Concert Review: Misfits, Rancid, The Damned, & Cro-Mags In Oakland, CA

Last night (September 11), I attended The Original Misfits’ show at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA and it was an extraordinary night of legendary punk.

Harley Flanagan’s Cro-Mags opened the show, which they dedicated to the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The short, hard-hitting set was the perfect way to kick things off and those who showed up early were not disappointed. The group played a number of tracks from their catalog, but one of the highlights was “No One’s Victim” off their latest EP “Don’t Give In.”

As soon as Cro-Mags were done, The Damned took the stage for an awesome set. The band sounded great and they were certainly one of the strongest acts of the night. They were also very energetic, especially keyboardist Monty Oxymoron, who kept breaking out in crazy dances. Highlights from their set included “Smash It Up” and “Love Song.”

Once The Damned finished up, it was time for the East Bay’s own Rancid. The band busted right out of the gate with “Roots Radicals” and continued to play hit after hit with several songs from their latest album “Trouble Maker” thrown in for good measure. The band seemed to be having a great time onstage, which is cool to see and they even had a few humorous stories for the fans. One notable one was from guitarist Lars Frederiksen, who said he asked his son if he wanted to celebrate his 12th birthday with his dad’s band and the Misfits, or if he wanted to go see Iron Maiden at the same venue the night prior. He said the kid rejected the offer to see his band almost instantly, saying “Maiden bro!” Aside from that anecdote, other highlights from the group’s set included performances of “Fall Back Down,” “Time Bomb,” and “Ruby Soho.”

After Rancid, the legendary Misfits descended upon the stage to bring Halloween to the crowd 50 days early. The band opened with “Death Comes Reaping,” before launching into “I Turned Into A Martian” and “Vampira.” The nearly 30 song set was amazing and the band sounded absolutely incredible. Despite the years of feuding between Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only, everything went off without a hitch. Danzig’s vocals were as powerful as ever and Only and Doyle’s stage antics were fun to watch. Having a masterful drummer like Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer, etc.) and a killer guitarist like Acey Slade (Dope, Murderdolls, etc.) only enhanced the experience as well. Aside from the music and showmanship, the band also had solid stage production with big screens that changed the imagery for each track, cool light displays, big jack-o’-lanterns, etc. As far as highlights go, it was definitely cool to see the group perform tracks like: “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?,” “Horror Business,” “Hollywood Babylon,” “Skulls,” Where Eagles Dare,” “Last Caress,” “Die, Die My Darling,” and their closer “We Are 138.” All in all, it was phenomenal show full of timeless classics.

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Rancid were sick earlier! #rancid @rancid

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The Damned killed it earlier! #thedamned

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Cro-Mags rocking earlier! #cromags

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Concert Review: Metallica Play Second “S&M²” Show With The San Francisco Symphony

Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony took the stage for the second of two “S&M²” shows at the brand new Chase Center in San Francisco, CA on September 8 and it was an insane show.

The SF Symphony kicked off the night with a performance of Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy Of Gold,” which fans instantly recognized as Metallica’s intro track. As the song came to a close Metallica stormed the middle of the stage to break into “The Call Of Ktulu” as the symphony surrounded them. The instrumental set the tone for the evening with a perfect balance of metal and classical music. From there, the band really got the energy flowing with a rousing performance of “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

The rest of the first set had a bit of a mixture of songs from the original “S&M” shows and new additions that definitely made an impression in the symphonic format. Highlights from the first part of the show included “The Memory Remains,” which the audience helped make into an epic sing-along, “No Leaf Clover,” which should only be played with a live symphony, “The Day That Never Comes,” and “Moth Into Flame,” which both took on new lives with the additional instrumentation. The band closed the first set with a fiery version of “Halo On Fire.”

After a 25 minute intermission, the SF Symphony returned to perform some “primitive” music for the crowd, an amazing cover of Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev’s “Scythian Suite, Op.20, Second Movement.” At its conclusion, Metallica returned to join in on a cover of Alexander Mosolov’s “futuristic” piece “Iron Foundry.” After that, things just continued to grow even more incredible.

The rest of the second half leaned heavier on the hits, but there was still several more surprises to find along the way. Among them were a moving performance of “The Unforgiven III,” which saw James Hetfield sing with only the symphony backing him up, and a performance of “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth,” which saw the symphony’s principal bassist Scott Pingel paying tribute to Cliff Burton with masterful shredding on an upright bass. Other highlights from the second set included “One,” “Master Of Puppets,” and the band’s closer “Enter Sandman.”

All in all, the “S&M²” shows were once in a lifetime experiences that brought together fans from across the globe for two nights of spectacular music.

Concert Review: Slipknot, Volbeat, Gojira, & Behemoth In Mountain View, CA

Last night (July 26), I attended the opening night of Slipknot’s “Knotfest Roadshow” at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA and it was one hell of a concert.

Behemoth kicked off the night with a dose of blackened death metal. The group took the stage with skull masks and blasted into “Wolves ov Siberia” much to the excitement of those who showed up early to catch their set. From there, the band removed the masks to reveal their corpse paint, before powering through tracks like “Daimonos” and “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer.” The group’s sound was completely on point and they definitely proved that they are a top notch live act. Some highlights from their set included the aforementioned “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer,” “Bartzabel,” which frontman Nergal donned a Pope hat for, and “Chant For Eschaton 2000.”

After Behemoth, it was time for Gojira. The band’s brand of groove oriented death/progressive metal captured the audience from the get-go. The group opened with “Oroborus” before rocking tracks like “Backbone” and “Stranded.” They were definitely one of the strongest acts of the night with unmatched musicianship and technicality. If you have yet to see Gojira live, you are definitely doing yourself a disservice. Some highlights from their set included the aforementioned “Oroborus,” “Flying Whales,” and “Silvera.”

Once Gojira finished, it was time for the hard rock stylings of Volbeat. The band were firing on all cylinders and gave the crowd something they could dance to after the heavier nature of the previous acts. As frontman Michael Poulsen said: “Did Behemoth steal your soul? Did Gojira rip your face off? Well, we’re here to make you beautiful again.” The group kicked things of with “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” and after that it was nothing but killer tracks and impeccable guitar work from Rob Caggiano (ex-Anthrax) and Poulsen. Some highlights from their set included “Sad Man’s Tongue,” which was complete with a partial performance of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire,” “Slaytan,” “Doc Holliday,” “Seal the Deal,” and “Still Counting.”

After Volbeat, it was time for the headliners of the evening, nu-metal legends Slipknot. A giant banner with the band’s logo was on display as AC/DC’s “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)” rocked the amphitheatre. “(515)” then started to play through the speakers as everyone screamed. After the track, the banner fell as the group launched into “People = Shit” followed by “(sic).”

The band sounded absolutely perfect. Between Corey Taylor’s insanely powerful vocals, Mick Thomson and Jim Root’s masterful guitar work, Alessandro Venturella’s grooving bass lines, and Jay Weinberg’s incredible drumming, everything was solid on all fronts. Percussionist M. Shawn “Clown” Crahan, the new percussionist, who fans have been calling “Tortilla Man,” and DJ Sid Wilson were also extremely entertaining with their stage antics. Furthermore, Wilson and sampler Craig Jones seemed to be more audible in the mix, which was cool to see. On top of the phenomenal showmanship, the band also had awesome stage production that only added to the experience.

The setlist was amazing too. Fans got all the hits like “Before I Forget,” “Psychosocial,” “Duality,” and “Vermilion,” mixed with a couple of new songs including “Unsainted” off their new album “We Are Not Your Kind” (out August 9) and their 2018 single “All Out Life.” They even pulled out a deeper cut with a performance of “Prosthetics.” It’s too hard to even choose a highlight, but “Spit It Out” is always amazing, especially since the band have everyone get down on the floor only to have them jump back up when Taylor gives the signal.

All in all, it was a stellar show and if you have a chance to catch this tour, it will definitely be worth your while.

Festival Recap: Vans Warped Tour 25th Anniversary Event In Mountain View, CA

On July 20-21, thousands of people descended upon Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA to say goodbye to the Vans Warped Tour at the final of three 25th anniversary events. It was a long weekend of music, skating, wrestling, and more.

People started moving into the event on Saturday morning and they were already excited for what lied ahead. For those that wanted to take in the whole festival, it was nice to get in as early as possible to navigate the festival grounds and check out the various merch booths, vendors, etc. before their favorite artists took the stage. This date featured performances from the likes of The Offspring, Bad Religion, August Burns Red, Wage War, Goldfinger, Simple Plan, Save Ferris, Anti-Flag, OFF!, Meg & Dia, Silent Planet, and tons more. These groups managed to bring in an unmatched energy that captured the spirit of the festival’s 25 year run. Every act was memorable for different reasons, whether it be The Offspring’s impeccable showmanship and comedic stage banter, Bad Religion’s killer musicianship, Anti-Flag’s inspiring words, or Wage War’s intense onslaught.

As day two arrived, there was no shortage of massive amounts of talent and positive vibes. This day included artists such as NOFX, who played an abbreviated set after some travel issues, Jawbreaker, The Used, Sum 41, The All-American Rejects, Atreyu, Andy Black (Black Veil Brides), Juliet Simms, Dance Gavin Dance, Thrice, Circa Survive, and more. Every artist had a different flair to them, helping to enhance the festival experience even more. This included the awesome dual vocal stylings of Dance Gavin Dance and Atreyu, amazingly powerful vocals from Simms, the entertaining and comedic nature of The All-American Rejects, the extremely energetic Sum 41, and the fun dancey vibe of Black.

Despite all these great things, the real highlight came at the end. NOFX’s flight got cancelled and they ultimately needed to get flown in on a private jet, before getting a police escort to the venue. However, they weren’t going to make it until 9:50, so organizer Kevin Lyman recruited a number of musicians to cover songs from the band until then. Members of Goldfinger, Sum 41, Thrice, Atreyu, The Used, The All-American Rejects, The Starting Line, etc. participated in the cool performance, which Lyman described as a drunken jam session, reminiscent of past Warped barbecues. They even had a fan, identified as Twitch, sing a song before Fat Mike ran out, much to the crowd’s delight.

Once NOFX took the stage, they powered through 11 tracks, before being told to stop, but it was awesome nonetheless. The band were hilarious, energetic, and they managed to give Warped Tour a proper send-off, regardless of the circumstances.

All in all, the whole weekend was a blast. There may have been a few hiccups at the very end, but it actually worked out by making everything even more memorable. The iconic “punk rock summer camp” has been bringing people together for 25 years and it ended the way it should have, with a community joined together by the power of music.

Concert Review: Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive, After The Burial, & Vein In San Francisco, CA

Last night (April 18), I caught Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive, After The Burial, and Vein on the first date of the “Collapse The World Tour” and it was an awesome show.

Vein kicked off the night with a heavy and chaotic set that left members of the audience mesmerized. The band goes hard with piercing screams, high jumps, and full on hardcore insanity. A highlight from their set was “Virus://Vibrance.”

Once Vein finished up, it was time for After The Burial to take the stage. The progressive metallers powered through a ferocious set with impeccable musicianship and killer vocals. The crowd was going crazy as the group prepared them for the impending co-headliners. Highlights from their set included “Behold The Crown” off their new album “Evergreen,” which was released today (April 19), and “A Wolf Amongst Ravens.”

Soon it was time for Parkway Drive to storm the stage. The Australian metalcore giants were perhaps the strongest act of the night. Their set consisted of mostly newer material from their 2018 album “Reverence” and their 2015 album “Ire” with several older songs thrown in for good measure. The band’s catchy riffing and thunderous drums had everyone moving as frontman Winston McCall led the charge with an unmatched intensity. Highlights from their set included: “Vice Grip,” “Wild Eyes,” “Crushed,” “Bottom Feeder,” and the haunting “Cemetery Bloom.”

After Parkway Drive, it was time for the metalcore titans in Killswitch Engage to close out the evening. The band played a pretty balanced set with songs spanning their 20 year career and the crowd loved every second of it. Between guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz hilarious onstage antics and Jesse Leach’s powerful vocals, it was entertaining the whole way through. Highlights from their set included: “My Curse,” “My Last Serenade,” “Hate By Design,” “Always,” which was dedicated to a fan named Chopper who is sadly battling terminal brain cancer, and “Strength Of The Mind.”

All in all, it was an amazing show and if you have a chance to make it to one of the dates on this tour it will definitely be worth your while.

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#AfterTheBurial killed it! 🤘 @aftertheburial

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#Vein were insane right now! 🤘 @vein.tv

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Concert Review: The Amity Affliction, Senses Fail, Silent Planet, & Belmont In Santa Cruz, CA

On February 8, I attended The Amity Affliction, Senses Fail, Silent Planet, and Belmont concert at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA and it was a great show.

The event began with a fun performance from pop punk act Belmont. The band were energetic and had great songs that really helped warm everyone up early on in the evening. A highlight from their set was “Pushing Daisies.”

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#Belmont rocked! @belmontmusic

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Silent Planet took the stage next with their unique brand of metalcore. The group take heavy music and mix it with poetic and atmospheric elements, while maintaining a clear and powerful message. It’s definitely an interesting experience to see them live, especially if you don’t know what to expect beforehand. Some highlights from their set included “Native Blood,” “Panic Room,” and “Depths II.”

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#SilentPlanet killed it! @silentplanetband

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After Silent Planet, it was time for the first of the two co-headliners, Senses Fail. The post-hardcore act blasted onstage with “Can’t Be Saved” and just kept rocking from there. Buddy Nielsen may have been the most energetic frontman of the night with crazy dance moves, mic tricks, cartwheels, and more. He was definitely entertaining and the crowd couldn’t get enough. Some highlights from their set included “Lady In A Blue Dress,” “Buried A Lie,” “Elevator To The Gallows,” and their covers medley, which featured System Of A Down’s “Chop Suey.” Drowning Pool’s “Bodies,” Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff,” and Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade.”

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#SensesFail were so good! @sensesfailofficial

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Senses Fail finished up and then it was time for the second of the two co-headliners, Australian metalcore act The Amity Affliction. The band stormed the stage with “Drag The Lake” off their latest album “Misery” as the audience screamed with excitement. From there, the group played a balanced set of new and old tracks with each song being executed flawlessly. Ahren Stringer and Joel Birch’s vocals were especially on point. If you have yet to see The Amity Affliction live, it would be worth your while to catch them on their next tour. Highlights from their set included “This Could Be Heartbreak,” “D.I.E.,” “Don’t Lean On Me,” and their encore “All Fucked Up.”

Concert Review: Machine Head Play Final Show With Phil Demmel & Dave McClain In Santa Cruz, CA

On November 24, I attended Machine Head’s concert at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA and it was an awesome show that saw guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain take the stage with the band one last time.

The group kicked off the three hour set with “Imperium” and the crowd lost their minds. The energy in the room was infectious right from the beginning and it was sustained throughout the night as the band continued to power through tracks like “Volatile,” “Now We Die,” and “Beautiful Mourning.” The group were solid on all fronts and were definitely trying to put on an amazing performance in light of Demmel and McClain’s impending exit. Frontman Robb Flynn was even trying to get the entire audience involved with fist pumping, clapping, moshing, and more.

After about seven songs in, Demmel was given a chance to show off his skills with an insane guitar solo. It was kind of a bittersweet moment, considering he will no longer be performing with Machine Head, but the crowd loved every second of it. As he finished, people started to chant “thank you Phil” for his years of work with the group. From there, they launched into “Darkness Within” followed by the title track to their latest album “Catharsis.”

The band then played six more tracks, including: “Is There Anybody Out There?,” a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “Locust,” etc., before it was time for McClain to say goodbye with an epic drum solo. It was another bittersweet moment since McClain’s thunderous beats will no longer be present in the band’s live shows, but everyone was awestruck nonetheless. The solo paved the way for three more killer songs, “Bulldozer,” “Killers & Kings,” and the crowd favorite “Davidian.”

After that, the show began to reach its end, but the energy never faded. In fact, it actually grew as the group rocked a covers medley featuring tracks from Metallica, Bon Jovi, Queen, Guns N’ Roses, and Alice In Chains. As if that wasn’t enough, they followed it with “Aesthetics Of Hate,” “Game Over,” and “Old” as the main set came to a close. The audience then screamed “Machine Fucking Head” repeatedly until they returned for their encore song “Halo.”

At the conclusion of the track, Flynn thanked everyone for coming out, and said it was kind of a weird moment since it was Demmel and McClain’s last show, but the two did have an incredible sendoff as the crowed yelled “thank you Phil and Dave.” Demmel seemed to be a little emotional and gave a Flynn a long hug, before all the members ended up hugging each other. Demmel and McClain then took center stage for one last bow as everyone screamed. With that, the latest chapter of the band was officially closed on a high note. However, there is still a bit of uncertainty regarding their future, so it will be interesting to see where Flynn takes things next.