Boston recently had the pleasure of welcoming Glasgow-hailing post-rock giants, Mogwai. Having never witnessed a band of their caliber or unique sound live, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had been to many instrumental performances before – jazz, classical, progressive – but I knew this was going to be different.
On Tuesday April 8th, Toronto's Kool Haus was swept with a wave of nostalgia with The Used and Taking Back Sunday's co-headlining tour taking the stage. The show was sold out; leaving room for only diehard fans that aged and grew with songs from both iconic bands since the early 2000s. The openers were former Underoath singer Spencer Chamberlain's new band Sleepwave and Australian five piece pop-punk band Tonight Alive. Both openers killed it.
No radio ads, no skywriters, no billboards. It all started with an e mail from a publicist that read: "This invitation is not to be posted or shared... and the location must not be revealed in any form of media or social media." On Tuesday, April 8, Aerosmith affirmed its upcoming "Let Rock Rule Tour" with Slash featuring Miles Kennedy and the Conspirators in a very rock and roll way. The venerated band from Boston played a show on Hollywood's Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip.
Could party rockers Ugly Kid Joe and New Jersey scumbags Skid Row still pack a punch after all these years? Well, a sold-out crowd in Reading were left in no doubt as both bands smashed through hit-laden sets.
When Frightened Rabbit took to the stage for their mammoth 20 song set, there was no doubt as to how elite of an act the Scottish unit had become.
British metalcore kids Bury Tomorrow finish their touring cycle with a sold-out show in London before heading off for much bigger, brighter lights.
Sweden's Katatonia is a band of pleasing contradictions, one that combines differing elements into a darkly emotive blend of sound. While watching them perform at New York's Irving Plaza on September 24th, those paradoxes came to the fore, mostly to the band's advantage. Onstage it's not physically stoic (considering the act's name, that wouldn't be a surprise), but its players don't run amok like sugar-stoned toddlers, either, and singer Jonas Renkse kept his face hidden behind his curtain of long dark hair like a grieving widow, never showing his face. Despite being a progenitor of the doom genre, its set list didn't sound depressing or disturbing enough to be described as black. Its uptempo moments weren't consistent enough to be straight metal; the same goes for its progressive characteristics.
Our first port of call on the Saturday is hard rockers Heaven's Basement who are making a bit of name for themselves with their frill-free hard rock and, by the looks of the swelling numbers as they smash through the likes of "Fire Fire" from their 'Filthy Empire' album, they’re a band who will soon by muscling their way up bills like this one.
Despite last year's horrendous weather causing all sorts of problems for Download organizers and weather reports ranging from pouring rain to thirty degree heat this year, it didn't stop eighty thousand rock fans from descending on Donington Park for the annual rock extravaganza.
So, the final day arrives and the amount of Slayer shirts seen around the site would indicate that, for all their appearances at Download and Sonisphere, Bloodstock is their rightful home and this is their crowd.
Day two of Bloodstock and all talk was of the return of US metal legends Lamb Of God who were making their first UK appearance since the release of vocalist Randy Blythe from a Czech Prison.
Arriving on site, we're greeted by a troop of knights marching towards the VIP entrance. However, this is Bloodstock so we expect no less. The UK's premier metal festival returns with a line-up that is a heavy metal fans wet dream, but there is a long way to go until thrash titans Slayer bring the festival to a thunderous finale on Sunday night. Day one of Bloodstock Open Air opens up with Municipal Waste, Dark Funeral and headliner King Diamond amongst the acts to grace the stage.
As the Toronto crowd slowly trickled into the Virgin Mobile Mod Club there was a weirdly quick blurp of people and the venue shot from 20 patrons to a hundred in a matter of 2 Royal Thunder songs. With a couple beers and a shot of Jameson dead on the bar counter I realized that what was a dreadfully empty venue had become quite rammed. Sure most people might be here to see Baroness triumph over evil with their luscious tunes, but God damn they were treated to some fucking good Royal Thunder. The trio were in top form and easily outdid their last Toronto performance (they hit the Horseshoe Tavern back in October of 2012).
Tonight’s poor turnout could be due to the appalling weather conditions that rendered a good part of the UK house bound for six days, or it could be that the Reading metal crowd only make the effort to turn up when a name band comes to town, but whatever the reason, yet another show rolls through the town with little interest from the "scene kids".
I was really looking forward to seeing this show as it sounded like an absolutely killer line-up. I had never heard of Stolen Babies prior to this show, but all of the rest of the bands are fantastic, so I was excited to head to downtown Vancouver to see what was one of the best line-ups I have ever had the opportunity of seeing live (Stolen Babies, Paradise Lost, and co-headliners Katatonia and Devin Townsend).
Over the years I've had the opportunity to see metal band Prong on a few different occasions and I've always enjoyed them immensely. It had been a while since I saw them last though, and as such it was on this night that I set out to catch them in action once again. As expected, I was not disappointed at all. From the first note of the opening song, "For Dear Life”, font man Tommy Victor and the rest of the trio owned the stage, treating the nearly sold out crowd to a high energy show that had them singing along and pumping their fists in the air.
On May 30, Thrice’s "The Farewell Tour" stopped by Toronto where the band would play for the final time. I was lucky to catch this show; I’ve never seen Thrice live before and this would literally be my last chance. Unfortunately openers Animals as Leaders were unable to make the concert, leaving O’Brother to play a double set. This set back included, that night the Kool Haus venue seemed to be filled with a bittersweet atmosphere - entire room was filled with Thrice fans excited to watch one of their favorite bands live, the same fans who were sad this would be the last time the group graced the stage.
Recently Converge came to Toronto and brought one of the very best hardcore bands in existence with, Loma Prieta. After their opening set at the Mod Club, Loma Prieta played an after party show at local DIY venue The Soybomb. Loma were the secret special guest headliners playing with several amazing local Toronto hardcore bands. As jaw dropping as it was to see Loma Prieta up on a bigger stage there just isn't really anything like seeing them in a smaller and more casual space. The experience seems so much more powerful and exciting than in a large venue.
Traditionally, Tampa Bay’s audience doesn't seem to be very fond of Metal bands with strong melodic leanings. Most fans (and bands) in this part of the US are still deeply rooted in the Death Metal revolution that took the underground by storm during the early 90’s. That’s probably why expectations weren't high on the night that French metallers Alcest came to town to deliver their unique blend of ethereal Melodic Black Metal and Shoegaze. Surprisingly, all bets were wrong: a pretty decent crowd (formed mostly by 20 and 30 year olds) invaded The Crowbar, helping to create an intimate yet electrical atmosphere.
Learning from past experience is a sign of wisdom. And whatever you want to say about Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine, you can't deny his intelligence. Although he had the vision to launch Gigantour years before the touring circuit became glutted with rock fests, that first trek in 2005 struggled to fill venues despite carrying such proven names as Dream Theater and Opeth on the bill. Gigantour returned in 2006 as a dual-stage event, then trimmed down to one stage and five acts for its 2008 North American run. That third tour was the proverbial charm, setting the stage for Gigantour 2012: It’s playing in a mix of amphitheaters and theaters, and being booked in cold-weather months to avoid getting lost in the usual onslaught of summer concerts.