Blaze Bayley in Baltimore


 

I’ll be perfectly honest: I hadn’t ever heard Blaze Bayley’s work until Friday, May 17th.  Not his solo work, not with Wolfsbane, not even with Iron Maiden.  But when I heard he’d be coming to Sparta Inn for his Tour Of The Eagle Spirit, I knew this wouldn’t be a show I’d want to miss.  I’d heard great things about Blaze’s showmanship, and coupling that with the fact that he’d be playing tunes from all three of his Infinite Entanglement concept albums, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t go.  I mean, how often do you get the chance to catch an artist who’s touring behind a three-part concept?

I didn’t have the opportunity to arrive early, but I did manage to come in with a few of the regional acts still left.

 
Offensive: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Offensive is a heavy metal band out of Essex, MD, and played a combination of originals and cover tunes.  The bassist and lead singer, Leon Sohail, and guitarist Maxim Sobchenko, took turns with the vocals – the former handling the harsh and the latter the clean. The standout moment for me was when they performed a solid version of “Holy Diver” in honor of Ronnie James Dio.

 

A Sound Of Thunder: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

A Sound Of Thunder is always a favorite of mine.  It would be obvious if you saw me, wearing a battle jacket with their creation, Udoroth, displayed in vivid color through the artwork of the talented Trav Hart.  In fact, I brought my wife along to this show and she finds the foursome as delightful as I do.  And, as usually, the band didn’t disappoint with heavy hitters such as “Queen Of Hell,” “It Was Metal,” and the aforementioned “Udoroth.”  Unfortunately, the song they wrote which features Blaze, “My Disease,” didn’t make an appearance that night, but Bayley did end up selling one of their CDs for them while they were rocking out onstage.

 

Blaze Bayley: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

I had a chance to speak with Blaze just before his set.  I let him know that this was my first time seeing him live, but that I was very excited for it.  He was so humble and down to Earth during that interaction, but when he took the stage, something clicked and he became larger than life.  It was really like watching live theater with the way he wore his expressions so vividly.  Adding to that feeling, as Blaze introduced each of the Infinite Entanglement tracks, he spoke as if a narrator, giving us background on the origins and the struggles of the main character, William Black.

Somehow, despite the downtrodden position Black finds himself in, Bayley managed to carry a positivity in his performance that he imbued into each person in attendance.  I think, in part, this is due to the chemistry he and his band have.  They’re really having fun on stage, even at times when Blaze wants you to be certain that the guitarist (and co-producer of the Infinite Entanglement records), Chris Appleton, has committed mutiny by commandeering his vocal melody into a guitar solo.  I couldn’t help but laugh as Appleton urged the crowd to be silent during Bayley’s melody sing-along, but felt too committed to helping Blaze to remain silent myself!

Of course, the crowd went wild for the Maiden staples, such as “Futureal” and “Virus.”  I think Blaze was excited for them too, and he made a point of commenting on how wonderful a time he had during his five years in the band.  He told us that he was living the dream then, but he’s still doing it now, thanks to all of us.  He told the supporting acts to never let people nay-say and discourage them, because if he could come from nothing and be the singer of one of the most renowned heavy metal bands on the planet, they could achieve their dreams as well.  Honestly, his conviction makes it easy to believe, and his stage-show makes you want to dream.  So if Blaze Bayley comes to your town, and you have even an inkling of doubt whether you should attend, wash that thought from your mind.  Regardless of what he and his band play, you’re going to leave happier than you entered.

‘Rise Among Rivals’ by Rise Among Rivals

Transcendent Events always sets up great concerts featuring a stunning array of Baltimore-area bands. I had the pleasure of attending their Halloween event about three weeks ago, and more than a few bands turned my head. One of those acts was a new group called Rise Among Rivals, a hard rock band whose self-titled EP became available just this summer. Despite only recently emerging on the scene, it was evident that they are not suffering for a fan base, taking stage to an immediately ecstatic crowd. I quickly understood the rationale, as energy erupted off this foursome, delivering an emotional, yet precise, performance.

I did myself a favor and grabbed a copy of their singular release to get a better idea of what makes this band tick. What I found were six extremely catchy, well-played tracks; tightly executed rhythms, powerful bass presence, and passionate vocal phrasing. “Left Alone” is a particular favorite of mine, with whistling pipe organs laying the groundwork for David Gascon’s [vocals] emotive vocals to warble overtop, as though they’re passing through a cascading sheet of water, before the dual-guitar sledge of Gascon and Jim Poggi crash down upon us. Jamey McElroy’s immense basslines shake us from underneath, jutting upward with the heartbeat of Christopher Tepper’s percussion. There’s a computerized effect during the song, seemingly imitated by the guitars through slides and other fretboard pyrotechnics, which adds even more flair to an already enjoyable experience. This focus on the second track isn’t meant to diminish the others. I certainly want to address tracks like “Bliss,” with its delicious, bass-heavy launch from the starting gate, the use of both a traditional kit and electronic drum samples to widen the flavor palette, as well as the dynamic see-saw of soft and heavy sections. This last point draws the ear to the spacious verses as well as the explosive chorus, and emphasizes both that much more.

Lyrically, Rise Among Rivals largely focuses on relationships that have overstayed their welcome, along with a bit of self-reflection for good measure. While this is certainly not your soundtrack for a happy-go-lucky romantic comedy, there is a note of positivity throughout in the fact that the protagonist of this story is aware of the problems they face and are doing their best to get out of them (the only exception being “Bliss”). And, as I’ve already noted, Gascon is solidly expressive from start to finish, easily drawing the listener into this world to connect with the music.

Rise Among Rivals’ first release is tremendously enjoyable. They have garnered well-deserved attention through six songs that are powerful and catchy, and have shown themselves to be a heavyweight contender during their live shows. If they continue this trajectory, having already accumulated quite the following in less than six months, I would not be surprised to see them start to support national acts before much longer. I’ll definitely be paying close attention to what this foursome chooses to deliver in the future, because I have no doubt that it will be fantastic.

Purchase Rise Among Rivals at: iTunes | Amazon | CDBaby

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Carbon Leaf’s 25th Anniversary

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Richmond, VA-based band, Carbon Leaf, and they’re celebrating it on the road.  As often happens when Carbon Leaf comes to town, I found myself there.  And it’s not just because of the photos and review, but because I really love the experience.  But I’ll come back to that later.

Scott Mulvahill: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | iTunes | Spotify

For this first stretch of the tour, the band were joined by solo upright bassist, Scott Mulvahill.  Mulvahill, who made a name for himself by spending five years playing alongside Ricky Skaggs in the Grammy-winning band Kentucky Thunder, caused me to raise an eyebrow when I first saw him emerge onstage.  “How,” I thought to myself, “can a solo bass player entertain a roomful of people for half an hour?”  I have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth, and by the end of his set I was standing in line at the back of the room, now singing a melody to the tune of “take my money” for his EP, Top Of The Stairs.

Scott has a voice like velvet and can pluck, slap, and bow a bass like nobody’s business.  But it was in his down-to-earth attitude and affability that he won over the crowd.  “As you may have noticed,” he began, “I’m a solo bass player.  I could really use some clapping for this next song, but if you stop…at any point… it will be extremely awkward for your lone bass player.”  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bass player, all alone, get cheered so loudly.

 

Carbon Leaf: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | iTunes | Spotify

As I was saying, I really love the experience!  Carbon Leaf doesn’t just put on concerts; they throw family gatherings.  They bring a storied history with them, like a family often does, with inside jokes and traditions that they have built with their fanbase over time.  If you’ve attended any of their shows in the last five years or so, or you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll be well aware of the one-mic portion of the show.  The band gathers around a single microphone, acoustic instruments at the ready, and the audience hushes to a whisper…or as much as alcohol will allow.  But sometimes one tradition finds its way into another, such as when the jovial holiday tradition of “Carter’s Christmas Beard,” a little ditty sung by bassist Jon Markel as an ode to guitarist Carter Gravatt’s winter solstice shavelessness, makes its way into the air – cutting off the intro to another song.  The laughter that results doesn’t make sense to anyone but family.

And that togetherness goes hand-in-hand with their upcoming album, Gathering Vol. 1 (out June 1st), which we were privileged to hear most of that night.  The album is said to be about community, and the two tracks which opened the show, “Come Sunday Morn” and “Bow & Arrow,” certainly brought the audience together quickly.  The band were as full of energy as the first time I saw them, nearly a decade ago.  And while the evening soon turned into a Maryland turf war over who could spoil the band the most with drinks, leaving guitarist Terry Clark merely uttering “Oh no!” as more rounds appeared on stage, and vocalist Barry Privett warning, “this will not go how you think it’s going to go,” it was a wonderful time for all in attendance.  At the end of the show, closing out with another one of the new tunes, “Gift From The Crows,” the band members all filed out and sat down at a table to greet anyone and everyone who wanted a moment of their time, a picture, and an autograph.  They stayed until the venue started kicking people out, and lingered even then to hear another fan’s long-awaited confession about what their music meant to them.

They’re good people, and you won’t regret it if you take time to see them live this year.  They’ll be around.

Iced Earth at Baltimore Soundstage

After the immense high of seeing Judas Priest in concert, and with news of an impending snow storm coming the following day, I was excited to chill out for one more great concert with Iced Earth at Baltimore Soundstage on March 19, 2018. What’s more, they were bringing Sanctuary with them, a great metal band who recently had experienced turmoil, but were persevering to bring their music to the masses. Opening for these two respected metal acts were Kill Ritual, and a particular delight to me, MindMaze, a group I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several times before.

MindMaze: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | iTunes 

Pennsylvania-based MindMaze is a talented foursome, featuring siblings Sarah (vox) and Jeff Teets (guitars), bassist Rich Pasqualone, and drummer Mark Bennett. Having seen them open for Udo Dirkschneider (ex-Accept), as well as attending a headlining show of theirs, I’m familiar with their intricate, melodic brand of heavy metal. Opening for Iced Earth was a great chance for them to showcase this to a new audience, and their six-song set brought a huge response from the crowd. Bennett’s monumental beats crashing down supported the meanderings of Jeff and Rich as they attempted not to get their fingers tied in knots wandering their fretboards. Sarah’s banshee wail closed out the final notes of “This Holy War,” widening eyes and ushering applause from the audience.

 

Kill Ritual: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | iTunes

Next up were West Coast metallers, Kill Ritual, supporting their newest album, All Men Shall Fall. Though only four of the quintet were present (bassist Jim Pegram being on tour with Mudface, so guitarist Chris Lotesto took up bass duties), they put on a solid set. They were very relaxed, feeling at home on stage and off! In fact, during the third song of their set, vocalist David Reed Watson disappeared and suddenly showed up in the photo pit with us. Soon he was standing on the barricade, screaming into the crowd, while Lotesto and guitarist Steven Rice commanded the stage alongside drummer Seamus Gleason.

 

Sanctuary: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Sanctuary has had a rough time in recent memory. In December 2017, frontman Warrel Dane (ex-Nevermore) passed away. However, with the tour already in place, the band decided to continue, dedicating these performances as both a tribute to Dane’s life and as a farewell tour for the band. Joined by Witherfall vocalist, Joseph Michael, they put on one Hell of a show for Baltimore, drawing on equal amounts of material from their three studio albums, Refuge Denied, Into The Mirror Black, and the most recent release, The Year The Sun Died. The songs were nailed down tight, and Michael hit high note after high note, while guitarists Lenny Rutledge and Joey Concepcion (Armageddon) seared through dual guitar solos. All in all, it was a wonderful send-off for the band and I wish them all the best of luck on their next endeavors.

 

Iced Earth: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Iced Earth, on a world tour in support of their album, Incorruptible, took the stage to a roaring crowd. The setlist was a mix of extremely early and extremely recent material: while the plurality of songs came from Incorruptible, the majority of tracks came from 90s releases, with the focus on the band’s sophomore album, Night Of The Stormrider. But early or old, the crowd was ecstatic to be in attendance. Every hand in the audience was thrown up, pounding forth to the rhythm of the music in the form of a clenched fist or horns. “Do we still have energy out there?!” vocalist Stu Block screamed to the crowd, who cheered back a forceful wall of affirmation. “Good, that’s the key,” he responded, before going into The Dark Saga tune, “Vengeance Is Mine.” Soundstage was suddenly filled with chants of “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!”

Something unexpected and truly special for fans occurred during the encore. As the group tore into the heavier portion of “Watching Over Me,” former vocalist Matthew Barlow emerged onstage and joined in. Hitting the highs of the chorus while Block took the lows, they sang shoulder to shoulder, then let the music drop off suddenly, allowing the audience to continue the chorus A Capella. The night closed out, all members, including Barlow, bowing to that same roar of the crowd which had greeted them when they first took the stage.

Slayer’s Summer Tour drenches Baltimore

Drenching wet, save for my camera, I stood dripping under the canopy of the Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore.  Umbrella or not, blocks of walking through the streets overflowing with water had left me and my fellow concert-goers far from dry.  Our victory: standing in the presence of one another, and soon, of some stellar musicians under the safety of the awning overhead.  Tonight would be one of metal, for we were about to embark upon a journey led by Behemoth, Lamb Of God, and Slayer.

 

Behemoth: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

I had heard great things regarding The Satanist, the newest album from Polish metal band, Behemoth, and thus was excited to experience them trial by fire.  Though I dabbled in a few songs prior to the show, I was largely approaching their music with virgin ears.  Not only did I not burst into flames, but I was stunned by the sheer power exuded by these blood-coated individuals on stage.  Nergal, the frontman of the group, roared out lyrics and waved an incense burner to properly acclimate the crowd, while low-ender, Orion, and lead guitarist, Seth, gave off devilish smiles and riffed out one dissonant chord after the next.  Drummer, Jon Rice, filling in for regular percussionist, Inferno, pounded out one song after another, and I certainly had no complaints.

 

Lamb Of God: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

The Richmond, VA-based groove metalers, Lamb Of God, are the one act who played on July 28 which I probably knew best, especially considering I had reviewed their last full-length release, VII: Sturm und Drang.  However, despite my love of their music, I had yet to see them in concert.  I was not disappointed!  Drawing most of their material from Sacrament, followed by the aforementioned album, the quintet launched through ten of their most recognized songs, even teasing a few seconds of Slayer’s “Raining Blood.”  Throughout, vocalist Randy Blythe hurled himself through the air, belting out his signature guttural tones, while the Adler brothers, along with Mark Morton and John Campbell, created a sonic wall of destruction.  They closed their 50 minute set out with the rhythmically infectious “Redneck,” and it was clear that the crowd would have loved an hour more.

 

Slayer: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

As part of thrash metal’s Big Four, alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax, Slayer helped pioneer American thrash metal in the early 1980s.  When I tried to induct myself into the leagues of Slayer fans years ago (when I first became a fan of Metallica and Megadeth), I didn’t see the appeal.  However, with time my tastes has fluctuated, and upon listening to albums like Show No Mercy, Hell Awaits, and Reign In Blood recently, I’ve found that immersing myself in their music is greatly welcomed.  And they were ever bit as intense as I imagined, ripping through an hour and a half of music at breakneck speeds, with guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt alternating through blistering solos.  Towards the end, someone attempted to yell at frontman and bassist, Tom Araya, between songs.  Tom, unable to hear what the fan was saying, began moving his lips silently in reply.  I couldn’t see the fan from my vantage point, but it seems someone thought a middle-finger was in order, which saw Araya smiling with the release of a few birds of his own.  Next thing you know, the entire audience was waving middle-fingers in the air.

As a metal fan, I greatly enjoyed this show, and I would have been sorely disappointed had I missed it.  While I was still far from dry by the time the last song rolled around, it was time well-spent, and you’d do well not to deprive yourself of the experience.

Testament / Sepultura / Prong in Baltimore

“Are you going to the Testament show on April 24?” a friend asked me casually.  “I wouldn’t miss it,” I replied.  And what reason could I have to not come out to see such a stellar line-up, featuring not only Testament, but supporting bands, Sepultura and Prong.  Each of these groups have released albums that I’ve cherished as part of my music collection, and I certainly wasn’t going to skip a chance at enjoying those songs live.  Despite some miscommunication that delayed my entry to Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore until after the opening band had come and gone, I entered to provide you with these photos.

Prong: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

An Italian musician and friend, Max Usai of Confrontational, turned me on to a number of bands years ago, including Prong, Sepultura, and Sadus (whose bassist, Steve DiGiorgio, now plays with Testament).  I thank him a great deal for sharing his musical joys with me and allowing me to make them my own.  I’ve enjoyed Tommy Victor and each incarnation of Prong that I’ve heard through the years, and he and the boys were kind enough to come out swinging last Monday.  Though only a three-piece, Tommy ripped on the guitar, backed up nicely by Mike Longworth on bass, and Art Cruz, whose energy erupted from behind the drumset.  And while only having time for a six-song set, they made the most of it, unleashing several tracks from their new album, X (No Absolutes), then digging back into their catalog for a few classic tunes from Prove You Wrong and Cleansing.   The set ended with “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck,” and chants from fans continued for Prong even as roadies took apart the equipment.

 

Sepultura: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

I remember walking through a record store in the outskirts of Dallas, TX years ago and taking home a treasure trove of heavy metal albums.  Two of those albums were Sepultura’s Chaos A.D. and Roots.  The Brazilian metaller’s style of music has evolved throughout the years, beginning with thrash and diverging into more groove-oriented metal when they reached the two aforementioned works.  Now, as the band tours behind its newest release, Machine Messiah, they are rousing audiences with a large collection of songs going all the way back to 1989’s “Beneath The Remains,” but focusing heavily on the new material.  They did a great job of keeping the crowd engaged, as fists jutted into the air in time with the rhythm of the drums (with vocalist Derrick Green joining drummer Eloy Casagrande at one point on a separate snare).  Bassist Paulo Jr. kept the songs tight with Eloy (who was an absolute beast behind the kit), while guitarist Andreas Kisser sank into his riffs, to the joy of those in attendance.  They ended with a 1-2-3 punch of “Refuse/Resist,” “Ratamahatta,” and “Roots Bloody Roots,” which lead the crowd into a frenzy of thrashing delight.

 

Testament: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Finally, the band at the top of the docket.  Testament has been celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the release of their debut album, The Legacy, which appeared in 1987.  That being said, the majority of their set isn’t pulled from that album, but rather their latest release, Brotherhood Of The Snake.  But they did state that they were trying to change up the setlist they usually play on this tour, and dug down for some tracks that may not get as much love as they should.  Thus, fans heard songs that ranged over nine different releases from throughout the group’s career, and were ecstatic at them all.  Perhaps the most unusual part of their set was not the song choices, but rather the inclusion of a solo performance by every member of the ensemble.  The exception, of course, was vocalist Chuck Billy, but the rest of them took to their instruments in the most impressive of ways.  Bassist Steve DiGiorgio finished his solo by flowing directly into “Urotsukidôji,” joined by the rest of the cast, which served as something of an extended solo performance for those involved.  What particularly stands out in my mind, however, is the band’s song called “Into The Pit,” which resulted in a lot of moshing and quite a few crowd surfers.  If I recall correctly, this venue had signs up threatening expulsion if crowd surfing occurred, but dedicated fans ignored those warnings as they floated blissfully over a sea of hands and into the waiting arms of security guards…who immediately let them right back out into the thick of it.

I had so much fun at this show, and I’m sure you will too.  The musicians are all very humbled to have such a warm welcome, and pour their souls into the performances.  You will not be disappointed.

Queensrÿche at Baltimore Soundstage

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15 years ago, by accident, I stumbled upon a copy of Queensrÿche’s Greatest Hits album.  Enticed by their logo, I took a chance on their music.  To say I was blown away would be a vast understatement.  The heaviness, the melodies, and the twin-guitar harmonies were enough to win over my ears.  With each album I bought, my appreciation grew deeper and fandom stronger.  Queensrÿche has long been one of my favorite bands, despite line-up changes, but I had never been to a show until last Saturday night, Dec. 3, 2016, when the band came to play the Baltimore Soundstage, along with Armored Saint and Midnight Eternal.  Not only did I have the pleasure of attending the show, but I had the honor of doing photography for Target Audience Magazine in the process!
 

Midnight Eternal: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

The opening act for the night was NYC-based symphonic metal band, Midnight Eternal.  Fronted by the very talented Raine Hilai, whose vocal range is quite wowing, and backed by a formidable band, the group received wide-ranging applause after every song.  Guitar theatrics from Richard Fischer, thick bass lines from Greg Manning, and powerful drumming from Dan Prestup helped to warm up the crowd, who had hurried in out of the chilly Baltimore night to see this show.


Armored Saint
: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

80s heavy metal veterans, Armored Saint, were up next.  I must confess, barring listening to one song by this band and the previous one, I had never heard any of their music.  As a man without expectations, I was impressed!  The sheer immensity of energy radiating from these individuals was quite quickly felt throughout the entire room.  If anyone had murmured a word about wanting to skip straight to the headlining act, that thought was squashed by song-after-song of high-intensity aggression.  Frontman John Bush was on fire from start to finish, and both guitarists, Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval, brought the attack to the crowd.  Bassist Joey Vera was a man of many faces, and one of my great defeats of the night was being unable to keep up with these exploits as I shot the show.  Last, but not least, drummer Gonzo Sandoval was solid behind the kit, and looked to be having as much fun as the audience!

One worrisome moment occurred when Bush stepped forward onto a stage monitor, but that monitor wasn’t exactly on the stage.  Due to limited space, the monitors had been set upon rolling crates in front of the stage, resulting in Bush crashing down into the photo pit.  With some quick reflexes he caught himself on the crate, preventing himself from meeting the floor.  Security was quick to come to his aid.  To everyone’s amazement, he barely missed a beat; continuing to sing throughout the fall as though nothing had happened.  He received quite a huge applause at the end of that song, and he commented, “No show is like another!  One show we play these songs, another we play that, and tonight you got to see the lead singer fall on his face.”  I’ll definitely be looking into this band more intensely now.


Queensrÿche
: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | Google+

I could hardly wait for Queensrÿche to take the stage.  Armored Saint was positively thrilling, but I’d been waiting 15 years for this concert.  They unleashed the photographers shortly before the band came on, giving me time to snap a shot of the setlist and geek out a little at knowing what the concert would hold for us before anyone else.  The first three songs, the ones I would get to shoot, were “Guardian,” “Operation: Mindcrime,” and “Best I Can.”  The lights on their LED board glowed with an introduction of the band, and drummer Scott Rockenfield banged out a forceful musical accompaniment.  His headlamp illuminated his sticks and drumheads as he went.  The crowd’s cheers grew as other members of the band took their positions onstage, before launching into the opening track.  Singer Todd La Torre ran past me in his studded leather jacket to command things from the front of the stage.

Before I knew it, the first three songs were over.  I was perhaps a little too caught up with having my musical heroes within a few feet of me to really keep track of the time [but not too caught up to miss snapping what I hope are images that you will enjoy viewing].  The rest of the show was for me to watch from stage right, enjoying how they pulled such a diverse collection of songs from their back catalog.  There was quite an even number of tracks from their first six albums (that’s all the way up to Promised Land), and even a few from this incarnation’s latest release as well.  I was overjoyed that they played “Eye9,” one of my favorite tunes from the new album, Condition Hüman, featuring hefty bass lines from Eddie Jackson.  Guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren were in top form as well, sharing lead guitar duties and melting them together in the classic Queensrÿche fashion.  The evening closed out with the final Mindcrime track, “Eyes Of A Stranger,” which left everyone in the audience begging for more as the band tossed guitar picks and drum sticks into the crowd and bid them adieu.

For those that endured the weather outside after the show (like I did, for an hour and a half), they were treated to some kind smiles from the frigid band members.  15 years of feelings welling up inside me, I should have known it wouldn’t be possible to convey myself as well as I’d have liked.  For that, I would have needed to invest in one of the VIP tickets.  But I managed to shake hands with Michael and Eddie, and tell them how excited I was to be experiencing one of my favorite bands for the first time.  That was it.  I didn’t have anything for them to sign.  I didn’t ask for anyone to take my picture with them.  I just thanked them and walked home.  And you know what?  Thank you, Queensrÿche.  It was a damn good show.

 

Jenn Grinels at Deer Creek House Concerts in Baltimore

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My wife and I had the honor recently of attending a private performance by national touring artist, Jenn Grinels, put on in the Baltimore area by Deer Creek House Concerts.  We’ve both been fans of Jenn for a number of years, ever since we first happened upon a set she played at Rams Head Live in 2012.  Known for her upbeat attitude, between song banter, and the ever-popular audience participation segments, she continues to sell out venues and astound crowds wherever she tours.  While she was plagued that night by being “more sick than [she’s] ever been in [her] life,” a strong cup of tea and sheer perseverance on her part resulted in a phenomenal and humorous show that won over the hearts of all those who had not been familiar with her prior to this intimate affair.

Here are a few shots I snapped throughout the night.  I’d highly recommend seeing her as she continues touring across the West Coast.  Find a date near you right here.

For those interested in learning more about private shows by Deer Creek House Concerts, look here.  They do a wonderful job that blends intimacy with professionalism.


For more on Jenn Grinels, visit:

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We Love The Underground in Baltimore

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We Love The Underground resurfaced last Thursday at Angel’s Rock Bar in Baltimore to grace listeners with a collection of songs from their back catalog, including a few from their recent album, Children Of The Program.  Though enticed by the bar’s free taco hour, the audience was sated by the group’s performance, garnished with an abundance of passion and intensity.  This was my second time seeing the ensemble, featuring Brad Cox [vocals], Eric McCullough and Patrick Sise [guitars], Joe Ruggiero [bass], Gary Holmes [drums], and a special appearance by producer, Tony Correlli on keys.  Though they impressed me previously, their latest performance was tighter than I’d experienced in the past.  I think it helped that I’d given the songs time to settle in too, as I found myself singing along as I snapped the photos below.  They also pulled out a surprise, performing AFI’s “Girls Not Grey.”  While I’m hardly a fan of that band, I admit that the song is a catchy one, and We Love The Underground brought an energy to it that electrified the crowd and myself.

The band, which opened the Monthly Mayhem concert, performed alongside others like Violence In Vanity, From Nothing, and Bridge To Divide.
 
 
Buy Children Of The Program (album) at: iTunes | Amazon
Buy Children Of The Program (book) at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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