Tag Archives: Kyng

Concert Review 5/7/17 – Fozzy, Kyng, Halcyon Way

TWO show reviews in a month’s time?  Is this my second childhood or something?

While that’d be fun — if I had the energy for it anyway — in reality it’s more simply good fortune that the stars have aligned for me to enjoy another quality lineup so close to the last one.  I’m sure not going to complain about it.  Especially not when the headliner features a Paragon of Virtue and Role Model.

First up for the evening, Atlanta scene veterans Halcyon Way.  Despite 16 years since their formation and around nine years since the release of their debut album this was the first time I’d actually seen the band in person.  I figured I had a reasonable idea of what to expect, since they’d cracked my regular playlist (“Home”, “Web of Lies” ) a couple of times in the past few years.   Alas, sometimes I figure wrong.

In a recent interview the band noted how, over time, they’d moved into a heavier and more aggressive style since their more prog-metal beginnings.  I believe that was in evidence here, particularly with the use of death/unclean vocals.  It’s a matter of degrees perhaps, but what had been somewhat subdued in some of their recorded work now feels very out front, and that simply didn’t work for me.  Their strongest points, in my view, are their musicianship and their downright striking vocal harmony.  The harder/louder/more prominent growls & death vocals simply aren’t what I’m looking for generally, and definitely not from a band that has more than enough ability to do other things not only well but also to do virtually everything else better.  Not even their energy and stage presence, both of which are obvious and plentiful, was enough to get me past the (too) frequent bursts of rawr.

HW recently returned from a run in Russia with Sabaton, the latest segment in a long history of touring Europe, and a new album in the works. I’m sure they’ll be just fine regardless of my take on them, at this point they simply aren’t my thing but your mileage may certainly vary.

Next up, the mighty Kyng.  It’s hard for me to believe that nearly six years have passed since I saw the L.A. area power trio for the first time, as part of what became one of the more memorable shows of my life.  That’s a lot of time and a lot of miles between shows, not to mention three full albums that had released in the interim.   What they proved on this night is that, sometimes, change can be good.

In a set that felt too short* (more on that later) I saw a band that has certainly evolved and matured since they broke onto the national scene with “California Heavy” sound.  Yet, despite the evolution, they still feel completely like … Kyng.   The impressions I had six years ago — “solid musicians that … have a good idea of who they are & what they want to do” — are still prominent in 2017.   They’ve expanded the boundaries of their classic rock influences over those years, reshaped their range not only between the debut album and the sophomore release Burn The Serum but expanded it again between that effort and the latest release Breathe In The Water.  And it just works.

They’re particularly good at keeping the audience in the moment, waiting to see what Eddie Veliz will do next, either vocally or instrumentally.    Tony Castaneda shares the front of the stage on bass while Pepe Clarke (not so) quietly keeps time behind them, combining into a great example of how a strong three-piece band can feel a LOT bigger than their numbers.  Even when they weave between one musical influence to the next, they have such a grasp on what they’re doing that they’re able to maintain a consistent hold on the audience, and that’s a gift.

Their performance took me back to something else I said six years ago:

“I don’t see Kyng as a band that’ll be defined by any one song or even a particular album.  They’re going to be about their body of work”

That’s a broader statement that narrows down pretty well how I feel about their live set this weekend.  It’s not about one song (no matter how much I still enjoy “Falling Down”) with these guys, it’s the sum of the entire set.   Their biography mentions how Kyng finds “grandiosity in simplicity” which is pretty spot on.  They bring it, and should not be missed.

And then, hailing from parts well known, that brings us to Fozzy.

It’s been a long journey for the headliner, from the Mongoose McQueen era to the (satirical) decades spent in Japan, through two albums of mostly cover tunes.  Then a funny thing happened on the way to the forum … what seemed to begin as some guys having a little fun on the side got more serious musically, transforming Fozzy from an amusing (though entertaining) side note into a very legitimate musical entity, starting with the 2005 release of their third album All That Remains and its lead single “Enemy”.  That’s about the time I realized “well, damn … they ain’t playing around”.

Three more albums have followed, with another now on the verge of release, building them from a novelty curtain-jerker to a full-fledged main event band in terms of my anticipation.

From the opening notes of the brand-new single “Judas” — which found a surprising number of the crowd singing along despite having been out for less than a week — to the final bow after “Enemy” , the band rocked fans from pillar to post, drawing songs from throughout their catalog to create a full on experience.

The set was briskly paced despite being sixteen songs in length, there were no prolonged rest holds in sight.  Jericho noted that this was the band’s first headlining set in something like sixteen months yet it was quite evident that they’re more than able to sustain a headline set without any problem whatsoever.

For all the charisma that the frontman brings, there’s more to Fozzy than his charisma or stage presence.  A lot more.    The energy of recently returned bassist Paul Di Leo,  the relentless pounding of drummer Frank Fontsere, the stinkin’ genius that is The Duke of Metal, Rich Ward, and the  standout work of guitarist Billy Grey, there’s no weak link to be found, every member stands out individually as well as working within the whole.  it’s all there for fans to drink innnnnn (man).

And yes, the cheesy wrestling references really ARE just too obvious for me to avoid entirely.  If you know who Chris Jericho is — at least arguably the best mic worker of the modern era of wrestling, as well as a versatile in-ring performer — then it’s nearly impossible to not have some of that knowledge creep in somewhere.   He does a great job of keeping the two world (mostly) separate, avoiding what has to be the temptation to cash in some obvious opportunities to get a cheap pop from a crowd that definitely knows about his other line of work.  The (in)famous light-up jacket makes an appearance, he very briefly teased (but didn’t use) his recent catchphrase just before the end of the show, but for the vast majority of the night he’s a just a singer in a rock n’ roll band, not the widely decorated future WWE Hall of Famer.  How he manages that strong separation, mentally, I’m not sure I could even begin to try to explain … but he does it, downright judiciously.

You can catch the crossover at times, in little things.  He knows how to work a crowd as well as anyone, there are little mannerisms and things that blur the line for just a second.  All in all, I think it really boils down to one Chris Irvine being a guy that was both born to be AND worked very hard to be an entertainer.   If he hadn’t been a pro wrestler and he hadn’t gotten the chance to be a musician, he’d have probably been the most entertaining salesman at the car dealership or the funniest guy at open-mic night.    There’s just too much of that “it factor” inside him to have remained hidden, and I get a sense that he genuinely enjoys letting it out to play for our benefit.

They came, we saw … and Fozzy kicked our ass.

As pretty much always, I’ll leave you with a few stray bits of The Good, The Bad, and (luckily not really much of) The Ugly …

The Revival, as a regular venue, is still in “soft-open” status.  It’s hard to grade it fairly aside from Incomplete.  Cash-only, limited bar, only one external food vendor, all those things seem like negatives and yet I think they worked very well within those constraints, so my net takeway is an optimistic one … I mentioned that the Kyng set seemed a little short on time, I’m not sure what was up with that exactly.   I’m not privvy to the timetables/ schedules for each of the bands obviously, but with a four-band bill that got shortened to three a couple of days before the event IF time could have been rearranged to give a more-than-deserving band a chance to play a couple more songs I feel like that should have happened.  Being/staying on time was mentioned briefly at both at the beginning of their set and again just before the end so it felt like there was definitely some sort of issue afoot … Health issues for a band member forced the planned 4th band, Die Once, to miss the show.  I wish them all well going forward, and want to give a tip of the cap to the other members of the group for showing up to support the other bands … As is too frequently the case when I go out & about,  I’m a little concerned/disappointed about the eventual turnout.   I’m as guilty as they come of not making it to shows but when other venues around the country are selling out shows and the Atlanta-area only manages 150-200 for a bill of this caliber, it makes it tough to keep getting dates on tours.  Atlanta simply isn’t a very good town for actual rock any more I’m afraid, similar to the reputation for not being a good pro sports town. The former continues to concern me a lot more than the latter.

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Two new entries come with the latest edition of my weekly Spotify Top 40.

Missing songs this week:
Howlin’ Woman – The Lazys

New to the Spotify list this week:
Break Me– One Less Reason, Cut Me Loose – Killswitch Engage

Dropping off the Spotify list this week:
My Fate – Vimic, Assume — Sylar

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version things were considerably more active with the addition of nearly a dozen songs including the latest single from A Day To Remember, brand new music from Kyng, the return of Tygers Of Pan Tang, new tracks from Art Of Dying and You Me At Six, an album cut from 3 Pill Morning and more. You can find it at this link 

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Exclusive: Kyng Premiere Video for “Falling Down,” Announce Tour Dates with Black Tusk and Monstro – Revolver Magazine

I raved about these guys after seeing them back in the summer, now you finally see for yourself with a new video featuring live performance footage. Doesn’t seem to be imeddable so you’ll have to follow the link but it’s worth the trip.

Exclusive: Kyng Premiere Video for “Falling Down,” Announce Tour Dates with Black Tusk and Monstro – Revolver Magazine.

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Concert Review 7/21/11 – BSC/Pop Evil/Kyng/Lansdowne

Black Stone Cherry + Pop Evil + Kyng + Lansdowne … The Loft at Center Stage Atlanta July 21, 2011

4 bands for $17?  Sounds like a bargain but is it really?  In this case the answer turned out to be a resounding “Yes” and then some.

First though, a little backstory.  Last time I was at Center Stage was in the late 80’s, to see Dangerous Toys w/ special guest Junkyard, so it’s not as though this a show that would have normally ended up on my calendar.  It’s turned out to be a rough summer for hard rock & metal fans in Atlanta (and especially in my house) though.  For me & my son (my regular concert companion), the Mayhem tour had too many bands that seemed likely to be an endurance test in the summer heat, the Uproar tour seems to have skipped over Atlanta entirely, we’ve seen Poison three times in recent years & have heard too much really bad live Motley Crue recordings to be gung ho for that tour.  Things were looking pretty bleak until a random  visit to the Black Stone Cherry website turned up a date in Atlanta.  A couple of hours of researching the two previously unfamiliar bands later, plans were made & tickets were bought.

Now, on with the show …

Lansdowne — Not just another band outta Boston, these guys have been described as one of the best unsigned bands out there today.  That’s not a bad description at all.  Roaring into Atlanta with the adrenaline rush of a brand new album Blue Collar Revolver that hit iTunes earlier in the week, they opened the evening with a steady stream of modern hard rock in the vein of Saving Abel  (Q: am I the only Lansdowne fan who thinks Jon Ricci could be a vocal double if Theory of a Deadman ever needs one?).    While a made-to-sing-along song like “One Shot” might be the fun moment from the new album that you end up listening to over & over, it’s the overall quality of their catalog that actually stands out to me.  Whether it’s their newest songs or past album favorites like “Watch Me Burn” (still my personal favorite so far), there’s simply not a dud in the set list.   They’re at least an equal match for the vast majority of the bands in the same niche, the biggest difference I can find is that Lansdowne hasn’t gotten that one critical break … yet.

Kyng — This California-based three piece has gotten some buzz in the past year from airplay & interviews on SiriusXM but for me they probably were the band on the bill I had the most questions about coming into the show, from what I could find online I simply didn’t know exactly what to expect.  Consider those questions answered, what you can expect from Kyng is to get your ass kicked by a modern take on very hard classic rock.  They acknowledge the influence of Black Sabbath on their style, embrace it even, but there’s a lot more here.  At different times during the set I found myself thinking of Deep Purple and a number of other legends that clearly provided the foundation these guys are building on.  Make no mistake, they ARE building on it, with newer elements compared to something like the Foo Fighters.  At the core of their sound though is the simple fact that these guys are solid musicians that really seem to have a good idea of who they are & what they want to do.  Happily, what they seem to want to do most is rock their asses off.    Call it what you will, “California Heavy” as they’ve used or whatever, it’s good stuff.  The new single, “Falling Down” (check it out in the Music section of their Facebook page) should be on iTunes at the end of the month with the album Trampled Sun due in September but I don’t see Kyng as a band that’ll be defined by any one song or even a particular album.  They’re going to be about their body of work & that’s something I’m looking forward to hearing develop for years to come.

Pop Evil — One of those 10 year “overnight success” stories, PE has burned up active rock radio in recent months with “Last Man Standing” but how would the show overall match up with that signature song?  With groups I’ve never seen I’m always uneasy about whether live will meet the expectations built by “hits”, even with additional evidence found in songs like “Hero” and “100 in a 55” I wasn’t sure.  Once again, question answered.  That experience I mentioned, built with some 400 shows in a two year period, gives Pop Evil stage presence in abundance.  I suspect they might cringe at being called “rock stars” but in this case I use the phrase with good intentions.  They bring a big show feel, circa the sleaze & the hair metal 80’s, with an updated sound.  They understand that there’s some showmanship that’s part of the overall concert experience but avoid sacrificing anything musically to provide it, each member developing his own personality on stage & connecting with the audience along the way.  I tried to sum it up by telling my son “you think you haven’t seen Motley Crue, but I kind of feel like you just did”, and I mean the kicking ass in the club when they were still growing version of the Motleys.   It’s not quite that over the top, but it’s an appropriately measured facsimile.

Black Stone Cherry — Of the four acts, this was the one I had the most confidence in before even entering the building.  I’ve been a fan of these guys since their self-titled debut back in 2006.  “Lonely Train” , “Hell & High Water” and personal favorite “Rain Wizard” felt like such known commodities that they simply couldn’t miss, current hit “White Trash Millionaire” is a fun attitude song that figured to be an added bonus.  What I got was all that & some surprises too.  The songs that have gotten airplay & the other tracks I’ve heard over five years really didn’t prepare me for the furious assault that BSC unleashed on the crowd.  Not in a million years would I have guess them to be the band on the bill that would come closest to inspiring a Thursday night mosh pit … but they did.  All the comparisons I would have made beforehand – Black Crowes, Skynyrd, maybe a little Allman Brothers – those were all accurate but there’s something more here, I’ll call it aggression for lack of a better word.  Their roots may be firmly planted in a small town in Kentucky but BSC has gone well beyond any preconceived notions of what kind of sound that background would produce.  Part of that almost has to stem from their relative youth but I imagine it’s also in their musical heritage – each member comes from a family with music in their blood (including drummer John Fred Young being the son of Kentucky Headhunters founding member Richard Young) so there’s not only their own love for music but also an appreciation handed down / genetically contributed.   They’re clearly comfortable on stage but even moreso they’re clearly happy on stage & that translates.   Best description I’ve come up with is that they aren’t on stage looking at the crowd thinking “see how cool we are”, they’re on stage looking at the crowd & then at each other thinking “damn, ain’t this cool?”.  Folks, that’s what I call a band.

Random observations/highlights from the night

— Disappointed with the crowd, I’d guess a little over half capacity for the room, so maybe in the 200’ish range.  That’s pitiful, although there isn’t a really a lot of external promotion for shows like this (at least not that I saw).  Compared to pictures of packed houses for the same lineup in much smaller cities like Greenville & Knoxville, it’s depressing.

— Props to the venue & promoters for making this an all-ages show.  Not enough of those in the Atlanta area, a lot of the future for real rock seems to rest with under 21/under 18, let’s get ’em in the habit early & let it be a part of their lives.  There was a glaring lack of 18-24 in the crowd at this show, apparently just not their thing or whatever, so stop trying to cater to a demographic that doesn’t seem to give a shit.

— Speaking of the venue, Center Stage certainly looks & feels different after major remodeling a few years ago but it’s a solid venue that I’d definitely have no hesitation about visiting again & again.  Friendly staff, nary a bad thing to say about anything under their control all night, from parking to security to bar, etc. it was all nice & easy.

— Unexpected highlight of the evening was a lengthy impromptu discussion (old concert t-shirts are great conversation starters) with Don de Leaumont, editor of a cool music news/blog site called (memorably enough) The Great Southern Brainfart.  Was a great way to start the night, talking about the past, present, and future of hard rock & metal in Atlanta and overall.  I’ve checked out the site, bookmarked it for regular use in the future, and recommend you do the same.

— I’m reminded again what a lucky man I am to be able to share things like this with my son.  My first club venue show in about 20 years was also his first ever & that’s something special to share.

— As great as the show was, what really stands out to me was how incredibly cool the guys from Lansdowne & Kyng in spending a few minutes talking with them, not just with me but also with my son.  I’m pretty sure it’s something my son will never forget and I’m absolutely sure me being there for his first real brush with real live rockers is something that I’ll remember & enjoy for the rest of my life.  You’re all top notch guys in my book and Tony Castaneda might just be one of the purely f’n coolest guys ever afaic.  Mad props to you all (or whatever the hell the whippersnappers say these days).

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