Review & photos by Rachel Jablonski
Life of Agony
Are you up for a difficult undertaking? I dare you to try and photograph New York’s Life of Agony. I dare ya! The energy the band displays on stage can be a giant nightmare for a photographer, especially someone as amateur as me. Because we were not able to use a flash at first, 3 out of 4 of my pictures were a blurry mess due to the constant motion of the band. “For the love of god… Joey Z! Stop moving for just one second!” I wanted to scream while being more amused with the animated set than frustrated. The guitarist’s intensity is delightful to watch and his frequent smiles show that he’s having a lot of fun. Along with him are bassist Alan Robert and drummer Sal Abruscato making up a triple dose of tornado-like furry. The unsuccessfulness of my photo taking is actually kind of funny. I was able to manage a few decent shots but wow. Luckily, by the saving grace of the wonderful Life of Agony management, we were able to jump back in and take pictures with a flash. “Move to your heart’s content now Joey!” I thought. And guess what… he did.
Before LOA went on stage I met some amazingly hardcore LOA fans, very nice people, who had traveled to see the show from as far as 7 hours away. The band has created quite a dedicated following in their years of existence and rightfully so. The periodically slowed tempo and down tuned riff changes characteristic of LOA are seizing. The unique and passionately performed vocals of singer Keith Caputo are irreplaceable. Moving at a slower pace than the rest of the band to the rhythms of his own vocals, Keith stands at the mic, enacts staccato motions, is on his knees on the middle of the stage, or somewhere on the ground altogether. He is completely focused.
Because LOA was not headlining, the set was obviously not an extensive amount of time. So, the band wasted no moment, playing song after song trying to get as much in as possible. New songs were played, which is sometimes hard to be received when the album isn’t out yet, old songs were played, but overall the set was just too short for many of the first time listeners to grasp perhaps. The band worked hard and gave their all for the overwhelming Mudvayne audience however. The strong efforts of the band were most apparent to me while in the pit taking pictures, watching the sweat drip down from each of their foreheads. Those of us that drove to see the show, four hours in my case and a commendable seven hours for others, were fortunate to have seen a good performance, but we will definitely be anticipating the next LOA headlining tour for an extended set.
Die hard Mudvayne fans saturated the venue. But there was one fan I had the fortune of meeting who was different than the rest. Standing right in front of me during the Mudvayne set, 19 year old Kevin LaTurno of Lincoln, NE sparked my attention. Wearing overalls the way Mudvayne singer Chad Gray dressed while on tour in support of Mudvayne's L.D. 50, my focal point for a moment became the tattoo on his back. There he had a huge drawing of Chad, pictured with the long beard and spiky hair that he sported on the L.D. 50 tour. I would say the tattoo had to be about 8 inches long, a rough estimate. Kevin had gotten the tattoo just the night before he said; therefore it was not yet healed. He told me of his plans to get it colored in and finished. I was intrigued and am glad to feature him as the biggest Mudvayne fan at the show.
The eagerness of the crowd for Mudvayne to come on stage was tantalizing. The sold out crowd roared as the band opened with “Determined,” the first song on the band’s latest album Lost and Found. There are so many great Mudvayne songs to pull from each album that a set to completely satisfy every fan is impossible. My friend Ginger was practically begging to hear “Pushing Through” from Lost and Found. I told her sarcastically all in fun, “I hope they don’t play it.” They didn’t. But they did play “Death Blooms,” “Dig,” “Fall into Sleep” (my current favorite on the new disc), “Happy?” (the first single on Lost and Found), “Internal Primates,” “Silenced,” “Trapped In The Wake Of A Dream,” “So Cold,” “Not Falling,” and perhaps a couple others I am not recollecting. Quite a long set.
Mudvayne knows how to put on a show. With very few breaks in between songs the energy flows massively and splashes on the crowd who then throws it right back. Bassist Ryan Martinie is an animal on stage flailing around nonstop and showcasing his amazing talents. The set was well put together with every piece sounding solid. Definitely check out Mudvayne when they come to your area. The new album is worth picking up and the band's live show is impeccable.
American Head Charge
I have never felt like I did at a show before. Having recently reviewed their new album The Feeding and also having interviewed Chad Hanks (bass), I was looking forward to seeing American Head Charge live. I hadn’t seen the band play for a few years. But as soon as they come on stage my heart sank and my stomach turned. These feelings continued and actually worsened as the set went on. I tried to focus solely on the music, yet all I could think about was the band’s very recent loss of guitarist Bryan Ottoson (found dead on the band’s tour bus April 21st on this tour. (Go Here for more information). This tragedy has affected me deeply as has the murder of Dimebag Darrell (Damage Plan/Pantera) last December and Bleed the Dream drummer Scott Gottlieb’s loss to the battle against leukemia in April. To see American Head Charge play, putting on as vivid a show as they possibly could for fans, broke my heart. The band has been through a lot this last month and to be able to get up there and play without their guitarist and friend must be the most difficult thing they’ve ever had to do. I spoke briefly with bassist Chad Hanks after the show and extended him my sympathies.
“I’m very sorry about Bryan,” I said. “Are you guys doing ok?” The look on his face and the slow head shake of no said it all. “It just makes my stomach turn,” he replied. “It’s turning right now.” Chad expressed unhappiness with the band’s performance that night, but really they did better than he thinks. The set definitely had appeal to the audience as a couple of my friends as well as others I saw went right over to the merch table and bought AHC merchandise. The set consisted of a mixture of songs from The War of Art and The Feeding with fans singing along to many of the songs. The highlight for me was hearing “Dirty” from the new album which I have been craving over and over since I first heard it. It was also nice to hear some old favorites like “Seamless.”
American Head Charge is in great need of support right now. Check out the album, go see them live, and experience the musical feeding they have to offer. In the meantime, I continue to keep them in my thoughts and look forward to seeing them on the next tour.