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Saturday, November 29, 2014

The return of Hell


Slayer has had a few trips to Austin, Texas. With Fun Fun Fun Fest on a couple of trips and then going back more than a decade for their previous indoor exorcism of Austin.



The ACL Moody Theatre (http://acl-live.com) was the lucky spot to host the hell on earth that was EXODUS, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, and SLAYER. I am unsure if there could have been a more acoustically perfect setting for this thrash fest.

The Moody Theater is, by far, one of the most gorgeous venues in Austin. It houses an astounding collection of music memorabilia from many different decades and genres. There is something to impress and WOW everyone. The greatest thing is there doesn't seem to be a bad seat in the house. I should know, I have been at the top, on the left, the right, and on the floor.

EXODUS (http://exodusattack.com/site/) was the first onstage. Currently on tour supporting their newest release, 'Blood In, Blood Out', EXODUS mounted the stage with a vengeance. With Gary Holt doing double duty on this tour (playing with Slayer as well) it was a stunning performance. Steve Souza had the fans on the rail going nuts with his vocal antics and constant banter to have the audience get louder. Louder we did.

Although Exodus only had a small section of stage to work with, they masterfully did their set and played to the audience like the thrash masters they are. The sad side for me and you is this; I was there specifically to shoot photos of Exodus. Due to a camera malfunction, I got dick. Super pissed, shocked, and embarrassed this happened.


Suicidal Tendencies (http://www.suicidaltendencies.com) came up next. With what I thought seemed like the odd duck on this tour because of their California skater style of metal, turned out to be a thrill to watch. Suicidal Tendencies jumped into their performance with every single member of the bands revving up the audience every step of the way. The lead singer making sure to give the audience what they wanted by talking about their Texas connection in one of the bands guitarists.


























The drummer couldn't even contain his enthusiasm. Coming out from behind his showpiece of a drum kit on several occasions. He would wind the crowd up even more with his chants of "S.T., S.T., S.T." The peak of the performance was splitting the crowd in half, down the middle, and having a 'death wall' collapse in on itself into a giant mosh pit. Thrilling, thrilling, thrilling. The whole performance was summed up by the guy in the seat next to me - "Holy Shit! How the fuck is Slayer gonna top that! "

I will admit my thoughts echoed my neighbors sentiment... What a dumb ass I am!









With the curtain up and spinning logos of Hell, this shit was on. Slayer (http://www.slayer.net/us/home) exploded onto the stage with the drop off the curtain and the flash of the lights. Upside down crosses hanging and the metal mulisha back drop in its glory, this is the pinnacle of thrash metal. The screaming vocals of Tom Araya, are distinct, unique, and unequivocally, chillingly beautiful to hear.







































The technical expertise that Slayer had onstage blasting through their set was only matched by the sonic intensity that is Slayer music. Thrash at thrashes best. The floor was a constant, writhing mass of chaos. The visual effects where definitively seizure inducing. Between Kerry King and Gary Holt, it is no wonder my ears rang for 2 days.





























The only pause in the hellish Chaos would be the very few times when Tom would step up to the mic to thank us for being there. This would only be the gasoline on the hellish fire that burned in every single one of us in the crowd. The roar of the crowd and insanity of the show peeked with the final song. With the drop of the final banner and exposing the most fitting tribute to former guitarist Jeff Hanneman - 'Angel of Death'! Slayer killed it.


Laters

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Going Costal

Skrewface, October Rage, Bobaflex, and Royal Bliss: Live Music In Austin has reached the gulf coast and Corpus Christi, Texas.

Theo's (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Theos-Billiards/199220250112750?sk=timeline) is located in a shopping center just off of Weber and Holly, next to the H.E.B. When you walk in the doors of Theo's you see the merchandise area off to your right. Beyond that is the bar with a wide variety of drinks to keep the clientele comfortable. To the left you have the stage with tables, chairs, and the soundboard set in front of it. There is enough room for any patrons who want to get up close and personal with the bands. Off to the back of the bar are the pool tables, a smoking patio, and the bathrooms.


The performances put on by the bands this evening, was by no means affected by the small crowd turn out. They played a show as if they were playing for 10,000 people in a stadium and they had a great time doing it.

Skrewface (https://www.facebook.com/SkrewfaceBand/info)is a high energy band. In their performance, Skrewface was continually dedicating songs to the other bands. From standing on speakers, to the interactions with each other on stage, Skrewface kept the show alive. Unfortunately, being that Theo’s is a billiards hall, there wasn’t a lot of crowd participation. You could definitely see the patrons enjoyed the music.

Next up was October Rage (http://www.octoberrage.com). A band from Australia on tour with Bobaflex and Royal Bliss. The October Rage set wasn’t really any different from the first band. High energy, constant activity, and a thrill for being there. With most of the patrons shooting pool, it was a challenge being in the slight crowd that was strictly there to rock! But ROCK we did, October Rage did kick it well.


Following October Rage was Bobaflex (http://www.theofficialbobaflex.com/home). Now here was a change in activity. Shaun and Martin McCoy would switch off between each other playing guitar and doing vocals. Bobaflex had a very crowd friendly performance. Standing on a ledge at the front of the stage and being right there in front for those in the crowd.

After Bobaflex finished their set I sat and spoke with a few members of the band. Funny thing is, out of all the things we could have possibly talked about, the topic of discussion was the weather. These guys are down to earth. It's not just about sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll on the bus. There are plenty more of things these guys are about.

Royal Bliss (http://www.royalbliss.com/index) was the final band. For this band there was more crowd involvement. No just patrons of the bar, but from the other bands as well. It was terribly exciting when everyone in the crowd and onstage was so involved in the performance. 


The final song Royal Bliss played was “I was drunk”. They were joined on stage by both Bobaflex and October Rage to finish off the show with this epic trio finale.
 
October Rage, Bobaflex, and Royal Bliss are on the Rock Avengers Tour together. And it's wonderful  that they act as though they are one big family hanging out together. This is good for all in attendance.


written by: Stephen Christopher
edited by: William Tompkins


Laters

Editors note - I was bummed that this tour missed Austin. Glad that I had a correspondent ready to go in the area.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

FFF Fest Day 2 pt. II

Return of the King!
Here is the second part of the FFF Fest 2014 from guest writer Jay Longoria!


After Fred Armisen's set was done, I still had quite a while before the next band on my list, Sick of it All, was playing. So I wandered around for a bit, checking out some bands I'd never heard of on the Orange and Black stages. 


On the Orange stage was a band called 
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (http://thepainsofbeingpureatheart.com). All the guys in this band looked like various clones of myself at age 15 [HA!], especially the bass player. They played a style of indie garage rock that sounded reminiscent of Nineties alternative music, like Superchunk or Toad the Wet Sprocket. It wasn't really my thing, but they played well enough and seemed very earnest about their music.



I soon found myself back over by the Black stage passing the time by watching a band called Black Lips (http://black-lips.com) Despite the goth-sounding name, these guys played hard garage rock that had more bluster to it than what was going on over at the Orange stage. That said, they never played anything that quite drew too much of my attention. I'll be honest and say that by this point in the day, I was starting to feel like I'd seen and heard enough indie rock and was really wanting to hasten the evening forward to the main event.




Of course, there was still one group yet to play before that and I was actually semi-curious to see them. This would be Sick of it All, (http://www.sickofitall.com) the quintessential stalwart NYC hardcore punk band.



Apparently, they'd been asked by the organizers of FFF Fest to play a set exclusively sticking to material off two specific albums, Blood, Sweat, and No Tears and Scratch the Surface. Though they seemed semi-disappointed at not being able to play their newer material, Sick of it All still went at it full throttle!  They played with an energy that belied their age, and gave the crowd a lesson in truly old school hardcore punk flavored with a distinctly New York City attitude.  Even though I was really only familiar with one of their songs, "Step Down", (off Scratch the Surface) I enjoyed their set. It was a nice warm up to the moment that many in the crowd, myself included, had been waiting for all evening!!!











(Sick of it All. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite get a quality pic of these guys.)



















































What could it possibly be??




(King Diamond unleashes a live show like no other.)



Yes, after a long hiatus, King Diamond (http://www.kingdiamondcoven.com/site/) had returned for a full U.S. tour with the last stop being tonight at Fun Fun Fun Fest.  And, as promised, King had a rare treat for us: his full, no-holds-barred, stage show. Normally reserved for large European music festivals, but as you can see from the pictures, it was enormous stage props, custom lighting, and interchanging backdrops for the revelers this night.  The initial set up made it appear as if the band was performing at the rusty iron gates of a dilapidated haunted mansion.  It was, to put it frankly, BAD-FUCKING-ASS!! 





King Diamond opened the set with "The Candle" off the first album, Fatal Portrait, and the crowd went absolutely nuts. King, of course, made a dramatic entrance at the top of the catwalk above the drums and coolly glided down the staircase, with his human bone microphone in hand. I have to say, his voice sounded better than ever, as he effortlessly pulled off verse after verse in his signature high falsetto. 


     
The set included a variety of selections off of the band's extensive discography. Highlights included "Welcome Home", complete with an actor dressed as King's evil, decrepit Grandma. "Nightime in Budapest", with an actress costumed as a living doll. "The Eye", "The Family Ghost", and the crowd-pleaser, "Halloween".  My only wish was that they'd played "Mansion In the Darkness" from Abigail, but I couldn't really complain [and it seemed the crowd didn't mind either].



Theatricality was always a King Diamond specia
lty, and he did not disappoint. Going so far as to include a genuine magic trick in the show. It involved placing his Grandma inside a coffin, wheeled onstage by a surgeon and a priest. King then dropped a glowing cinder into the coffin and commanded the sides to drop, revealing the incinerated skeleton of Grandma within. For comedic effect, the surgeon checked the skeleton with his stethoscope and shook his head, while the priest made the sign of the cross over it. 

  The band was on point, rolling through each song flawlessly. King's lead guitarist and songwriting collaborator, Andy Laroque showed why he is one of the best in the biz, throwing smooth phrases and machine gun-picked lead lines, as required.

    

All good (or evil as it were) things must come to an end, and after two encores, the King Diamond finally signed off. King was a class act, staying onstage to graciously thank each section of the crowd for their praise and enthusiasm.  I had read in several pre-tour interviews that King had promised this tour and show would be something fans would never forget, I can say he definitely delivered on that! This was a truly fantastic concert. It will go down as one of the most memorable live performances by any band that I've ever seen and a was one hell of finishing touch on Fun Fun Fun Fest!

Written by:
Jay Longoria

Edited by:
William Tompkins


Laters

Thursday, November 20, 2014

FUN FUN FUN FEST Day 2 pt 1

FFF Fest Day 2. The Return of the King

Special thanks to Jay Longoria for lending his writing skills and enjoyment of the event to give you this over view of FFF Fest 2014, Day 2!     


So, the word on the street (by which I mean "the Internet") was that the first day of Fun Fun Fun Fest did not exactly get off to a smooth start. Fest-ers experienced huge delays to get in and had to stand in long lines that purportedly stretched from the festival front gate on Riverside Drive to back across the South First Street bridge. If you're familiar with this part of downtown Austin, I don't need to tell you how utterly crazy that sounds. While I'm not sure how that fiasco happened, I can happily attest that FFF's organizers learned from it and made sure that shit like that did not happen on Day 2!




(The view from the corner of South First and Caesar Chavez. Note the lack of insane lines of people.)

     I walked to the Fest from my parking spot downtown and at no time did I encounter a wall of impenetrable human traffic. On top of it all, the weather was great, with the sun shining in a mostly clear sky. As I walked up to the front gate I started to feel pretty stoked for a full day of...well...fun fun fun.






((

(The road leading up to the front gate, also blessedly free of human traffic jams.)



Now, I have to preface this by saying this was my very first experience at Fun Fun Fun Fest. For years, I had always meant to come to one, and kept putting it off. But, I finally decided to pull the trigger when I found out that day 2 would be headlined by none other than the great and legendary King Diamond (more on that later!)


  











                                                (Nice day, not too crowded. And, King Diamond's playing later? What more can you ask for?)



I got in at around 1p.m., grabbed a beer, a schedule, and started wandering around while I waited for the first act I wanted to see, Glassjaw. I passed by the wrestling ring where an Impact Pro Wrestling match was just starting. These guys went all out in the classic pro wrestling style, complete with flips off the top rope, suplexes, closelines, and plenty of braggadocio.




















(Wrasslin')
     

Glassjaw (http://glassjaw.merchdirect.com), is a post-hardcore (a.k.a. screamo) band hail from Hoboken, NY and are known for the controlled chaotic sound of their music. I used to like this band about 10 or so years ago and actually had one of their albums, Worship and Tribute.


                            (Glassjaw)
     
They played as tightly live as I remember them sounding on record. I wasn't familiar with any of their other recordings, but I found I recognized quite a few of the songs in their set as coming off that album. Their vocalist, Daryl Palumbo, thrashed and convulsed around the stage, effortlessly going from sweet, melodic intonations to ear shattering screams. Despite his mostly aggressive vocal style, the dude can actually sing. Overall, I can say that Glassjaw were definitely an energetic live band and their interesting--at times technical--song arrangements did not suffer for it. Good show, gentlemen.


Afterwards, I made my way across the grounds over to where the Blue Stage was located to wait for the next show on my "to-see" list: 














































                          (Gary Numan fucking rocking it)

Gary Numan (http://www.numan.co.uk). When I was planning my trip, I was intrigued to learn that Numan, a recognized innovator in electronic/industrial music, was on the bill. I figured, "why not?" This decision turned out to give me the most completely unanticipated yet pleasant surprise of the whole day. Gary Numan kinda fucking rocks!

Listeners who are only familiar with Numan's enduring hit, "Cars", should do themselves a favor and check out some of the rest of his work. Every song he performed shined with an edgy brilliance that drew you in, got your head nodding, and made you raise your hands in the air after it was over. While I had previously only thought of him as a "new wave" artist, it appeared that he'd adopted more of an industrial rock style somewhere along the way. The effect was his songs had a more modern, and harder, edge to them. It was not hard to see why he's considered so influential in this particular genre. I had originally only planned to check out part of his show so that I could trek clear across to the other side of the festival to see Fred Armisen.  It only took a couple of songs into Numan's set to make me change that decision.  No regrets there, really.



  
Speaking of Fred Armisen (http://www.fredarmisen.com) when I finally joined the crowd watching his already-in-progress performance, I found him on stage with a guitar in his hands and a backing band behind him, rolling through a set of selected cover songs. Shortly after I arrived, he was joined onstage by none other than J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. for a rendition of Dinsosaur Jr.'s "Feel the Pain"--which is probably the only song by that band that I remember from back in the day. He was also joined by Tim Kurr of Austin punk pioneers, the Big Boys, and performed said bands' song, "Sound on Sound."
                                                                                                                   













(Fred Armison rocking with J Mascis.)


I wish I could say I felt differently, but I was a little disappointed that Armisen was not doing a stand-up or sketch comedy set of some sort. I heard my thoughts echoing in the conversations of the people around me.  While his musical performance was great and Armisen is obviously a talented musician, a showcase of his skills as a comedic performer was decidedly missed.


 Day 2 Part two to Come!

Written by:
Jay Longoria
edited by: William Tompkins


LATERS













Tuesday, November 11, 2014

'Sirens' - by Hydrogen Child

Are they the literal sirens, are they the sirens in your head, or the sirens that lead one to his fate and doom?

Listen to the new song and watch the video from Hydrogen Child here - (http://youtu.be/6ekXuQiF6mo).

I had the pleasure of sitting with the band early on and through part of the interview was dropped a tasty little morsel about something upcoming called "Hydrogen Child" (after being 'hushed' by his band mates) I know see the light.

And that light is awesome. So let me put my spin on 'Sirens' by the band Hydrogen Child. I listened to the song first to get my sonic impression, then I watched the video.

'Sirens' is a fun pop - tune that has almost an 80's twist to the sound. It is catchy, sing along worthy song, and most definitely would have the entire crowd at a live show participating!
Beyond this is once again the amazing voice of lead singer Ansley Rimmer (congratulations to the former Ms. Ansley Hughes). Almost hidden by the music and the chorus tracks, but not quite. The sound of her voice is beautiful and distinct. As you listen you can hear Ansley's sly little smile come through. 
 
Musically it comes together and works so well. The core mix of the bass and drums is absolutely perfect. The guitar work is subtle yet quite clean and exacting for this song. If the keyboards were left out there is no doubt the sing would completely go flat. Again, as you listen you realize Hydrogen Child has something big on their hands.

As for the video. Not completely unusual for this band if you have known them in their previous incarnation. The video is a prefect introduction to the band, both stylistically and musically. Here his where the beauty of lead singer, Ansley, shines through. That wry little smile you hear in her voice grabs you as you watch and you will find yourself smiling and singing along before it is over.

Put it on repeat. Listen and enjoy. Watch it and be spellbound!


Laters

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

He's a cowboy baby


So I had a full amazing weekend of fun at the Circuit of the Americas  (http://circuitoftheamericas.com). Formula 1 is understandably one of the biggest sports in the world, outside of World Cup Soccer, for a reason. The fans are fanatical. The information they can tell you about the drivers, the cars, and the teams is mind boggling. The excitement of watching these cars blast around the world class facility that is the Circuit of the Americas is brilliant fun.





Being my third year at the F1 races I am every bit hopeful it will not be my last. Being able to take in the crowd, the excitement, and beauty of the cars is so worth the sunburn and exhaustion when it is all over. An interesting note is that on 2 separate years I have either had friends or family members go...their final thoughts were opposite to mine for the overall experience. Slightly saddening and disheartening, but happy the world crowd shows up to enjoy.




The Austin360 Amphitheater (http://austin360amphitheater.com)was recently titled as one of the best venues in the United States and one of the best NEW venues in the World! How lucky we are here in Austin. If you haven't been there yet, check out the calendar of events pick a show and a time, go, and be a part of that award winning facility. For me, over the year plus that the Amphitheater has been here, I have been blessed to see all sorts of performances here.



From country to metal, I have experienced a wide variety of music at the Austin360 Amphitheater. This evening it was rock...Kid Rock to be precise. Opening his set with Devil without a cause brought the entire crowd to their feet. As it should be at most any show, stand up and show the performer the love and joy of being their for the music and the show. And a show this was!


























Kid Rock (http://www.kidrock.com) was energetic, all over the stage, and performed the show as if there was no tomorrow. I sure hope that every person in that crowd that brought their children knew what to expect. It was, in the performers own words, Mutha fuckin KIIIDDD RROOOOCCCKKKKK! The whole performance by Kid Rock was completely exuberant. Kid Rock sang and rapped. He did country, pop, rock, and metal.


Hearing the songs on the radio is one thing. Hearing the songs live and all together is a totally different experience. What I heard I didn't expect. Kid Rock does a ton of covers. He does them well. He re works them. Kid Rock puts his lyrical spin on them, but I never noticed or realized just how many songs really aren't his. It was very surprising and some what of a let down, but the show was just that...a great show!















Kid Rock showed his flexibility as a musician by not only using his voice, but was all over the stage playing other instruments as well. He played guitar for one song, then piano, drums, and even took his turn on the 1's and 2's for a quick DJ set. It was completely as it should be for everyone, entertaining entertaining, entertaining. It really was baww wit DA baw...bad ass. Explosions, fire, and fun it was Kid Rock.













For the crowd in attendance it was just as it should be, on your feet, singing along at the top of your lungs, cheering like a freak, and having just a plain old great time...with an American Bad Ass.




















Laters