Upon arriving at the historic Rave / Eagles Club just west of downtown Milwaukee, I made a quick phone call to a gentleman who some call “Ablaze”. Between the wrought iron bars surrounding a school ground, I watched as the frontman for Blackguard raised his hand up in the air and spun around in a circle. This was going to be an interesting night indeed.
Instead of having the usual casual interview that I typically strive for – as I am very sensitive to the fact that I may be interrupting some pre-show ritual – I ended up sitting around on a futon while having a very laid back and oftentimes “inappropriate” 90 minute conversation with various members of not only Blackguard but Bonded By Blood and Kittie as well. If the show itself was going to be anything like this pre-show “interview” (stay tuned), then it was going to be a very memorable night indeed.
To see if the show itself was as memorable, head on over here.
Opening the show was a local band called Candy Machine Guns, a band I have heard of but never listened to or seen. These guys put on a straight up high energy show with a sound that is part video game industrial, part 80’s power thrash, and 100% pure heavy metal. Halfway through the set I realized that I know these guys, some of their members were once part of a fairly successful group called 9mm Solution, a band that I had seen and listened to. Candy Machine Guns is a great fresh start for these guys and I look forward to seeing them again and picking up their upcoming self-released album, Here We Come. Pay attention you Midwesterners! These bastards mean business and business is good. Check ’em out. Seriously.
I love shows where the stage crews are the bands. It shows the love people have for what they do and take pride in their craft, even though I’m sure it’s tedious as hell doing it night in and night out. And I’m sure if they could have a paid stage crew they’d be more than willing to transfer over duties. BUT I DIGRESS! Again…
Bonded By Blood hit the stage next like a firestorm sent from the bowels of hell. These guys bring their own unique sound to the world of 80’s power / trash / death. The riffs are sick. The drumwork wicked. The bass lines punchy. The vocals ranging from deep gravel to a classic metal falsetto. Watching Mauro run all over stage, whipping his curly hair like a maddened banshee, and pumping his fists in the air were perfect accents to the consummate headbanging brutality B3 is able to instill with their music. In a single set these guys went from not even a blip on my radar to being one of my most anticipated releases of the summer.
As I watched Justine “Juice” Ethier setup her drum kit made me giddy. I’ve been a passing fan of Blackguard for the last three years or so but I love nothing more than seeing successful and capable women in the male dominated heavy metal scene. So, when I saw her kit, I knew it was going to be epic. Blackguard is founded in power metal roots but bring a truly epic sound by mixing in elements of folk, thrash, and death, all for a truly powerful effect. Paul’s stage presence is unbelievable as he instantly connects with the crowd and gets them involved with each and every song. The guitar work was tight and rifftastic and I was completely mesmerized by Justine’s abilities on the skins. To watch this small, unassuming woman play with such technical ability and passion and intensity, well I have to be honest, is pretty damn sexy. Don’t believe me? Then go to a damn show! With the crazy amount of touring these guys do, you should be able to catch them at a venue nearby and if you haven’t figured it out by now, you absolutely should.
Having already been highly impressed by the show thus far, to have Kittie close out the night was icing on an already delicious cake. I have to be honest with you once again, I stopped paying attention to Kittie back in about 1999 – almost immediately. Not out of any dislike for them, for some delusional reason I stopped with the heavy metal for a bit. But even when I was paying attention to Kittie I thought it was a marketing ploy by some record label at attempting to make metal popular among young, angst ridden teenage females. After catching these ladies live and hanging out with Mercedes a bit back stage, I’ve become smitten with the Kittie bug. Not only are these ladies genuine and down to earth but they kick complete and utter ass on stage. Morgans voice is better live than I’ve ever heard recorded (but again, it’s been awhile since I’ve listened to Kittie). Trish’s return to the Kittie stage was awesome to witness as was watching Mercedes skills on the drums. Just as Justine wooed me with her drumming, so did Tara with her hypnotizing snake charmer like dance as she plays.Simply stunning.
I went into the evening expecting to have an average night. This turned out to be one of the most memorable nights and a phenomenal night of gut checking and neck lashing music. If this tour hasn’t already passed you by, go get your damn tickets now. If it has, add these bands to your must see list.
Also, don’t forget to check out the complete show photo album over at our Facebook page.