessed. As the band left the stage the crowd thanked the performers with a heavy blanket of applause which the performers seemed very appreciative of. With such a good response from the groups Syracuse debut my hope is they continue to make stops in Orangeman country for many more holiday season to come.

Set List:
1.) Flight of the Snow Angels
2.) Magic of Winter
3.) Arctic Flyer
4.) Special Feeling
5.) First Snow (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
6.) A Night of Reflection
7.) Sing Alleluia/ 3 Ships
8.) Once Long Ago
9.) 3 Kings
10.) Nutrocker (Electric Light Orchestra cover)
11.) Ebeneezer
12.) Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Savatage cover)
13.) March of the Metal Soldiers
14.) Season’s Lament
15.) Just Believe
16.) Gales of December
17.) Whoville
18.) Waken to the Sound
19.) Toys will be Toys
20.) The Journey
21.) Queen of the Winter Night (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
22.) Electric Blue (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
23.) Little Help (Joe Cocker cover)
24.) Spirit of Christmas
25.) Requiem (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
26.) With One Voice

Concert Review “Winter Warriors Tour” Rochester, NY

“Winter Warriors Tour”
Battlecross, Havok, Nekrogoblikon, Black Fast
Date: Monday, December 14, 2015
Venue: Montage Music Hall, Rochester, NY

Our Score:3 out of 5 stars

Metal Injection’s 2015 Winter Warriors tour made a stop at the Montage Music Hall in Rochester, NY as part of a brief 6 show run. The bill which featured Black Fast, Nekrogoblikon, Havok and Battlecross was certainly not one for the faint of heart as all 4 bands commanded the crowd’s attention before pummeling them with a barrage of bombastic sonic landscapes.

After a small spattering of local talent the main bills opener Black Fast would be first to take the stage. The 4 piece progressive thrash group hailing from St. Louis, Missouri did an impressive job with the short time they had as they did a great job loosening up the crowd with their set which was a mixture of older songs along with a couple from the group’s latest release “Terms of Surrender”.

Up next would be the group I was definitely most excited to check out. Los Angeles, CA natives Nekrogoblikon who up until now have been relatively scare here on the east coast made up for lost time as they shredded through a 30 minute set complete with several appearance by the bands mascot Mr. John Goblikon who assisted the band in working the crowd into a feverish frenzy. The band’s unique brand of mythical tinged metal rang through the venues walls as the band performed songs of their latest release “Heavy Meta” before closing out the set with an impressive rendition of the song “Powercore” which was complete with over the top synth and guitar work that easily made your head spin. Filling the difficult spot of performing after Nekrogoblikon on this night would be bestowed upon Century Media artist Havok. The band which formed in Denver, CO in 2004 mixed classic thrash elements with modern day accoutrements. The groups sound could be described as early Megadeth on speed as each of the bands 4 members are certainly no slouches at their respective instruments. Though lead vocalist/guitarists David Sanchez’s expletive filled rants became a bit tiresome as the bands set went on the group still did a solid job keeping the night’s energy level high.

Tour headliner Battlecross would close out the night in impressive fashion. Having just seen the band opening for GWAR in September I was anxious to see what the band from Detroit could do with a full length set. Needless to say I was not disappointed as the guys seem to only get better each time I see them. With the added time to their set the members of the band wasted no time going right for the throat. The set list was a solid blend of new and old as the band performed a variety of songs from its back catalog however the set lacked any material from the bands August 2015 release “Rise to Power”. Vocalist Kyle Gunther and company certainly appeared to be in top form despite being at the end of months and months of touring proving BattleCross can certainly bring it any place at any time. Though you can never be too sure of a Monday night club show the audience and bands alike seemed to enjoy the night’s festivities making this unseasonably warm night in Rochester, NY a good one for heavy music.

Battlecross Set List:
1.) Force Fed Lies
2.) My Vaccine
3.) Beast
4.) Ghost Alive
5.) Never Coming Back
6.) Flesh & Bone
7.) Get Over It
8.) Kaleb
9.) Push Pull Destroy

Concert Review: GWAR “30 Years of Tourment” Rochester, NY

“30 Years of Tourment”
GWAR, Butcher Babies, Battlecross
Date: Friday, September 18, 2015
Venue: Water Street Music Hall, Rochester, NY

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Antarctic natives GWAR slaughtered their way to the Water Street Music in Rochester, NY on Sept. 18th as part of their current “30 Years of Tourment” tour. Along for the ride this time around were the always lovely Butcher Babies and Detroit darlings Battlecross. The night proved to be a mixture of sweat, energy and several unknown liquids which were expelled on to the crowd by the night’s headliners providing the perfect recipe for Friday night.

Kicking off the night was the band Battlecross who blasted through a 30 minute set which set the bar relatively high for the following acts. Vocalist Kyle Gunther seemed to give everything he had from start to finish which complimented the rest of the bands in your face performance which seemed to ignite the incoming crowd. Up next would be the lovely Butcher Babies who despite this being the bands last night on the tour certainly did an amazing job of taking things to the next level as not only did the band command the crowd’s attention from the stage but took things further as both Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey took turns working the security barrier which at times was over flowing with energetic crowd surfing fans. GWAR would be next where they proceeded to close out the night in typical blood soaked fashion. This was the first time the band has performed in Rochester since the addition of both Pustulus Maximus on guitar and Blothar on vocals and the crowd seemed to enjoy the new characters and what they brought to the live performance. Though the performances seemed to lack the energy and spur of the moment banter once provided by the late great Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) the set did feature some songs fans hadn’t heard live in awhile such as “I Bonesnapper”, “Babyraper” and the always entertaining ”Meat Sandwich”.

It was great to finally see the latest incantation of GWAR however there was something missing. Undoubtedly the absence of founding member Dave Brockie cast a big shadow for this reviewer and even though the bands current lineup put on a great show it was very apparent that Mr. Brockie left some extremely large latex and goo covered shoes to fill.

GWAR Set List:
(Partial list)
1.) Sick of You (Dubstep Version
2.) Vlad the Impaler
3.) Saddam a Go-Go
4.) Jack the World
5.) I Bonesnapper
6.) Babyraper
7.) Meat Sandwich
8.) Let us Slay
9.) Sick of You

Concert Review: Earth, Wind and Fire/Chicago – Kansas City, Missouri

Earth, Wind and Fire/Chicago
August 21, 2015
Starlight Theater, Kansas City, Missouri

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

They were two of the most popular bands of the 1970s and 80s, blessed with great writing, vocals and the two best horn sections of any act EVER! On Friday night, the Elements and the group from the Windy City got together and put on a show I hope to remember for the rest of my life.

Like other shows I’ve attended (Hall and Oates/Michael McDonald/Average White Band, REO Speedwagon and STYX), the show promised to be special because not only would you get to listen to the bands individually, there was also a great jam session with both groups on stage together.

The evening was kicked off with both bands on stage performing a few Chicago songs. After a rousing performance of “Dialogue Part I and II,” Chicago vacated the stage and Earth, Wind and Fire took command of the evening. Lead singer Phillip Bailey and company brought the crowd to their feet with “Boogie Wonderland.” Even at age 64, Bailey’s sweet voice carried the evening. Along with original group members bassist Verdine White, whose brother Maurice shared the bands vocal duties until forced to retire in 1994 for health reasons, and percussionist/vocalist Ralph Johnson, the band went on an extended jam session on “Serpentine Fire,” led by Verdine White’s heavy bass lines. This had anyone who wasn’t standing already up and dancing in the aisles. Other classics covered in the set included “That’s the Way of the World,”Let’s Groove,” and the groups contribution to the “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” film, a peppy “Got to Get You Into My Life.”

After a short intermission it was Chicago’s turn to take the stage, featuring original members Robert Lamm on keyboards and vocals and the amazing horn section of Lee Loughnane, James Pankow and Walter Parazaider. Playing favorites like “Make Me Smile,” “Just You and Me,” and “Saturday in the Park,” the band was spot on the entire evening. In fact, the only time the audience took a break and sat down was during “Colour My World” which, as I recall, was the first song I ever slow-danced to! It was also great when the band segued into “Get Away” after finishing “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” The song always fades out when you hear it on the radio but on the album (I’m going to take a guess and say “Chicago 16”) it picks up nicely and gives the song a fun ending.

But the best was yet to come when, at show’s end, Earth, Wind and Fire returned to the stage and the two groups turned the energy up to “11.” Familiar hits, from “September” to “25 or 6 to 4” were performed with the power of not one, but two horn sections. I can only imagine that this is how heaven sounds! After three and a half hours the bands said goodnight to an adoring crowd who gave them a much deserved ovation.

The “Heart and Soul” tour, featuring Earth, Wind and Fire and Chicago, continues through September 6. If they’re coming your way make plans to see them. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

SET LIST: (Both groups) Beginnings, In the Stone, Dialogue (Part I & II), (Earth, Wind and Fire) Boogie Wonderland, Jupiter, Yearnin’ Learnin’, Serpentine Fire, Devotion, That’s the Way of the World, After the Love Has Gone, Got to Get You into My Life, Fantasy, Let’s Groove, (Chicago) Introduction, Questions 67 & 68, Make Me Smile, So Much to Say, So Much to Give, Anxiety’s Moment, West Virginia Fantasies, Colour My World, To Be Free, Now More Than Ever, Call on Me, Hard Habit to Break, You’re the Inspiration, I’m a Man, Street Player, Just You ‘n’ Me, Hard to Say I’m Sorry/Get Away, Saturday in the Park, Feelin’ Stronger Every Day, (Both groups) September, Free, Sing a Song, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Shining Star, 25 or 6 to 4.

Here are the remaining shows on this leg of the Heart and Soul tour. For tickets click here.

August 28, 2015  – Toronto, ON – Molson Canadian Amphitheater

August 29, 2015 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Saratoga Springs PAC

August 30, 2015 – Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center

September 1, 2015 – Bethel, NY – Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

September 4, 2015 – Raleigh, NC – Walnut Creek Amphitheatre

September 5, 2015 – Virginia Beach, VA – Farm Bureau Live

September 6, 2015 – Atlantic City, NJ – Borgata Event Center