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.

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Concert Review: Ghost In San Jose, CA

On November 15, I attended Ghost’s show at the City National Civic in San Jose, CA and it was an awesome concert.

The night kicked off with the “Prequelle” intro track “Ashes” before the curtains were removed to reveal seven Nameless Ghouls. The group launched right into “Rats” and as the song approached the first verse, Cardinal Copia took the stage while the crowd screamed with excitement.

The screams continued throughout the first act as the band shredded through tracks like “Ritual,” “Devil Church,” and their Grammy award winning song “Cirice.” Each one sounded flawless thanks to the current Ghouls who are all impeccable musicians.

The Cardinal’s vocals were on point as well. He also wasn’t afraid to cut loose and dance, which helped create an infectious energy that transferred to the audience. On top of that, the frontman even underwent frequent costume changes to add to the spectacle.

As the show rolled on, there was several more surprises. Among them were Papa Nihil’s groovy saxophone solo on “Miasma” and the band’s acoustic rendition of “Jigolo Har Megiddo.”

After a few more songs, the first act officially came to an end with “Life Eternal.” That was then followed by a 15 minute break, which helped pave the way for the “second coming.”

Act II began with a trio of “Meliora” tracks (“Spirit,” “From The Pinnacle To The Pit,” and “Majesty”) before they broke out another classic “Satan Prayer.” That was followed by “Faith”, which then gave way to “Year Zero” and the church hymn “He Is,” the latter of which was a highlight of the night.

After “He Is”, Copia said they were going to play a song so heavy that it would “wobble asses” and “tickle taints.” That track was of course “Mummy Dust.” It was definitely a good way to keep the crowd pumped up towards the end of the set and the high was sustained with their cover of Roky Erickson’s “If You Have Ghosts.” That performance was completed with band introductions, which were pretty funny considering everyone was just called either Ghoul or Ghoulette.

The band closed their main set with two of their most catchy songs, “Dance Macabre” and “Square Hammer.” They then took a bow and exited the stage.

However, the audience was clamoring for more, so the Cardinal decided to return to give them a proper send-off. At first, he suggested a parking lot orgy, but he ultimately agreed that wasn’t a good idea, so he decided to play one more song, “Monstrance Clock.”

All in all, it was an amazing show, and if you have yet to see Ghost live, it would be worth your while to do so.

Concert Review: Slayer, Lamb Of God, Anthrax, Testament, & Napalm Death In San Jose, CA

On August 26, I attended the final date of the second leg of Slayer’s farewell tour at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA and it was an insane show.

Grindcore legends Napalm Death kicked off the night with a sick set. The group played about 12 tracks, a third of which were off their album “Scum,” including their one second hit “You Suffer.” The highlight of the group’s set was their cover of Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” which was preceded by a cool speech from frontman Barney Greenway who called for “equality for all human beings without exception.”

After Napalm Death, it was time for the Bay Area’s own Testament. The band burst onto the stage with the title track to their latest album Brotherhood Of The Snake before transitioning into “Rise Up” off “Dark Roots Of Earth.” After that, they pretty much stuck to the classics, much to the crowd’s approval. Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson’s guitar work was amazing as always and Chuck Billy’s voice sounded more powerful than ever. The highlights from their set included: “”Into The Pit,” “Over The Wall,” and “Practice What You Preach.”

After a short intermission, Iron Maiden’s “The Number Of The Beast” could be heard blasting throughout the arena and as soon as the music faded, Anthrax took the stage and started rocking the intro to Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell,” before launching into “Caught In A Mosh.” The band were one of the most energetic acts of the night and they had the crowd going crazy. Joey Belladonna’s vocals were on point the whole set and the musicianship between Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, and Jonathan Donais was impeccable. Their performance mainly consisted of their hits with “Evil Twin” off their latest album “For All Kings” mixed in. Highlights from their set included: “Madhouse,” their hit cover of “Antisocial,” and their closer “Indians,” which was completed by the “Cowboys From Hell” outro.

After Anthrax, it was time for Lamb Of God to tear things up. The group’s set began with “Omerta” before they broke into Ruin. Frontman Randy Blythe put on a great performance with high jumps and harsh vocals. It’s also worth noting that guest drummer Art Cruz (Winds Of Plague, Prong) did a tremendous job filling in for Chris Adler, who was unable to make the tour. As usual, John Campbell, Willie Adler, and Mark Morton, were on top of their game as well. Highlights from the band’s set included: “512,” “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For,” Laid To Rest and the closing track Redneck.

After Lamb Of God, it was time for the headliners of the evening, the almighty Slayer. The band’s set began with crosses projected on the curtain, and they soon turned upside down before turning to pentagrams and eventually to Slayer’s logo. Then the band just exploded onto the stage with a shredding performance of the title track to their latest album “Repentless.” It was a bittersweet moment, because as awesome as it was, everyone knew this may be the last time they will get to see the group, since they are out on their final world tour. However, the good thing was the fact that things were just beginning at that moment. After the band finished the track, they started ripping their way through classics such as “Blood Red,” “Disciple,” and “Mandatory Suicide.” Kerry King cranked out riffs like a machine, as Gary Holt (Exodus) complemented him with intense solos. That guitar work combined with Tom Araya’s banshee like screams and Paul Bostaph’s thunderous drum work created a solid unit that would be hard to outmatch. The stage production was incredible as well, especially all the fire. The band really wanted to put on a show and they definitely succeeded. It’s hard to choose a highlight, but watching them play the last three songs,”Raining Blood,” “Chemical Warfare,” and “Angel Of Death,” was so epic it’s hard to put into words. When all was said and done, Araya returned to the stage to thank everyone for the years of support, and with that it was time to say goodbye to the legendary band. Their final tour will extend throughout 2019, so if you have a chance to catch them, it will be worth your while.

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Another one of #Slayer!!! @slayerbandofficial

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#SLAYER!!!! @slayerbandofficial

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One more of #LambOfGod! @lambofgod

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#LambOfGod were amazing as always! @lambofgod

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Another one of #Anthrax! @anthrax

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#Anthrax were awesome!!! @anthrax

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One more of #Testament! @testamentofficial

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#Testament were so good! @testamentofficial

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#NapalmDeath were sick! @theofficialnapalmdeath

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Concert Review: Vans Warped Tour In Mountain View, CA

On June 23, I attended the third date of the Vans Warped Tour’s final cross-country run at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA and it was an amazing day.

About two hours before the event, thousands of fans were already lined up and looking forward to the day ahead. Despite the long line, I was able to get in early by making a donation at the Feed Our Children NOW! tent. Many others followed suit and flooded into the venue with smiles on their faces. However, those that didn’t make a donation had to wait a lot longer to get in, so if people had some canned food, $5.00, or an old cellphone to spare for a good cause, it was worth it.

Once inside, fans were treated to variety of things as they navigated the festival grounds. This included merch booths, food booths, a much needed hydration station, etc. I walked around and checked everything out before the music started, because once the first bands took the stage that is what my focus shifted to. Now, I obviously couldn’t see every group considering there was like 60 bands, but I can give you bit of a breakdown of everyone I did watch.

I officially started my day off with a set from Ice Nine Kills. The band had a horror theme with costumes based on Friday The 13th‘s Jason Voorhees, Halloween‘s Michael Myers, etc. which was pretty cool if you’re a fan of old school slashers. One thing that sucked was the fact that they were only able to get through two songs, before being stopped for a 15 minute intermission so fans could have more time to get into the venue. After some time passed, they picked up again without a hitch. Highlights from their set included: their recently released single “The American Nightmare,” and “Bloodbath And Beyond.”

After Ice Nine Kills, I caught a set from Australian hardcore group Deez Nuts. They put on a fun performance that helped raise the energy early on in the day. The crowd still wasn’t too big yet, but those that did watch them were not disappointed. Some highlights from their set included: “Your Mother Should Have Swallowed You” and “Shot After Shot.”

Next, I went and watched Crown The Empire. The band always puts on an energetic performance and this time it was no different. The music was on point and frontman Andy Leo had some great stage banter moments as well, like when he said he can’t encourage crowd surfing, but he can laugh at those that fall while attempting it. A couple highlights from their set included: “Voices” and “Machines.”

Following Crown The Empire, I got to watch Unearth tear things up. The group was one of the heavier acts of the day and that reflected in the crowd as everyone was going crazy. Their performance was as brutal as one would hope, making it a perfect set for the metalheads at the event. On another note, it was rough day for people in the metal community with Vinnie Paul (Pantera, HELLYEAH) having passed away the night before, but Unearth did their part to honor him by having the audience participate in a toast for the legendary drummer. Aside from that, the other highlights from their set included their brand new track “Incinerate” and “Watch It Burn.”

Once Unearth were done, I took a quick a water break and got back to the same stage in time for Senses Fail. The band drew the biggest crowd I saw up to that point and for good reason. The post-hardcore group knew how to put on an awesome show, and Buddy Nielsen was probably one of the most energetic frontmen of the day. They played a lot of great songs but the highlight was definitely 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.”

After Sense Fail, I went and watched Twiztid. It was a bit of a change in pace considering they lean more in a hip hop direction, but it was still interesting to check out. They wear makeup and obviously have an Insane Clown Posse type of vibe, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. Highlights from their set included: “Kill Somebody” and “We Don’t Die.”

Twiztid finished up and then I went over to see Black Veil Brides. The backing band took the stage after doing a bit of setup, and just started shredding before frontman Andy Biersack ran out to break into the first verse of “Faithless.” Say what you want about them, but they always put on a good show. Everything was solid on all fronts and they pretty much proved they aren’t going anywhere, despite the recent breakup rumors. The crowd was huge during their performance and everyone was screaming nonstop, even after the group finished, because they still wanted more. Highlights from their set included: “Fallen Angels” and “In The End.”

As soon as Black Veil Brides wrapped things up, I caught the end of Palaye Royale’s set. I only got to see them play three songs, including a cover of My Chemical Romance’s “Teenagers,” but that was enough to confidently say they are a rockin’ live band. Frontman Remington Leith was insane and would hang from the top of the stage, jump in the crowd, and more. From what I saw, a highlight was their performance of “Mr. Doctor Man.”

After Palaye Royale, I went and got my spot for Every Time I Die’s set, and they absolutely killed it. Singer Keith Buckley was extremely energetic and got the crowd going crazy. He was even encouraging them to go past the barricade. The whole thing was intense from beginning to end and it was one of the best shows of the day. If you haven’t seen Every Time I Die live, you are missing out. Highlights from their set included “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space,” “The New Black,” which included some Pantera mixed in for Vinnie Paul, and “Glitches.”

Every Time I Die finished, and I stayed at the same stage waiting for Motionless In White to kickoff their performance, and once they started they were on fire the whole time. Chris Motionless had the audience jumping and singing along to every word. It was also cool seeing TJ Bell (Escape The Fate) playing with the group as a fill in for bassist Devin “Ghost” Sola, who recently exited the band. This was one of the largest crowds I saw during the event and people were totally losing their minds. Someone even lit a red smoke bomb in the middle of the pit. In my opinion, the group was actually the strongest act of the day. Highlights from their set included: “Reincarnate,” “Soft,” and “Puppets (The First Show).”

The last group I saw at the festival was Chelsea Grin. New frontman Tom Barber (ex-Lorna Shore) is a great addition to the group and he totally slayed everything he sang, new and old songs alike. If you were having any doubts about the band moving forward without Alex Koehler, you can lay your worries to rest, because this latest incarnation may end up being their best. The group’s metal onslaught was a sick way to end the day. Highlights from their set included: “Dead Rose,” “Hostage,” and “Recreant.”

All in all, it was fantastic day. All the bands I watched were in top form, and if you happen to be attending a later date of the tour, these are ones you should consider checking out. However, if these artists don’t interest you, there are still plenty of other options such as The Amity Affliction, Wage War, Harm’s Way, In Hearts Wake, The Used, Knuckle Puck, Mayday Parade, Simple Plan, Reel Big Fish, Makeout, and more. No matter who you decide to check out, it will be worth your time and money, since this will be the last time to experience Warped Tour as we know it.

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#CrownTheEmpire rocking at #WarpedTour earlier

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#DeezNuts killing it! #VansWarpedTour

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#IceNineKills rocked!#VansWarpedTour @ice9kills

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Concert Review: A Day To Remember, Papa Roach, Falling In Reverse, & The Devil Wears Prada In San Francisco, CA

On March 2, I attended A Day To Remember’s “15 Years In The Making” tour at the Armory in San Francisco, CA and it was an insane show!

The Devil Wears Prada kicked off the night and things were off to a great start until half the sound system went out towards the beginning of their set. Fans couldn’t even hear Mike Hranica’s vocals for a few minutes, but the band continued to power through anyway. Once the technical issues were solved, the rest of the set was flawless. They only played about seven songs, but they did a good job at balancing it out with tracks spanning a majority of their discography. Some highlights included “Wapakalypse” and “Mammoth.”

Falling In Reverse were up next and they put on an enjoyable performance. Frontman Ronnie Radke was really energetic and had people bouncing from the start. He also had an impressive vocal range that was able to transition from singing to growling to even rapping with ease. Like The Devil Wears Prada, the group only played about seven songs, but it was enough to pump the crowd up for the main bands. Highlights from their set included “The Drug In Me Is You” and “Just Like You.”

After Falling In Reverse, it was time for Papa Roach. Before they came out, a recording played and told everyone to put their middle fingers in the air and chant “Fuck Papa Roch.” The crowd did as they were instructed and continued chanting until the band blasted into the title track of their latest album “Crooked Teeth.” From there, the group pretty much played a balance of classics and new tracks, along with an amazing cover of Blur’s “Song 2.” Frontman Jacoby Shaddix had so much energy it was infectious. He had the crowd doing circle pits and even tried to get a wall of death going. He also had his young son Brixton come out and shout at the crowd to get down so they could all hop back up during “Traumatic,” which Brixton also sang with his father. Aside from that, other highlights from their set included “Between Angels And Insects,” “Scars,” “Last Resort,” and “…To Be Loved.”

Finally, it was time for the headliners of the evening, A Day To Remember. The group are out on the road celebrating their 15th anniversary, and they definitely know how to throw a party. As promised, the band played tracks spanning almost their entire catalogue, and to enhance the experience they used big screens with different types of imagery, including the artwork for various albums. They kicked things off with “I’m Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?” and just kept the momentum going from there. Like the other singers in the supporting acts, Jeremy McKinnon was very energetic. His singing and growls were on point, while the rest of the band fired on all cylinders as well. They tried to make things as fun as possible too by encouraging fans to mosh and crowd surf, blasting confetti cannons and smoke, throwing out toilet paper and tons of beach balls ranging from small ones to a mega-one. The audience was going absolutely crazy, while having the time of their lives. Some highlights from their performance included Life Lessons Learned The Hard Way, their cover of Kelly Clarksons Since U Been Gone, “All I Want,” and their encore which began with a mini acoustic set featuring “If It Means A Lot To You” and “I Remember,” followed by “The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle,” and “The Downfall Of Us All.”

Concert Review: Black Veil Brides, Asking Alexandria, & Crown The Empire In San Francisco, CA

On March 1, I attended the Black Veil Brides, Asking Alexandria, and Crown The Empire show at The Warfield in San Francisco, CA and it was a great show.

Crown The Empire opened the concert with an energetic performance. The band played a mix of songs from all three of their albums, offering a bit of variety. The music was slightly overpowering Andy Leo’s vocals, but other than that they were pretty much on point. A highlight from their set was their final track “Machines.”

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#CrownTheEmpire rocked! @crowntheempire

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Next, Asking Alexandria took the stage for an insane performance. The band opened with “Into The Fire” and from there they basically played a balance of new and old songs. It was cool to see Danny Worsnop back in the group, and his voice seemed to be even more powerful than it was in the past. The chemistry between him and the other members, especially guitarist Ben Bruce, was great as well. Highlights from their performance included: “To The Stage,” “The Final Episode (Let’s Change the Channel),” a mini acoustic set featuring “Vultures” and “Someone, Somewhere,” and their encore songs “Moving On” and “The Death Of Me.”

After Asking Alexandria, it was time for Black Veil Brides. The band kicked things off with “Faithless” before transitioning to “Coffin.” The group pretty much stuck to older material with a couple of songs from their latest album “Vale” thrown in for good measure. Between Jake Pitts and Jinxx’s impressive guitar work, Christian “CC” Coma’s thunderous drumming, Ashley Purdy’s bass lines, and frontman Andy Biersack’s robust vocals, they were pretty much solid on all fronts. Hell, even Jinxx’s violin skills were a sight to see. Highlights from their set included “I Am Bulletproof,” “Rebel Love Song,” “The Legacy,” “Knives And Pens” and their three sing encore which featured “Perfect Weapon,” “Fallen Angels,” and “In The End.”

Concert Review: Adelitas Way, Joyous Wolf, Of Limbo, & Down North In San Jose, CA

Last night (December 14) I attended the Adelitas Way, Joyous Wolf, Of Limbo, and Down North concert at The Ritz in San Jose, CA, and it was a great concert.

Down North opened the night with a soulful set. The band essentially sounded like a punk group with James Brown on vocals. It’s an interesting combination, but it totally works, and those who watched them were not disappointed.

Of Limbo took the stage next for a killer performance. The group had more of a ’90’s grunge vibe, and knew how to put on a sick show. It was heavy and energetic, and felt like a party before they were finished. A highlight from their set was when they played their track “L.G.F.U.”

After Of Limbo it was time for Joyous Wolf. The So Cal rockers, who were one of the stongest acts of the night, had a bluesy sound mixed with a bit of heaviness, similar to acts like Rival Sons. Between frontman Nick Reese’s insane amount of enrgy and his backing band’s musicianship, the performance was solid on all fronts. If you ever have a chance to see them, it would definitely be worth your while. A highlight from their set was when they played their track “Mountain Man”.

Then it was time for the headliners of the evening, Adelitas Way. The modern hard rock act put on an awesome show full of hits from various albums in their catalog, even a couple of slower ones that were played during a mini acoustic set in the middle of their performance. Frontman Rick DeJesus’s vocals and stage bantar were on point all night, and he seemed to have a good time onstage as well, which is always cool to see. It has been five years since I last saw them, and they have only gotten better with time. Highlights from their set included “Sick” and “Invincible.”

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#AdelitasWay were awesome! \m/

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#JoyousWolf killed it! Up next Adelitas Way \m/

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