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Friday
Sep302016

Lady Gaga Announced As Super Bowl Performer

The rumors were true: Lady Gaga will perform at Superbowl 51 in Houston on February 5. I'm interested to see what she comes up with and who she brings as a guest performer to share the stage with her. I suspect it will be a rock band or at least a famous guitarist. Thoughts on this?


Thursday
Sep292016

Motley Crue To Release 'The End' Box Set

We all knew this was coming. Motley Crue will release a box set called The End on November 25. The set will cover the band's 35 years, include six LPs, a hardcover photobook, and live CD/DVD of the band's final show in Los Angeles at the end of 2015.

You'll also get autographed lithograph photo prints of the band, four Mick Mars guitar picks and a commemorative "Final Tour" VIP laminate pass.

You can preorder the set now. It's a whopping $175 which I think is absolutely insane. I know people love their vinyl, but man. Who is buying this (besides Christian because he collects everything!)


Wednesday
Sep282016

A Review Of [The Truncated] Houston Open Air Festival 

Today's post is from our friend HIM. He attended the Houston Open Air festival recently. 

A REVIEW OF [THE TRUNCATED] HOUSTON OPEN AIR FESTIVAL
SAT., SEPT. 24, and SUN. SEPT. 25, 2016, NRG PARK

No one in their right mind says, “Hmmm . . . Houston in September. What could possibly go wrong?” That apparently excludes Danny Wimmer and his self-named promotion company, which hosts a variety of festivals—Aftershock, Northern Invasion, and Carolina Rebellion among them—across the United States. He is, in a sense, in the franchise business: pick a slew of bands (with few, if any, variations to the line-up) and plant branded tents in locations across the country where there is a chance to make money.

Being a resident of the Northwest, I was full well aware that traveling to Texas was a muggy, humidity-filled, and wet challenge to my weak constitution. But I was getting a chance to hang with a high school friend (let’s call him HIM III) who lives in San Antonio. And, as the festival date approached, nothing in the weather forecasts suggested anything but the obvious: this could go badly.

My friend and I arrived on Friday. The plan was to attend the Saturday portion of the festival, missing out on several bands (such as Ghost) that were playing on Sunday . . . and an overall younger-trending general line-up (Avenge Sevenfold, Pierce the Veil, and others). The weather in town was a hot mess. But it was not raining. That changed on Saturday morning, with thunder, lightning strikes, and cloudbursts outside our hotel. We were holding off until early afternoon, deciding to get a bit more sleep and miss some of the lesser known acts starting off the bill at 11:00am when the venue opened. So as our Uber arrived near festival site NRG Park, we were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t raining. Cloudy, sure. Hot, yes. But not raining.

That optimism quickly turned to concerns as we approached the venue entrance. A mass of people were milling about. A quick check with a passing concertgoer told the story: the venue had opened on time but then quickly been evacuated due to those lightning strikes we had seen from our hotel. Rumors ranged from complete cancellation to a four hour wait. Clearly, those early bands we planned to miss weren’t going to play. But would we see any bands?

Luckily, after a two or so hour wait, replete with people climbing the gate and chanting, the festival opened (again) for business. The schedule was revised. Anthrax was out and now Alter Bridge was starting the show on one of the two main stages. Not being a fan of their sound (but noting the generally positive reaction they were getting from the rather sparse crowd), my friend and I toured the grounds. Wimmer clearly knows how to set up a festival: two main stages side-by-side, a third stage set to the back of the festival grounds, a range—many by now familiar to regular festival attendees (F*** Cancer, the Jack Daniel Experience—of booths, a suitable number of portable toilet and washing stations, and a nicely varied and relatively affordable batch of food, drink, and merch options. The VIP section was, as expected (having been at Aftershock) not particularly impressive, but important where it counts: dedicated booths and bathrooms, with covered and partially shaded seating areas and a viewing screen of bands. Considering the weather, prices for bottled water were fair ($3), drinks and food costs were not out of line with other festivals, and there were numerous places—in VIP and out—that afforded some shade.

As Alter Bridge were still playing, Chevy Metal took the third stage. This was a fun cover band fronted by Foo Fighter drummer and (occasional) singer Taylor Hawkins. His more than competent trio played a range of covers—from Queen’s “Dragon Attack” to Billy Squier’s “The Stroke”—with non-stop enthusiasm to a slowly growing crowd. A funny moment was when Hawkins announced a deep cut from Rod Stewart and launched into “Stay With Me.” Very few people knew the song until the chorus and, even then, some looked confused. All in all, a harmless bit of fun.

But Ministry (well, Jourgensen and friends) was taking the other main stage. Neither of us had seen any version of the band, so we were curious. It was what one would expect. Songs, in the main, bled into each other even if some of the more popular ones stood out (“One More Fix,” “[N.W.O.] New World Order”). Jourgensen and his young guns played with bass-pounding industrial intensity. His video accompaniments were political, trippy, and occasionally both (Godzilla-sized versions of the current presidential candidates shooting lasers and fire at each other). Not the original thing or even the version with the sadly departed and long-term collaborator Mike Scaccia. Then again, not the version with faux English accents and dance beat found on songs like “(Every Day Is) Halloween.”

Next was Buckcherry on the third stage. From this point on, there was no overlap in the truncated schedule. A blessing really, as I find Josh Todd fascinating. He is a rail-thin dervish that seems like a freakish cross between Axl Rose, Scott Weiland, and Perry Ferrell. They did what they do. And if you love it, you would have loved this. But, as with Chevy Metal, the fans in attendance—by now a steadily growing mass—wanted only two hits: “Lit Up” (or, as people around me kept yelling, “The Cocaine Song,”) and “Crazy Bitch.” Which they duly delivered. Personally, I thought their cover of Icona Pop’s “I Love It (I Don’t Care)” was the winner. I won’t write the title of the song or the EP it was on. Suffice it to say, it was juvenile, fun, and passionately delivered.

The next three bands—The Cult, Slayer, and Alice in Chains—all appeared in quick succession on the main stages. No sooner was one done then the next started. Though this is a scheduling success, it also highlighted how much of a mood shift this particular order caused. The Cult were what one would want. The hits were played. Astbury was in generally good voice, chatty even, and supplemented by some newer backing players who picked up for places where his vocals couldn’t hit the high notes. He is 54 and has not been particularly mindful of his health in the past, so that is no slam. If anything he looked to be maintaining a healthier diet than Duffy, who nonetheless swaggers like a guitar god. Meanwhile, long-time drummer Tempesta still looks as if he is about to effortlessly destroy his drums with every slam of the sticks. Slayer brought the lighting and the loudness. Old songs and news songs (which are better for a live airing). Araya looked positively happy to be on stage. Holt seemed to have taken happy head-banging pills. King was furiously trying to remind people that he can make a guitar sound unhinged, while wearing enough biker-chic to make Zakk Wylde say, “Dude, pull it back just a bit.” The closer, Alice in Chains, got nearly the same response from the crowd which was already beginning to slowly trickle out. For some reason, Cantrell sounded a bit nasally, which was only highlighted because of the more prominent role he has taken vocally since the band came back. DuVall is a true front man, who luckily got to show off on some of the band’s newer songs: “Hollow,” “Check My Brain,” and “Stone.” Inez (Starr’s longtime replacement) is just a blazing flurry of bass and hair, seeming ageless. And Kinney on the kit (a good show title) is so interesting to watch: he plays effortlessly and shows a sort of flair that even a non-musician like myself can recognize. I have no issue with these three bands ending the day and love each of them. Though I would think, for pure adrenaline, the line-up would have been The Cult, Alice in Chains, and Slayer. That, again, is the trade-off of a festival setting and double main stage set up (and a quibble really) featuring varied rock bands with different styles.

As we wandered out, both of us agreed: for what could have been a disappointing evening, this was a pretty good value. It was a diverse crowd of people enjoying a sweltering afternoon of rock. Drunks and those allergic to water and sunscreen provided some hilarious and scary moments. Fights were few and far between. Mosh pits didn’t overgrow their welcome. Once inside, people were more than making the most out of it. They were having fun on a Saturday.

I have no idea what the final headcount was on Saturday (it was clear they did not sell out). But I know what happened as I was sitting on the tarmac the next morning waiting for the start of my delayed flight home: Sunday was cancelled in its entirety. Which is a shame. Not as much of a shame as some are suggesting online. Danny Wimmer Presents was out front with timely updates on both days. And I agree: it is not a “wussy” move to care about fan and band safety when lightning is present and forecast. I would, however, rethink this venue in September if there is to be a second Houston Open Air. Otherwise, this could become a routine . . . one that a promoter skilled in this sort of thing would be well-advised to avoid.  To paraphrase a famous political phrase from the recent past: “It’s the weather, stupid.”


Tuesday
Sep272016

Metallica Release 'Moth Into Flame' Video

Metallica just released the video for "Moth Into Flame." The song is on the upcoming album Hardwired...To Self-Destruct, which is scheduled for a November 18 release. I gotta say, I like it. You?


Monday
Sep262016

My Beloved! Rare Videos Of Steve Clark, Def Leppard Posted Online

The Rock Brigade forum just uploaded some rare Pyromania-era footage featuring Steve Clark! Everyone knows I'm crazy for Steve Clark, so this is huge for me. The clips are in three parts, each 20 minutes long.



Sunday
Sep252016

Stryper To Take Hiatus 

It's a low-key kind of day for me. I had a lovely breakfast, spent a million dollars on groceries, took a long walk and I'm about to plant myself on the couch to watch hours of football. There isn't too much going on in the music world right now. I feel like the only thing anyone cares about is politics. The big Lincoln - Douglas, er, Clinton - Trump debate is tomorrow night, so that's all the news is focusing on. And even the music news is filled with artists giving their (basically worthless) commentary on the state of affairs in this country right now.


All that said, I'll just leave you with this: Stryper is apparently taking a hiatus after their 30th anniversary tour. This doesn't surprise me, in fact most bands take a break after a new album and/or tour. The real news about this hiatus comes from within the statement that the band members will take time off "to think and pray about the direction of the band going forward." This doesn't exactly sound positive. My advice is to go see Stryper live if you haven't had the chance. In fact, that advice applies to every band we love. I fear we're losing opportunities to do so.


Saturday
Sep242016

Ok Then.

Why does Bobby Blotzer look so artificial in this photo? Bad photoshop? This is still gonna be a hard pass for me I'm afraid.