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Gallery: Manchester Orchestra presents the 11th annual The Stuffing at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, November 19

Photographer Ken Lackner was on hand to capture the iconic Atlanta event.

Gallery: Manchester Orchestra

Gallery: Andy Shauf

Gallery: The Cybertronic Spree at The Masquerade in Atlanta, November 13

Target Audience photographer Ken Lackner was on hand in Hell at The Masquerade in the heart of downtown Atlanta to capture The Cybertronic Spree’s Party ‘Til We Break 2021 tour.

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Live Review and Gallery: GWAR Beckons the Return of the Mosh Pit on the Scumdogs 30th Anniversary Tour

It has been a long time since I’ve filled this corner of the internet with tales of the pit. The pandemic has been one helluva gut punch for those of us who thrive on live music. I’ve missed the pockets of folks outside the venue huddled around conversations and cigarettes. I’ve missed that anticipation of finding merch that catches your eye and becomes a keepsake. I’ve missed the vibe you catch when the lights dim right before a band mesmerizes a crowd with that opening tune. After 2020, I’m not taking live music for granted anymore and hope to keep sharing my experiences with y’all.

For years I have been wanting to see a GWAR show. I had only listened to a few of their songs but really wanted to experience their live show shenanigans of onstage theatrics and spraying the crowd in blood, piss, and guts. Yes, their shows have that 4-D goodness where you should expect to get covered in the glory of GWAR. I made it a point to not see GWAR until I could work press for one of their shows as more of a motivational drive to keep pushing myself with my writing. My waiting finally paid off as my first press gig back is covering GWAR, and as icing on the cake, the show was the Atlanta stop on their Slumdogs 30th Anniversary Tour in Heaven at the Masquerade.  I got my vax card and gym clothes in preparation for one of the best metal shows that I can check off my bucket list.

The two supporting bands, Eyehategod and Napalm Death, played their part in the ritual to summon GWAR to the realm of Earth. The crowd, however, was the catalyst in this ceremony with the constant chants of “GWAR! GWAR! GWAR!” billowing from the depths of the pit. The white shirts lined the rail, begging for the gore and mayhem to come. The anticipation in the air kept building as it got closer to the arrival of the infamous intergalactic warriors. This fog of foreplay foreshadowed the foreboding wet frenzy that GWAR had in store. This rabid fanbase was something else to witness, especially a fanbase that is this fervent after 30 years from the release of the iconic GWAR Slumdogs album. These grandpas and dads know how to send it for sure.

I found a spot on the balcony rail to capture the whole show. I know that at the next GWAR show I will offer myself as a tribute to the pit, white shirt and all. When the band took the stage, Blöthar the Berserker decapitated a human dummy to start the blood bath filled with the wailing screams of thrash metal. The stage show continued with multiple other slayings including tits being sliced off, bellies sliced open, scalps removed, and even a look-a-like of Joe Biden at the end for the encore. Blöthar even honored the crowd with a shower of galactic piss that rained down on the blood-stained masses. Through all of this chaos, the crowd kept offering human tributes to GWAR as crowd surfers sailed towards the rail. The energy in Heaven that night hit differently, either from the collective release of everyone due to the pandemic or because it was a GWAR show. Or possibly both. I’m glad I put so much anticipation behind seeing GWAR as my expectations were clearly out of their league.

Now that these space overlords are back to playing shows, I think there is some hope that things are finally getting back to normal. It makes you think that not a year ago, an event like this GWAR show would have been only a dream not only because of the crowd of people but also the spraying of blood, piss, and gore. Thank you GWAR for being heralds of the upcoming after times with live shows and shenanigans.

If you want to catch these guys on their Slumbdogs 30th Anniversary Tour, check out https://gwar.net/blogs/news/announcing-the-scumdogs-30th-anniversary-tour

Photos by Ken Lackner

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Legendary Shack Shakers shake East Atlanta’s The EARL with support from Rod Hamdallah plus The Compartmentalizationists

Hailing from Paducah, Kentucky, The Legendary Shack Shakers brought their brand of rock and roll and country to The EARL on November 4. They were joined by staples in the Atlanta rockabilly and surf rock scenes, Rod Hamdallah and Jeffrey Butzer and The Compartmentalizationists.

Coheed and Cambria

Coheed and Cambria & The Used in Jacksonville, FL

Coheed and Cambria and The Used concluded their 2021 tour in Jacksonville, FL on September 24th at Daily’s Place Amphitheatre.  Special guest carolesdaughter kicked off the show.

Photographer Stephanie Wells was on hand to capture the performance!

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Anberlin and The Early November end tour in Atlanta

Anberlin made a stop in Atlanta September 24th at Buckhead Theatre, with support from The Early November. After nearly two years of not touring due to Covid-19, the bands began the short fall tour at the beginning of September, and closed it out with a great crowd in Atlanta.

Emo/punk vets The Early November got the night started with a great set, beginning with “Call Off the Bells” and “Frayed in Doubt,” both from the 2012 album Currents. The rest of the set was largely devoted to 2003’s The Room’s Too Cold, such as “Baby Blue,” “Something That Produces Results,” and fan favorite sing-along “Ever So Sweet.”

Lead singer Ace Enders took a few moments to thank the fans for coming out to the show, reminiscing about the emo/punk wave of the early 2000’s and how even after twenty years, the style of music is still so beloved. “We’re all old now,” he joked, “But I like being old. I get to play these songs for my kids and a whole new generation and they love it.” Anberlin lead singer Stephen Christian made a surprise appearance after the speech to kiss Enders on the cheek in solidarity. The band closed with two songs from its first album For All of This, “I Want to Hear You Sad,” and “Every Night’s Another Story.”

The crowd was ready for Anberlin, which began the set with heart-pumping “We Are Destroyer,” from its tentative “last” album Lowborn, released in 2014. The band announced its breakup that same year, but after five years apart, Anberlin reunited to tour in 2019 and doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon. With a loyal fan base and an obvious continued love of performing, one would hope not. The band recently released a fantastic new song titled “Two Graves,” which hearkens back to the heavier days of 2003’s Blueprints for the Black Market and proves the band is still capable of opening up a mosh pit, which happened several times during the set.

“Wow, a mosh pit during “A Day Late?” joked Stephen Christian after performing the song, a lighter track from 2005’s Never Take Friendship Personal. “You’re trying to be the best crowd of the tour, and you are.”

The rest of the set included a good mix of tracks spanning Anberlin’s catalog, such as “Paperthin Hymn,” “Someone Anyone,” “Armageddon,” and “Take Me (As You Found Me).” Beloved 2007 album Cities got some love with “Dismantle. Repair.” “Godspeed,” and “The Unwinding Cable Car,” which Christian dedicated to the fans following a heartfelt speech about doing what you love.

“Whatever gives you purpose, passion, or meaning in life, you should go do that right now,” he said. “If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that no one is promised tomorrow. And this right here, being on stage, gives us meaning.”

The crowd sang back every word and remained pumped up for the rest of the evening, which ended much too soon with an encore of “The Feel Good Drag.”

Stream “Two Graves” here: https://ffm.to/twograves.ofp

Gallery: The Early November

Gallery: Anberlin

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Live Photos: Eric Johnson in Atlanta March 11, 2020

On March 11, Eric Johnson played his “A Night with Eric Johnson Tour

At the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta.  TAM Photographer Chuck Holloway

was on hand to capture the evening.  For more tour dates, visit the Eric Johnson

website.

Eric Johnson – The Center Stage – 2020

 

Queensryche

Queensryche, Live at The Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta

Queensryche, live at The Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, GA

It’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed, but “Mach 2” of the Seattle-based metal band Queensrÿche has been together now for roughly eight years and three albums. Where has the time gone? It wasn’t too long ago when people were saying things like: “How will they survive Chris DeGarmo’s exit?” “How will they survive Geoff Tate’s exit?” How will they survive when radio stations rarely play rock music and people don’t buy albums anymore? Queensrÿche has stayed the course and have proven themselves to be bulletproof. Not only have they survived the chaos of years past, they seem to be picking up steam with the release of their very well-received album from last year, The Verdict. Still touring to promote that album, I caught up with the band on yet another rainy night in Atlanta at The Buckhead Theatre to see it live for myself.

The stage set was minimal, but colorful. There were several monolith-like standing video screens on stage, flashing the band’s logo along with a variety of images during each song. Two circular video panels were set into the front of drummer Casey Grillo’s bass drums, which also displayed images like spinning skulls and fire. In between the screens were a series of rotating lights, adding some low-level color behind the band.

The song selection was heavily weighted towards Queensrÿche’s first four albums, plus a handful of selections from The Verdict. “Blood of the Levant” was probably my favorite off of the new disc, but “Bent,” “Man In The Machine,” “Dark Reverie” and “Light-years” all fit in seamlessly with the older material. Speaking of the old material, it was great to hear deeper cuts like “Resistance” from Empire and “Prophecy” from their major label debut, The Warning. I wish more bands would dig deeper into their back catalog. It’s almost like a nod to their true fans – the people who know their music inside out, not just their hits.

I gotta say, picking Todd La Torre to front this band was really a stroke of genius. His powerful vocals never fail to impress, especially singing the more challenging Geoff Tate era songs like “Queen Of The Reich” and “Screaming In Digital.” La Torre rarely bails on his vocal duties – he attacks all of this challenging material full-on. His singing on “Take Hold Of The Flame” was superb, equalling Tate’s power and vibrato.

The band’s musical performance was pretty faithful to each song’s recorded version. Queensrÿche has never been a band that jams or strays too far from the original, and that still holds true. I’d love to see them drop in a cover song, or maybe do a mini-acoustic set, paying tribute to their excellent “MTV UnPlugged” performance from many years ago. Not that there’s anything wrong with sticking closely to their history of work, but I think their live show could use a little more variety, and not just in the song choices. 

Still, this was a great night of music that you should not miss. The band will be touring across the US through July, and you can also catch them in Las Vegas in June as part of the Scorpions Las Vegas residency at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood.

Set list
Prophecy / Operation Mindcrime / Walk In The Shadows / Resistance / Man In The Machine / Take Hold Of The Flame / Bent / The Needle Lies / Dark Reverie / Breaking The Silence / Silent Lucidity / Jet City Woman / Screaming In Digital / Queen of the Reich

Encore
No Sanctuary / Light-years / Empire / Eyes of a Stranger

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Welshly Arms rock Vinyl Jan 19

Vinyl was the host on a chilly night in Atlanta for the return of Welshly Arms, with support from SCR and The Unlikely Candidates.

Fans who arrived early were treated to a highly energetic and fun set from SCR (Sir Cadian Rhythm), a five piece band out of New York. With a pop-rock sound reminiscent of early Fall Out Boy, and just a hint of ska/funk to make it stand out from the crowd, SCR held the crowd’s attention throughout the set, which began around 7pm—not an easy feat in the age of cell phones. The band was having the time of their lives, with each other and with the crowd, and the set, including the popular “Not Quite Done Yet,” was over much too soon. The song recently surpassed one million streams on Spotify, which keyboardist/trombonist Matt Carlin acknowledged with a huge smile.

Another band that is steadily on the rise, The Unlikely Candidates, took the stage next, with frontman Kyle Morris commanding the stage and giving his all to the music. The band, out of Fort Worth, Texas, has had recent radio success with the 2019 single “Novocaine,” which is a great song, but the performance of “Violence,” from 2017’s EP Danger To Myself, stole the show with it’s distorted vocals and sing-along chorus. “Celebrate,” on which the band collaborated with Dirty Heads in 2017, was another crowd favorite.

Then it was onto the band everyone was waiting for, Welshly Arms. A bit hard to say (it comes from a Saturday Night Live sketch), but a name you should definitely know. There really aren’t enough bands out there who still play the blues, and fewer who do it with a power-punch of soul and rock-n-roll, as this band does so well. From the gritty vocals of frontman Sam Getz, to the enormously fun to watch singing, dancing back-up duo of Bri and Jon Bryant, Welshly Arms is a band that commands attention, and gives so much back to the audience while performing. The set included songs from the 2018 album No Place Is Home, such as “Sanctuary,” an ode to leaning on each other to get through life, “Down to the River,” and the fun, dance-able track “Indestructible.” A beautiful cover of The Beatles “Something in the Way” was the highlight of the set, giving each vocalist a chance to sing a verse, while the crowd sang every word back. Other highlights were “Hoochie Coo,” “Love of the Game,” and of course, “Legendary,” the song that propelled Welshly Arms up the charts after being featured in numerous advertising campaigns.

If you know this song, please sing along,” Getz said beforehand. The crowd obliged, singing back the words that are beginning to come true for this talented band: “We’re gonna be legends!”

SCR Gallery
The Unlikely Candidates Gallery
Welshly Arms Gallery
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Bumblefoot’s Storyteller Concert Series – Milkboy Philly

Just three days into 2020, I had the pleasure to attend my first ever Bumblefoot solo show. And this one truly was solo! Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal [Sons Of Apollo, Asia], guitarist and vocalist extraordinaire, has been doing storyteller-styled concerts; alone except for his guitar, microphone, and some backing tracks. Despite this minimalist setting, Thal has quite a large presence, and all I saw were happy faces in the house at Milkboy Philadelphia as he performed fretboard pyrotechnics on his double-necked Vigier guitar. Voices layered on top of one another from the audience during cover songs like “Somebody to Love” by Queen, just as Thal layered his own guitar parts for his singular arrangement of “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” by The Police. There was plenty of time for stories as well, and Ron regaled us with how he’d painted himself into a corner with complicated guitar parts for the new Sons Of Apollo album, MMXX (out January 17), giving a sneak peak of some over-the-top riffs, licks, and solos.

Joining Bumblefoot for the evening was the band Mach22, a very capable hard rock band with a great sense of groove. At the end of Thal’s set, he invited the band back onstage to have an impromptu jam on a number of classics, including “Whole Lotta Rosie” by AC/DC, “It’s So Easy” by Guns N’ Roses, and closing things out with a thrilling version of KISS’ “Detroit Rock City.”

While there’s no substitute for the real thing, I captured some stills here and there that I hope will tease your appetite. You might also be interested in checking out our interview with Bumblefoot, conducted just prior to this show!