Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Floyd 11/28/14

One of my favorite concerts of the year is El Monstero. For those of you who are unfamiliar, they are St. Louis's premier Pink Floyd tribute band. They consider themselves the monster truck version of Pink Floyd and I'll be attending their show this December, followed by the official Turn Up That Racket concert review. In the meantime, I'm using their fan poll as this weeks Friday Floyd. This past weekend they posted a Facebook poll to find out which song they should add to their live show. I was very happy to see that one of my favorite Floyd songs, and one of the most underrated Floyd song were on that list; The Nile Song. This song appears on the Soundtrack from the Film More which is their third album. By this time David Gilmour had joined the band due to the decreasing health of founding frontman Syd Barrett. Some consider this song the closest thing Pink Floyd ever got to heavy metal and I would definitely agree. So turn this one up!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

American Pop Music Awards Rant

I usually always internalize my music award show rants (they occur quite frequently), but now I have a platform to put my thoughts into print, so I'm taking it.

My usual beef with awards show is their categories. For example Lorde won a VMA for Best Rock Video. Think about that......Lorde. Best Rock Video. Lorde is great. I am in no way bashing Lorde, but she is not rock music. She's a pop singer (and a really good one at that). She beat out Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, Imagine Dragons, and Linkin Park to win this award. Three out of five ain't bad MTV (I'll let you guess at who the other non-Rock artist was listed there). MTV rant is another day, another post.

For some reason the American Music Awards decides to group pop music and rock music into the same category. The following bands / singers were nominated in the Pop / Rock category.
  • John Legend
  • Sam Smith
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Iggy Azalea
  • Lorde
  • Katy Perry
  • Imagine Dragons
  • One Direction
  • OneRepublic
Is it just me or are there no rock bands / singers in that list? I'm OK with excluding rock music from your music awards show, but don't pretend to include rock music in your show by having a Pop/Rock category, and then failing to even nominate anyone rock! 

The lack of nominations does not accurately reflect the great efforts by rock bands in the past year. The following rock bands all released albums or songs in the past year: The Black Keys, Linkin Park, Jack White, Beck, and The Pretty Reckless (just to name a few). No I do not think that all of these bands / albums should be included in a "best of" category, but surely they can find room to fit one of them in.......

That's all for now. Another rant, another day, another post. 

TT5 - Top Non Metal & Hard Rock Acts

In this edition of the Tuesday Top 5, I am ranking the top 5 Non-Heavy Metal & Hard Rock Bands / Singers. I'm a metalhead through and through, but sometimes it's OK to slow it down and not ALWAYS headbang your way through music. Below is my list of my top 5 bands / singers NOT to headbang to.

5) Bob Seger
I got really into Bob Seger when I listened to a greatest hits collection on repeat in my car for months at a time in high school. Then it just expanded from there like wild fire. He's a tremendous song writer and his music is timeless.
Key Listen: Turn the Page, song

4) Eric Church
My girlfriend turned me on to Eric Church as they both have the same alma mater. The more I listen to him, the more I am impressed by him. His brand of country music is much heavier and more based in hard rock than any other country artist. The thing that most impresses me about Eric Church is his desire to be his own person and artist. He doesn't care that he redefined what popular country music was, he kept expanding his horizons and pushing himself creatively. He is also one of the best live performers of any genre.
Key Listen: Caught in the Act, live album

3) The White Stripes
My first White Stripes experience was actually "Fell in Love with a Girl" because of the Lego based music video. After that it was Seven Nation Army, and then I was hooked. I went through a big White Stripes period in college when Icky Thump came out. They will probably never get back together, but the music they left behind is some of the most respected music of their generation.
Key Listen: Ball and Biscuit, song

2) Queen
I challenge you to find someone who doesn't recognize the stomp, stomp, clap of We Will Rock You. Queen's music is just so anthemic and powerful that you feel like you can conquer the world when listening to it. The other side of Queen also has some of the most soulful, heartfelt ballads of all time. Listening to a Queen album is one of the best emotional Rock n' Roll roller coaster rides. Queen is your victory music, your sad music, your sing-a-long music, etc.
Key Listen: Queen Rock Montreal, live album

1) Pink Floyd
I am one of the biggest Floyd-heads around. They are my all time favorite band. They are prog rock legends because of The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall, as everyone knows. What people don't know is that someone of their best music came from when they were figuring out how to move forward after losing their first driving force, Syd Barrett, and gaining an excellent singer and guitarist in David Gilmour. Keep reading Turn Up That Racket and you'll learn all about my love for Pink Floyd.
Key Listen: Meddle, album

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Floyd 11/21/14

Happy Friday everyone. Today's Friday Floyd showcases the closest thing I have come to seeing Pink Floyd. I went to Wrigley Field in the summer of 2012 to see Roger Waters perform The Wall. The video below is the opener. I had no idea what to expect going into the show and it was (and still is) the most visually impressive and stimulating concerts I have ever been to. The Wall practically went from foul pole to foul pole and was used as a video projection screen and exceptionally detailed graphics were projected on the wall for the entire show. As always with a Wall performance, the remaining bricks in the Wall were brought out as the show went on in order to complete the Wall. At the end, the Wall came crashing down. Again, quite the show and one of my all time favorite far.

Disclaimer, I did not shoot the video. Thanks to whoever did as it's a very good clip. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TT5 - Top 5 Metal Bands

I'm creating a new weekly feature called the Tuesday Top 5, obviously recurring every Tuesday. Each week I'll list my top 5 for various different categories. This is influenced by That Metal Show, but if there are any category suggestions for the TT5, please share.

One of my favorite metal blogs, Metal Sucks, recently polled an extensive and impressive list of metal musicians, fans, and writers and came up with their Top 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time. I am starting off the weekly tradition of TT5 with a bang and giving you my Top 5 Metal Bands of All Time.

5) Motorhead
If you look up heavy metal in the dictionary, you see a picture of Motorhead (I wish). Motorhead, and Lemmy in particular, have played the same style of metal since they began in 1977. One of the most prolific bands around, they haven't changed and people love them for it. The first few Motorhead albums are heavy metal staples and their most recent albums are instant classics. If someone defines themselves as a metalhead and says that Motorhead sucks, please point them to the nearest door. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And Motorhead ain't broke.

4) Iron Maiden
The leader of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal pack, Iron Maiden have been cranking out some of the best melodic heavy metal since 1975. Despite a few lineup changes, they have maintained an exceptional level of talent and musicianship. They are one of the biggest bands (not just metal) in the world. Even though they could play to millions of fans a year by only using old material, they have consistently put out amazing albums, playing the songs live, and attendance numbers haven't dropped. They have defined their own style of long, epic, galloping songs that make every time you listen to them feel like an adventure. Don't go changing Iron Maiden. In Eddie we trust.

3) Slayer
The "Un-Holy Trinity" of heavy metal (Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, Seasons in the Abyss) have not only put Slayer into legendary status, but have also influenced every metal band to come after them. Despite being famous for writing three of the greatest metal albums of all time, they have consistently put out heavy, pounding, in-your-face thrash metal since 1981. Dave Lombardo is the king of the double bass, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are the architects of sinister riffing, and Tom Araya has the mightiest roar in metal. Even though the classic, original lineup can no longer exist due to contract issues with Dave and Jeff's untimely passing, Slayer reign on and continue to tour and put out new music. Keep an eye out for a new album in 2015.

2) Metallica
We've all heard the counter arguments, but the truth of the matter is Metallica is the biggest metal band of all time. Yes they're commercially successful. Yes you can hear their music on any radio station and stadium PA. Yes everyone and their brother know who they are. BUT THAT'S OK! There is nothing wrong with a metal band having mass appeal, attracting huge attention to the genre and if Metallica are usually that "gateway drug". Despite their success, most of their work is phenomenal. Sure there are blemishes in the library, but their first five albums (yes, the Black album) are near perfection. Metallica is back on track with Death Magnetic and is reportedly coming out with new music soon.

1) Black Sabbath
Plain and simple, EVERY metal band owes everything to Sabbath. If it weren't for Tony Iommi's accident as a teenager, we may never have heard down tuned guitar that sounded so good. Iommi, along with Ozzy, Geezer, and Bill Ward, went on to create the basis for what heavy metal was to become. Black Sabbath off Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath is the most evil metal song of all time. They've had numerous variations of themselves, including having legendary Ronnie James Dio as Ozzy's replacement at lead singer. Despite Iommi's health, they released a new album in 2013 followed up by a successful world tour. They have said that their next album and tour will be their last. They were the first, and they are the best. Top 5 Recap:
5) Pantera
4) Metallica
3) Slayer
2) Iron Maiden
1) Black Sabbath

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Floyd 11/14/14

So this week was a very busy one for Pink Floyd. They released their "new" album The Endless River. I'll give my 2 cents about this album at a later date because on this edition of Friday Floyd, I'd like to honor the falling of the Berlin Wall. This week was the 25th anniversary of the falling of the wall and there were plenty of celebrations and commemorative activities all of the world. What does this have to do with Pink Floyd? Back in 1990 Roger Waters performed The Wall in it's entirety in Berlin with the help of an all star cast (Cyndi Lauper, Sinead O'Connor, The Band, Bon Jovi, and many more). Below is the performance of Run Like Hell by Roger Waters and Scorpions from that concert.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Slipknot & Korn Concert Review - Alliant Energy Center Madison 11/8/14

This was my first time at the Alliant Energy Center, so in true "Show Pro" fashion, part of my excitement for the concert was just for the fact that I had the chance to experience a new live music venue. My venue notes are after the concert notes.

There were 3 bands on the bill for the night. The first band, King 810, started right at 7. I knew two things about them going into the show. First, I knew they were from Flint, MI (hence the 810). I've never been to Flint, but I have been to East St. Louis and in my mind they are the same. Secondly, I knew that when they were first coming out, a metal blog had a picture of them performing at a festival with assault-rifle-armed body guards standing at the edge of the stage. Now these weren't present for our show in Madison, but they did play up the whole Flint thing a lot. All in all, they didn't do much for me as a band.

Now I'll be honest, I had very low expectations for Korn going into the show. I never was a big fan of Korn besides a 2 or 3 catchy songs (one of which being of course "Freak on a Leash"). My friend that joined me at the concert is a big Korn fan. He was very much looking forward to this as it had been something like 7 years since he last saw Korn. They came on just before 8. To my surprise, their set was very high energy and entertaining. I really had a good time and enjoyed most all of the songs. The biggest crowd response was for the song "Shoots & Ladders" (which I was not familiar with), but begins with a bagpipe intro by lead singer Jonathan Davis. As soon as they heard a note of bagpipe, the crowd went nuts. Korn played for just under an hour and all in all was a great opener as they were full of energy and really got the crowd rocking. Negative note, Jonathan Davis had to visit an oxygen tank after each song. I'm sure it's for a very legitimate reason, but it just kind of doesn't seem very rock-star-ish.

Honesty sidebar before I talk about Slipknot. When these nu-metal bands were big (Slipknot, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, etc.), I dabbled in Linkin Park and P.O.D.; that was my extent with the genre. In the early 2000s I was still learning my way through the vast genre of classic rock and somewhat getting into heavier bands like System of a Down. Korn and Slipknot were not on my radar at all. I kind of took the first 15 years of Slipknot's career and condensed them into the last 6 months or so. I had listened to "Spit it Out" and "Wait and Bleed" before, but not much else. When the new album was announced I started to give the rest of the music more attention. But I will say that in the last 6 months or so, I listened to A LOT of Slipknot, read A LOT of articles and blogs, and watched  A LOT of documentary type footage of the band. I really wanted to know all about the band (good and bad). So even though when I was most impressionable in my early teens, I joined the 'Knot fan club much later in life.

Slipknot took the stage a little before 9:30 and I was very very excited to see this band. They started off behind the curtain while the first track off the latest album played. We were sitting on the side of the arena and our view was mostly unobstructed by the curtain, so Clown came over to encourage us to stand up (even though we were already standing). As soon as the curtain came up, they were right into the high energy show I was expecting with Sarcastrophe (second song off the new album). The show continued on with it's high energy pace playing more songs from the new album, but also showcasing classics like "Psycosocial" and "The Heretic Anthem". Corey Taylor is an incredible front man and demands attention wherever he is at on the stage. The stage shows are quite chaotic because there are 9 members of the band. As a member of the audience it's pretty crazy to whitness because you have no idea where to watch at any point in time. Not only are there 9 band members, there is also the mayhem that is happening on the floor.

One of the craziest things I've ever seen at a metal concert happened right before the last verse in "Spit It Out". As soon as the music slowed down, Corey started talking and I noticed that some people on the floor were sitting down. Mind you, this floor has been a moving mass of bodies since the show started so to see nobody moving and people sitting down was quite noticeable. Corey gave a speech about how it didn't matter if you were a fan of the band for the past 15 years of 15 days, you were here now and you were going to participate in one of their traditions. He then commanded everyone to sit down and then as soon as he hit the last line in the next verse, which said "Jump the f(udge) up!", we were to of course jump the f(udge) up. I didn't expect an entire arena (probably 10,000 people) to really be that still for the next 30 seconds or so, but sure enough, everyone did.......... and then we all JUMPED THE F(UDGE) UP and it was an incredible sight to witness.

Say what you want about the masks and the back story and the lyrics, but Slipknot are tried and true professionals and they know how to put on one hell of a show. Their stage was huge which allowed for all 9 members to go crazy and run all over the place (they all did except the drummer of course). The two percussionists (Clown and Chris Fehn) are on custom built rising drum rigs. Jim Root is all of 6'6" and is constantly head banging all of the stage. Corey channels his inner Bruce Dickenson and can belt out any lyric while running around during the length of the show. Plain and simple, these guys know how to put on a show and what a show it was. Slipknot did not disappoint for my first experience with the band.

Venue Notes:
  • It's much smaller than you'd think. For it being an arena, it didn't feel all that big. 
  • It was a perfect circle shape which is quite unique for an arena.
  • By far the worst beer system I've every seen. Basically anyone who wanted to drink had to get a wristband and be corralled into a very small area that was a makeshift beer garden and bar. They only had Budweiser and Bud Light and in 2 different sizes so it moved quickly once you got up there. But in the meantime you were crammed like sardines into this little area. I understand that it makes controlling the underage drinkers and the mess of cups, but it was not enjoyable as a patron. 
  • The sound seemed OK, if anything too quiet, but that's probably more to do with the bands than the venue. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

National Metal Day 2014 Is Upon Us!

National Metal Day is Tuesday 11/11/14. Here's my way of helping you celebrate the greatest holiday of the calendar year!

To start off National Metal Day in the only way cranking it to 11!!

Top 11 Reasons to Listen to Heavy Metal:

  1. Heavy Metal gets you going in the morning to conquer your day.
  2. Heavy Metal helps you relieve stress in a safe manner so that everything seems just a little easier.
  3. Because there is no such thing as being too old to rock. Heavy Metal will love you until you're old and grey. 
  4. Because even though the bands and musicians get old, the music never dies (For example, Black Sabbath played to sold out crowds all over the world this year). 
  5. Because you're part of a brotherhood of billions of Heavy Metal fans all over the world (Iron Maiden and Metallica are some of the biggest concert draws anywhere). 
  6. There are brand new Heavy Metal bands sprouting up every day that need your love and support. 
  7. Live Heavy Metal is always a high energy show and there is always a concert nearby that you can attend practically weekly. 
  8. There are so many sub-genres (and more creating all of the time) that each person is sure to find some style of Heavy Metal that appeals to them.
  9. Heavy Metal musicians and singers are some of the best at their craft regardless of music genre. 
  10. Heavy Metal does not discriminate. Men and women from all walks of life, every age, shape and size live and breathe Heavy Metal and we are all better because of it. 
  11. Quite simply because Metal Rules. 

Here are two classics that will definitley help get your NMD rocking.

Metallica "For Whom the Bell Tolls"

Black Sabbath "War Pigs"

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Profile of a Metalhead

Hi, my name is Chris and I'm a metalhead. It has been 0 days since my last headbanging session.

Hi Chris......

One of my favorite things in life (this is kind of sad that I enjoy it so much) is seeing people's reaction when I tell them that I saw Slayer or I was just listening to Slipknot or Iron Maiden or Black Label Society. People look at me like I'm crazy and have two heads as if to ask the question "Are you serious?" Apparently I don't look or act like a "metalhead". Which makes me wonder, what is "normal" metalhead behavior?

What does a metalhead look like? This really intrigues me. Society and media dictate that metalheads look like pale, emo, high school aged kids. I'm here to tell you that for the most part (excluding metalcore) this is untrue. Sure when you go to a metal show there is the guy with a black mohawk, black skinny jeans, black band shirt, black boots, piercings and tattoos everywhere. When you go to a country concert you're bound to find a guy in cowboy boots, jeans, flannel, dip ring, and camo hat who's never been more than 20 miles from the family farm. I could go on an on about stereotypes. They exist and to some extent they are accurate. No I don't have piercings or tattoos or a black mohawk, but when I go to a metal show, I grab my favorite (at the time) metal t shirt. When I got a to a country concert, I'm probably wearing a camo hat. There are tons of people at metal and country concerts doing the same. Does this make everyone there a total representation of that stereotype? No. But people want to fit in with their surroundings, it's a natural feeling for most. I digress.......

Back to where I started, what does a metalhead look like? We all know what society tells us that a metalhead looks like. I'm here to tell you that you are surrounded by metalheads! Don't look now, but I'm sure that someone you know (friends, friends of friends, family, etc) is a metalhead. We come in all shapes and sizes. For example, I put thought into my hair every morning, I try to always look presentable, I practice good hygiene, I don't have piercings or tattoos; not what you would expect from a metalhead. My style would be categorized as "Wisconsin" not "emo" or "metal". When I go to the heavy metal record stores or heavy metal concerts, I am surrounded by people who look just like me. Well not identical, but they wear "normal" clothes, they have "normal" hair (you catch my normal drift).

Heavy metal (just like any genre of interests) can dictate a "style" if you let it. Yes I'll always be a sucker for that awesome band t shirt (in black of course), but I'm not about to run off, grow my hair out to enhance my headbanging or get my limbs covered in tattoos.

It may sound like I am bashing those who fall into the stereotype of a metalhead, but I am in no way doing so. To each his own. We're all entitled to dress the way we want and express ourselves the way we want. Be who you are and be it with pride. Let your metalhead flag fly.

Now just because I'm a metalhead does not mean that I listen exclusively to heavy metal and hard rock. I am also into Hip Hop, Blues, Country, Pop, and some oddball stuff here and there. I don't make excuses for what I listen to. If it's good, has a good back story, is catchy, or is given a recommendation, I'll listen to it. I've mentioned country stereotypes many times so far. Reason being is there is a lot of country music that I love and country concerts are a great time. I frequently go to country, hip hop, rock, and metal concerts, sometimes all in the same week. For example, in the month of April 2014, I saw a folk band, a few metal bands, a few hip hop acts, a stoner-funk jam band, an Italian superstar bluesman all in a matter of 21 days. What I'm getting at is that I don't let the term metalhead define me. I listen to a wide variety of music, heavy metal is just always my favorite and my true musical passion.

So what makes a metalhead a metalhead? A metalhead is someone who not only listens to heavy metal, but has a passion about the music and the genre. The music means something to them. Metal is more than just music to metalheads; it is an outlet of stress, frustration, energy, and rage. It gets them going while also calms them down all at the same time. A metalhead should know the following, who are the Big 4, what band created heavy metal, the names of multiple sub-genres of heavy metal, who the metal god is, and have some opinion of who the greatest metal band, metal singer, metal guitarist, metal drummer are.

To summarize, I tuck my dress shirt into my pants everyday at work, I have no tattoos, I headbang on the daily and I'm OK with that because my name is Chris and I'm a metalhead.