On Stage 11/24

Circa Survive, Thrice and Chon

 

So I guess you could say  Balance and Composure, was…balanced and composed… No but really, they  did have a smooth and  clean sound that was very easy to listen to. I  have never heard them before but they were certainly pleasurable.

Chon is a technical,  unique, and instrumental group with hints of west coast influence.  I  thoroughly enjoyed their set and even with the technical riffs, they  were clean and relaxing. Something you can just close your eyes and  escape into.


Thrice always takes me  back to the good old days of post hardcore. Off topic, but the first  time I saw Thrice, they opened in Philly with almost no one around  watching them.  They started playing and we all looked around like, is  this real life?! The energy surged through the room and many people  started running in.  I was so blown away how good they were and how I  hadn’t heard them before. I went straight over and bought their albums  and proceeded to blast them to this very day, like actually right now.  Back on track, although their sound has shifted a bit since the late 90s  early 2000s, nonetheless, still an outstanding set. They played many  relaxing songs, but still made sure to blast the oldies.


Circa Survive, Anthony  Green specifically,  in my opinion, is one of the most enthusiastic  musicians out there right now. His high energy and passion elevates  everyone in his presences. I have never seen a bad or boring Circa show,  and this was no exception. Green even brought his sons out on stage to  have fun and break-dance. Not only that, he saw a father with his young  daughter in the crowd and had them pulled out of the pit and up on stage  to watch. All night high fiving crowd surfers and anyone that got close  enough.


 I was slightly bummed about the lighting, which was even darker  than normal, but that just meant I didn’t get the action packed photos I  wanted. I still can’t complain about the show though, all in all  another amazing night of music.

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On Stage 10/5

Epica, Lacuna Coil, and Insomnium

 

Insomnium was coming back to the US. There was no way I would miss  them.  Although I had only good things to say about the other bands they  were touring with, it was bittersweet not to have them headlining. (I  was hoping there was some self-proclaimed hierarchy for my favorite  bands.)

I must first preface their opening with a slight disappointment, not  for the band, but the venue. I have always enjoyed the Troc, but if the  band does not have their own light show, it can be very dark, back lit  and unforgiving for photography. Photography issues aside, even seeing  the musicians faces can be a challenge.


Insomnium took to the darkened stage, a fitting backdrop for their  sound, as masters of doom and sorrow. Their genius for melodic death  metal only progresses further with a blend of other metal genres on  their new album, Winters Gate, from which they played many songs.   Although they may sound deep and dark, their stage performance was  energetic and had an almost pal-around feel, with lots of smiles and  riffs played together. Hearing my favorite songs live gave me goosebumps  and I honestly can’t wait to see them again.  Their music is moving,  with melodies that will stay with you long after the music stops.


 I have unfortunately never gotten to see Lacuna Coil live until now, and  they were certainly show stopping.  Having been around over two  decades, their playing style is refined, while still retaining their  signature sound, a down-tuned, bass-heavy bliss.  Donning straitjackets  with their sanitarium stage show, their vocals are both harmonious and  harsh, which makes for a compelling contrast.  Cristina Scabbia is an  absolute pleasure to listen to and one of my favorite female  vocalists.  So happy to finally see  them. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 


 Symphonic metal has a bold and worldly sound that I have always enjoyed.  The flawless Simone Simmons belted her operatic vocals as full force  and power of the epic! Epica shook the Troc. Cristina Scabbia of Lucuna  Coil even joined them on stage for a song. It was a night not soon  forgotten. 

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On Stage 5/6

Russian Circles, Devin Townsend Project, Eagles of Death Metal, Gojira, Opeth and Mastodon

 After arriving over an hour early to ensure I wouldn’t miss a single  band in this planet aligning show, I walked up to a line that wrapped  twice around the block. Fans kept it positive though, with endless  compliments about the awesomeness of T-shirts, handing out high fives  for obscure black metal bands, nods and smiles for great bands, and even  taking pictures with people in shirts that matched or coordinated. The  time passed quickly, and we were pleased to be able to hear (pretty  clearly) Russian Circles play the first set of the day.  Finally, at the gates… I kept walking closer to the stage and getting more and more stoked; I would be able to shoot Opeth  after waiting over ten years. Holy Moly, it was starting to sink in as I  walked past the barrier and into the photo pit. Boomtime! 


The Devin Townsend Project was on. A solid performer  and certainly a talented one. To be honest, I knew only a little of his  work, but enjoyed it nonetheless. He definitely seemed to have a decent  following and offered some pretty quirky stage antics.  Oh hey, guess what?  They didn’t leave enough room for  security guards and photographers so all of us with photo passes got the  boot. Hopes and dreams, shattered.


It could have been worse though, I could have been one of  the photographers who flew in from LA to shoot for a publication  covering this momentous show. Yeah. Sorry dude, that kinda sucks. So  into the madness of the crowd we went, shielding our cameras as best we  could, and while fighting for a view of the stage. It got a little rough.


Up next, jamming with their signature rock and blues sound was Eagles of Death Metal  (EODM). Joining them onstage was Brent Hinds from Mastodon. Even though  they’re not in the same genre as the other bands that played, they  still fit right in. Such a great set!   


Gojira is always amazing. They have quite a unique sound that  incorporates many different styles of metal. The crowd was energetic as  they sung all their songs and it echoed through the venue. Amazing.  Add  a heavy dose of stage smoke to the mix and it gave the whole place an  eerie atmospheric feel.  I love these guys and it was great to see them  sharing the stage with so many amazing artists.  


I inched as close as I could get to shoot Opeth. Their set was a  good mix of old and new work. At one point they even acknowledged no one  liked their new songs when they came out, but hoped everyone would now.  They’re a different breed of musicians, and seem to play for  themselves, working to stay authentic to their sound even in the face of  opposition. I respect that even though we still sometimes want to hear  Mikael rip out some old tunes. They are definitely one of my all time  favorite bands and of course they killed it! I think my buddy Scott  Brewkegger, self proclaimed “greatest dude ever” said it best:  “they  don’t know how to hit a bad note.”  


Mastodon, is still a behemoth of metal. I had never gotten to see them  live before, and hell, it was worth the wait.  Showcasing a full set of  all their greats was amazing to hear, and the crowd surged liked a  incoming tsunami. We were all pushed up close to the stage, packed in  like sardines. Kind of scary with camera equipment, but still closer  nonetheless. Worth it. The stage visuals and light show intensified all  the action bringing the show to an outstanding and satisfying finish.  Overall, it was a monumental show with outstanding performances all  around; to see so many of my favorite bands converge was a show that  could not be missed. 

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Mark Ferris

Check out this awesome tattoo artist from Under the Gun Saloon! 


http://www.underthegunsaloon.com/


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