▣SNHU Arena | Boston, MA ▣Saturday, January 25th 2020
Rock bands Korn and Breaking Benjamin played in front of a sold-out crowd last Saturday night in Manchester New Hampshire. Both bands celebrating over 20 years of rocking shows, this concert has proved why they have been so successful for the past two decades.
Crowds filled the streets near the arena, making their way into the venue to try and avoid the rain. The large crowds, plus the heavy rain, made for some confusion at the doors and unfortunately kept me from seeing tonight’s special guest and opening band, Bones UK. Which was a big disappointment, because these guys are the real deal! I caught the Grammy-nominated trio a couple years back, and they blew me away. You can check out that review here. So, do yourself a favor and make sure to check those guys out next time they come around. I put a link down below.
I finally made my way to the photo pit area just in time for Breaking Benjamin. The veteran band came out, and quite honestly, I don’t remember them ever sounding this good. It’s been over 13 years since I last saw them play. The five-piece band has integrated some raw sounding qualities that can not be denied, and I was truly enjoying watching them at work.
Founder and frontman, Benjamin Burnley, at one point said he was the happiest when he was performing in front of their fans, and he wants to keep doing it until he dies. And, if that did happen, he hoped he would die on stage singing the next song as he took us into one of the biggest hits from their catalog, The Diary of Jane. He asked the crowd to sing along with him, and they happily obliged by singing word for word – this performance got them a standing ovation. Another highlight was when they performed So Cold. I’ve always loved that song, and I really enjoyed seeing them play it live. As loud cheers filled the arena, the band closed with I Will Not Bow. They had put on a great performance for their fans, it was definitely a memorable one.
It was time for Korn, and as I waited for the curtain to come down, I couldn’t help but feeling excited for their set to begin. It’s been a few years since I last saw them play, and they have become one of my favorite bands to watch live. Making a statement for their fans, the band opened with their 2002 hit, Here To Stay. That led to hit after hit from Blind, Shoots and Ladders, Somebody Someone, Make Me Bad to Freak on a Leash.
They played only the best from their repertoire, and kicked some major ass doing it. Singing and loud cheers filled the venue, putting the crowd on their toes all night. These guys are all so talented, and to be perfectly honest, I love watching Jonathan Davis perform. From his bagpipe playing to his growls and dancing – this guy is a BEAST! Not to mention how great of a singer, and entertainer he truly is.
Davis thanked the crowd for all the support over the past 25 years, something you can tell he is profoundly proud of. Highlights for me- well, their entire set. But I also really enjoyed watching them perform 4 U, which I have never seen them play live, and Davis sang it so passionately. The band closed with Falling Away From Me, and it was another amazing performance from Korn.
It truly was an amazing night in Manchester, and one that would rock the venue and city for days to come. My advice… their Winter 2020 Tour still running, so if you happen to see it coming near you, I highly suggest you grab a ticket. These rock giants are not to be missed! I put the rest of the tour dates below. Until next time…
▣Paradise Rock Club | Boston, MA ▣Saturday, December 21st 2019
Daughter’s tour, with Health, came to an end last Saturday night at the Paradise Rock Club with special guest Show Me The Body. The sold-out show was the perfect way to wrap up the tour, and year!
Paradise was already rocking when I arrived. Show Me The Body was putting on an intense set for their fans. The hardcore band out of New York was kicking ass and taking names. Unfortunately, I was only able to catch the end of their set, but their hard-hitting performance was explosive! I look forward to hearing more from them in the near future.
Co-headliners, Health, were next. Once again I was being treated to some new music. The rock-trio from Los Angeles was so entertaining to watch. With a rock and electronica music influence, their sound is raw and haunting. They have an edginess to them that reminds me of Nine Inch Nails. Their performance was nothing short of perfect, it definitely made me a fan of the group.
The band I came to see was closing next. Hailing out of Providence Rhode Island, the New England four-piece Daughters, is well known for their intense sets. This would be my first time seeing them live, and I was excited to see them perform. Traveling with additional members on tour, all seven members hit the stage and received a great welcome from their fans, in their second home of Boston.
The crowd erupted from the start with some intense crowd surfing and moshing. The lead singer Alexis S.F. Marshall was fierce! His stage presence was intoxicating. I watched him be carried into the crowd on multiple occasions- they couldn’t get enough of him. They played song after song without break, leaving it all on stage for their fans. They played like as if it was their last show. Blood, sweat, and tears were left on that stage, their 90-minute set was electrifying! Daughters made a huge impression on me, and I can’t wait to see them again.
Just like their tour, this show wrapped up my year of concert reviews. All three bands were amazing live. It was the perfect way to end the year, and thanks to this concert, it went off with a bang! Until next time…
▣Mohegan Sun Arena | Uncasville, CT ▣Thursday, November 21st 2019
It was a sold out show at the Mohegan Sun Arena, for the anticipated return of one of the most influential bands in progression metal music, Tool. It’s been 13 years since their last release, 10,000 Days, and they are currently back on tour to support their newest creation, Fear Inoculum. Along with their special guest, Killing Joke, they created an unforgettable night of music at Mohegan Sun.
Large crowds and long lines formed outside of the arena when I arrived. People were waiting for the doors to open so they could purchase tour souvenirs. Tool is well known for having tour posters at their shows, and they’ve become a very sought after item among collectors. Tonight was no exception, the poster for the show was created by Miles Johnston, a beautiful Limited Edition foil of 400. Luckily, I was able to score one of them. Be sure to check out Miles Johnston’s art, link is down below.
No phone, cameras, or video recording would be allowed during the band’s performance, as can be expected from any of the other shows that Maynard James Keenan puts on. He is all about enjoying the moment without any distractions. It’s been a topic of some controversy because of the amount of money people spend on tickets, they feel they should be allowed to take pictures and record their favorite song. At the end of the day, you have to respect the wishes of the artist. And if not, well, the consequence would be ejection from the show, as I witnessed many times throughout the night.
80’s Uk band Killing Joke hit the stage and opened to an anxious sold-out crowd. This was my first time seeing or hearing of them, and the short three-song set that I was allowed to watch wasn’t enough for me to determine how I felt about their music. I will say though, the dramatic and intense stage presence by their lead singer Jaz Coleman, made you pay attention to their performance. Overall, an engaging way to start the night.
Right at 8:45pm, the lights went out for the start, as Danny Carey (drums/synthesizer) took us into the opening of Fear Inoculum. Shortly after, he was joined by Justin Chancellor (bass) and Adam Jones (guitar), as the crowd saluted them with cheers and a standing ovation. But once Maynard James Keenan took the stage, the crowd began to roar. For the next ten minutes, I got lost in my lens, and even though I could hear the music, the brain wasn’t registering, I searched for the perfect angle, but next thing I knew, we were being escorted out of the arena. Per agreement, all photographers would have to take their equipment back to their car or find somewhere to store it if you wished to come back for the remainder of the show.
I finally made it back to my seat during the transitioning from Parabol into Parabola. It was finally time to relax and take it all in. I was immediately blown away with how good they sounded, the stunning backdrop videos and light show- it was visually stunning performance from the start. And then, with a small intro, they went into one of my favorites from the new album, Pneuma. I just love the build-up from the drums at the beginning and when the guitars come on, it’s a total adrenaline rush for Maynard to take over, it was really just beautiful to watch live.
Loud cheers of appreciation filled the arena after every song, as they continued with Schism. For visuals, they would treat us to the music video in the background. It was intense! Vicarious and Jambi from their 2006 release, 10,000 Days, came next. Before they moved on to their next one, Maynard asked the crowd, “By a show of hands, how many of you are under the age of 30?” As some of the audience started raising their hands, Maynard continued – “You weren’t even sperm when we wrote this song!” Laughter filled the audience as they took us back to a song from their first release, Intolerance.
The singing and swaying continued into one from their newest album, Descending. I was hoping I would hear this one first hand, and here it was, so powerful. The music continued on, it didn’t’ stop there. The band took us back to 1996 with Forty Six & 2. At the end, the lights went out, the crowd chanted for more, and the stomping on the floor began. A timer emerged on the screen, counting down from 10 minutes. Was it an intermission? How clever, finally a band keeping you informed of what’s going on!
It was just enough time to grab a beer and head back. The counter was down to zero, it was time for the start. I was pretty sure they were saving the best for last. Danny was the first one on stage, and was given a warm welcome back. When he started to play the gong, I knew right away it had to be Chocolate Chip Trip – his instrumental piece on Fear Inoculum. This is when we saw how truly talented he really is. Between the drumming and synthesizers, the man is a beast! The sounds he is able to achieve, are just amazing, What was even cooler was the how we were all watching him on the big screen. He had a camera on top of him, but it was duplicated by 4, as if you were looking through a kaleidoscope. It was incredible to watch, a total acid trip.
The song would transition when joined by Adam for the beginning of Invincible. Finally joined by Danny and Justin, appearing from the shadows, Maynard made it to his stand, like a brave warrior leading his man to war. Invincible is one of my favorites off their newest masterpiece. Maynard puts it all out there and makes the performance so personal. The way he sang, with so much passion, it was beautiful. With the fuel created by the incredible drumming of Danny, the clean riffs from Adam, and heart stomping bass from Justin- you get it all, it’s perfect. This song is beautiful on it’s own but is even better live.
Maynard approached the crowd for the last time with a question – “Have you been good little boys and girls? If not, you’re an asshole…but if you were, you may now take out your phones and take pictures and record videos of our last song. SECURITY STAND DOWN! Let these people whip it out for our last one. Thank you, Uncasville! Goodnight!” Loud cheers filled the arena, as Ions started to play, combined with charging volts that appeared to each side of the backdrop screen, lead us into Stinkfist. By this point, everyone’s cell phones were out, as we all zombied out to the spectacle. The place lit up by 1,000,000 nits with the number of cell phones recording. We can record the last song, we’ll take it! This is our society now, we want to share our experiences with the world. The inner itch had been scratched. Thank you Maynard- thank you, Tool.
They couldn’t have picked a better song for the ending. Stinkfist – a fan favorite, accompanied by the video playing in the background, the laser show- it’s everything you would expect from Tool. The award-winning track, Grammy Award-nominated video, to me, truly defines who Tool is as a band. Their last performance was nothing less than mind blowing! At the end of the song, as loud cheers once again filled the venue, Maynard made his way down to salute his band brothers and waved to the crowd one last time before exiting. Adam shortly followed, while Justin and Danny hung back for a few minutes, throwing picks and sticks into the crowd. It was a special night at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
And I know I keep using adjectives like – incredible, beautiful, amazing…but it really was. The music, the unique vision, the concepts – it’s what we all have come to love from them. Thirteen years without new music. It doesn’t matter. They are, if not more relevant today, than they ever were. Like a bottle of wine that has aged just right. They are unique, timeless…they are Tool. When you put four extremely talented individuals together, what you get is nothing less than magic.
They’re still currently on tour, so I urge you…ask Santa for some tickets, get some of your Christmas money together, go pawn something, sell your dog (don’t sell your dog). Whatever you have to do to make it happen, get tickets to this tour. Best Concert Performance of The Year? Hands down! I put the remaining dates of their tour below. Don’t miss them! If you got this far, thanks for reading. Until next time!
A very special thanks to Monica Seide-Evenson for her continuing support, and to Tool.
▣Great Scott | Allston, MA ▣Monday, October 14th 2019
Last Monday night was not your ordinary Monday- Boston band Bent Knee was having their 5th album release party at Great Scott. The album was first released Friday, so I had a chance to listen to it first, which made me excited to see them perform live. This was my first time hearing of them, and I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Where have I been for the past decade…how have I not heard of Bent Knee?!” Their performance made me a fan, but we’ll get to that soon.
I made it to the venue in time for the opening act, Goody Bag. The start of their set really threw me for a loop, I was thinking it was going to be a rock or a folk performance…but it was actually experimental rap. After their first song, I wasn’t sure how to feel about them, but as their set continued, I actually found myself digging these guys. The Boston duo consists of Mark Aylward (vocals/keyboards) and Kyle Harris (drums). Together they put on an electric performance, and I hope one day I can catch their “Baddy Bag” performance. Go check them out on their Instagram account, we put a link down below.
Now it was time for the band we came here to see. With a sold-out crowd behind them, Bent Knee took the stage. The experimental progressive-rock sextet first formed back in 2009 when Courtney Swain (Vocals/Keyboards) and Bent Levin (lead guitar, backing vocals) were both attending Berklee College of Music. Things have changed quite a bit since then, in fact, Swain was recently quoted saying “We’ve been around the block and we’re ready to make our mark”. And, with the release of their new album “You Know What They Mean”, and tonight’s performance, she couldn’t be more right.
What I like most about this band is how versatile Swain’s vocals are. I could sit here and compared her to any other great artists I’ve heard, but I won’t, because she has her own defining sound. It’s edgy, it’s unique, and it is beautiful. Her voice is backed up perfectly by the rest of the band, song after song, they all work so well as a unit. They were having fun up on stage and it was liberating to watch. I also love how hard they sound, but still manage to maintain such a beautiful approach to their music. Levin even did some crowd-surfing. Their album release party performance was stellar and converted me to a fan. Go pick up their new album now, you will see what I am talking about! And if you see them coming to a city near you, go check them out…they are NOT to be missed!
▣Boston Common | Boston, MA ▣Saturday, September 21st 2019
Joints were being rolled, pipes were being smoked, bong rips were being taken…no this was not my parent’s basement when I was in high school, it’s the annual hemp festival in the city of Boston. An event that dates back to 1989, this year marked the 30th Anniversary of the festival. Sponsored by Mass Cann & NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), the Boston Freedom Rally is a day of marijuana education, music, food, and weed. But, the event proved to be a lot more than just that.
Boston is seeing the last days of summer as fall is rapidly approaching, and the weather last Saturday was nothing less than perfect. I made my way into the Commons around 1:30pm and I could already tell how crowded the day was going to be. Normally a three-day festival, it was cut back this year due to unfortunate complaints about the cleanliness of the city after last years event. And although there were talks about maybe moving the event to a different location, the City Council decided to keep it at the Commons like it’s always been.
It has been 16 years since the last time that I attended a Freedom Rally, and right away I notice a lot has changed since 2003. Walking through the commons was a pretty eye opening experience- people smoking and rolling blunts, or just walking around carrying their bongs like it was nothing. As I broke out off the cloud of smoke, I arrived at the first tent area where businesses were displaying a variety of different products from CBD, to care products, to smokeable products. It was a great variety of products, but it was so crowded and a little too much for me to handle. I took a short cut to the Mass Cann tent to check-in, got my credentials, and headed towards the stage to cover the music acts- one of the main reasons I was there.
When I arrived, I was first treated to a little hip hop from the Real One & Chief Rocker Busybee, who were joined on stage by none other than Dabbing Granny who helped get the place lit by throwing some goodies into the crowd. Everyone got high on this one and it made for a pretty great start of a performance.
After partaking in some of the days festivities and grabbing a drink, I made it back to see the guys from Mendo Dope hit the stage. It was my first time seeing them live and I thought that they did a pretty good job in keeping the crowd lit with their cannabis theme music.
Things kept rolling right along with the next band and the first of two headliners tonight, Spiritual Rez. The 6 piece band, that includes a trumpet and trombone player, gives you that extra party feeling and were so much fun to watch. Dabbing Granny made another appearance to rock out with the guys. It was really a great time.
We then heard from Dr. Uma Dhanabalan before the headliners took the stage. She spoke of community, growth, and the future of the industry. Her words were both inspiring and uplifting. After her speech, it was time for Badfish “The Ultimate Sublime tribute band” to close the night. If you are not familiar with them, they have been around and have been playing Sublimes’ hits for the past 18 years. The band is a total party band, and tonight would be no different. Hit after hit they had the crowd dancing and moshing, making it the perfect ending to an awesome day.
I had a long walk ahead of me so I decide to leave a little early to avoid some of the traffic. When I was finally on the T, I started to reflect on the amazing day it had been. There had been a lot of weed smoking (and I can vouch for that), but the event would proved to be a lot more than just that. It was about family, friendships, community, and 30 years of supporting and fighting for the same cause, the Marijuana Movement.
Thank you to Shannon Jones, & Mass Cann for the hospitality. See you next year!
▣Xfinity Center | Mansfield, MA ▣Friday, July 5th 2019
Rockstar Energy brought their Disrupt Music Festival, with headliners Thrice, The Used and Circa Survive, to the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA.
Having no photo pass for tonight’s event didn’t matter much since I would get to see some of my favorite bands on the same bill. And although I just went to have a good time, I couldn’t help myself from snapping some photos from the pit and from sharing some of my thoughts with you on how my night at festival played out, so here it goes.
Once I arrived at the venue, I grabbed a beer and looked for a good place to sit. It was general admission, so I could pretty much sit anywhere, which was nice. Sleeping With Sirens was the band playing on stage when I arrived. I wasn’t too familiar with them, so I just sat back and watched. They put on a good set, and their fans really seemed to enjoy it.
I then made my way to the front pit area, because there is only one way to see Atreyu- up close and personal. Atreyu has been a favorite of mine bands since I first saw them at Taste of Chaos in 2007. These guys are so good, extremely talented, and so much fun to watch, and they have only gotten better with time. Their setlist featured some of my favorites like Right Side of the Bed, Becoming the Bull, When Two Are One, and Bleeding Mascara. They also even manage to cover the Bon Jovi hit, You Give Love a Bad Name- and that was just half of their set! If you haven’t caught them in concert before, I suggest that you do, you will not be disappointed. Atreyu Rocks!
The Story So Far hit the stage next, and once again I was unfamiliar with them, so I decided to sit back and watch. They certainly had a following there, but for me, it unfortunately just isn’t my cup of tea and I found myself waiting for the next band to take the stage.
I moved to the front again for the last trio of bands, starting with Circa Survive. I’ve seen them perform twice before, and although the band has a loyal following, I have never personally been into their music. I find Anthony Green’s (lead singer) vocals to be just okay, and never been amazed by his singing ability. But I will say, his showmanship, is the real deal. He leaves it all on stage at every show. He jumped in the front pit area tonight on more than one occasion to sing along with the crowd. His energy was contagious.
The Used was the first of the two headliners to hit the stage. They are veterans in the music scene, quickly making a name for themselves with their first release back in 2002, and reached global success in just a short time. And, they have been riding the wave ever since. This was my third time seeing them live, so I was definitely excited. Massachusetts was no different for The Used- it was just another show to rock, and that is exactly what they! It was a production none the less, and when the white curtain came down, the band erupted onto the stage and opened with their 2004 hit, Take It Away.
Their sweat-drenched set also included The Taste of Ink, Buried Myself Alive, and Pretty Handsome Awkard, which are some of my favorite songs from them. Every song performance was badass! Their high energy also brought out some of the best crowd surfing and moshing of the night. They closed with A Box Full of Sharp Objects, and brought out Kellin Quinn from Sleeping With Sirens to give them a hand on vocals, taking their set to another level. At the end of the song, Bert went into the Rage Against The Machine hit, Killing In The Name. Their performance was nothing less than epic!
Thrice closed the show, and unlike their predecessor, there was no curtain dropping for the beginning of their set. They entered the stage and went straight to work an opened with Yellow Belly, followed immediately by the 2003 fan-favorited, The Artist in the Ambulance. Also a veteran band, dating back to 1998 when the band originally formed. After a four-year hiatus the band reformed in 2015, and since then have released the albums To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere in 2016, and Palms in 2018, and they would choose to close their biggest hits from 2016, Black Honey, but for their last one they would go with their hit from their 2005 album Vheissu, The Earth Will Shake, before exiting the stage.
I have seen Thrice a few times, and they are always so good to watch, as always, but their sound has innovated over time, and I am not sure it was a good transition from the highly energetic Used set. If it were up to me, I would have chosen The Used or Atreyu to close the night with a bang.
Overall, I enjoyed the line-up, and since Warped Tour only made a couple stops this year, it was a nice opportunity to see some of the bands together. Also, the ticket price was relatively cheap too, I would have paid that much just to see Atreyu!
I had one of those shows people. Everything was perfect. Unexpected. First time to this venue to boot. Aura in Portland was amazing. It had fantastic aesthetic, the lighting and sound were on point, and the staff was incredible too. Go visit this venue for something asap, 13/10 will not be disappointed. The opening lineup was nearly a complete mystery to me but, I now have a lot of homework to do now to catch up.
The ’68 was up first. These dudes hail from Atlanta and are the remnants of an older punk group named the Chariot. Only 2 guys. The sound and energy they produce though are fucking incredible. Singer, guitarist, frontman, effects, bassist, etc.… Josh and disco dancing drummer Niko literally stole the crowd up front which never happens. It was a mild comedy show amidst some 30 second songs and some actual bangers. Josh made up for no bass with an array of effects that made no one miss it and ended the set with putting a guitar riff on loop and removing Niko’s kit piece by piece while he was still playing. Go out of your way to check these guys out. Find them on Instagram at @theyare68.
Dance with the Dead was the next act to roll out. I didn’t put two and two together by the name until they brought out two DJ stations. They were explained to me by my buddy Chris as synth wave, which to me is basically an 80’s action movie. Add metal guitars and a dope beard, you get Dance with the Dead. These guys had the crowd bouncing, except for the two 50 something blue collar white dudes next to me who hate anything remotely different from their dad rock but fuck those guys. This was fun as hell, and you should check them out too. Find them on Instagram @dwtd.
So, Devin Townsend. I’ve heard the name all over but never actually had the chance to check the stuff out. This was an acoustic set and the minute he came out; I knew I’d love it. He is as close to John Malkovich as a musician as humanly possible. Imagine John played a comedic musician in a movie, that’s my take on Devin. He’s intelligent, hilarious, and a fantastic musician. Strapping young lad, Devin Townsend Project, and his solo acoustic stuff. Find him and check it out. On Instagram @dvntownsend.
I’ve shot/ seen/ written about Avatar for you multiple times. Won’t dig into the minutia too much since I already have but fuck, I’m in love with these guys. A 17-song set to end the weekend was exactly what we all needed. I’m praying to Satan this isn’t the first time you’ve ever heard of them but if it is, do yourself a huge favor and get their catalog. They are as close to Rammstein status for me as a band gets. Anyone who knows me knows what that means. They’re amazing. They have the antics, the outfits, the presence, and the musical ability. Legends from Gothenburg. Instagram @avatarmetal.