CORROSION OF CONFORMITY / THE SKULL / MOTHERSHIP / WITCH MOUNTAIN
Date: 27th September, 2019
Venue: The Forge
Ticket: $22 (€20)
This was a stacked billing that made Friday looked extremely appealing... However, the weather conditions had a different opinion of how easy and joyful that evening would go; the rain had been falling hard almost the entire day and then decided to pour right at the time we had arranged to get on the road. Damn, approaching Joliet, the rain turned into a downpour to such intensity that it felt like we were driving through river rapids. The flood warnings were buzzing on the phone pushing the stress levels to the red. Fortunately, our only “loss” was a huge chunk of the WITCH MOUNTAIN set, but this pales in comparison with the frustration of those who were hit by this terrible flood and therefore we were happy to be safe inside the venue albeit soaking wet...
I really wanted to watch WITCH MOUNTAIN live because their latest self-titled album had been spinning on my player for a significant amount of time, luring me in with the Blues-y Doom Metal. The SABBATH-esque down-tuned heavy guitars make an incredible partner to Kayla’s impressive and soulful singing range. On top of this, she is a great performer putting a lot of passion in her singing. Yeah, the slow but ton-heavy groove of “Nighthawk” melted my stress away and I think dried my cloths a tad faster - at least it felt like it did. “How the fuck you guys doing, we have one last for you”, said Kayla before letting Rob Wrong do the rest of the “talking” with his guitar laying down the atmosphere for another Blues-inspired Doom Metal with a bit of Sludge in the rhythm section. I am sure if the weather had been nicer, more people would have been able to enjoy WITCH MOUNTAIN and hopefully we’ll get a chance to redeem ourselves soon but with far better weather conditions.
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I was already aware of how awesome the MOTHERSHIP sets are and therefore I was excited to get a second treat from the Texan band. Kells Juetts is a photographer’s delight being always ready to take the right pose the moment you point the lens towards him. However, this is not his strongest asset as he is an awesome guitarist with a unique style with lots of Hendrix-inspired moves. “How are you doing tonight, Joliet? We are MOTHERSHIP from Dallas, Texas”, said bassist Kyle who is the second Juett of the three-piece lineup. And then, boom, the trio hit us hard with a massive sound and a headbanging-worthy groove. Oh yeah, things were looking up with more people inside the venue visibly battered by the still going strong downpour. “Centauromachy” followed without pausing with a faster tempo that grabbed everyone’s attention on the spot. Sometimes I do not like when a band has limited space onstage with a second drum kit set at the back already set for the headliners, but in this case it worked in favor of the two Juetts brothers who like to play as close to the edge of the stage as possible. Yes, their efforts quickly paid off and the onstage party mood was transmitted to the audience like gold fever...
In a bizarre way, the Blues-y solo during “Win Or Lose” sounded ten times better delivered by Kells’s bedazzled guitar... I know this is a weird thing to say, but hey, a live show is not only about music because the visual stimulation plays an important role too. “Make some noise for Mr. Smith on drums”, said Kyle before passing the baton to his brother who handled the lead singing for “Hot Smoke And Heavy Blues” that kicked the door down with a fast riff and killer hi-hat action. “Can I get a ‘hell yeah’?”, asked Kells and I think he was satisfied by the immediate response by the crowd that had grew in number. “Serpents Throne” with the killer guitar riff and the foot-tapping rhythm was the appropriate send off to MOTHERSHIP who left me wanting more, so I will be on the lookout for a headlining tour by the Texans. By the way, who does not agree with the “Rock ‘n’ Roll!” shout by Kells, right before leaving the stage for the almighty THE SKULL?
01. “Priestess Of The Moon”
03. “Win Or Lose”
04. “Hot Smoke And Heavy Blues”
05. “Serpents Throne”
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THE SKULL had to shuffle the deck just before getting onboard on this tour with guitarist Rob Wrong leaving the lineup. Having a tight guitar due is a crucial element of this band and considering how well Rob and Lothar had been performing live, I was curious (and a bit anxious) to see how THE SKULL would do this time. Visually, the biggest difference was having Lothar on stage right, with Ron and Alex Johnson on stage left (well, Alex was partially hidden in the dark and it was impossible to get a proper photo of him). Anyways, the visual aspect of a show is not top priority, and really, my anxiety had only to do with the band’s performance.
The set started with “Trapped Inside My Mind” that is perfect for a setlist opener starting off with heavy Doom Metal footing before stepping on the gas pedal with a nice riff and Eric Wagner’s trademark timbre. Without stopping, my favorite “Till The Sun Turns Black” came next and to be honest this was the first time I noticed that there was something missing from the guitars. I mean, the usual volume was not there but I cannot say whether it was due to the lineup change, because the technical stuff is clearly out of my league. With that being said, I was missing the chemistry Lothar and Rob had and how this was transcribed into this song’s SABBATH-esque solo. On the other hand, I have no idea how much time this lineup had spent in rehearsal, and moving forward, I bet things will find a new balance.
“How the fuck you guys doing on this shitty Friday night?”, Eric asked obviously referring to the terrible weather who was still giving a hard time to many souls out there. The moody “The Endless Road Turns Dark” restored the playing music status with the nice basslines (more SABBATH references of course) and the slower Doom Metal bpms. Hearing “Send Judas Down” made me happier because THE SKULL have chosen to use more original material instead of TROUBLE songs, especially when they are not headlining. This may sound strange to some (who doesn’t want to hear these songs by the original voice?) but when a band is creating new music that turns to be awesome and not using it in concert is artistic suicide. After all, good music is meant to be played live and this is not negotiable by any sane music fan. The jam on this one could have been a bit shorter, especially if they could have squeezed another song in the allocated time. To my delight, the original songs kept coming, with Eric proving once more how cool it is to have both feet on the ground, no matter what music history you have in your background. “Ravenswood” and the groovy “A New Generation” were the last THE SKULL songs for the night. During the latter, I spent some time to appreciate Henry Vasquez’s distinct drumming style (the way he is hitting the hi-hat in a kind of circular movement looks awesome) and how much passionate his performance was.
“Are you doing good? Since we are here, maybe we’ll do some TROUBLE songs”, said Eric getting a loud reaction, especially from those who have not given THE SKULL a chance (shame on them if you’d ask me) and then let “The Tempter” and the usual suspect “At The End Of My Daze” end the set. Was it enough? Hell no, it wasn’t, and this is why we will be on the lookout for any other THE SKULL shows as 2019 is fading away. Hey, let’s not forget their 2-set scheduled show for November 09 in Milwaukee, WI – wink, wink.
THE SKULL setlist:
01. “Trapped Inside My Mind”
02. “Till The Sun Turns Black”
03. “The Endless Road Turns Dark”
04. “Send Judas Down”
06. “A New Generation”
07. “The Tempter”
08. “At The End Of My Daze”
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Apparently more people had braved the weather because just before CORROSION OF CONFORMITY (COC), the venue was buzzing with the energy and the mood being almost fully restored to what was fitting for a Friday night. I hope that no one had more serious troubles other than just missing a couple of setlists that night.
Around 15 minutes after 10pm, the lights went out, marking the time for COC. For whatever the reason(s), this would be my second time seeing this band live with the first being as headliners at an outdoor festival two years ago, and something inside me was telling that this was about be more intense and groovier... Oh yeah, “Mano De Mono” kicked in as the band members showed up under the “COC, COC” chanting going strong. The pounding rhythm of the riff driven “Seven Days” sounded loud and clear, setting the tone for the rest of the night. It was appropriate to start the show with a song from “Deliverance” since this album had been released 25 years on the dot. How fitting, huh? Oh yeah, “Señor Limpio” kept us on the same album, giving the audience the “appropriate” nudge to start moshing a bit. “Thank you very much, Joliet!” said Pepper before excusing the band for “being heavy on the “Deliverance” shit”. Ha, I don’t think anyone minded at all; quite the contrary, judging by the loud cheer Pepper got as a response of how things would go down that night. After all, how can you resist the ton-heavy groove of “Shake Like You” or the Stoner-pounding “Heaven’s Not Overflowing”? No you actually can’t, should be the answer, because just by looking at the mosh-pit at the center of the venue one could easily deduct that I was totally right...
Pepper and Woody were the driving forces on The Forge stage leaving Mike Dean to dive headfirst into the groove he was delivering with every inch of this body. Seriously now, his bass-playing style is so unique that it feels he is playing the four strings with his entire body and not with just his fingers. He is the definition of a “bassist in the groove zone”. “You guys gonna help me on this one, alright?”, rhetorically asked Pepper because I don’t think there was a single soul inside The Forge that did not know the “Albatross” lyrics and its NC smooth groove.
“Thank you for appreciating real music”, said Pepper and this is not the first time I hear this in concert. It is not a big secret that being on the road is not the million dollar deal anymore and for some bands it has almost become a labor of love. I guess, nowadays people are happy to see a couple of shitty YouTube videos and not get the real thing live right in their face... It may be a sign of times but honestly I wouldn’t like to be alive when concerts become obsolete as they are an integral part of Metal music. A simple ‘heads or tails’ game picked the next song for us although I am sure no one would object to “13 Angels”.
Pepper shared a short story of how he was inspired to write the lyrics of “Diablo Blvd.” that happens to be the name of a street close to the place he and James Hetfield were at that point of time. He asked the audience to wish James the best as he is going through a rough patch. I had no idea what Pepper was talking about but a short internet search after the show revealed that James has entered a rehab center... COC kept pounding us with their Southern born and raised Stoner tunes with the guitar duo being at a great form, getting more headbanging from us with “Vote With A Bullet”. “Who’s got the fire?” asked Pepper twice, making the obvious connection with the namesake song that was next.
The excited and most energetic audience (extra kudos for that) brought the band back for an encore and Pepper made sure to acknowledge the support COC got that night, especially with the raging weather. “Give yourself a round of applause”, he said before “Wiseblood” and the obvious setlist closer “Clean My Wounds”. Oh yeah, its nice groove was the appropriate goodnight for a night that started rough (due to the flooding) but ended in the highest of notes. It is safe to say that I enjoyed more COC indoors than I did outdoors, getting a full dose of the band’s energy and sense of groove. There will be a next time and hopefully soon!
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY setlist:
01. “Seven Days”
02. “Señor Limpio”
03. “Shake Like You”
04. “Heaven’s Not Overflowing”
06. “My Grain”
07. “13 Angels”
08. “Diablo Blvd.”
09. “Vote With A Bullet”
10. “Who's Got The Fire”
12. “Clean My Wounds”
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY
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