For the Love of Rock and Metal is a blog dedicated to music articles, concert reviews, CD reviews, interviews and all other things related to rock and metal. There is an emphasis on local or semi-local music in the Madison, WI area.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years! (plus Featured Video)

Generally, I like the featured video to be a local or regional band, but since its New Year's Eve, I decided to go with the Rock and Roll anthem. Please be safe tonight so that you can make it into 2012! Drink all you want, party all you want, but make sure you take a cab, bus or have a designated driver!

So, here's to 2012 - the best thing about 2012 is going to be that it isn't 2011! See you next year, hopefully with a lot more content on this blog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Seven Signs, Breech and Art of the Flesh - December 17, 2011 - Madison, WI

Art of the Flesh, Breech and Seven Signs – Saturday, December 17th, 2011 – Regent Street Retreat Stage – Madison, WI

I was very excited to hear that bands were playing at The Annex in Madison, WI again, even though it is now technically called the “Regent Street Retreat Stage,” Or “RSR Stage” for short, instead. The first chance I had to go after they closed earlier this summer was this metal show. Walking in, it did look a little different. The floorplan was the same, but it had been painted and the d├ęcor was calmer and more organized than previously.

The RSR Stage was not very busy when we arrived, but I hoped it would fill up as the night went on. The first band up was a five-piece metal band from Lily Lake, IL called Art of the Flesh. The first thing I noticed about this band was the vocalist. Sure, we often notice the singer first because they are right there in our faces, but Dan Schulz was amazing. I have seen many metal bands over the years - dozens, maybe hundreds, who really knows? But he was by far one of the best I’ve heard and I can see him going far in the metal scene.

In addition to the awesome vocalist, there were hard, fast drums combined with a unique bass and great guitarists. One thing that stuck out was that each song was easily distinguishable from the next, the backup vocals were good and different from the lead, and everything blended well without overpowering any one instrument. A common downfall in some metal bands is that the songs all sound very similar and often use the same chords over and over again, but Art of the Flesh did not have this problem. They had a great sound and great variation. Not only will I recommend them to everyone who will listen, but this is a band I will definitely be seeing again. Check them out on Facebook here

Next up on the bill was Breech, a local band from Madison, WI. Although they were my least favorite of the night, I still liked them a lot which says a lot for this entire show. Unfortunately, there were a lot of technical difficulties with the bass that made it hard for me to get the full effect of the band.

The drummer was very good and had a very swift and steady bass drum. He did a drum solo for us, and I have been less impressed by national bands drum solos. The vocalist had good variability in his sound and could easily switch from screams to the low growl and singing. Metal vocalists come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and looks and at first look he reminded me of a typical frat boy at a college, but once the band started I knew there was more to it. I will definitely have to see this band again when I can see them with the bass guitar as well. Check them out on Myspace.

The final band up was Seven Signs, another band from Madison, WI. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes you just don’t know what to expect from people in metal bands as far as what they will look like and Seven Signs’ vocalist takes the cake when it comes to juxtaposing the look and sound of a singer. When he came on stage, I was really surprised but he had a great singing voice, a good growl that fell in a nice melodic medium range, and excellent variation in his tone. The band was a little shaky because of a lineup change, but overall they were very impressive.
Often, singers in metal bands have mediocre regular singing voices since they focus primarily on the harsher sounds like growls, screams and a mix of those with singing, but this singer actually had a very nice voice that would have fit into pretty much any kind of band. He had a country twang that easily moved into a rock sound and then back to a slower ballad sound and into the typical metal vocals.

Seven Signs had excellent guitar and bass players and a very good drummer who was quick with the bass and had an intensely unique sound. The drummer was also good with stick tricks, but did keep them low-key and not too over the top. This was a band I definitely enjoyed and will be seeing again.

Here is a video of their song "FUCK" live from this show.

Overall, this show was great. I was excited to be back in The Annex (now the RSR Stage), but was disappointed in the low turnout. There was another metal show at another venue with a national band, but it was cancelled so I expected more people. It was well advertised online and on the radio on 94.1 WJJO.

Band Websites:
Art of the Flesh
Seven Signs

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Website/Magazine for Metalheads!

Photo from The Blacktooth's Facebook page

We've all been waiting for something like this... well, at least I have. It was part of the reason I started this blog. The new website The Blacktooth is up and running! It is about metal culture and music. There are videos, opinion pages, band profiles and more. I heard about this just last night at the Seven Signs show (that post will come later) and after checking it out today, I'm in love. It is an online community and information source for people who love all things metal. There are tons of places for people who like rock to go, but its hard to find good information on metal.

Check out this video that was on the site about mosh pit etiquette. The only thing I would add to it is to stress that if someone falls in the pit, PICK THEM UP.

              Check out The Blacktooth HERE.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Beyond Threshold and Hatebreed - December 15, 2011

Beyond Threshold and Hatebreed - December 15, 2011 - Majestic Theater Madison, WI
I made a last minute decision to go see Hatebreed at the Majestic Theater in Madison, WI on Thursday, December 15, 2011. Of course I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed, since I’ve never been disappointed at a Hatebreed show.  I don’t remember seeing the opening band, Beyond Threshold, before but once they came on it was a familiar look and sound. I quickly found out that they are a great opener.
Beyond Threshold was formed in 2006 and is under the Turkey Vulture Records label. They are from Rockford, IL which seems to be a hotbed of great bands lately. Vocalist Erik Virgin has a great voice that could have made him millions working as a demon voice-over in movies, but is put to excellent use in this metal band. He had pretty good stage presence; although I was a little worried he was going to wear holes in the stage pacing back and forth. He spent a lot of time interacting with the crowd, including going onto the floor between the stage and barriers.
The backup vocals from one of the guitarists and the bassists fit in perfectly.  Unfortunately, while the Majestic is a beautiful location it was not original designed for metal shows, so the sound wasn’t perfect and the drums and bass were drowned out a lot. Even so, it was a great show that got the crowd moving and ready for Hatebreed. I really enjoyed the show they all put on and their sound and I will definitely be tracking them down more often. They have their first album, “Revolution,” out already and another is expected to be released in 2012. Check them out at their Facebook page.
I won’t waste my time actually reviewing Hatebreed. Anyone who has ever seen them live knows what to expect and anyone who hasn’t seen them live should put it on their bucket list. Strong vocals, great guitars and bass, and heavy double-bass drums make Hatebreed one of the best metal bands around. When Jamey Jasta comes on stage, you don’t expect the huge voice from him. In this show, they made it a very metal Christmas with decorations on all of their gear and the drum kit. The juxtaposition of a hardcore metal band and Christmas lights, stockings and a Christmas tree made the show that much better. Check out the video below of them performing Last Breath live at this show.

Band Websites:
Beyond Threshold

Friday, December 9, 2011

Featured Video: Penguins With Shotguns - Sadistic Intent

This featured video was a special request. Penguins With Shotguns have been around for more than a decade and I love seeing them when I have the chance. They are from my family's hometown of Kenosha, WI and are a great metal band. This video was posted by YouTube user rubelena, who has many great videos of regional bands.

If you ever have the chance to see Penguins With Shotguns, I highly recommend it as they are a great live band with excellent stage presence. Check out their Facebook page here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Revolver Magazine posts tributes to Dimebag Darrell from friends

Check out the interviews and tributes from Dimebag Darrell's rock friends on Revolver Magazine's website:

Photo From this link


Today in History: Dimebag Darrell of Damageplan and Pantera Killed

Seven years ago today, Dimebag Darrell and four others were killed at a concert in Columbus Ohio. As a tribute, I am posting the MTV article that immediately followed the event. Please note that I did not write this - the link is available at the beginning and end of the post and the authors are credited below the title.

Photo from

(This article reprinted from the original MTV announcement on December 9, 2004 - the day after Dimebag was shot)

Dimebag Darrell, Four Others Killed In Ohio Concert Shooting

By Robert Mancini, Gil Kaufman, Ryan J. Downey and Jennifer Vineyard

Dimebag Darrell, guitarist for Damageplan and Pantera, was killed during a shooting spree at a Columbus, Ohio, nightclub Wednesday night. He was 38.
Darrell, real name Darrell Abbott, was among the five people killed during the incident. Also dead are the gunman, 25-year-old Nathan Gale of nearby Marysville, Ohio; Damageplan bodyguard Jeff Thompson, 40; fan Nathan Bray, 23; and Erin Halk, 29, who worked at the club. Gale also wounded three people.
Damageplan had just begun their first song in front of approximately 250 people at Alrosa Villa when the gunman jumped onstage, made a comment about Pantera, and began firing at close range into Darrell's body, shooting him several times before opening fire on the crowd (see " 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott: A Larger-Than-Life Guitarist And Human Being").
A patrol officer nearby, James Niggemeyer, heard the call of shots fired at 10:18 p.m. and by 10:20 p.m. had snuck inside the club through a back door, according to public information officer Sergeant Brent Mull. After entering, Niggemeyer, who had no backup, confronted the gunman onstage, where he observed one victim and Gale holding a hostage by the neck.
"The officer was able to strategically gun this guy down before he was able to kill his hostage, and it appeared that he was about to kill his hostage," Mull said at a press conference Thursday (December 9). "The suspect had the hostage in a headlock situation and had his firearm out shooting, and it's believed he was about to take his gun to the hostage."
But the hostage wriggled out of the way slightly, Mull said, and the officer was able to kill the shooter with a single shotgun blast as the hostage escaped uninjured. Police said Gale, whose arrest record lists him as 6 feet 3 inches tall and 225 pounds, used a Beretta 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and reloaded once during the shooting. Gale's prior arrests were all nonviolent, and included driving with a suspended license and trespassing.
Police have not confirmed the names of the three wounded victims, but the club's manager told the Dispatch that one of them was a security guard who had tried to wrestle the attacker's gun away. Damageplan reps say the other two wounded were tour manager Chris Paluska, who is in critical but stable condition, and drum tech John "Kat" Brooks, who was scheduled to be released from the hospital Friday.
"If the officer hadn't acted when he did and how he did, we'd probably be looking at more dead, because this guy was actively shooting," Mull said. Following the incident, police took more than 200 patrons onto three city-donated buses, where they were interviewed by some 60 police detectives.
"The ones that were inside and witnessed this ran for their lives and were in fear for their lives," Mull said. "They are victims too, and we want to take care of them."
In 911 tapes released Thursday, one caller tells the operator, "There's been a shooting! Somebody's shooting! He's shooting the band, oh sh--, he's still shooting!" Another is heard frantically telling the 911 operator, "We need to get out, we need to get out! I can't, I can't get out."
One concertgoer, his jeans torn and soaked with blood, told CNN he jumped onstage and attempted to give Darrell CPR before paramedics arrived.
Police have interviewed friends and relatives of the shooter, attempting to establish a motive for his actions. "We may never know the motive for this," Mull said, "unless he left a note somewhere else."
One eyewitness, 37-year-old food vendor Medhat Mokhtar, told MTV News that he saw Gale lingering outside the club prior to Damageplan's set. Gale paced near Mokhtar's food cart and only entered the club when Damageplan's performance began. Shortly thereafter, Mokhtar noticed concertgoers fleeing the club and screaming, and the vendor headed inside to see what the disturbance was. He said he then made his way to the stage where a crowd had gathered around the wounded Darrell. "I tried to push them away, but people loved him too much. The people were kissing his hands and his feet and trying to give him CPR," Mokhtar said.
Searching Gale's residence is the next step of the investigation, as is analyzing amateur video footage taken of the incident, which homicide investigators are looking at now, Mull said. The venue had no surveillance footage. Mull also said he had been told there was no metal detector at the club, though he could not confirm that at press time and a club spokesperson could not be reached.
As word of Dimebag's death rippled through the metal community, the news was met with shock and sadness (see "Ozzy, Dave Mustaine, Jonathan Davis Remember Dimebag Darrell").
"I'm speechless," former Rob Zombie/ Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rob Blasko Nicholson said. "This is totally unreal. Dimebag is a f---ing legend and this is total bullsh--."
(Click for photos of Dimebag Darrell in concert through the years.)
"This is insane and this is beyond travesty," Killswitch Engage frontman and former Damageplan tour partner Howard Jones said. "This is beyond anything I've ever heard. This shouldn't happen in or outside of the rock and metal community. He will be missed and mourned as a person, as a musician, and as a friend."
"Let's for a second forget that I even knew him, [and focus on] just the fact that this was allowed to happen," Slipknot singer Corey Taylor said. "If somebody can jump onstage with a gun and shoot one of the most influential guitarists of my generation, what's next? If this is allowed to happen, what the hell? What does that say? Just that somebody would think this was a good idea in his own insane world, what does that say about where we're at right now? It's definitely given me pause. I'm an entertainer as well as a musician, so I have to look at this and think not only has one of my really good friends died, but what if that had been me?"
Damageplan also features Dimebag's brother, former Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul; singer Patrick Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla.

You can find the original link here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Band News: Nonpoint


Photo from Nonpoint's Facebook
Nonpoint has gone through some crazy stuff over the last few months. A few months ago, fans got word that two of the members (Zach Broderick and Ken MacMillan) were splitting from the group. It was awhile before we knew who was going to replace them, but as it turns out it is three members from the band Inn Cinema. I saw Inn Cinema in July of 2011 and they were pretty good and hopefully they will blend well with Elias Soriano and Robb Rivera to carry on the Nonpoint name. Of course, this means that Nonpoint is now a five-piece instead of a four-piece.

Many people have wondered what happened to Zach and Ken and what they were up to. Today, posted an article about a new project called Voodoo Corps, which is made up of the two former Nonpoint members and C.J. Pierce and Mike Luce from Drowning Pool.

According to the article, the new band’s mission statement is:

“From the collective bowels of the South rides forth the culmination of what can only be deemed as the kick in the ass that rock so desperately needs. Forged in the fires of what makes life truly great: friends, family, and a deep seeded love and appreciation for those who support rock music, VOODOO CORPS is here to stomp your ass and then take you out for snow cones!!!"

This link provides a sneak peak of their first song, “Lights Out.”

In addition to this new lineup, Nonpoint drummer Robb Ribera has partnered with THC: Music to form an imprint label called SSFM (Stand Strong For Music). He is going to be signing metal and hard rock bands in an attempt to help bands get heard. Every band struggles at the beginning and some never make it, but with the help of Robb, THC: Music and SSFM, hopefully more will get a chance. Check out SSFM at their Facebook page  and THC: Music at theirs here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Bands I Want to See: KILLING DISTRICT

Photo from the band's Facebook page

A new band was brought to my attention through Facebook called Killing District. Some of the members were once part of the band The Rage Inside, but after some lineup changes gone bad, the band broke up. Now they are back and ready to go with a new metalcore band called Killing District.

Killing District is from Freeport, IL and they have launched themselves straight into the scene again. They opened on the local stage at The Rave in Milwaukee, WI for Gwar on Halloween of 2011. They also have other shows lined up in Chicago, St. Louis, Elgin and Rockford. The hard, fast, crisp drums were the first thing that caught my attention with the few songs I've been able to listen to. Hopefully they are as enjoyable live as on the recorded songs.

Based on the few songs I’ve heard online and the video below, they are the epitome of face-melting metalcore and hopefully they come to the Madison, WI area soon otherwise I will have to make a trip to Illinois to see them. Unfortunately, the video isn’t the best quality so I can’t gauge how they really sound live, but I will find out soon. The current lineup includes Tony Wilson on lead vocals, Jesse Kuhse and Justin Knapp on guitar, Tyler Lampe on drums and Travis on bass.

Check out Killing District at their Facebook page or their Reverbnation profile where you can check out the other songs that are available. My favorite so far is Unspoken.

Have you see this band or do you have a band you like or would like to see? Let me know!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Featured Video: Silence Is Broken - One Bullet Away

Since I can't go to live shows all the time, although I would love to, I am going to be periodically posting videos and outside articles regarding rock and metal. One thing I love to do is watch YouTube videos shot by other people of live shows. Today's featured video is Silence Is Broken's "One Bullet Away" shot by rubelena who has a lot of great videos of Silence Is Broken and many other bands. This band is one of my favorite semi-local bands and I always enjoy sharing their music with other people, whether it be through writing reviews, bringing others to live shows with me, or just suggesting a Facebook page. After you watch this video of one of my favorite Silence Is Broken songs, feel free to look at other videos by this same user. Some other great songs by Silence Is Broken are Rumors and When Love Becomes Hello, but this is a favorite of mine to listen to at work when it starts to get stressful.

Let me know what you think of this video and feel free to suggest other videos (by any band) that you would like to see featured.

Monday, November 21, 2011

4 Aspirin Morning, Kill Junior and Government Zero – Saturday, November 19, 2011

4 Aspirin Morning, Kill Junior and Government Zero – Saturday, November 19, 2011 at Club Tavern in Middleton, WI
I’ve been trying to expand my local music base by going to shows featuring bands I have never had a chance to see. Sometimes the bands are great, sometimes they aren’t great, but they are all a new experience. When I saw the chance to go to the Club Tavern in Middleton, WI to see a show combining punk, ska and metal, I was excited. I’ve been disappointed before, but this show was far from disappointing. Three bands lit up the stage with a lot of power and brought true talent to the night.
Photo from Government Zero's Facebook
To be honest, I thought punk was dead. Every punk band I’ve seen lately just didn’t have the right sound and often resembled other genres instead of punk. Government Zero proved me wrong. A punk rock band from Madison, WI, they are reminiscent of The Ramones, Fear, and The Exploited. Government Zero brought an amazing sound and over the top energy to this show.  Sometimes drums in live shows are washed out or too strong, but fast and fluid drums brought a great, consistent beat to the show and blended well with the other instruments without being inadequate or overpowering. The singer had the traditional punk sound nailed down perfectly, fluxuating from quick lyrics to mechanical sounding growl very well.

Following the excellent performance of Government Zero, Madison, WI punk and metal band Kill Junior came on. They have two guitarists that blend very well together, strong bass and fast drums. At first, I didn’t really enjoy the singer but after hearing a few songs, I started to warm up to his sound. The vocalist had a very punk sound to him being backed by metal instrumentals which made for an interesting combination. He had, by far, one of the best deep growls of any local bands I have seen. It seemed to come very naturally to him. I could see this band going far if they focused on more of a metal sound, but it was definitely a good and entertaining show. The bass player amused the crowd with a lot of personality and the entire band interacted well with the spectators.  They finished off the set with a rendition of “Blue Christmas,” which was ironically the best fit for the singer’s voice in the show. Despite some apparent equipment issues with the microphone, the band made the best of a sticky situation.  They weren’t my favorite of the night, but didn’t make me want to run out of the club.
The night finished off with another Madison, WI local band called 4 Aspirin Morning (or 4 AM for short). They classify themselves as punk, ska and rock and I think they are dead on with that, although I would definitely categorize them as ska-core upon listening to them without any prior knowledge. They are a typical four piece band but also have a saxophone, trumpet and trombone. When they first came on stage, I was a little leery about the idea, but the minute they started playing, I knew I was in for a treat. The guitars were true to typical ska, and the brass and woodwind section of this band were a great fit for the style and music. They mixed a reggae sound with the aggressive sound of ska and punk. Mixing the amazing instruments with the gravelly punk vocals of the singer created a unique show that sounded like a mix between Sublime and a hardcore version of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
Overall an excellent show that was worth going to. I found a few new bands I’d love to see again and a renewed faith in my generation’s ability to love punk rock.

Band Websites

4 Aspirin Morning
Kill Junior
Government Zero

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top 10 Reasons We Love 94.1 WJJO

Top 10 Reasons 94.1 WJJO is the best rock radio station ever (in no particular order)

1) The Morning Show
The 94.1 WJJO morning show is on every weekday morning from 6:00am to 10:00am and stars Johnny Danger, Greg Bair, The Biatch and Kid Snuff. It is by far the most entertaining morning show in the Madison area (and probably on the planet). This unique morning show has features like the Mr. Skin Minute, First and Last Laugh, plenty of great interviews with everyone from comedians to musicians to television stars to strippers and porn stars, and of course the Fake at 8. For those of you who live under a rock and don’t know what the Fake at 8 is, it is when women call in to the radio station to do a fake (usually) orgasm on the air for the chance to win prizes – usually concert tickets. The show also has weather, sports and news, although the news portions generally turn into debates about various topics, which just makes it that much more amusing.  Want to check out more? Go to the Morning Show website.

2) Biatch
I know I mentioned the Biatch in the morning show, but you know what? She deserves her own bullet point. She is funny, witty, entertaining, and relates well to the listeners whether it is on the air or out at events. She gives the other morning show staff a hard time (especially Johnny Danger) and keeps them from running away with the show. Oh yeah, she’s also just plain awesome. Check out her Facebook page here.
3) JJO local stage
Kurt Baron hosts the JJO Local Stage every Sunday night at 9:00pm. The Local Stage is dedicated entirely to local music and bands, which is extremely important to the support of local music and helping bands move up in the difficult entertainment world. WJJO also has a locals only CD compilation that they put together. Since I am a huge supporter of local music and love finding new bands, the JJO Local Stage is an excellent platform to learn about new bands and listen to local bands on the radio.  Visit the Local Stage website.
4) JJ-Overdrive
Every weeknight at midnight is JJ-Overdrive, which is devoted to hard, fast metal. It is an hour long and includes both old and new metal.  I don’t catch it very often, but when I worked third shift, this was definitely the only thing on my radio from midnight to 1:00am. No one else plays hard metal and I often wish JJO would play more of it throughout the day, but an hour specifically set aside for it will have to do for now.  Get more information online.
5) Tickets/Contests
WJJO offers many contests in order to win tickets, merchandise, gift certificates and free beer. They have Text-to-Win months where each day there is a chance to text in for a specific prize. Many weekends they have text to win prizes and have “Tat-Tuesday” which is a text to win for tattoo gift certificates. Additionally, they have online auctions, band meet-and-greets, and tons of other great prizes.
6) Band Camp
Starting in 2004 with a fairly small lineup, WJJO Band Camp is now a yearly all day concert event that has grown exponentially. It has featured many great bands like Damage Plan, Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, Dope, HURT, Nonpoint, Clutch, All That Remains and TONS more. By far my favorite concert event of the year with decently priced tickets and great ticket deals. While I miss the first Band Camp because it was smaller and had true local bands, I still look forward to going every year. You can see pictures and more on the Band Camp page
7) RadioActive in the community
In addition to everything else, JJO also takes part in many awesome charity events and takes a special interest in causes. They are often attempting to “Save the Ta-Tas” through their partnership with Ultimate Arts Tattoo’s “Sticking it to Breast Cancer” and their Second Baseman shirts. Other events are available at their website. Find out how you can get RadioActive.
8) Music
Music is the most important part of any music radio station (imagine that) and JJO has it covered. They play new music, old music, hard rock, metal, and everything in between. There is generally a pretty good mix of music, although sometimes during the day the brand new singles get a little repetitive. Overall, awesome mix of music that keeps me entertained 24 hours a day.
9) The Wham Bam Tailgate Jam
Join the morning show crew for 2 hours before every Badgers football home game at Buckingham’s on Regent Street in Madison. They broadcast live, talk to fans, talk to the other team’s fans (if anyone is willing to talk to them), bring merchandise and have a full out party before every Badger home game. Also includes a Badger breakdown with a spread by Kid Snuff.
10) Sound Lounge
The Sound Lounge is a live show and listeners can win tickets to get in and watch bands, ask questions of guests, and just party in the morning with the Morning Show crew. The show often includes bands playing live, sports stars (previously featured Ron Dayne), and other guests and is in an intimate room, so listeners can get up close and personal.

Want to learn more about JJO? Their website has a lot of great stuff to check out.

Why do YOU love JJO?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Droids Attack, Brainerd and Way Off the Horse - November 12th, 2011

Droids Attack, Brainerd and Way Off the Horse – November 12th, 2011 at The Frequency  in Madison, WI
I’m having a moral dilemma. When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would be completely truthful, but at the same time my mom taught me that if I don’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. I’ve been to hundreds of shows and have seen dozens of bands, at the very least. I’ve seen huge international bands and tiny local bands and everything in between. Not all of the shows I’ve been to have been great. Some have been mediocre and some have been downright bad, but I know that most, if not all, of the musicians in these bands have a passion for music and work really hard at what they do and I truly respect them for doing something I don’t have the guts to do.
That being said, I went to this show with the intention of listening to bands I’ve never heard before. I know I’ve seen that Droids Attack have been playing in various venues around Madison, but have never seen them myself. I had never heard of the other two bands playing, but figured I’d give them a try. When I arrived at the venue, which is a relatively small bar in downtown Madison, I immediately noticed that nearly everyone else there was in one of the bands or were friends or spouses of band members. I felt like I was out of place, but I stuck it out and watched the show.
The first band that went on was Way Off the Horse. Like I said, I’d never heard of them and was unable to find much information about them other than that they originated in Madison, WI and only play a few shows a year. The band itself wasn’t bad instrumentally. It was an interesting sound that seemed like a cross between an 80s hair band, punk rock and metal with strong drums and good guitar work.  I didn’t enjoy this band because the singer, while entertaining to watch, was just not a sound I could enjoy. I can’t pinpoint what to compare him to, but the words ran together intermittently with whiny-sounding unintelligible screams that weren’t even the characteristic guttural screams of a metal band. To be fair, while I didn’t enjoy this band, the small crowd that had gathered at The Frequency seemed to get into it and appreciate it. Not every band is for every person and this one was definitely not for me.
Next up in the show was Madison, WI band Brainerd, formed in 2002. Brainerd is a very versatile band that carries a punk rock sound in the vocals mixed with a hard rock instrumental sound. The band flowed together well and the vocalist had a decent voice with a lot of flexibility. One thing that struck me the most was that the singer was also the band’s bass player, which is not something I’ve seen very often. There was a lot of strength in the drums and I was extremely impressed with guitarist Shawn Blackler. He is fast and talented and is a lot of fun to watch on stage.  Brainerd is a band that I will definitely seek out again, especially if I can see them in a larger venue than The Frequency where their stage presence will be able to shine through. They had a strong, dark and tempestuous sound that calls to the love of rock and metal in me.
Up next on the bill was Droids Attack, a three piece rock and metal band, also from Madison, WI. What first struck me about this band was the strong, crisp, clear drums with extensive use of cymbals in many of their songs. It set an excellent background for the other two members of the band. Brad Van, the singer and guitar player, has a gruff and gravelly voice that fits well into the rock scene. He is very high energy and made good use of the small stage area available at The Frequency. The band has a current rock sound mixed with a punk rock vibe, like the other bands of the night and seemed to get the largest crowd reaction. While I didn’t enjoy this band quite as much as Brainerd, I did enjoy them as a good punk rock sound.
Overall, the show had a rocky start for me, but did get better. Any show where I can find a new band that I enjoy, such as Brainerd, is a successful show.  
Band Links:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Local Bands We Miss - Part 2 - Now Face West

Have you ever heard a local band for the first time and fell in love with their music and style instantly? Maybe they were opening for an act you wanted to see or maybe they were included in the large lineup of a festival or all day show. Maybe you just happened to wind up in a bar in which they were playing. No matter how you may have run across them, this is how bands first get fans, some of which become devout followers. Unfortunately, not all bands stick around forever.

While going through my pictures online looking for one to use for another post, I ran across a picture of myself with a band called Now Face West.  Although I only saw them live a handful of times, they quickly became part of the regular rotation in my CD player. Now Face West was from the small town of Shullsburg, WI and played with bands like HURT, Tantric, and Under the Flood. It was at a Tantric show at the Annex in Madison, WI that I saw Now Face West for the first time and bought their CD. Even though it has been at least three or four years since that first show, I still love listening to that CD and it is one of the few that is always at the very least in the case in my car, but is often actually in the CD player.

Now Face West in past lives was called Row 41 and Wet Oscar. After one of the members left to go to college, the band was dissolved, but in 2007 he returned and Now Face West was formed. They were the epitome of a rock band, with a strong vocal lead in the form of Josh Pick and some of the best, fastest bass talent I’ve seen in such a young band in the form of Will Doyle. Attempting to find out what ultimately happened to this band, I came across a YouTube video of Will Doyle practicing a speed bass solo.

Because I did not follow this band as religiously as I did the previous band in this series, I am not sure why they are no longer around. All I know is every once in a while I do a search for them and hope that I run across them at a show, either together or using their talents in different musical projects.  The CD I bought at that first show will remain in my regular CD rotation as a tribute to their talent and hard work. As I’ve said previously, not all bands can succeed in the music world but with any luck, the talented artists within the bands will continue to branch out on their own and keep music in their lives in some way or another. A full bio and on of their songs, "Did You Know," is available at the link below.

Photo from Now Face West's MySpace (link above)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Local Bands We Miss - Part 1 - Malice in Wonderland

Have you ever heard a local band for the first time and fell in love with their music and style instantly? Maybe they were opening for an act you wanted to see or maybe they were included in the large lineup of a festival or all day show. Maybe you just happened to wind up in a bar in which they were playing. No matter how you may have run across them, this is how bands first get fans, some of which become devout followers. Unfortunately, not all bands stick around forever.

Photo from Malice in Wonderland's MySpace page (link below)
Having gone to two shows in a few days featuring one of my favorite semi-local bands, I started thinking about some of the other local bands I used to see devoutly. Many great bands have come through the Madison area with a variety of outcomes. Some of them have been around for years, some moved on to bigger and better things, and some just disappeared. One of the bands I really enjoyed was Malice in Wonderland.

Malice in Wonderland (not to be confused with a Norwegian band of the same name) of Madison, WI was a very raw metal band. They played in many places, including 94.1 WJJO’s all day concert event Band Camp, the Inferno bar, the Annex and various other venues, both large and small. Malice in Wonderland had a strong, crude metal sound that was enhanced by having two very different singers. Both singers had great sound, but different talents and abilities that meshed together beautifully.

Despite their unique sound and excellent energy and stage presence, Malice in Wonderland seemed to have a difficult time breaking through. There were times when I would check with them and their website to find out if they were playing a show only to have to go months at a time without seeing them. The band line-up changed fairly frequently and at one point, one singer (Chris/Chaos)  left the band but the other,Dave O, continued with the remaining members. Losing the unique sound of two diverse vocalists in the same band seemed to have been the final straw.

I still continue to hope to see Dave O in another band because of his exceptional and inimitable sound, but for now I will have to settle for listening to the songs available on their MySpace page on occasion. I guess that is the nature of the beast. Not everyone can survive in the music industry, even if they have outstanding talent, drive, and a love for the music.

If you want to check out some of the songs by Malice in Wonderland, the link is available below.

Malice in Wonderland

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Taproot, Silence Is Broken, Vintage Burning and 2211 - November 5th, 2011

Taproot, Silence Is Broken, Vintage Burning and 2211 – Saturday, November 5th, 2011 at The Back Bar in Janesville, WI
Saturday night’s show at The Back Bar in Janesville, WI started out with Janesville-area band 2211. They have been together for about 16 years and have opened for large national bands around the northern Midwest.  2211 got the evening off to a great start, energizing the crowd that was slowly filling up the venue in preparation for the headlining acts. They had a good sound and a decent stage presence along with catchy original music that the crowd seemed to enjoy.
Following 2211, a band from Beloit, WI came on as the crowd got even bigger. Vintage Burning, with amazing singer Amy Kroning, came blazing onto stage with so much energy that it could be felt throughout the entire venue.  I have seen Vintage Burning on one other occasion, but must not have been paying attention because this show blew me away.  During my personal favorite song, Hypocrite, the band really engaged the crowd in the music, which I believe is one of the most important aspects of a live show in smaller venues like The Back Bar. As someone who usually does not enjoy rock or metal bands with female lead singers, I surprise myself by highly recommending this band to anyone looking for a great high energy show.
Third in the lineup was Silence Is Broken, a band from Rockford, IL that has been around since 2005. As usual, Silence is Broken had a fairly large following of fans packing the bar tight. They played many of their well-known songs that much of the crowd obviously knew. Having seen this band many times, I usually know what to expect, but the energy level was higher than average at this particular show. All of the band members, especially vocalist Aaron Fishel and guitarists Jamison Parker and Mike Friese, seemed to be on their game.  Of all of the songs Silence Is Broken played at this show, One Bullet Away got the best crowd reaction and was executed stunningly.  This was definitely one of their top performances in my experience.

Photo from Taproot's Facebook page:
It was tough to follow a great act like Silence Is Broken, but if anyone could have done it at this show, its Taproot. Taproot is from Ann Arbor, MI and has been (according to their Facebook page) “melting faces and mending hearts since 1997”.  After all of the build-up from the preceding bands, Taproot did not disappoint. Front man Stephen Richards drew in a huge crowd and delivered a high intensity, animated performance that lives up to their reputation as a hard rock band. Taproot played many great songs, including fan favorite “Poem,” which had the entire venue singing along. In addition to their performance, their charming demeanor won over the hearts of all in attendance. From silly faces, to fun banter with the crowd and the sound person, to taking people’s cameras and cell phones and filming for them from onstage, Richards definitely knows how to work a crowd. Likability and charm are sometimes more important than pure talent, but Taproot is lucky enough to have been blessed with all three.

Although this show was a forty-five minute drive from Madison, it was definitely worth it. I don’t think anyone left disappointed, including myself.  There was a band and a style for everyone.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Silence is Broken and HURT Acoustic Show - November 2, 2011

Acoustic show featuring Jamison Parker and Aaron Fishel of Silence is Broken and HURT – Wednesday, November 2nd 2011 at High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI

For lovers of live music, acoustic shows are often the most raw and striking.  It is a true test of talent and brings the artists closer to the audience. Personally, as someone who has seen at least hundreds of live acts, I have only been to a few acoustic shows and never know exactly what to expect. While many acoustic shows are set in smaller venues, the High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI was an excellent location for HURT and two members of Silence is Broken to play.  As with many similar shows, this one did not disappoint.

Jamison Parker and Aaron Fishel of the Rockford, IL band Silence is Broken opened the show.  I have seen the band too many times to count and they are my standing favorite semi-local band, but I had never seen them in an acoustic setting.  Silence is Broken was established in 2005 and frequently comes to Madison and the surrounding areas, playing with many bands like HURT, Anew Revolution, Nonpoint as well as a multitude of other national acts at their 94.1 WJJO Band Camp appearances.

This show was different from anything I had every experienced with them, although not in an unpleasant way. Hearing some of their songs that are normally full of energy played without the other members of the band or any of the added benefit of a regular show was eye opening. It allowed the fans to absorb the music on a deeper level and truly understand the lyrics. The show took on a very personal, relaxed, and conversational attitude. The normally energetic stage presence of the Silence is Broken members was toned down and the music took on a slower and sometimes sadder tone but was nevertheless enjoyable.  While I prefer seeing Silence is Broken in the usual setting, the acoustic set showed an entirely different side of at least two of the members and I wouldn’t recommend passing up the chance to see it again.

HURT, a band that was originally created in Virginia but now based in California, had a similar conversational and relaxed tone during their set, but played with the entire band and even included a cellist in their show. Led by front man J. Loren, HURT played a variety of songs including some of their original work, brand new songs and some from a variety of their albums.

The acoustic HURT set differed from the opening act due to having the entire band and having songs that are played in a way that translates easily into an acoustic show without changing the tone. HURT blew away the crowd with some fan favorites like Rapture, 1331, and Ten Ton Brick. J. Loren brought in his normal crowd-pleasing energy and, as usual, had the entire venue singing along to the songs. HURT’s variety in their songs provides different sounds and nobody walks away completely disappointed. The songs in the set followed the same trend as a normal HURT show, including heavy, moody, and upbeat songs all intermingled. The only complaint heard at the end of the show was the disappointment that they did not play the hidden track at the end of the album Goodbye to the Machine, which is alternately called “Flowers” and “We’re All Gonna Die,” depending on who you are talking to. 

Overall, the acoustic show was a completely different performance when it comes to Jamison Parker and Aaron Fishel of Silence is Broken, but maintained a sense of normalcy in HURT’s set. It was affordable, well organized, and surprisingly impressive.

Band websites:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day One

Hello everyone! I really missed writing and knew if I could combine two things I love - writing and music - I would be able to get over this chronic case of writer's block. Soon, I will be posting a few short articles about music - live music, CDs (if I get around to that), maybe some interviews if I can convince people to talk to me.

So, here's to the start of it. Later this week, preferably sooner rather than later, I will put up some short blurbs about the two most recent shows I attended - HURT and Jamison Parker and Aaron Fishel of Silence is Broken acoustic at the High Noon Saloon and Taproot, Silence is Broken, Vintage Burning and 2211 at the Back Bar.

If there is anything specific anyone wants to read about, let me know and I'll see what I can do. Want me to check out a band either live or in a video? Send it to me. I'll get to as much as I can and be as honest as possible. I truly want this to be an honest place for music, so what I say might not always be nice, but it will always be said with the utmost respect for musicians.