Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Black Label Society/ Down/ The Devil You Know/ Butcher Babies @ the Fillmore Silver Spring 5/4/2014

I went to see Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society ($35!) at the Fillmore, Silver Spring. BLS was one of my first concert experiences, and def one of my favourite. It's been a while since I've seen BLS, and the addition of Down was amazing!  Howard Jone's Devil You Know and the questionable Butcher Babies were just icing on the cake. I saw Tony, Tom, Sean, Scott, Nids, Jacinda n Heather, Johnny, Joe, Dale, Jen, Bridget, Kris, Patricia-lynne, Chris Crazy-Wolf and Lisa there.

There were a lot of people there, def a good crowd (multiple hundreds), the balcony was opened, but it was not sold out (I think).  I was wondering if it would, since Down packed the place last time, and Black Label is pretty big.  So I grabbed my ticket ahead of time.  The crowd, as Chris Crazy-Wolf remarked, was redneck-biker-bro-metal. If you have seen Sons of Anarchy, you'd wonder how Zakk never had a guest spot on it. Dude: "Mr. Wylde, just show up at 7, we'll be ready for you." Z:"what about makeup and that fairy shit?"  Dude:" No, you can just come in your normal clothes!"  So yeah, you had a range of people there for Down/BLS mainly.

This was the first show I can recall (minus Alice Cooper/Gwar) where someone got carried out on a stretcher. Some old guy who looked like a cross between (former Jaxx /empire owner) Jay Nedry and guitar god Pat Travers with no shirt I saw on a bench outside what looked like he was restrained and shouting like a maniac. He was shortly transferred to a stretcher and carried off. Jeez.  Also of note- the smoking section was PACKED.

In My Buying Time... My Wallets Will All be Emptied

Merchandise wise, things were pretty pricey. $30-35 for Black Label shirts, and $200 for a custom jean jacket vest (that at least one person totally bough), $70 for a hoodie (!!!).  Down had similar merch prices to BLS, and they had stickers. Butcher Babies had some shirts and their latest CD, but I didn't really look.  Devil You Know had their CD ($12), some shirts, a hoodie.  Nothing jumped out at me at all, tho.

I Knew I should have zoomed in. Rock and Roll Experience guy got way better pix

First up was Butcher Babies. I had last kind of heard/seen them from afar at last year's Mayhem Fest.  They've been controversial since their bewbs they first appeared on the scene. They went from tape on breasts to more covered up, and now at this show they were.  I wanted to really see them, because on one hand I'd heard a couple songs and wasn't impressed, and they have the whole outrageous sexy gimmick (regrettable, but you can go on for quite some time about sex sells, and the whole topic of preconceptions/expectations/etc. of women in heavy music).  I got up to the left side facing the stage and could get a good view of them and the mostly motionless crowd. They didn't get a very good reaction despite the energy that they had.  They just seemed to be trying too hard IMO. I was unimpressed by their songs, tho they had some decent stage presence. Yes, there was cleavage.  I felt bad because here is another band that is seemingly using their looks to get noticed. Now nothing wrong with that, but when there is nothing to back it up (musically), that is what irks me- there are many bands out there that get overlooked.  But back to the Butcher Boobies Babies- they did sound heavy, but the vocals were too much I-want-to-be-like-Maria Brink-slash-In This Moment whining/yelling. There were a precious few clean vocals and those sounded way better.  There was a lot of jumping and bouncing and yelling at the crowd, but they were mostly unmoved.  I think this is the part where I have to agree with all the people (multiple friends and enemies) who gave me the stink eye for going early, saying I wasn't missing anything. All of you were right.

Check out Rock and Roll Experience's review and way better Butcher Babies photos, too

The Devil You Know, Howard Jones (ex- Killswitch Engage)'s new band (Francesco Artusato- (All Shall Perish) guitars, John Sankey- (Fear Factory) drums, Ryan Wombacher- (Bleeding Through) Bass n vox)was next. I don't know if they were named after the Heaven & Hell album or not, but if they were it would be another Dio- inspired name (Dream Evil, Mob Rules, Heaven & Hell themselves) I just picked up their new CD and thought it was decent (tho not amazing on first listen).  The sound is metalcore ish but with less clean/high vocals, and pretty dark. The last half of the album is rather good. What was interesting live was that the bass player sang a bit of the high vocals and Howard stayed growling/low. It was a bit surprising to me that he didn't flex his vocal muscle much.  They were alright overall. Having heard their CD a couple times before this show, I was somewhat familiar with their songs, but I was still a bit underwhelmed- nothing jumped off of the album as really melodic or brutal.  They played a decent selection off of it, and the crowd was more responsive than they were for Butcher Babies- they even had a pit or 2.  Howard's energy seemed a little subdued, even during his limited stage banter. The crowd didn't seem to care because he got a decently lively reaction. I was a little disappointed by their performance.

Hail the Chimp

The crowd came alive when the horrible to google Down (featuring Phillip J Anselmo (Ex-Pantera, Superjoint Ritual, the horrible Illegals, etc.)) took the stage. I last saw them in late 2012, at this same venue, and it was packed then!  You would have thought everyone was sleeping before!  I still get amazed at Phil's ability to mesmerize the crowd. He also had 2 ape references ("I want everyone to go Apeshit!" "I wanna see everyone goin' BANANAS!"), so I am hoping that Down has a song "Apes of the South" slated for their next EP. WELL ANYWAYS people did really go ape, shouting along, moshing, fist pumping, and of course drunkenly stumbling.  They had a decent set, with one song I didn't recognize.  Phil kept on saying they didn't have much time, then proceeded to rant or ramble a bit- they could have played a couple more songs if they had less of that. Like "GHOSTS ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI."  Oh well. We noticed that the "...Smoke" song kind of deflated the crowd, who had been so pumped just a couple songs before. I was not sure exactly what caused the change.  This would be a tough performance for Zakk and co to beat.

BLS's cool backdrop with that same old skull

Now the band I was most excited/fearful about, Black Label Society, rolled out. Zakk has a new guitarist- skinny ass Dario Lorina (ex-Lizzy Borden), to replace longtime BLSer Nick Cantanese. I last saw them in 2010, and admittedly Zakk was phoning it in. I hated that his solo sounded so insipid, and right before him Children of Bodom blew them off the stage. This time, was unfortunately similar to that last experience.  Even the crowd was a bit subdued, which was very odd for the headliner. Down had a more lively reaction (tho not as loud), with pits and the like. BLS had cheering but not a lot of movement.

Zakk's stage setup was pretty cool with steam projectors, huge amps, big backdrops reminding you who you were here to see, and many coloured lights (looking at the pics, I think almost all rainbow colours). But there was one thing that was NOT cool- the seizure inducing strobing lights that were similar to what Killswitch had. They def made me furious and may have affected my level of tiredness. It was odd, because I was pretty pumped about BLS (even after knowing about the setlist), but after a couple songs with those lights, I felt drained.

Setlist wise, 5 songs off the new album ('Catacombs of the Black Vatican') , 3 from 'Order of the Black' 3 off of 'The Blessed Hellride', 2 from 'Mafia,' one off of 'Sonic Brew,' 'Shot to Hell,' and a whopping ZERO from '1919 Eternal' and 'Stronger Than Death.'  The piano solo seemed unneeded, and the requisite guitar solo seemed to go on too long. I think I'd feel cheated if I went to see a guitar god like Zakk and get no extended guitar solo, but at least this one had parts that were better than last time. But there was a lot of unimpressive 'meedly meedly' that didn't go anywhere.  For someone of Zakk's talent, he can do much better.  Since this was the new album tour, I knew we'd be getting a lot off of it, but the rest of it could have been much better constructed. I guess we can look at it that Zakk didn't want to destroy our necks with killer tracks off of 1919/STD.

IMO Zakk needs to put in some more rockers (anything off of 'Stronger  Than Death' or '1919 Eternal'), and remove the-I'm-sure-he-never-will-Dimebag Darrell-tribute "In This River."  I think that must be his lamest song out of all the ones I've heard. I understand why he has it in there, and the crowd gets all heart broken over that tragedy that happened to Dime, but.... IMO it kind of derails the momentum that he builds.  I don't think he'll ever remove it from his set, so I think we'll have to live with it.

Next show: Fozzy w/ Raven !


Butcher Babies (7:30?-8) (I heard them start before 7:30, not sure how many songs I missed)

  • I Smell a Massacre 
  • The Mirror Never Lies
  • Goliath 
  • C8h18 (Gasoline) 
  • Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine 
  • Mr SlowDeath
  • Magnolia Blvd. 

The Devil You Know (8:20 -8:47)

  • A New Beginning 
  • My Own 
  • Embracing The Torture 
  • Seven Years Alone 
  • A Mind Insane 
  • Shut It Down

Down (9:13-10:05)

  • Eyes of the South 
  • We Knew Him Well
  • Witchtripper 
  • Lifer 
  • Lysergik Funeral Procession 
  • Hail the Leaf 
  • Losing All 
  • Stone the Crow 
  • Bury Me in Smoke 

Black Label Society (10:36- 12)

  • My Dying Time 
  • Godspeed Hell Bound 
  • Destruction Overdrive 
  • The Rose Petalled Garden 
  • Heart of Darkness 
  • Overlord 
  •  Damn the Flood
  • Guitar Solo 
  • Parade of the Dead 
  • Fields of Unforgiveness 
  • Angel of Mercy 
  • Piano Solo 
  • In This River 
  • The Blessed Hellride 
  • Suicide Messiah 
  • Concrete Jungle 
  • Stillborn