Concert Review: “Charm Cities Tour” Williamsport, PA

“Charm Cities Tour”
Carousel Kings, Abandoned By Bears, Bad Case of Big Mouth, American Arson, Take Two
Saturday, April 8th 2017
Ground Floor 2.0, Williamsport, PA

Our score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Victory Records artist Carousel Kings brought their “Charm Cities” tour to the impressive Ground Floor 2.0 venue in Williamsport, PA on April 8th for a night of high energy punk rock. The quant Pennsylvania town which is best known as the home of the Little League World Series now has another claim to fame as the Ground Floor 2.0 venue boasts a fun and safe environment for all concert goers while providing top notch sound, lighting and amenities for its performing artists making for a great experience for everyone involved and the “Charm Cities” tour was no exception.

Kicking of the night was the Elmira, NY based band Take Two. The five piece group whose sound could be described as progressive punk rock performed a hand full of original material including a few songs off their recently released “Weekend Warriors EP”. The band did a great job warming up the crowd and received a hefty round of applause as their set came to a close. Michigan natives American Arson would be up next and though not originally part of the shows line up the band consisting of only two members guitarist/vocalist Evan Baker and drummer Jesse Gentry put forth a sound and style that would make full sized bands shake in their boots. The duo performed a brief, high intensity set which featured songs of their latest “Waymaker” EP. Taking the stage next would be NJ native Bad Case of Big Mouth or simply just “Bad Case” the band worked the stage like seasoned professionals as the bands vocalist and dual guitarist whipped up a solid helping of pop-punk goodness. In the direct support slot for the nights show was Sweden’s own…yes I said Sweden easy-core band Abandoned By Bears. The band which sports dual vocalist brought a heavier element to the shows lineup which contrasted nicely with the other bands on the bill as it set the stage nicely for tour headliners Carousel Kings. Flanked by numerous lighted pillars Carousel Kings would close out the night performing a variety songs including a handful from their latest release “Charm City”. It had been a little while since I had seen the guys perform live and since that time the band has undergone some lineup changes however they were just as solid as the previous incarnations.

Very rarely do you come across a tour and venue that are both equally great. However, in the case of the “Charm Cities” tour stop at the Ground Floor 2.0 both venue and artists clicked on all levels. The bands on the bill were all very personable and thankful to those in attendance and the same could be said for the venue staff as they treated every person that came through the door with the utmost respect. Though the “Charm Cities” tour comes to close on April 13th do yourself a favor and check out each of the bands on this line up as each one will not disappoint.

Carousel Kings: https://www.facebook.com/carouselkings
Abandoned By Bears: https://www.facebook.com/AbandonedByBears
Bad Case: https://www.facebook.com/BadCaseOfficial/
American Arson: http://www.americanarson.com/
Take Two: http://www.officialtaketwo.com/

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 “An Evening with Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield” Keswick Theater, Glenside, PA

“An Evening with Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield”
Date: Saturday, March 14th 2015
Venue: Keswick Theater, Glenside, PA

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Singer songwriters Jessica Lea Mayfield and Seth Avett made a stop in the quaint town of Glenside, PA on March 14th to perform at the intimate Keswick Theater. The duo is out on a brief 13 show tour in support of their recent release titled “Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield sing Elliot Smith”. The album a 12 song showcase of some of singer/songwriter Elliot Smith’s best works is the first collaboration between Mayfield and Avett and hopefully not the last as the magic heard on the album was flawlessly created on stage.

About 40 miles outside of Philadelphia sits the historic Keswick Theater. The theater which originally opened on Christmas Eve in 1928 was the perfect setting for the night’s performance as the vintage theater seemed a perfect host for Avett and Mayfield’s sound which was made up off the two sharing singing and guitar duties along with Paul Defiglia on stand up bass. Though small in their approach the trio’s sound instantly filled the theater and sounded as good if not better than some of the recorded studio tracks. Songs such as “Baby Britain”, “Between the Bars” and “Twilight” were definite highlights of the set as were “I Me Mine” originally by The Beatles and a great version of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman”. The set also featured several songs from Mayfield and Avett’s personal catalogs along with a brand new track from Avett titled “Lines On My Face”.

The night’s performance was certainly very solid and sounded great however before you knew it, it was over. Clocking in at less than 90 minutes (which included the band leaving the stage prior to the night’s encore) there was certainly plenty of time left for more material especially since the show features no opening act. With the shows being billed as “An Evening with Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield” I guess I was expecting a little more. Don’t get me wrong 21 songs is not a short set list by any means however when most of those songs come in at 4 minutes or less and the artists(especially Avett) have a fair amount of material they could pull from to make these13 shows something really special however don’t it certainly was a bit disconcerting.

Set List:
1.) Bay Britain (Elliot Smith)
2.) A Fond Farewell (Elliot Smith)
3.) Pitseleh (Elliot Smith)
4.) Just Like a Woman (Bob Dylan)
5.) There is a Time (The Darlings)
6.) Let’s Get Lost (Elliot Smith)
7.) Ballad of Big Nothing (Elliot Smith)
8.) Rain on My Tin Roof (Seth Avett)
9.) Somebody That I Used to Know (Elliot Smith)
10.) Settin’ the Woods on Fire (Hank Williams)
11.) For Today (Jessica Mayfield)
12.) Angeles (Elliot Smith)
13.) Lines On My Face (Seth Avett)
14.) Kiss Me Again (Jessica Mayfield)
15.) Memory Lane (Elliot Smith)
16.) I Will (The Beatles)
17.) Our Hearts are Wrong (Jessica Mayfield)
18.) Between the Bars (Elliot Smith)
19.) I Me Mine (The Beatles)
20.) Miss Misery (Elliot Smith)
21.) Twilight (Elliot Smith)

Concert Review “Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival” Scranton, PA – August 3rd 2014

“Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival”
Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Body Count, Cannibal Corpse, Mushroomhead, Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Emmure, Veil of Maya, Upon a Burning Body, Texas Hippie Coalition, Darkest Hour, Ill Nino, Wretched, Islander, King 810, Erimha
Date: Saturday, August 3rd 2014
Venue: Toyota Pavilion, Scranton, PA

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The “Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival” one of the summers most anticipated traveling heavy metal festivals pulled in to the quiet hills of Scranton, PA on August 3rd and completely turned the tables upside down. This summer the festival featured 19 bands spread over 4 stages. Sporting one of the tours biggest main stage line ups to date the tour once again proved why they are the premier package for heavy metal in the summer time.

Though it would be several hours before the main stage festivities engulfed the remote Toyota Pavilion quickly became a bevy of excitement as fans packed the side stage areas to check out several up and coming bands along with an impressive slew of veteran acts. The Victory Records stage was home to some of the most brutal ear splitting music of the day as bands like Ill Nino and Emmure pulverized the crowd’s senses with their brief yet no holds barred approach. Directly to the left of the Victory stage was the Cold Cock Whiskey stage which sported a lineup featuring Suicide Silence, Miss May I and the always entertaining Mushroomhead that evoked a huge response from their chaotic stage show. The masked 9 piece band made several trips over the security barricade which only added to excitement of the bands set which also featured water filled drums and an inflatable killer whale!

Further down the festival grounds was the Head bang for the Highway/Sumerian Records stage which played host to impressive sets by Upon a Burning Body and Veil of Maya before being dominated by the one and only Body Count featuring Ice-T. Ice and his crew dominated the stage with their unique blend of punk/metal/hip hop that had fans from all ages on their feet with their fists in the air.

As night slowly descended on the venue the festivities shifted to the main stage which was instantly ignited by the sounds of Trivium. Front man Matt Heafy commanded the audience’s attention as they barreled through their 7 song set which included the popular “Anthem (We Are The Fire). Next up was UK import Asking Alexandria who received heavy applause from the crowd however did little to impress this concert goer. I’m not sure if it was singer Danny Worsnops incoherent rambling or just his lack luster attitude that made the bands set painful to endure. Quite possibly it was both.

Korn would take the stage next complete with lighted floor and day glow colors adorning the sparse stage set up. The band went through hit after hit and never sounded better. It’s great to see guitarist Brian “Head” Welch back in the fold permanently as it just never seemed right during his time away from the band. The night set was closed out by the band member’s children taking the stage to add a little extra fun to the group’s signature song “Blind” which was immediately concluded by an onstage wedding proposal between two lucky fans.

Closing out the long day of music was Avenged Sevenfold who impressive stage setup consisted of a large skeleton on top of a burning throne which peered out at the audience with an evil grin. The band performed a variety of songs from its catalog including several songs off their latest album “Hail to the King”. Though the band sounded great their performances were overshadowed by their smug facial expressions and lack of interaction with the crowd. Only ever so often did it appear as though the band was having somewhat of a good time. After the brief “leave the stage so people can cheer” moment the band returned for two more songs. The cartoonish “A Little Piece of Heaven” blasted through the mountainous hills before the band brought the night to a close with the fan favorite “Unholy Confessions”.

All in all a long day of music was absorbed by my ears and body.This year’s Mayhem Festival certainly lived up to my expectations and it is was very apparent that the festival shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon leaving me to only dream of what Kevin Lyman and company have in store for next summer.

Trivium Set List:
1.) Black
2.) Built to Fall
3.) Through Blood and Dirt and Bone
4.) Strife
5.) Dying In Your Arms
6.) Anthem (We Are The Fire)
7.) In Waves

Asking Alexandria Set List:
1.) Don’t Pray For Me
2.) Run Free
3.) To The Stage
4.) The Final Episode (Let’s Change the Channel)
5.) Moving On
6.) Killing You
7.) The Death of Me

Korn Set List:
1.) Falling Away From Me
2.) Twist
3.) Got the Life
4.) Did My Time
5.) Spike in My Veins
6.) Hater
7.) Shoots and Ladders
8.) Coming Undone
9.) Here to Stay
10.) Never Never
11.) Freak on a Leash
12.) Blind

Avenged Sevenfold Set List:
1.) Shepherd of Fire
2.) Nightmare
3.) Bat Country
4.) Hail to the King
5.) Almost Easy
6.) Buried Alive
7.) So Far Away
8.) Afterlife
9.) The Means War
10.) A Little Piece of Heaven
11.) Unholy Confessions