One for the Road – Grace Potter at the Fillmore in Charlotte, NC – Photo Recap

Grace Potter brought her Magical Midnight Roadshow to the Fillmore in Charlotte for its second to last stop on the band’s fall tour this past Friday November 6th.   Here are images captured from Potters’s performance on the evening, some of which may also be featured in Grace Potter’s new guitar and keys player, Ben Alleman’s, tour blog.

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Grace Potter performing at the Fillmore in Charlotte, NC on Friday November 6, 2015 Photos courtesy of Robert Forte – 40_Photography (Instagram) – @bruins7140 (Twitter)

 

 

 

 

 

One for the Road – Soulfly – The International – Knoxville, TN

 

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Soulfly at the International in Knoxville, Tennessee on October 22, 2015

Max Cavalera has been carrying the torch for thrash metal and metal music in general for over thirty years.

Whether it be his genre defining work with Brazilian legends Sepultura, his fronting of the often under appreciated Soulfly, his many brilliant side projects such as Nailbomb, Cavalera Conspiracy (which saw him reunite with brother and fellow original Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera) or the more recently formed Killer Be Killed, Cavalera could easily challenge and beat out all comers seeking to be king of the thrash metal world.

Here’s the thing though, if the metal gods were to choose to anoint Cavalera as their king, he’d likely spit on the crown, throw it into a mosh pit and write a masterpiece of record denouncing the monarchy.

Just in case you’re wondering, yes Cavalera is that much of a bad ass and his sublime talent as musician as well a song writer should never come into question as here are countless reasons why well respected hard rock and metal icons such as Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) and Chino Moreno (Deftones) have chosen to collaborate with Cavalera over the years.

Cavalera brought the Soulfly tribe to the International in Knoxville this past week and the band nearly ripped the roof from its trusses with yet another bombastic and powerhouse metal performance that all who were attendance for should consider themselves lucky to have witnessed first hand.

Touring on the critically well received and tenth Soulfly studio release, Archangel, the band tore through a blistering 90-minute set of ferocity that had the International crowd moshing, thrashing and crashing into one another all evening long.

The set list Soulfly chose to feature included more than a few tracks off of the recently released Archangel including the title track “Archangel,” “Titans,” “Ishtar Rising,” and in my opinion one of the best Soulfly tracks ever produced, “Sodomites.”

Cavalera along with son Zyon (Drums), Marc Rizzo (lead guitar) and relatively new Soulfly touring bass player Mike Leon got the masses wound up by also cranking out Soulfly classics such as “Seek n’ Strike,” “Prophecy” and the crunching one, two punch of a set closer, “Jump Da Fuck Up and “Eye for an Eye.”

My affinity and respect for Cavalera and Soulfly’s music is unbending however I would be lying if I didn’t admit that one of the highlights of my attending any Soulfly concert is when Sepultura riffs make their way out of the amps and into the crowd.

This past Thursday proved to be no different as both myself and the vast majority of the fans got whipped into an immediate time warp and frenzy when the first chords of Sepultura tracks such as “Refuse/Resist,” “Dead Embryonic Cells/Arise” and “Roots Bloody Roots” were struck.

The days of thrash and sped metal shows selling out venues in this country has long since passed, assuming those times actually ever even existed.   However, you have to understand something, metal is a club that doesn’t accept memberships, you are simply either in or you’re out.

Metal doesn’t tolerate fair weather fans or passengers and I suspect the legends of the industry such as Cavalera himself would likely share this sentiment and wear it as a badge of honor.

Should you wish the defense to submit facts to support this case the only piece of evidence I’d ever present to the jury would be any live performance by Cavalera himself.

Over the years I’ve seen Cavalera perform in front of tens of thousands at events such as Ozzfest, several thousand in amphitheaters fronting Sepultura and even on the lighted stage in front of several hundred ravaging fans.

The takeaway from every single one of those performances is whether it be one person or one hundred thousand people in the audience Cavalera plays like it’s his last show on Earth and he always makes the fans feel as though they are part of his personal tribe.

This past week at the International in Knoxville Cavalera and Soulfly proved that nothing has changed as the band connected with the thrash starved audience from first note to last and delivered a performance any metal outfit would consider themselves lucky to emulate, let alone actually be able to pull off.

All hail king Cavalera, long live the king.

 

 

One to Watch: Sleepwalkers – ISIS Music Hall – November 4th – 9:00 PM

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Sleepwalkers play the ISIS Music Hall on November 4th at 9:00 PM

Pop, rock, psychedelic or whatever label you want to place on Sleepwalkers, the primary takeaway one should come away with regarding the Richmond, Virginia based quartet is a fairly simple one, these guys are just plain good.

Continuing to tour on their critically well received 2014 debut release, Greenwood Shade, Sleepwalkers offer up catchy layered harmonies, textured melodies and overall sublime musicianship to create a retro sound that evokes 70’s acts such as Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac and Paul McCartney’s Wings, while also throwing in some psychedelic elements that one may liken to Pink Floyd but probably are more closely aligned to that of Tame Impala.

Sleepwalkers sound is not completely locked in a time machine as there are nods to more modern alternative bands reminiscent of such acts as Vampire Weekend and even the Fleet Foxes.

Yet this is the very thing that ultimately makes Sleepwalkers something that is beyond rare in today’s world of popular music, they are unique.   By incorporating a multitude of influences that spread across decades and genres Sleepwalkers can’t easily be defined or put into a singular box and isn’t this a good thing?

On record the music Sleepwalkers offer up is somewhat complex and intricate.  Thus Greenwood Shade is an album I’d suggest grabbing a pair of of high quality headphones and listening to from beginning to end.

It’s literally one of those records where you’ll find yourself hearing sounds and experiencing each track a bit differently on every new listen.  That being said, one should not understate the electricity Sleepwalkers are able to generate in a live setting.

Although Greenwood Shade comes off a bit mellow and breezy on record when the band takes these songs to the stage they still retain the retro sound created in the studio but with significantly more rock and guitar oriented punch than one might expect.

Having taken in their show at the Grey Eagle earlier this year I can provide first hand testimony proving that it’s beyond evident why fellow Richmond, Virginia based rockers J. Roddy Walston & the Business took them on the road, Sleepwalkers rock.

Come see for yourself as Sleepwalkers play the ISIS Music Hall Wednesday November 4th at 9:00 PM.

Who:         Sleepwalkers

Where:      ISIS Music Hall / 743 Haywood Road

When:        Wednesday November 4, 2015 / 9:00 PM

Cost:          $5

Slice of the Peel: Grace Potter’s Two Night Residency in Asheville at the Orange Peel

 

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Grace Potter – At the Orange Peel – October 13, 2015

Grace Potter stopped the tour bus outside the Orange Peel in Asheville to deliver two nights of rock and roll to the North Carolina mountain town’s masses this past week.

Even if you’re a fan of Potter’s music it’s possible you may have not been aware that this time around she’s out promoting her first solo effort sans the Nocturnals the pop, groove and even dance oriented Midnight.

Sonically Midnight is quite a divergence from the more jam band oriented sound of the Nocturnals earlier efforts and even from the more rock radio friendly 2012’s The Lion the Beast the Beat, thus it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Potter has made changes to the band’s line up for this tour’s cycle as well.

Gone are original Nocturnal guitarist Scott Tournet, as well as Asheville resident and recent bassist for the Nocturnals, Michael Libramento.  These fine musicians have been replaced by Ben Alleman (guitar/keys), Tim Deaux (Bass), Eliza Jones (keys) and Daiki Hirano (percussion).

I’m guessing that these line up alterations are in large part are a reflection of Potter’s desire to bring a different sound and feel to her live shows that is more closely aligned with the direction of the new material.

Original Nocturnals drummer Matt Burr is still behind the kit as is long time guitar player Benny Yurco.   It’s the latter in Yurco where as any fan of Potter’s live shows over the past decade you are forced to take notice of.

In the past Tournet would often take most of the leads on the monster solos embedded within live versions of Nocturnals set staples such as “Stop of the Bus” and the “Divide.”   So one of the questions one would have to ask of Potter’s current live production is Yurco up to the challenge?

Not only has Yurco stepped up to the plate in terms of taking the lead guitar reigns, it seems as though he’s taken it upon himself to up his playing acumen to levels not previously achieved during his traditional role as more of the rhythm guitarist for the Nocturnals.

The new music, the new band members and even old band members taking on new roles have changed Potter’s live shows in a number of ways and her two shows at the Orange Peel earlier this week mirrored those adjustments.

Night one of Potter’s two-night stand at the Orange Peel featured more of the new material including such stand out tracks as, “Alive Tonight”.  Although the track, like most of the songs on Midnight, have a more pop and even synth based sound on record, in a live setting these newer efforts pack more old school rock and roll punch than one might expect.

The added oomph comes more in the form of the additional keys and percussion elements that are now present in the band that help to create a broader, more diverse and wider sonic wall versus the three headed guitar monster sonic boom helmed by Yurco, Tournet and Potter herself that often dominated her live outings throughout the Nocutrnals years.

Night two of Potter’s Asheville residency felt much closer to an old school original Nocturnals show as the performance was highlighted not only by a bit more of Potter’s old material being inserted into the set list but by the sheer rock n roll energy the band was breathing from the stage and into the audience all night long.

That being said there is not a single member in attendance that wouldn’t agree that the highlight of the show was guitar and Asheville legend Warren Haynes joining forces with Potter for a few numbers.

Haynes and Potter took took to the Peel’s stage as a duo to perform a transcendent version of a song the two have performed together previously with Potter sitting in with Hayne’s Gov’t Mule, Fleetwood Mac’s, “Gold Dust Woman.”

The rest of Potter’s band returned to see Haynes take the lead on a blistering take of the Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter” that saw Haynes and Yurco at one point going blow for blow on guitar.

It’s understandable that many of Potter’s traditional fan base may initially have a bit of hard time embracing her new material because without question Midnight is in a no shape or form close to sounding like anything the Nocturnals ever produced in the studio and to be honest, I think that very well may have been Potter’s intent.

For a band that not only prides itself on its live performances but actually built its fan base off of them the one question regardless of the direction of the new material and lineup changes has to be asked, is Potter still capable of delivering where it matters most, under the lights and on the stage?

My response is really two fold as one, without question Potter and her current band deliver all the big moments you’ve come to expect of them with a level of musicianship, energy and sheer joy any band would hope to be able to achieve.

The second part of my response is much more simple, go see for yourself, I not only assure you won’t be disappointed; I’ll guaranty it*

*restrictions may apply, specifically your ability to recognize sublimely talented musicians melting your face off.

 

One for the Road: Korn- Suicide Silence- Islander

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Jonathan Davis of Korn – Charlotte Fillmore – October 12, 2015

The bill this past Monday at the Charlotte Fillmore featured three bands, two of which hail from the same genre of nu-metal (Islander and Korn) with one of the other kids doing their own deathcore thing (Suicide Silencer).

Victory Records artist Islander, hailing from South Carolina, brought intensity and bravado to the stage to open up the night’s festivities.

The band has jumped from relative obscurity to regularly receiving praise such as being repeatedly one of the highlights on 2014’s Mayhem tour within what would be considered in the music industry an extremely short amount of time.

Although musical comparisons to nu-metal stalwarts such as the Deftones are well deserved to some extent, in a live setting Islander brings a more distinctive and heavier sound to the table than one might expect.

Still touring on their debut record, 2014’s Violence & Destruction, Islander literally forced the crowd to engage with them from the the minute they took to the stage.  At one point early in their set lead singer Mikey Carvajal actually jumped over the photography pit and into the crowd to personally start the show’s first but not last round of crowd surfing.

Stand out songs from their set included the recently released new track, “Wake Up” and probably their most recognizable tune, set closer, “Coconut Dracula.”

As far as show openers go Islander set a fairly high bar however Nuclear Blast recording artist Suicide Silence was more than up for the challenge.

For a band that has somewhat of a shallow studio recording history Suicide Silence seem to have quite a storied history.

From receiving the Revolver Golden God Award for “Best New Talent” in 2009, to multiple successful stints on the now apparently defunct Mayhem tour themselves, to the the tragig death of original vocalist Mitch Lucker and on to the introduction of new lead singer Hernan “Eddie” Hermida in the band, Suicide Silence remain as relevant as any deathcore band on the scene today.

Suicide Silence has received positive praise throughout metal critic circles for all of their studio releases including last year’s You Can’t Stop Me, featuring Hermida fronting the outfit for the first time, however, this is a band whose sonic blast must be witnessed and more importantly felt live to be truly appreciated.

Picking tracks from all four of their studio LPs Suicide Silence electrified the Fillmore crowd with bone crunching riffs, high velocity tempo and guttural screams and pitches from Hermida.

Not surprisingly the band chose to end their somewhat short set with the classic, “Pity for a Coward” off of their 2007 debut The Cleansing.  To say that this track sent the crowd into a set closing fit of moshing and mashing would be minimalizing the carnage that actually occurred on the show’s floor.

Suicide Silence set the table for show headliner Korn more than adequately and it’s apparent that the band has a bright future ahead of them as they move forward.

Let’s face it, although Islander and Suicide Silence both brought their fair share of hard core fans with them, the night clearly belonged to tour headliner Korn.

Literally the inventors of nu-metal, sorry Fred Durst, Korn have had their fair share of ups and downs but one thing that has remained consistent from the dawn of their careers is their connection with their fan base and the sheer gravity of their live performance.

Korn this time around is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut release Korn by playing the record in it’s entirety.

This format gives long time fans an opportunity to here songs live they haven’t heard in years or never at all themselves, while also given newer fans the chance to experience the record that started it all for the band.

That being said tracks such as “Blind”, “Faget” and “Shoots and Ladders” were very well received, whereas deeper cut songs like “Fake” and “Helmet in the Bush” came off as a bit unfamiliar to most but the true die hards.

The band chose to do an encore of classics offering up such hits as “Falling Away From Me”, “Coming Undone” and show closer “Freak on a Leash”, all of which sent the crowd into a fever pitch of sing-a-longs and crashing into one another.

All in all, any fan of metal of would have been hard pressed to leave the Charlotte Fillmore on Monday evening without feeling anything but a sense of head banging pride and a shot of adrenaline as all three bands proved to the crowd in spades that metal still has its place in the world of music today and that’s music to at least my ears.