Tag Archives: Bridge To Grace

Concert Review 7/22/17 — Bridge To Grace/Seasons After

A whirlwind summer of shows around Atlanta winds down for me with what seemed to be a can’t miss lineup.  Two strong bands that I’d seen previously, known commodities, both with ample material that I both know and enjoy.  What could possibly go wrong?

You know that saying about baseball, about how you could see something different every day?  I really figured that didn’t apply to concerts at this point in my life, not after three decades of shows big & small.   Silly me.  But we’ll get to that in a bit.

First up, surprisingly, Seasons After.   I’m happy to report that, contrary to the last time I saw them, everyone appeared healthy & no one was bleeding.  That’s always a plus.   From top to bottom the band is solid instrumentally and vocally, the material is good, their performance on this night illustrated those things just fine.   I’ll be honest, I could have done with a little more material from their 2014 album than from their 2016 release which I thought didn’t quite reach the high bar they set with the earlier project but maybe that’s just me.  This is just a likable band that I can’t say much more certainly about than I wish them continued and increased success.

The break between bands gave us a chance to sort out one bit of confusion.   Contrary to having Gears open the show (as anticipated based on billing) with Seasons After in direct support of headliner Bridge To Grace, we discovered (by asking at the door) that Gears had been shifted to the “headlining” spot.  I use that term in the loosest manner possible because, well, it’s a BtG tour and you’re just minutes away from their home.  Any notion that they aren’t the headliner here is simply silly.

A relatively swift turnaround and Bridge To Grace hits the stage.  In three and half years since I first saw them some things really haven’t changed.  They’re still loaded with talent and charisma, they still don’t really have a particularly notable weakness.  The biggest change perhaps comes simply with time.   Between 2014 and 2017 the band has doubled in age as a unit.  I don’t mean the back to back birthdays of the members that were noted last night I mean that more time has passed since I last saw them than they had been together as a band on the initial impression.

What that time has done is, I think, improve their fluidity.  Each member seems to have improved in their role with that repetition and experience.  It just looks, I guess, like it all just comes to them a little more easily now, more comfortably.

Another change of sorts last night was the inclusion of four (?) new songs that haven’t been released yet.  Of those, at least two felt like they have significant potential as future singles and the other pair were not weak by any means.

The set was structured fairly well, spacing out the best known and best response tracks to give them several peaks.  The one surprise (for me anyway) was the absence of long-standing cover “Jump Around”.  The House of Pain song has been a frequent part of their set but, on this night, maybe it would have been asking too much for the crowd on hand.  Yes, I’m going to get to that.

On the whole, two good bands, two good performances.  As far as the performers go, I don’t really have anything but good to say about the evening.

That brings me to my traditional review closing, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  Unfortunately for me, GBU includes the most notable aspects of the night.

The Good — I managed to find parking easily enough.  Pulled straight into a space just a couple blocks down the street despite a reputation for the area being notoriously parking challenged.
I also want to say that my interactions with venue personnel were largely positive, no real issues in that regard.

The Bad — I almost hate to include this here because it might unfairly single out one band when it’s a comment based on the combined experiences at a number of recent shows.  So — point blank — this is NOT directed entirely at Seasons After, but … I’ve noticed a trend in recent weeks of bands removing some of their strongest AND best known material from their set lists.   While I acknowledge time constraints, promotional considerations, and even the flow of a set & position on the bill all play a role in laying out a set at some point I have to figure that if bands with enormous catalogs like Iron Maiden or Metallica can manage to hit a large percentage of their highlights then bands with more limited material to choose from should be able to do the same.   Even ONE of the three glaring omissions (“Weathered & Worn”, “Lights Out” or “Gettin’ Even”) from the Seasons After set last night would have made for a noticeably more enjoyable show for me.   Again, this is NOT just about SA, it’s at least the third time in recent weeks I’ve seen the same disappointing choices being made.  At some point, you take away enough of the highlights from a show, it’s going to take a toll and I’m not sure that bands may not be losing sight of that a little bit.

The Ugly — Remember how I mentioned getting a surprise last night?   In my entire history of concert experiences never before has a crowd and/or venue be such a miserable dud that it really sucked away my ability to enjoy the actual show.   This might have been the most ill-suited combination possible.   You could have gotten a better response from a room full of atheists at the southern gospel quartet convention than was evidenced by a crowd so disengaged that I wondered whether they’d been kidnapped from a Branson, MO tour bus and forced into the venue at gunpoint.   A HEAVY dose of table seating is comically unsuitable for a current-based harder edge rock show.  The room is arranged for a Borscht  Belt comic or dinner theater, and it apparently attracts locals/regulars that wouldn’t recognize rock if you hit them with one repeatedly.

imagine trying to enjoy a show, to get that live music vibe and energy … while having a couple of hundred corpses propped up behind the two or three dozen people who actually wanted to be there.

I honestly don’t have all the words to describe what an utterly dismal situation for live original rock the combination of aging suburbanites with too much money and too little motivation to find entertainment they actually care about  & sedentary seating arrangements created.   You could not pay me several times over ticket price to ever endure another rock show at MadLife, you could not plumb the depths of my vocabulary enough to find adequate disdain for the sad collection of pablum chewers the venue apparently attracts, and I could not in a million years find strong enough terms for me to discourage any band with a pulse from even considering performing there.

Ugly?   That doesn’t even scratch the surface.


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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Four new songs enter my weekly Spotify Top 40 with the latest update, with a definite skew toward newer bands this week.

Missing songs this week:
Howlin’ Woman – The Lazys

New to the Spotify list this week:
Holding On -We Are Vessel, My Fate – Vimic, Eye Of The Storm – September Mourning, Left Inside – Bridge To Grace

Dropping off the Spotify list this week:
Human – Hellyeah, Lightning In The Sky – Devour The Day, Stronger – Through Fire, Feel You Falling – Devin Williams

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s over a half dozen songs added including  the latest singles from Shaman’s Harvest and Texas Hippie Coalition, brand new music from Within Reason, a Demun Jones album cut and more. You can find it at this link

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

A serious refresh of my  Spotify Weekly Top 40 with five songs joining as five hits drop out.  See?  You don’t HAVE to listen to the same songs over & over, that’s just bad radio programming ficition.

Missing songs this week:
Breathing Lightning – Anthrax, All The Words – The Motorleague

New to the Spotify list this week
Death Dance – Sevendust, Paranoia –  A Day To Remember, Way Gone – Soil, Face The Music – Silvertung, Bad Seed – Ugly Kid Joe

Dropping off the Spotify list this week:
State Of My Head- Shinedown, Saint Cecilia – Foo Fighters, Here’s To The Heartache – Nothing More, Impossible – Lacey Sturm, Ghost In My Head – Andrew Watt

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s nearly a dozen new songs including the aforementioned A Day To Remember, new Asking Alexandria, new Love & Death, new Like A Storm, album cuts from Bridge To Grace and Bullet For My Valentine and more. You can find it at this link

Also, if you’re wondering exactly how all of this gets put together – the hows & whys of it – this old blog entry probably explains more than you ever wanted to know.

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2015 Albums of the Year

Sometimes things are predictable, the journey leads you to the destination you expected all along.  Other times when you arrive you end up discovering something that you didn’t anticipate.

The path to my fifth annual albums list had elements of both.

On the one hand the eventual top two albums felt like contenders for such heights upon my very first listen to them months ago.  That’s fairly typical for me, I may not be able to describe what my top album will sound like beforehand but I seem to know it right away when I hear it.  This is the third straight year that has been the case.

On the other hand one of the recurring themes throughout 2015 were the strong showings for established groups, particularly in the active rock niche and in terms of radio airplay.  The year felt at times dominated by groups with a long run of past success.  That’s likely why I was more than a little surprised to reach the end of this process with a list that was over two-thirds composed of artists that had never before made one of my year-end album lists.   That’s not entirely uncommon as the lists go, album cycles and even with a five year history of the list, there aren’t always multiple opportunities for someone to have appeared (for example, this was the first Disturbed album released since I started doing this).  It was still surprising to me given the way 2015 had felt as it played out from day to day.

The outcome also likely highlights my growing sense of disconnect between what radio plays and what is actually good, or what I choose to hear … but that really wasn’t much of a revelation, that’s more like a recurring theme.

As always, I point you toward the description of the list as originally described back in 2011.
“It’s a lot like my college football Top 25, there’s no one absolute factor that puts one entry ahead of another.  I’m not putting artistic merit ahead of fun or chart/sales success in front of my own enjoyment.  And, as always, I apologize in advance for any errors of omission.”

This year’s process was even more exhaustive and extensive than last year with just over 250 albums heard & re-heard, scored & re-scored, ranked & re-ranked.   That isn’t simply a number either, it’s an indication of another of my common themes: the sheer volume of material being released today is astounding, something I believe contributes to the challenges faced by artists, especially new artists, in ever achieving anything that resembles critical mass.  There’s only one pizza, whether it’s a 12″ or a 16″ or a 24″ super deluxe thick stuffed crust, sooner or later if you slice that pie enough times the pieces are too small to be filling.

One other change this year deserves explanation.   The list has expanded to 30 for the ultimately simple reason that I could not find any comfort at all in separating #25 from #30.   I’ve dealt with “ties” or “virtually identical overall impression” every year, but never with this big a group for the final spot(s) that I considered so evenly matched.  Try not to think of it as a cop out — again this year I could have easily expanded the list to 50 or more — just think of it as a good-faith effort to give artists recognition that I feel they well and truly earned.

Also, please be sure to check  my comments that follow the official posting of the Top 25 Albums (and the top 15 EP’s),  there are additional albums worthy of recognition that are included in various sub-categories/genres, including some very honorable mentions for various reasons.

And with all of that now said, I proudly give you Jon’s Three Cents Top 30 Albums of 2015

30) Poynte – Discreet Enemy
29) Reverance – Gods Of War
28) Ugly Kid Joe – Uglier Than They Used To Be
27) Adakain – Never Coming Home
26) Red Sun Rising – Polyester Zeal
25) Stellar Revival – Love, Lust,and Bad Company
24) Queensryche – Condition Human
23) Stryper – Fallen
22) Wilson – Right To Rise
21) Disturbed – Immortalized
20) Papa Roach – F.E.A.R.
19) The Wild – GxDxWxB
18) I Prevail – Heart vs Mind
17) Bullet For My Valentine – Venom (Deluxe Edition)
16) Sunflower Dead – It’s Time To Get Weird
15) Hinder – When The Smoke Clears
14) Eclipse – Armageddonize
13) Tremonti – Cauterize
12) Red Sky Mary – River Child
11) Level 10 – Chapter 1
10) The Bloodline – We Are One
9) Sons Of Texas – Baptized In The Rio Grande
8) Fall To June – Fall To June
7) Like A Storm – Awaken The Fire
6) Bridge To Grace – Origins
5) Saint Asonia – Saint Asonia
4) Longreef – Battle Plan
3) First Decree – This Is Our Rise
2) Five Finger Death Punch – Got Your Six (Deluxe Edition)
1) Trivium – Silence In The Snow

Jon’s Three Cents Top 15 EPs of 2015
15) Dharmata – Cycles
14) Bad Seed Rising – A Place Called Home
13) Soulswitch – RegeneratE
12) Mach22 – Like My Chances
11) Any Given Sin – Forbidden
10) Empire Of Fools – Devil Inside
9) Brother Grey – Eternal
8) Outlaws & Moonshine – 1919
7) Revolve – The Road To Here
6) Sonic X – Fall From Grace
5) Voodoo Vegas – Hypnotize
4) Andrew Watt – Ghost In My Head
3) Everlit – Renovate
2) Stone Sour – Meanwhile In Burbank
1) From Ashes To New – Downfall


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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Two new songs (plus one re-entry) join my Spotify Top 40 this week, the rock just rolls on.

Missing songs this week:
Passenger – Trapt, I Won’t Give In – Asking Alexandria, Black Rebel – The Lazys,

New to the Spotify list this week:
Silence In The Snow – Trivium, Restless Hearts – Biters (re-entry), Everything – Bridge To Grace

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
Don’t Wake Me – Aranda, What’s Next – Godsmack, Chemical Ride – 3 Years Hollow  

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s over a half dozen additions including  more new music from Trivium, Motorhead, Joel Hoekstra’s 13 and more. You can find it at this link

Also, if you’re wondering exactly how all of this gets put together – the hows & whys of it – this recent blog entry probably explains more than you ever wanted to know.

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Four songs enter (or return to) my Spotify Top 40 this week as a summer marked by the strength of active/hard rock core artists continues.

Missing songs this week:
Passenger – Trapt, I Won’t Give In – Asking Alexandria

New to the Spotify list this week:
Overlord – Lamb Of God, Inside A Storm Starts To Rise – Reform The Resistance,  Get Em Up – Nickelback (re-entry), The Man Who Broke His Own Heart – Everclear (re-entry)

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
Legend Of The Spaceborn Killer – Crobot, Another Heart – Tremonti, Stronger – Of Eyes That See, The World I Used To Know – We Came As Romans

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s nearly a dozen new songs added including the brand new Sevendust, new Atreyu, the next singles from Bridge To Grace and 10 Years, newcomers Rubikon and more. You can find it at this link

Also, if you’re wondering exactly how all of this gets put together – the hows & whys of it – this recent blog entry probably explains more than you ever wanted to know.

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Only one change to my weekly  Spotify Top 40 this week but lots of fresh hard rock to choose from regardless.  Enjoy

Missing songs this week:
Shake It Like You Mean It – The Lazys, Rock The Blues Away – AC/DC

New to the Spotify list this week:
Dirty Diana – Shaman’s Harvest

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
FML – Godsmack

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s over a half dozen new songs added including tracks from New Year’s Day, Wovenwar, I Prevail, Bridge To Grace and much more. You can find it at this link

Also, if you’re wondering exactly how all of this gets put together – the hows & whys of it – this recent blog entry probably explains more than you ever wanted to know.

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