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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 ( 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 ( 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, ( 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 ( 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