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Sleepless Nights & Sing Alongs
Show Review: Fall Out Boy, Paramore, New Politics (Mansfield, MA)
06/23/14 at 07:39 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

Fall Out Boy took the stage at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA on June 22, 2014 - the third date of the Monumentour, their co-headlining run with Paramore - to the sound of Sylvester Stallone's monologue from Rocky Balboa. It was a fitting entrance; if anyone knows about getting hit and moving forward, it's Fall Out Boy. Since returning from their hiatus with a surprise album last year, the band has been rejuvenated.

Now, the Chicago quartet are playing some of the biggest shows of their career. They sounded massive in the huge amphitheater, yet their performance exhibited the same energy as when they played small clubs a decade ago - only now they're accompanied by pyrotechnics.

Since the tour is support of Save Rock and Roll, the setlist was made up of selections from the album and their past hits. I would have loved for more deep cuts, but I don't blame them going with the crowd pleasures for such a big tour. (As it was, a good portion of the audience seemed unfamiliar with the Take This To Your Grave material.)

Although the song selection was fairly predictable, the band mixed things up mid-set. First, vocalist/guitarist Patrick Stump and drummer Andy Hurley engaged in a drum off. Stump's solo showed some impressive chops for a frontman, but Hurley demonstrated while he's the one behind the kit. Meanwhile, bassist Pete Wentz and guitarist Joe Trohman made their way through the crowd, instruments and all, and up to the soundboard, where they remained to play "Dance Dance." As they made their way back to the stage, Stump kicked off "Young Volcanoes" acoustically.

The band invited Lolo (known for her guest spot on Panic! At The Disco's "Miss Jackson"), who also joined openers New Politics earlier in the night, onto the stage to accompany Stump on "Just One Yesterday." They also covered a portion of Queen's "We Are the Champions," which was "for the dads," as Wentz put it. Ultimately, group closed with "Saturday" as a shower of pyros rained down on them.

Fall Out Boy had big shoes to fill following Paramore's explosive performance. Vocalist Hayley Williams took the stage sporting a new teal hairdo as an explosion of streamers covered the eager crowd during opener "Still Into You." Williams was joined by her cohorts - guitarist Taylor York and bassist Jeremy Davis - on the stage, while longtime touring guitarists Jon Howard and Jutin York and recently recruited fill-in drummer Aaron Gillespie (of Underoath fame) sat atop a large platform above them.

"This is our tenth year as a band," Williams gushed. "I don't know how that happened." Despite the line-up changes and platinum status, Paramore is still the same band it was a decade ago. The stage may have grown exponentially, but everyone in the venue - from the pit to the cheap seats - felt like they were part of the show. A highlight of the set came when Williams picked a pair of sisters to join the band on stage to sing the bridge of "Misery Business" - and they nailed it.

While Fall Out Boy had pyro, Paramore's festive weapon of choice was confetti and streamers. During the rousing closer "Ain't It Fun," giant balloons emblazoned with the Paramore logo were batted into the audience. The band kicked them back and forth with the crowd with performing. After the song, the six musicians came together to take a bow for their adoring fans.

Danish trio New Politics opened the show. Vocalist David Boyd kicked off the set with a back flip, and his energy remained high for their half hour in the spotlight. Later in the set, he made his way on top of the crowd to sing. The group already has two hits with "Harlem" and "Yeah Yeah Yeah," along with a freshly-inked deal with Wentz' DCD2 Records, so this tour is an excellent way to expose fans to the rest of their material.

During Fall Out Boy's set, Wentz commented about how cool it is to have two rock bands with guitars that are played on the radio on tour together. Indeed, the Monumentour pairs two of our scene's biggest acts into one package. With dynamic, 75-minute sets from each band, fans of both are guaranteed to leave pleased. Maybe Save Rock and Roll was not, as naysayers purported, such a pretentious title after all.

Fall Out Boy setlistThe Phoenix
The Take Over, the Breaks Over
A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More "Touch Me"
This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race
Alone Together
Death Valley
Sugar, We're Goin Down
Miss Missing You
Drum Solo
Dance, Dance
Young Volcanoes
Just One Yesterday (with Lolo)
Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy
We Are the Champions (Queen cover)
Save Rock and Roll
I Don't Care
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up)
Thnks fr th Mmrs

Paramore setlistStill Into You
That's What You Get
For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic
The Only Exception
Last Hope
Born for This
Misery Business
Let the Flames Begin
Part II
Ain't It Fun

See the rest of my photos from the show here.
Tags: fall out boy, paramore, new politics, review
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Show Review: Boston Calling (Day 3) w/ Modest Mouse, Brand New (Boston, MA)
05/28/14 at 07:34 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

After an exciting Saturday at the Boston Calling Music Festival anchored by Death Cab for Cutie, I returned to Boston's City Hall Plaza on Sunday just in time to watch Built to Spill. The seminal indie rockers inspired several acts on the festival's bill; Death Cab, Brand New and Modest Mouse have all cited the band as an influence. Despite this, however, much of the audience seemed unfamiliar and, in some cases, disinterested. It was a rare Built to Spill set without any covers, not to mention next to no speaking, so the band relied solely on their blistering jams.

I hadn't listened to Phosphorescent prior to the festival, but the best word I could use to describe the set is "chill." The band is a solo project by Georgia singer-songwriter Matthew Houck, but the live line-up is rounded out by five additional musicians. It didn't do anything for me, but the sound is an interesting blend of dreamy indie rock and Willie Nelson-esque country.

Tegan and Sara perked up the audience with one of the weekend's many bright spots. The talented twins alternated between vocals, guitars and keys, while a backing band of other adequate musicians filled in the gaps. It was a tight performance relying primarily on material from last year's Heartthrob, although they weren't afraid to showcase a few older tunes ("Monday Monday Monday," "Living Room"). They ended on a high note with the explosive "Closer."

I know know a couple of Bastille's hits, but their set left me interested in hearing more. One of the few acts on the bill in which the singer wasn't tied down by an instrument, vocalist Dan Smith bounced around the stage (and, at one point, down on the barricade) throughout the set. I was also impressed by his voice, hitting the notes while expending that kind of energy. Smith stated that Boston Calling is one of the coolest places the band has ever played. Watching thousands of people jump up and down during the penultimate "Of the Night" was a sight to behold, topped only by the crowd singing the "eh-oh" of "Pompeii" in unison.

The flowers affixed to Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey's microphone stand were the only delicate part of the band's hour-long set. Lacey lead the menagerie with poised intensity. Guitarist Vincent Accardi is far and away the most animated of the group, perhaps growing even more frantic since his pop punk days. Bassist Garrett Tierney and drummer Brian Lane provided the tight low end. The quartet were joined by two other musicians who provided third guitar and supplemented percussion when needed.

Despite a fan holding up a sign asking the band to play "Seventy Times 7," they didn't even touch their debut, Your Favorite Weapon. Instead, the setlist pulled from their latter three albums. The three selections from Deja Entendu were adapted to "fit" their evolved sound: more feedback, fuzzy guitars, strained vocals. The set-ending "You Won't Know" transformed into a dizzying, 10-minute opus that culminated with Accardi carelessly tossing his guitar in the air before overturning his amplifier and exiting the stage.

Prior to Modest Mouse's set, the USAF Heritage of America Band performed the "The Star-Spangled Banner" in honor of Memorial Day; a touching tribute to those who serve our country. Modest Mouse then took the stage to conclude the festival. I'm only familiar with the band's singles, but I didn't realize just how many hits they had until hearing them all in a single performance. A high note came when the band caught the crowd off guard by playing their most well-known song, "Float On," unannounced in the middle of the set. The seven musicians (many of whom swapped out different instruments as necessary) managed to rejuvenate the exhausted audience after a weekend full of music.

In my review of the Boston Calling Music Festival's inaugural event, I praised its impressive set-up. In the year since, they have only refined the experience with an adapted layout while continuing to deliver strong line-ups. It's impossible not to love the simple, two-stage set-up; when one band finishes, the next one starts 5-10 minutes later. Boston has finally found its calling with its own big-time music festival. See you in the fall!

Modest Mouse setlistDark Center of the Universe
The World at Large
Paper Thin Walls
Dance Hall
This Devil's Workday
Be Brave
Trailer Trash
Float On
Fire It Up
Sugar Boats
Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
The View
Fly Trapped in a Jar
Cowboy Dan
Shit In Your Cut
Satin in a Coffin

Brand New setlistMillstone
Sowing Season
You Stole
At the Bottom
Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't
Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades
I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light
You Won't Know

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, boston calling, brand new, modest mouse, tegan and sara, bastille
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Show Review: Boston Calling (Day 2) w/ Death Cab for Cutie (Boston, MA)
05/26/14 at 07:34 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

For its third event in two years, the Boston Calling Music Festival expanded to a three-day format. Although I missed Friday's opening night festivities (headlined by Jack Johnson), I made my way to City Hall Plaza in downtown Boston, MA for the second and third days of the event.

The first band I caught on Saturday was The Neighbourhood. The indie rockers brought their chill, California vibe to the east coast. (The festival's line-up seemed to be dominated by west coast acts, not that there's anything wrong with that.) The band recently returned from an international tour just a few days prior, but they showed no signs of jet lag as they warmed up the afternoon crowd.

Former Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis took the stage in a rainbow blazer and matching guitar that looked like they were designed by Lisa Frank. The blazer is actually from the artwork for her first solo album in six years, The Voyager, which is due out this summer. In addition to solo material new and old, she played a couple Rilo Kiley tracks (including "Silver Lining"). Lewis was accompanied by five other musicians for a rich, full sound. For the closing number, "Acid Tongue," the backing band doubled as a choir to accompany Lewis and her acoustic guitar.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls may have put on the best performance of Boston Calling. The pace was set immediately as they opened with "Photosynthesis," in which Turner wailed on his trusty acoustic and guitarist Ben Lloyd ripped a solo on the electric mandolin. It was Turner's 1,568th show, as he proudly told the audience, but his boundless energy (perhaps owed to his hardcore roots) made it feel one-of-a-kind.

It's often difficult for a band to connect with large festival crowds that may not be familiar with their music, but Turner did so with ease. With the audience gleefully singing and clapping along to its "There is no god!" chorus, "Glory Hallelujah" sounded like a ditty from an atheistic children's show. He brought a lucky fan on stage to play a harmonic solo on "Dan's Song," and later challenged the attendees to do jumping jacks during "Recovery." To end the set, Turner abandoned his guitar and introduced "Four Simple Words" as "a song about dancing" - and that's just what the audience did.

I wasn't familiar with the indie folk-rock stylings of The Head and The Heart, but the seven musicians who comprise the band - many of whom showcased their multi-instrumentalist talents - impressed me. There was even a successful wedding proposal during their set. Vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Russell also took the time to compliment the festival's simplicity, stating, "You should be proud of this."

Boston Calling marked The Decemberists' first show since 2011, but the performance certainly didn't show three years of rust. Unfortunately, it started raining just before they came on and continued to pour throughout their set, but the rain did not dampen the band's spirit - and a large portion of the crowd toughed it out with them. The 15-song setlist began with all three parts of "The Crane Wife" and lasted over an hour until the band ended with "June Hymn." They also announced that they are working on new music and played two new, as-yet-untitled songs, which are sure to please fans.

Death Cab for Cutie entered the stage shrouded in smoke and bathed in moody, red lights. They kicked off with the eight-and-half minute album version of "I Will Possess Your Heart," which frontman Ben Gibbard began on guitar before making his way to the piano. After wrapping the song up, he emerged front and center with his guitar, where he would remain for the rest of the set. Armed with two microphones (one equipped with vocal effects), Gibbard and company lead the crowd in 85 minutes of material.

Although no new songs were played, Gibbard assured the crowd that the band is hard at work on a new album. The set was filled with fan favorites; "Title and Registration" and "I Will Follow You into the Dark" received the loudest reactions. Gibbard performed the latter acoustically, and his vocals were nearly drowned out by the crowd. For "The Sound of Settling," Gibbard ditched his guitar and went onto the barricade to sing along with fans. The band exited the stage following the song but returned a moment later for an encore that included "Lightness," "A Movie Script Ending" and "Marching Bands of Manhattan" to end the night.

Read my review of Day 3 of the Boston Calling Music Festival, which featured Modest Mouse, Brand New and many more.

Death Cab for Cutie setlistI Will Possess Your Heart
Crooked Teeth
Why You'd Want to Live Here
Title and Registration
Codes and Keys
Doors Unlocked and Open
Long Division
Grapevine Fires
I Will Follow You into the Dark
All Is Full of Love (Björk cover)
You Are a Tourist
The New Year
Soul Meets Body
The Sound of Settling
A Movie Script Ending
Marching Bands of Manhattan

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, boston calling, death cab for cutie, the decemberists, frank turner
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Show Review: New England Metal & Hardcore Festival XVI (Worcester, MA)
04/21/14 at 06:40 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

The 16th annual New England Metal & Hardcore Festival kicked off on Thursday, April 17th at its home base of The Palladium in Worcester, MA. Although the first day was a little light on the hardcore, it offered plenty of great metal. It particularly interested me because the line-up featured several notable metalcore bands I listened to in my formative years, including All That Remains, Bleeding Through, Darkest Hour and Scars of Tomorrow.

Being local favorites has found headliners All That Remains performing at about half of the Metal Fests over the years, and they continue to bring an excited crowd. Although the band largely transitioned away from Swedish-influenced metalcore to radio-ready hard rock (and, thus, now exist outside of my wheelhouse), they still put on a great show.

Vocalist Philip Labonte didn't speak much, but he commanded the crowd while singing. Meanwhile, lead guitarist Oli Herbert's virtuosity was as impressive as ever. The hour-long set included the Guitar Hero shredder "Six," the fan favorite "This Calling," the classic "This Darkened Heart," the power ballad "What If I Was Nothing" and the closing hit "Two Weeks."

All That Remains may have been the main draw, but I was most excited to see Bleeding Through. Despite being a longtime fan of the band and enjoying all of their output, I had never seen them before. It was bittersweet to catch them at their final east coast appearance before disbanding. Thankfully, they went out with a bang.

Although it may have been more exciting for fans if the band had played the second stage (a considerably more intimate, barricade-less room that the band has played several times throughout their career), the main stage afforded the band a wider audience and a more grandiose farewell. "Love Lost in a Hail of Gun Fire" (complete with the opening Boondock Saints sample) kicked off the 45-minute setlist, which spanned their career.

Frontman Brandan Schieppati took the opportunity to reflect on the band's 15-year lifespan, waxing poetic about the old days, calling out Trustkill Records president Josh Grabelle for ripping off bands and referring to The Truth as "our sellout record." Schieppati later gave an impassioned speech about how grateful he was for being able to follow his dream. He proceeded to thank his bandmates and the audience before concluding the set with "On Wings of Lead."

For a band that has been around as long as Darkest Hour - over 15 years now - they haven't lost a step. They've consistently put out strong material, as exemplified by their half-hour performance - which included a brand new track ("The Rapture in Exile") and closed with an older favorite ("With a Thousand Words to Say But One"). They were preceded by Oceano and Gideon, who were the first bands to really get the mosh pit going on the main stage.

Earlier in the day, the recently-reformed Scars of Tomorrow took to the stage. They may have been better suited for the second stage and/or later in the day, as the crowd seemed ill-prepared for their breakdowns, but the band did not let it effect their energy. They have a new album coming out this summer and previewed it with their brand new single, "Questions." The rest of their set was made up of older material, including the closer "The Horror of Realization."

I ventured up to the second stage for Wilson. If they could keep up with former tourmates Gwar, I knew their live show would be worth seeing. (It also worked out well because I did not have to watch Emmure, who were on the main stage at the same time.) Lively and loud, Wilson did not disappoint. They had a relatively small crowd, but they rocked it so hard you'd think they were playing to thousands. Reminiscent of Every Time I Die's thrashy, southern-fried hardcore stylings, Wilson is certainly a band to keep an eye on.

The rest of the weekend included Behemoth, Iced Earth, Whitechapel, The Acacia Strain, Nile, Slapshot, Nails, Ramallah and a reunion from Boston legends Sam Black Church, among many others. While I wouldn't call this line-up the strongest in recent memory, the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival continues to provide fans with a unique, comprehensive and versatile experience for fans of heavy music.

All That Remains setlist

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, new england metal and hardcore festival, all that remains, bleeding through
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Show Review: The Wonder Years, Fireworks, Citizen, Real Friends (Worcester, MA)
04/18/14 at 08:16 AM by Alex DiVincenzo

"You're just trying to read..."

The Wonder Years' sold out show on April 15th began not with the typical bang, but with the whisper of "There, There." Frontman Dan "Soupy" Campbell - sporting a beard that would make Daniel Bryan proud - crooned the opening of the first track from the band's new album, The Greatest Generation, before being drowned out by the 2,000+ strong crowd at Worcester, MA's The Palladium.

"I'm sorry I don't laugh at the right times."

When the song kicked in, the band and the crowd alike lost it, beginning a 70-minute cathartic release set to some of the best pop-punk songs of the modern era. The Wonder Years have refined their craft both musically and on stage, while their draw has continued to grow exponentially over the years. They are one of the tightest live bands in the scene, achieving the perfect balance between high energy and strong musicianship.

As a longtime fan of the band, it would be hard to ask for a better setlist. The run - their first proper U.S. headliner in quite some time - is dubbed The Greatest Generation World Tour. They played several standout tracks from their latest effort, including "The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves," "The Devil in My Bloodstream" and "Dismantling Summer." They also played choice cuts from Suburbia and The Upsides. A highlight of the night came when the band, after an impassioned speech by Campbell about their meaning, played a pair of non-album tracks, "An Elegy for Baby Blue" and "I Was Scared and I'm Sorry."

Always one to end on a high note, the Philadelphia sextet concluded with an encore of "I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral." The Greatest Generation's 7-and-a-half-minute closing opus interweaves lyrics and themes from other songs on the album, serving as a highlight real. In a live setting, the song hits even harder, providing the perfect bookend to the set.

The Wonder Years brought along a collection of bands they admire, which doubles as a veritable who's who of the current pop-punk scene. Their longtime friends and frequent tourmates in Fireworks provided direct support (replacing Defeater, who were forced to drop off due to a health issue). Although some fans evidently haven't had enough time to familiarize themselves with the band's brand new album, Oh, Common Life, the older material remained crowd pleasing. The set closing "Detroit," in particular, set the audience off.

It's rare for lower billed bands on a package tour to elicit such rambunctious crowd reactions, but Citizen, Real Friends and Modern Baseball were all well-received, to say the least. Although this tour is a great opportunity for each of them, many audience members were already familiar with the bands, displaying their approval with copious crowd surfing and singing along.

The Greatest Generation World Tour is yet another testament to why The Wonder Years are the gold standard for the genre. Between their honest songs, their tight stage presence, their rabid fanbase and even the bands they surround themselves with, The Wonder Years have set the bar impossibly high for any other band hoping to take the pop-punk throne.

The Wonder Years setlistThere, There
Passing Through a Screen Door
Local Man Ruins Everything
The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves
Everything I Own Fits in This Backpack
Washington Square Park
Coffee Eyes
The Devil in My Bloodstream
An Elegy for Baby Blue
I Was Scared and I'm Sorry
Dismantling Summer
Don't Let Me Cave In
Logan Circle
Came Out Swinging
I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral

Fireworks setlistX's On Trees
Glowing Crosses
The Wild Bunch
One More Creature Dizzy With Love
Flies On Tape
Oh, Why Can't We Start Old and Get Younger
When We Stand On Each Other We Block Out The Sun

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: The Wonder Years, Fireworks, Citizen, Real Friends, Modern Baseball, review
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Show Review: Yellowcard, What's Eating Gilbert (Providence, RI)
02/03/14 at 07:16 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

Yellowcard celebrated last year's tenth anniversary of their breakthrough effort, Ocean Avenue, with a freshly-recorded acoustic rendition of the album, followed by a tour in which they performed the album acoustically. The run was a great success, and the band (and their fans) enjoyed it so much that they decided to go back and hit the markets the missed on the first leg.

Before kicking off their set on February 1 at Lupo's in Providence, RI, Yellowcard frontman Ryan Key outlined the "rules" the audience must abide by: have the best night of your life, sing along until you lose your voice and enjoy the show through your eyes rather than your phone.

Key and lead guitarist Ryan Mendez then launched into the instantly-recognizable - even on acoustic guitars - intro of "Way Away." The set offered a fresh perspective on the fan favorite album; although it was faithfully to the Ocean Avenue Acoustic recordings, which themselves weren't far removed from the source material. It wasn't a sit-down acoustic performance; it was a full-band rock show that happened to include acoustic guitars. Faster numbers "Life of a Salesman" and "Twentythree" even elicited mosh pits from the excitable crowd. One fan successfully proposed to his girlfriend during "One Year, Six Months."

The performance of Ocean Avenue clocked in at around an hour, and that alone was worth the price of admission - but the members of Yellowcard were far from finished. After a brief intermission (set to Explosions in the Sky!), the band returned to the stage with their trusty electric guitars. They proceeded to play for another 50 minutes of post-Ocean Avenue material, including "Always Summer," "Awakening," "For You, And Your Denial" and "The Takedown."

Key was genuinely grateful to have an audience respond to their music after all these years. He also revealed that the band will be working on a new album this year, in addition to announcing some exciting touring plans in the near future. Although Key claimed "Lights and Sounds" would be their final song, its conclusion was accompanied by a quick drum solo by the uber-talented Longineu W. Parsons III that segued into a spirited reprisal of "Ocean Avenue."

The tour's sole support slot was filled by What's Eating Gilbert, the side project of New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert. He and his formally-clad friends transported the crowd back to the '50s with their throwback doo-wop rock sound (although the cursing was anachronistic). The half hour set showcased material from the handful of EPs Gilbert released since the project's inception in 2010, along with covers of Betty Everett's "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)" ("This song sets the moms off!" according to Gilbert) and Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman." Like Yellowcard, they played acoustically.

More than a decade after singing "I've made it this far now / And I'm not burning out" in "Way Away," Key and his bandmates are standing by those words. Yellowcard has run the gamut of highs and lows since Ocean Avenue's release; to see so many people continue to care after after all this time is further proof of the band's resiliency.

Yellowcard setlist

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, yellowcard, whats eating gilbert
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Show Review: Bayside, Man Overboard, Banquets, Modern Baseball (Boston, MA)
12/31/13 at 07:45 AM by Alex DiVincenzo

The holidays can be a hectic time, but what better way to release that seasonal stress than with a show? Bayside spread the Christmas cheer with a trio of holiday shows to close out 2013, culminating with a sold out performance at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA on December 29. They brought along Man Overboard, Banquets and Modern Baseball for the ride.

Bayside plowed through several songs before addressing the crowd. When they finally did introduce themselves, it was clear that they needed no introduction. There's a reason they say Bayside is a cult, after all. The band played at bigger venues the last few times they came through the area, so it was a treat for the sold out crowd of 933 to see them at the Paradise.

I'm not holding my breath for a Sirens and Condolences 10th anniversary tour next year, but I'm happy the band still pulls from it; this time it was "How to Fix Everything." On the other end of the spectrum, they played "Pigsty," the new single from their forthcoming sixth album, Cult, for only the second time. I was hoping to hear another new cut or two, as the record is great, but alas the band stuck to the tried-and-true favorites, such as "Devotion and Desire," "Montauk" and "Dualty." Much like they did when they supported Alkaline Trio earlier in the year, they closed with "Dear Tragedy," during which frontman Anthony Raneri sang without his signature Les Paul.

It seems that the Boston set was a few song shorter than the 2 other nights, lacking the acoustic "Don't Call Me Peanut" and the group's rendition of "O Holy Night," among others. No word on whether this was a scheduling blunder or what, but had I not read the previous setlists I would have been none the wiser. The hour-and-ten-minute set with its strong setlist was very satisfying.

Man Overboard provided direct support, and they brought plenty of fans eager to defend pop punk with them. The New Jersey quintet always deliver a fun set, with Boston always being receptive to them, and this was no exception. The band has released an impressive array of material in 5 short years, and their setlist drew from all of it. In addition to newer material, they played several older cuts - among them "The Real You," "I Ate My Gluestick," "Montrose" and the singalong favorite "Love Your Friends, Die Laughing" - before closing with "Where I Left You."

It seems that most of the audience members were new to Banquets, but that didn't stop either side from enjoying themselves. The band's sound bridges the gap between punk and rock, reminiscent of fellow New Jerseyans The Gaslight Anthem. They spent little time talking and focused more on rocking. The setlist drew largely from their self-titled effort, ending with the high-energy highlight, "Call It a Comeback."

Modern Baseball opened the show with a half hour set that included the majority of their fantastic debut album, Sports. They also threw in "Your Graduation," the first single from the upcoming You're Gonna Miss It All. Between the new album on Run For Cover Records and a highly coveted spot opening for The Wonder Years on the horizon, I expect Modern Baseball to be everywhere in 2014. The band received a warm reception from the crowd.

Bayside have a huge year ahead of them, with the release of Cult on February 18 and a headlining tour kicking off in March, so it only made sense for them to end 2013 in a big way. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better way to end the year than watching Bayside rock a sold out crowd with a great line-up in tow.

Bayside setlistAlready Gone
They're Not Horses, They're Unicorns
Devotion and Desire
A Call To Arms
How to Fix Everything
Seeing Sound
The Walking Wounded
Roshambo (Rock, Paper, Scissors)
It's Not a Bad Little War
Landing Feet First
Sick, Sick, Sick
Dear Tragedy
Tags: review, Bayside, Man Overboard, Banquets, Modern Baseball
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Show Review: Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Testament, Huntress (Boston, MA)
11/26/13 at 05:48 AM by Alex DiVincenzo

The first time I saw Killswitch Engage and Lamb of God live was back in 2003, when they appeared together on the Headbanger's Ball Tour. They've shared many bills in the ten years since, including their current co-headlining run with support from Testament and Huntress. I attended the sold out Boston, MA stop at the House of Blues on November 23.

I thought Killswitch might headline given that it was their homestate, but instead Lamb of God took the honor. Their tight performance, vocal fanbase and arena-style production showed why they were the closers. The stage was equipped with a large platform - off of which frontman Randy Blythe jumped nearly every song - along with two large video screens. The screens displayed a mix of live cameras and footage evoking imagery of the bands lyrics (war, religion, death, politics, etc.), making each track feel like a live music video.

Visuals aside, the band's performance was on point. Blythe is a certified madman, while the technical skills of guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler and drummer Chris Adler (who celebrated his 41st birthday at the show) are always impressive. Bassist John Campbell had to leave the tour due to family emergency, but friend of the band Aaron Patrick (formerly of Massachusetts' own Bury Your Dead) stepped in to fill the void.

The setlist was made up of about 75 minutes worth of material from all six Lamb of God records. All the hits were accounted for, including "Laid to Rest," "Redneck." "Walk With Me In Hell" and "Ruin." This year marks the 10th anniversary of the fan favorite album As the Palaces Burn, so they included a couple of extra cuts from it. Per usual, the band closed with the hard-hitting "Black Label." The song is known to incite a massive wall of death, so much so that the band no longer needs to call for it it. Blythe simply announced, "If you don't know what's gonna happen, get the fuck out of the way!" before the song kicked in and all hell broke loose. It was a nice exclamation point on which to end the evening.

Even for a band as good as Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage is not an easy act to follow. As if they needed to get more pumped up, the hometown heroes entered the stage to the tune of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." They opened with the crushing intro of "A Bid Farewell" and continued for a solid hour of top-notch metalcore through the closing of "The End of Heartache." The crowd's enthusiastic response included moshing to the breakdowns, singing along to the soaring choruses and headbanging to the endless riffs.

I've had the pleasure of seeing the band two times since the return of vocalist Jesse Leach, but this was my first time since the release of their new album, Disarm the Descent. I was interested to hear the new material live, and I'm happy to report that it sounded great. In fact, the band seamlessly transitioned between new songs and old favorites, including a healthy dose of material from Howard Jones' tenure as vocalist - and Leach and company nailed them all.

Not only is guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz a great musician (and producer, to boot), but the seemingly boundless energy he brings to the stage never ceases to amaze me. Scantily clad in his signature short shorts, Dutkiewicz could be found running back and forth on the stage - literally - throughout the set. He also ventured into the audience during "Fixation on the Darkness" and played half of "Life to Lifeless" with a beer bottle in hand. It's impossible to tell if his antics are meant to keep himself, the band or the crowd entertained, but it works on all three levels. He and Leach both expressed their appreciation for the audience, the band's supportive fanbase and the Massachusetts music scene.

It was a bit strange to see thrash metal legends Testament so low on a bill, especially considering they inspired (perhaps indirectly) the bands playing after them. Aside from the abridged time, however, nothing about their set felt like that of a support band. They showed no signs of age as they plowed through 40 minutes of breakneck thrash. Even the stage had a larger-than-life feel, with skull-embossed pentagrams atop the amps, intense strobe lights and tons of smoke.

Female-fronted metal band Huntress warmed the crowd up with an opening set. Vocalist Jill Janus took the stage like a hellcat. A standout of the set came in the form of "I Want to Fuck You to Death," a song co-written by Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister. The band's van was in an accident a week prior, so it was good to see them unphased. Between this tour and an opening slot for Danzig earlier this year, Huntress have proved themselves as a band to watch.

The tour wraps up today, so hopefully you caught a show when it came through your area. For my money, it's one of the best metal line-ups of the year. I wouldn't expect any less from Killswitch Engage and Lamb of God; they've been at the top of the genre for a decade now and show no signs of leaving the throne any time soon.

Lamb of God setlistDesolation
Ghost Walking
Walk With Me in Hell
Set to Fail
Now You've Got Something to Die For
The Undertow
11th Hour
Laid to Rest
Black Label

Killswitch Engage setlistA Bid Farewell
The New Awakening
Fixation on the Darkness
Rose of Sharyn
Beyond the Flames
This Is Absolution
In the Unblind
Life to Lifeless
Turning Point
My Last Serenade
In Due Time
My Curse
The End of Heartache

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, Show Review: Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Testament, Huntress
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Show Review: New Found Glory, Alkaline Trio, H2O (Boston, MA)
11/15/13 at 08:11 AM by Alex DiVincenzo

New Found Glory and Alkaline Trio are two of the most dependable bands in the scene. For the past 15+ years, both groups have been consistently releasing good albums and touring the world. The two bands are currently on a co-headlining tour with support from H2O, another reliable act. New Found Glory and Alkaline Trio switch off closing the shows, and it was NFG who concluded the show at the House of Blues in Boston, MA on November 12.

There's a reason New Found Glory's new live album is titled Kill It Live. They're always energetic and fun without missing a beat. The band members proudly call Florida home, but Boston may as well be their home away from home. Guitarist Chad Gilbert addressed the crowd, "I have been waiting the entire tour to play Boston!" Before playing "Connect the Dots," one of three new tracks from Kill It Live, Gilbert said that it felt like a record release show, with all of their friends from Bridge Nine Records - the Boston-based label who put out the effort - in attendance. The band even induced a "Yankees suck!" chant from the rowdy audience.

Gilbert mentioned that Catalyst's 10th anniversary is on the horizon, so hopefully we get an album tour for that (as the band did for Sticks and Stones and New Found Glory). I was happy to hear two cuts from the often-neglected Coming Home - "It's Not Your Fault" and "Hold My Hand" - complete with accompanying keyboard. Fans finally seem to be coming around to the underappreciated effort. The band also performed two covers: Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (dedicated to "Boston's oldest hardcore band") and Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me" (dedicated to Freddie Prinze Jr.).

I've seen New Found Glory live more than any other band in my lifetime - probably somewhere around 20 times now - but I think this was the first time I've seen them where they did not close with "Hit or Miss" or "My Friends Over You." Instead, "Hit or Miss" was smack-dab in the middle of the set, encouraging frontman Jordan Pundik to get on the barricade and sing along with fans. They pretended to close with "My Friends Over You," but they returned for a bipolar encore consisting of "The Story So Far" and "Intro."

Alkaline Trio's set was a tad shorter but equally impressive. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba, vocalist/bassist Dan Andriano and drummer Derek Grant came out sporting their new branded varsity jackets (although Grant didn't keep his on long) - as were many of the audience members. They began with the blazing "Cringe," the opening track from their debut album, Goddamnit, and weaved their way through their expansive discography from there. With such a large back catalogue, you never know what you're going to get from the Trio, but they always mix it up.

I was happy to find that the band played nearly an entirely different set than when they came through back in May. This Addiction and Maybe I'll Catch Fire were unrepresented, but the band mixed newer material - including their latest single, "I Wanna Be A Warhol," which Skiba dedicated to Lou Reed - with older cuts. Skiba and Andriano tweaked some of the old songs to keep them fresh. Peppered throughout were a surprisingly high volume of B-sides, such as "Warbrain" and "My Standard Break From Life." They ended the set on a high note with a quartet of fan favorites: "I Lied My Face Off," "Another Innocent Girl," "This Could Be Love" and the closer, "My Friend Peter."

H2O kicked the night off with a short but sweet set. The hardcore/punk group is usually found tearing it up in small clubs, so it was a bit strange seeing them on such a large stage, but the band did not seem phased. If anything, it only added to their vigor. Vocalist Toby Morse remarked how excited they were to be touring with their longtime friends and playing for a largely new audience each night. There where, however, some small but vocal pockets of fans in the crowd.

The setlist drew heavily from 2008's Nothing to Prove while incorporating several older favorites. Chad Gilbert made a surprise appearance for "Guilty by Association" to sing along with Morse, who went onto the barricade to get closer to the crowd. Their set ended with "What Happened?," the studio version of which features Matt Skiba. I was hoping he would come out to sing his part, but alas he did not. Morse told the crowd that the band will be releasing a new album next year on Bridge Nine.

New Found Glory and Alkaline Trio's co-headlining tour is a proud display of the bands' staying power. The pair first toured together back in 1999 (alongside Face to Face and Saves the Day!). Although they've both grown a lot since then, they maintain the same youthful ferocity and passion. Along with H2O, the three groups have maintained their line-ups for years while continuing to satisfy their dedicated fan bases without any signs of slowing down, making this tour a great celebration of of unity and longevity.

New Found Glory setlistAll Downhill from Here
Don't Let Her Pull You Down
It's Not Your Fault
Truck Stop Blues
I Don't Want to Miss a Thing (Aerosmith cover)
Connect the Dots
Hit or Miss
Listen to Your Friends
Anthem for the Unwanted
Failure's Not Flattering
Dressed to Kill
Kiss Me (Sixpence None the Richer cover)
Forget My Name
Truth of My Youth
Hold My Hand
My Friends Over You
The Story So Far

Alkaline Trio setlistCringe
Take Lots with Alcohol
I Found Away
I Wanna Be a Warhol
My Standard Break from Life
Kiss You to Death
Time to Waste
Queen of Pain
Every Thug Needs a Lady
Calling All Skeletons
Dead and Broken
I Lied My Face Off
Another Innocent Girl
This Could Be Love
My Friend Peter

H2O setlistNothing to Prove
Family Tree
Still Here
Role Model
One Life, One Chance
5 Year Plan
Guilty by Association
What Happened?

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, alkaline trio, new found glory, h2o
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Show Review: Danzig w/ Doyle (Worcester, MA)
10/21/13 at 06:54 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

Following the breakup of the Misfits and the dissolution of Samhain, frontman Glenn Danzig formed the eponymous Danzig in 1987 and released their debut album the following year. Danzig and his bandmates - guitarist Tommy Victor (Prong), bassist Steve Zing (ex-Samhain) and drummer Johnny Kelly (ex-Type O Negative) - are now celebrating the 25th anniversary with a headlining tour. At 58, Danzig still has the voice and the charisma to pull off the old material, as made evident by the October 19th stop at The Palladium in Worcester, MA.

After opening with newer cuts "SkinCarver" and "Hammer of the Gods," Danzig informed the crowd, "It's going to be all old songs from here on out," which was met with enthusiastic cheers. The band then went into "Twist of Cain," the opening track from their self-titled debut. From there, Danzig and company continued mostly in chronological order, playing favorites from Danzig, Danzig II: Lucifuge and Danzig III: How The Gods Kill, including "Her Black Wings," "How the Gods Kill" and "Dirty Black Summer."

Although the tour was conceived to commemorate 25 years of Danzig, fans were also excited to celebrate Danzig's former group. Danzig enlisted Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein to join the band for a handful of Misfits songs. The towering Doyle stomped onto the stage like Godzilla on Tokyo, and he and Danzig tore through seven classics: "Death Comes Ripping," "Vampira," "I Turned Into a Martian," "Skulls," "London Dungeon," "Bullet" and "Last Caress."

The crowd clearly loved every second of it, as this portion of the set garnered the loudest singalongs, the biggest circle pits and the most crowd surfers of the night. Danzig seemed to feed off the audience's enthusiasm, even going on the barricade to sing along with fans a few times. Doyle is an absolute beast, physically wailing on guitar harder than anyone I've ever seen. The songs may be 30 years old, but their unrelenting energy is timeless.

After Doyle exited, Danzig carried on with "Soul on Fire" and the band's biggest hit, "Mother," before leaving the stage. They returned a moment later for an encore, at which point Danzig gave the crowd the choice of what they would play. They settled on "She Rides." Following that, Doyle came back out to play "Astro Zombies" with the band to end the night on a high note.

Danzig told the crowd that he's taking some time off the road following the run, presumably to work on new material, so this tour is a fitting send-off. Of course, these shows also bring up the possibility of long-gestured Misfits reunion. It seems like a no-brainer to fans, and Doyle said he would like to do it, so hopefully Danzig and Jerry Only can work out their differences and make it a reality. But even if it never happens, the Danzig 25th Anniversary Tour serves as a great reminder of why several generations have been and continue to be inspired by the man they call Danzig.

Danzig setlistSkinCarver
Hammer of the Gods
Twist of Cain
Am I Demon
Her Black Wings
Tired of Being Alive
Blood and Tears
Dirty Black Summer
How the Gods Kill
Death Comes Ripping (Misfits)
Vampira (Misfits)
I Turned Into a Martian (Misfits)
Skulls (Misfits)
London Dungeon (Misfits)
Bullet (Misfits)
Last Caress (Misfits)
Soul on Fire
She Rides
Astro Zombies (Misfits)
Tags: review, danzig, doyle, misfits
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Show Review: Joan Jett and the Black Hearts (New York, NY)
10/03/13 at 08:55 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

As a perhaps the most distinguished lover of rock 'n' roll, Joan Jett celebrated the release of Unvarnished - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' tenth studio album and first in seven years - with a good, old-fashioned rock show.

The "surprise" event was announced only a few days prior to its occurrence, with a limited amount of tickets available to the public. It was held on October 2nd at Santos Party House (co-owned by Andrew W.K.) in New York, NY. With a capacity of 480, the nightclub provided a unique, intimate evening with a living legend.

Following an introduction by The Dictators' frontman "Handsome" Dick Manitoba, The Blackhearts - lead guitarist Dougie Needles, drummer Thommy Price, bassist Acey Slade (ex-Dope) and keyboardist Kenny Laguna (who is also Jett's producer) - took the stage. Jett was the last one out, with her headphone-clad goddaughter in her arms. Jett traded the infant for her guitar, and the band kicked off with "TMI," one of many punchy, catchy numbers from Unvarnished.

It was unclear if the show would rely heavily on material from Unvarnished, but Jett refuted that notion by following up with "Cherry Bomb," from her influential previous band, The Runaways. Like a snake shedding its skin, Jett removed her leather jack after the two songs to reveal a sparkling, red catsuit, accented by a studded belt, a pair of Chuck Taylors and her signature raccoon-eyed makeup. At 55, she pulls off the outfit better than most girls half age could - while playing guitar, no less.

Jett introduced "You Drive Me Wild" as being the first song she ever wrote. Although she was a mere teenage at the time, it holds up well today - and her new material plays seamlessly alongside it. In addition to many of the best tracks from Unvarnished - including lead single "Any Weather" (co-written by Dave Grohl) and "Soulmates to Strangers" (co-written by Against Me's Laura Jane Grace) - The Blackhearts played such classics as "Bad Reputation," "Crimson and Clover," "I Hate Myself for Loving You" and, of course, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." They ended their encore with a cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People."

Joan Jett is a bona fide rock and roll pioneer, icon and a future Hall of Famer. It was truly a treat to see her and the rest of The Blackhearts at such an intimate appearance - but I think it's safe to say that the show would have rocked just as hard regardless of the size of the venue. Unvarnished is classic Jett, and its release show followed suit.

Cherry Bomb
Do You Wanna Touch Me
Bad Reputation
Soulmates to Strangers
Make It Back
You Drive Me Wild
Love Is Pain
Hard to Grow Up
The French Song
Any Weather
I Love Rock 'n' Roll
Crimson and Clover
I Hate Myself for Loving You
Reality Mentality
Everyday People

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, joan jett, joan jett and the blackhearts
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Show Review: Blink 182, Taking Back Sunday, Four Year Strong (Uncasville, CT)
09/11/13 at 07:07 AM by Alex DiVincenzo

I was disappointed when Blink 182 were forced to cancel their handful of U.S. tour dates last summer, as I had planned on attending the Connecticut stop, but, as the band once sang, "Good things come to those who wait." Amidst their Riot Fest appearances, Blink rescheduled their stop at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT for September 8th of this year. To make the wait even more worthwhile, they brought Taking Back Sunday, Four Year Strong and New Beat Fund with them.

Blink 182 has now been a band for 21 years - longer than a good portion of their fanbase has been alive - but their live show has not missed a beat over the years. Their setlist hasn't changed much from that of their stint on 2011's Honda Civic Tour, but the song selection delivers the hits for which they're known and showcases new material (two tracks from Dogs Eating Dogs and five from Neighborhoods) while incorporating a few fan favorites ("Dumpweed," "Carousel").

Vocalists Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus didn't indulge in as much stage banter as their typically known for, but they were entertaining nonetheless. At the request of an audience member, Hoppus even gave drummer Travis Barker the microphone to say a rare "What's up?" to the crowd. The trio dropped Barkers' drum solo for this tour, previously a set staple, but he showed off his impressive skills during some intros, interludes and fills. The lack of a solo also meant no acoustic song from the band, which they had been doing on their most recent European tour. The set ended 10 minutes short of the 90-minute mark, so I'd love to see them work in a deep cut or two next time around.

It has been an exciting few years for Taking Back Sunday. The original line-up reunited in 2010, put out a new album in 2011, celebrated the 10th anniversary of Tell All Your Friends 10th last year and recorded their new album this year. They seem reinvigorated, while maintaining the aspects their fans love about them.

The way vocalist Adam Lazzara commands the audience's attention reminds me more and more of an archetypal frontman each time I see the band. With his hair growing longer, his locks now flow as freely as his microphone as he dances around the stage. The band didn't preview any new material, but the one-two-three punch of "You're So Last Summer," "Cute Without the 'E'" and "MakeDamnSure" was a perfect ending.

Things in the Four Year Strong camp have been dormant for quite a while, so it was a pleasure to see them again. Unfortunately, the venue's sound system wasn't equipped for heavier music. The drums, in particular, suffered; the snare was significantly louder than everything else, while the double bass was muddled. The band persevered, delivering a solid 25-minute set. Only about half of the crowd knew who they were, but they made themselves known.

Although their live show hasn't been quite the same since keyboardist Josh Lyford left the band, there isn't much to complain about Four Year Strong's performance. The setlist was composed almost entirely of favorites from Rise or Die Trying and Enemy of the World, with the exception of "Stuck in the Middle." The sing along of "Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)" was a great conclusion to their set.

Fresh off a stint on this summer's Warped Tour, New Beat Fund opened the show. It's apparent that the quartet's groove-heavy rock was greatly influenced by fellow Californian band Sublime. In fact, they covered "Caress Me Down," which the segued into a rendition of the Misfits' "Last Caress" and then back to Sublime; likely the only time those two bands have been mentioned in the same breath.

Frontman Jeff Laliberte confessed to the audience that it was probably the biggest arena in which the group has ever performed. When he asked crowd, "Who here has heard us?" the question was met with little response. But when he followed it up with, "Who here likes to smoke weed?" there was a much more vivacious reaction. They were outliers on this pop punk bill, but the band will be hitting the road with 3OH!3 next month, where they ought to receive a warmer reception.

It's a shame, for fans' sake, that this isn't a longer tour, as the strong line-up fits well together, but I'm happy to have been able to see it. Here's to hoping we don't have to wait another two years before Blink 182 tours the country again, because they remain one of the most fun live shows.

Blink 182 setlistFeeling This
Up All Night
The Rock Show
What's My Age Again?
Dogs Eating Dogs
I Miss You
Wishing Well
After Midnight
First Date
Heart's All Gone
Man Overboard
Ghost on the Dancefloor
All the Small Things
Family Reunion

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, Blink 182, Taking Back Sunday, Four Year Strong, New Beat Fund
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Is Andrew W.K. the "Worst Opener Imaginable?" No Way!
08/14/13 at 06:05 AM by Alex DiVincenzo

In his pseudo-review of the Philadelphia stop of Black Sabbath's current tour, Victor Fiorillo of The Philly Post called Andrew W.K. "the worst opener imaginable." He backed his theory with tweets from fellow attendees who were inexplicably angry about his DJ set. I'm here to refute that statement.

I, for one, cannot imagine Andrew W.K. being anything less than entertaining in a live setting, even with something as potentially uncomfortable as DJ gig. This is the guy who lives and breathes the power of positive partying. I had to see it for myself to judge, so I caught the next stop of the tour, at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA on August 12th.

Andrew spent the opening 45 minutes of the show spinning music atop a platform emblazoned with a large, 3D version of the iconic, bloody-nosed artwork from his debut album, I Get Wet. It was essentially a louder version of the intermission music, with Andrew introducing the songs and pressing play. It was a bit strange, no doubt, but it was in good fun.

To keep things interesting, Andrew was armed with a T-shirt cannon and a few Black Sabbath shirts, along with Black Sabbath-branded beach balls for the audience to bat around. To keep himself occupied, he occasionally played air guitar or air drums, banged his head, pumped his fists and sang backing vocals - the same things the members of the crowd (those who were not yelling for him to get off the stage, at least) were doing.

He played classic rock and heavy metal tunes from such artists as Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Slayer, Deep Purple, Motorhead and more. He could have sneaked in a few non-metal songs for diversity, just as easily as he could have played one of his own songs for shameless self-promotion. Instead, he played to the audience's taste. He even took suggestions on Twitter and Facebook before the show, including the Misfits at my request.

Sure, I would much rather have seen a full-band Andrew W.K. show, or even a solo performance (essentially Andrew singing karaoke to his own songs, which is much more exciting in person than it sounds). And yeah, it would have been nice to see an up-and-coming band given an opening slot or a semi-established act to bring in a wider audience. But, frankly, when you're the most influential metal band of all time, you don't need an opener.

Black Sabbath personally selected Andrew to open with a DJ set. He's the ideal choice, really. Not only did he play on Ozzfest back in 2002, but he's also known for his high energy and positivity. I'd be hard-pressed to name a better candidate to hype an audience and set the mood for a show (or any event, for that matter) than Andrew W.K.

As for Sabbath, their set showcased why they're the best metal band. Ozzy Osbourne's voice may be a bit flat these days, but the Prince of Darkness has more spirit than any 64 year old I've ever seen. Tony Iommi's guitar riffs are even more massive live, while Geezer Butler's bass tone sounded as great as ever. Although Bill Ward was missed, touring drummer Tommy Clufetos (of Ozzy's solo band) proved to be a suitable fill in, including an impressive drum solo. The band played two solid hours of classics with some new songs and deep cuts sprinkled in.

Is Andrew W.K. the worst opener imaginable? No way! He's not even the worst opener Black Sabbath has ever had. (Let's not forget that Crazy Town shared the stage with with metal legends on Ozzfest 2001.) Although the DJ gig certainly wasn't the ideal display, and I'm sure he'd have preferred a regular performance as well, Andrew W.K. made the most of an awkward situation and, true to his form, partied hard.

Tags: review, andrew wk, black sabbath
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Show Review: Mayhem Festival 2013 w/ Rob Zombie (Mansfield, MA)
07/22/13 at 07:40 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

When the 2013 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival rolled through Mansfield, MA on July 16th, it was about 90 degrees out, humid, with no breeze and barely a cloud in the sky. A bright, sunny day doesn't exactly scream "metal" (although I suppose you could equate the heat to the fires of Hell). No matter how you put it, it was oppressively hot - but the climate didn't stop the bands nor the fans from giving their all.

"I don't know what goes on in the other states, but I know you like to fucking party!" exclaimed Mayhem Festival headliner and Massachusetts native Rob Zombie as the thousands of fans before him erupted into a sea of cheers. Despite the day's blistering heat and the surrounding pyro fire, Zombie and his band - guitarist John 5, bassist Piggy D and drummer Ginger Fish - never slowed down throughout the 70-minute set.

The song selection ranged from new material ("Teenage Nosferatu Pussy," "Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown") to old White Zombie hits ("More Human Than Human," "Thunder Kiss '65") and many fan favorites ("Living Dead Girl", "House of 1000 Corpses") in between. John 5 and Ginger Fish each had a solo to showcase their talents individually. The band also played their surprisingly-fitting rendition of Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band," along with partial covers of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and Alice Cooper's "School's Out."

Speaking of Cooper, the band's grand stage production is comparable to that of Zombie's longtime friend. Many songs incorporated various elaborate props, costumes and gimmicks to make each one exciting and unique - such as giant robots, big balloons, a light-up guitar and several large, varying platforms on which Zombie sang. The songs that didn't utilize props (and even some of those that did) showcased lots of pyrotechnics. It was undeniably entertaining.

Truth be told, I had never listened to Five Finger Death Punch prior to the Mayhem Festival. I'm not a fan, but their hard rock-meets-nu metal sound (think Stone Sour or Disturbed) is something I probably would have eaten up during my angst-ridden middle school years. That said, they put on a solid, hour-long show that included a cover of Bad Company's "Bad Company." Although nothing could compete with Zombie's setup, Five Finger Death Punch's stage included chrome gargoyles, skulls and smoke-breathing dragons.

Vocalist Ivan Moody told the crowd that his favorite part of the show is when he invites kids from the audience to come on stage. Four children who were probably around 10-12 years old had the best view in the house for "White Knuckles." Moody later introduced his daughter, whom he flew out for the show. With the help of the audience singing along, he dedicated the a capalla intro of "Far From Home" to her. The band then closed with "The Bleeding."

Mastodon barely said a word during their performance, instead spending nearly the entirety of their 45-minute set rocking out. They sounded great, with tight musicianship and rotating vocalists. Although many of the audience members seemed unfamiliar with their brand of progressive metal, it didn't stop them from headbanging along. They concluded with "The Sparrow," the colossal closing jam from their most recent offering, The Hunter.

If anyone came close to topping Rob Zombie's stage set up, it was Amon Amarth. The Swedish melodic death metallers brought the viking imagery of their lyrics to life with the bow of a ship, which also doubled as a platform, featuring a smoke-breathing dragon figurehead. The audience was also inspired by the set-up; at one point during the 35-minute set, several members of the crowd sat down in the pit and pantomimed rowing a boat.

Prior to the main stage kicking off, the parking lot hosted several other impressive acts. The Musicians Institute Stage was headlined by Finnish extreme metal group Children of Bodom. Surprisingly, they only played one song - the title track - from their new album, Halo of Blood, with the rest of the material being older favorites ("Hate Me," "Silent Night, Bodom Night," "Hate Crew Deathroll"). Vocalist/guitarist Alexi Laiho's musicianship was impressive, as always; he makes the sweeping, virtuosic solos seem effortless.

Machine Head headlined the Jagermeister Stage with another strong performance. The long-running metal group was recently the subject of some bogus controversy over using dummy amplifiers on stage, but the minor dispute certainly had no effect on their playing. The most memorable moment of their set was the huge wall of death they incited for "Struck a Nerve."

Although I wasn't a fan of the music, Butcher Babies put on an entertaining show. They're essentially a modern version of Kittie, fronted by former Playboy TV personalities Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd. (It's worth mentioning that their drummer, Chris Warner, used to be in Scars of Tomorrow.) The provocative ladies may have been seen as little more than eye candy to most of the crowd, but they know how to play to their audience.

Other highlights of the day included Job for a Cowboy, who have come a long way since being a MySpace deathcore band before proving themselves as a legitimate death metal act, and Motionless in White, whose fanbase seemed to have come out in droves just to see them. Also among the performers were Emmure, Born of Osiris, Battlecross, Huntress and more.

The sixth annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival was a great success. Although the line up wasn't quite as strong as that of last year, in my opinion, it still delivered an entire day of a diverse metal acts for an affordable price. If you're a fan of heavy music, you're bound to find something you enjoy.

Rob Zombie setlistTeenage Nosferatu Pussy
Meet the Creeper
Living Dead Girl
We're an American Band (Grand Funk Railroad cover)
More Human Than Human
Drum Solo
Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga
Sick Bubblegum
House of 1000 Corpses
Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown
Thunder Kiss '65
Guitar Solo
Enter Sandman (Metallica cover)/School's Out (Alice Cooper cover)

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: mayhem festival, review, rob zombie, five finger death punch, mastodon, amon amarth
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Show Review: Say Anything, Eisley, Hrvrd, I the Mighty (Boston, MA)
06/25/13 at 04:32 PM by Alex DiVincenzo
Equal Vision Records has always been a powerhouse of an independent label, with alumni including such influential acts as Refused, Saves the Day, Converge, H2O, Coheed and Cambria, Give Up the Ghost and countless others. The label remains as relevant as ever, as made exemplified by the exciting and diverse line-up of Say Anything's current "Rarities and More" headlining tour.

In addition to Say Anything, the all-Equal Vision tour includes Eisley and HRVRD, along with up-and-comers Northern Faces and I the Mighty each opening a leg. I attended the sold out June 23rd stop at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA. The 933-capacity venue is a bit smaller than those that Say Anything typically play, which seemed appropriate for a tour in support of All My Friends Ere Enemies, a collection material from before the band's breakthrough album, Is a Real Boy.

The intimate setting also afforded mastermind Max Bemis with the opportunity to get closer to the crowd. He said that, since they had the next day off, the band could go extra wild that night. And wild they went, for 75 intense minutes. Bemis deserves recognition for embracing the old material. He easily could have cashed his check for the rarities compilation without ever playing the songs; instead, fans are being treated to an entire tour dedicated to them. Bemis later told the audience that it was "the most fun tour of our lives."

The setlist was split down the middle between album tracks and early rarities. I was particularly impressed with the song selections, because the newer offerings focused more on deep cuts rather than the hits. These included "Every Man Has a Molly" (which received the most vigorous crowd reaction of the night), "The Futile," "Died a Jew," and "Peace Out," among others. Bemis confessed that the latter is his favorite part of the set, because he's always astounded by how many people know the words.

Some of the older songs were written more than a decade ago while Bemis was still in high school and without a full band. ("All My Friends," for example, was one of the first songs Bemis ever wrote as a young teenager.) The tracks are endearing in their simplicity, but they still display early stages of Bemis' lyrical and songwriting prowess. Many of them have been reworked to suit the band's three skilled guitarists, including a full-band version of the previously-acoustic "The Presidential Suite."

After leaving the stage following "Alive with the Glory of Love," Bemis returned with an acoustic guitar. "I'm gonna play a song that I've never played live," he said, "And also that I've never rehearsed." Despite his forewarning, it was a beautiful, error-free rendition of "A Boston Peace." His bandmates proceeded to join him for "Say Anything" and "A Walk Through Hell." It was a fitting closer, as "Hell" is the song that inspired the interest in a rarities collection in the first place. Bemis allowed the crowd to sing the final chorus to conclude the night.

Eisley co-vocalist/guitarist (and Max's wife) Sherri DuPree-Bemis was sick for their set, but you'd would never know by listening to their performance. Equipped with tea, she sounded great - as did the rest of the DuPree family band. They didn't spend much talking, but DuPree-Bemis did mention that it was the best crowd of the tour so far. They're touring in support of their new album, Currents, and the set was bookended by cuts from the album - the title track and "Drink the Water," respectively. They also mixed in old favorites among the new material.

There's never a dull moment during a Hrvrd performance, as exemplified by their set. It began with a melodica to kick off "Black Creme" and continued for half an hour. Not only are the members of Hrvrd great musicians, but they also put on an engaging show. Their performance is theatrical, nearly vaudevillian. Singer Jesse Clasen went so far as walking through the crowd while singing "French Girls," a song that also features trumpet and maracas. He then adorned a creepy old man mask and lurked around the stage at the end of their set. As a longtime supporter of the band, I'm happy to see them reaching a wider audience.

Openers I the Mighty caught the audience off guard by entering the stage to "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music before kicking off with the raw screams of "Speak to Me." It was their first day on the tour, but they showed no apprehension. They made their 20 minutes count with full-out energy. Most of the material came from their excellent new album, Satori.

The "Rarities and More Tour" is a testament to how far Max Bemis has come as a musician. He has brought Say Anything to the masses without forgetting where he came from. Bemis revealed that the band has already started working on their new record, which will be out next year. Perhaps even more exciting, he teased the idea of a tenth anniversary tour for Is a Real Boy. While the show provided a befitting retrospective the band's past, they still have a bright future ahead.

Say Anything setlistColorblind
The Futile
Baseball, But Better
Try to Remember, Forget
All My Friends
Every Man Has A Molly
Died A Jew
The Presidential Suite
Do Better
Showdown at P-Town
Peace Out
Of Steel
Alive With The Glory Of Love
A Boston Peace
Say Anything
A Walk Through Hell
Tags: review, Say Anything, Eisley, Hrvrd, I the Mighty (Boston, MA)
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