Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Babes In Toyland @ The Visulite

Almost 20 years to the day since I last saw Babes In Toyland.  I wish I'd had more opportunity to do so, because this band is still as ferocious as always.

The Visulite is fast becoming my favorite venue in Charlotte.  It is a small club, with a small dance floor area and then an elevated areas with chairs and general standing.  There is no real bad spot to see a show, though its better with a medium sized crowd, like tonight, where you can get up close and not feel claustrophobic.  It is also a 3 minute drive from my house.  Weather was my excuse tonight, but soon I'm gonna walk to a show.

I arrived only moments before Babes In Toyland hit the stage, and got a prime spot right in front of Kat Bjelland's mike.  A new bass player but the venom of the band was the same as I remember from the Metro in Sydney 20 years ago (Babes toured Australia in conjunction to performing at Livid in Brisbane that year).  He's My Thing kicked off the night and sounded great.  Kat's guitar and voice were of point, and Lori Barbero's relaxed style drumming masked her tight, driving sound.  While I really only remember the songs I know (Bruise Violet, Handsome & Gretel), the whole set was fantastic. The main set finished with Sweet 69, and the crowd soaked it up.  Dust Cake Boy was the brutal encore song and a great topper to energetic noise.

Bjelland still has a great stage presence and that blood curdling scream.  The band seemed very relaxed and were enjoying themselves.  In a smaller venue I think they also seem to enjoy the audience interaction.  I hope it's not another 20 years before I see them again.

The Crap Facts:
This is my 398th concert.
This is my 8th concert at The Visulite.
This is my 41st concert in Charlotte.
This is my 46th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 205th concert in the USA.
This is the 2nd time I've seen Babes In Toyland.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tony Bennett & Antonia Bennett @ Ovens Auditorium

It is nice that Bennett has his daughter open for him.  Having family on the road must also be a great comfort for both of them. Antonia is a great singer in her own right, however I think she will always live in the shadow of her legendary father (pretty much how I felt seeing Sean Lennon's band opening for Beck).

Having seen Tony Bennett in the smaller Hilton Las Vegas in 2008, and closer to the stage, I think I had been spoiled, and then did all the bad things by comparing the two.  Our seats tonight are a lot further back , and in a larger auditorium here in Ovens.  Bennett looks all of his 88 years tonight (as in comparison to a spritely 80 in 2008), yet his voice is just as smooth as always.  One great song after another, had the crowd excited and enthused.  Steppin' Out With My Baby, The Way You Look Tonight and I Left My Heart In San Francisco were definite highlights.  Amy and I took her mom tonight, as Bennett is the last of his era that she hadn't seen, and she spent the whole show smiling, on the edge of her seat - and she wasn't the only one in the crowd doing so.  It was all business tonight, not a lot of banter or stories from Bennett (again, unlike last time).  While his voice was spot on, there seemed to be some spark missing from Bennett's performance.  That sounds negative, but contrary, I'm glad I got to see him for a second time.  It was just hard to live up to the Vegas performance.

Tony Bennett Setlist
Watch What Happens / They All Laughed (George Gershwin cover) / Autumn Leaves (Yves Montand cover) / I Got Rhythm (George Gershwin cover) / (In My) Solitude (Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald cover) / Sing You Sinners / Hey Old Friend / Steppin' Out With My Baby (Irving Berlin cover) / But Beautiful (Jimmy Van Heusen cover) / Our Love Is Here To Stay / The Way You Look Tonight (Jerome Kern cover) / Rags To Riches / Cold Cold Heart / Just In Time / Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (Hal Kemp & His Orchestra cover) / The Good Life / How Do You Keep The Music Playing? (Michael Legrand cover) / The Shadow of Your Smile (Johnny Mandel cover) / One For My Baby / For Once In My Life (Jean DuShon cover) / I'm Old Fashioned / I Left My Heart In San Francisco / Who Cares? / Smile (Charlie Chaplin cover) / When You're Smiling (Seger Ellis cover) / Fly Me To The Moon (Kaye Ballard cover)

The Crap Facts:
This is my 397th concert.
This is my 1st concert at Ovens Auditorium.
Ovens Auditorium is the 110th venue I've seen a concert in.
This is my 40th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 45th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 204th concert in the USA.
Antonia Bennett is the 469th band I've seen
This is the 2nd time I've seen Tony Bennett.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Danzig, Superjoint Ritual, Veil Of Maya & Prong @ The Fillmore

Very rarely do I go to a show early nowadays to catch and opening act I've never heard, but the lure of Prong got me to the Fillmore early.  I may have missed the first couple of songs but Prong were on fire.  With Danzig's Tommy Victor pulling double duty tonight, it was great to see him just rocking out on Prong's punk inspired tunes - so different from that distinct Danzig twang.  Glad I got in early to see this.

Next up was Veil of Maya.  Like Suicide Silence opening for Korn, this music is too heavy for me today.  Screaming vocals and crunching guitars blared heavy metal rifts which a good majority of the front section were into....just not me.

I was also keen to see Phil Anselmo's Superjoint Ritual.  I've seen Pantera and Down before and really enjoyed their show.  Contrary to the other two bands, Superjoint is pretty loose.  A good heavy edge, which the crowd were into.  And Anselmo's between song banter was definitely funny.  Superjoint were a good choice as an opener for Danzig, as both artists seem to have a mutual appreciation for each other.  And the relatively small (disappointingly) crowd were amped for the main event.

After seeing Samhain at Riot Fest in 2014, I said I'd seen my last Danzig-led show, but this band has such a great, unique sound I couldn't stay away.  And rightly so.  Where Samhain seemed like a band who hadn't played together in a long time, Danzig is a well-oiled machine.  I love that when you hear a Danzig riff, there is no disputing which band is playing that song.  I heard a bunch of favorites, from How The Gods Kill to Twist of Cain to Am I Demon to the awesome Mother.  Also liked their Elvis cover of Let Yourself Go from their new Skeletons LP.   A set lasting just over an hour was enough to remind me not to miss Danzig whenever I get the chance.

The Crap Facts:
This is my 396th concert.
This is my 14th concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 39th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 44th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 203rd concert in the USA.
Prong are the 466th band I've seen.
Veil Of Maya are the 467th band I've seen.
Superjoint Ritual are the 468th band I've seen.
This is the 7th time I've seen Danzig.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Korn & Suicide Silence @ The Fillmore

So it was the Big Day Out 99 when I last (and first) saw Korn.  I remember being psyched beforehand and then let down afterwards.  I don't know if it was that the set was on at 4 in the afternoon or that there were so many other good performances that day (Marilyn Manson, TISM, Ash, Sparklehorse, Fur Soulfly) that they didn't reach the heights.  I should have seen them earlier this year at Carolina Rebellion, but who wants to watch a band from that for away?  I was hoping the confines of a smaller venue would do it for me, but would my age and music taste now be a deterrent?

I caught the last 4 songs of Suicide Silence as I tried to find a good vantage point for the night.  The crowd seemed to enjoy the band, and their sound seemed suitable for a Korn opener.  For me, that switching, deep growl/screamo sound just doesn't cut it anymore.  Doesn't lessen the performance and the energy Suicide Silence put out.  You could tell they were out to give it there all.
Suicide Silence Setlist
You Only Live Once / Inherit The Crown / Wake Up / Unanswered / Smoke / Slaves To Substance / You Can't Stop Me / No Pity For A Coward

I ended up on the right side of the venue with a great sight line to all bar Munky.  As usual the lights go down and the crowd amps up.  It kept on the up with the growls of "Are You Ready?" before the band smashed into Blind.  Korn then preceded to play their debut album from start to finish (the purpose of this tour).  While the sound was great (even with earplugs) the set was a stop start affair with singer Davis using an oxygen mask between every song.  Faget seemed to get the biggest reaction from the crowd and by the time the last notes of Daddy rang out, the crowd, me included, had taken in a great show.  As the crew reset the stage for the encore, one of the night's biggest cheers was heard  for the unveiling on Davis' Geiger-like microphone stand.  Korn came back out and played Falling Away From Me (song of the night for me) and ploughed through 4 more songs.  Freak On A Leash was a strong finisher.

16 years between Korn shows and I wasn't 100% sure how I'd react, but tonight was great.  Good sound, good energy from the band, a packed house loving every moment.  Not a lot of verbal interaction with the crowd, but plenty of acknowledgement from the band for the audience.  And I'm sure that place was littered with guitar pics once the crowd dispersed.

Korn Setlist
Blind / Ball Tongue / Need To / Clown / Divine / Faget / Shoots & Ladders / Predictable / Fake / Lies / Helmet In The Bush / Daddy
Encore: Falling Away From Me / Here To Stay / Coming Undone / Spike In My Veins / Freak On A Leash

The Crap Facts:
This is my 395th concert.
This is my 13th concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 38th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 43rd concert in North Carolina.
This is my 202nd concert in the USA.
Suicide Silence are the 465th band I've seen.
Suicide Silence are the 250th different band I've seen in the US.
This is the 2nd time I've seen Korn.