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Rants, raves, opinions, and other happenings
Posted on November 24, 2012
by Tom Walsh

So I was going to write a full on review for the Anberlin set when they opened for the Pumpkins here in Denver but obviously that didn’t happen. As it turns out their live show is nowhere as good as their recorded music (or at least in Denver it wasn’t) which is a shame. I really like Anberlin!
All the songs that I have heard from them have a definite alternative sound with a newish punk sound running just underneath like a river within, or under, a river. The alternative side to Anberlin is mostly radio friendly and can capture the alternative audience fairly easy but they can also capture the not so hardcore punks as well with their straight ahead, full bore rock anthems that seem to mimic the newer punk rock sound, and because of that I grew to like their sound.

So what happened to their sound at 1st Bank Center when they opened for the Pumpkins? I’m really not sure, but I will attempt to explain.
First off I was a little bummed at the all-out simplicity of the stage. I’m not against bands plugging in and playing with absolutely no stage setup, but I am against the amps, stands, keys and everything else thrown haphazardly together on stage so it looks like a mess half finished. It looked like they started setting up then said, “Nah, fuck it. Leave it where it is. We’ll only be playing for a few minutes anyway”. I mean it looked like a complete jumbled mess……like instruments picked up, and put way quickly in a high school music class.  Adding to the aimless way everything was set up on stage was the complete lack of energy from most of the band.

The only guy that had any energy on stage that night was Stephen Christian which actually worked against them because it seemed that Stephen could not catch a breath……period! Stephen sang so low that at times I couldn’t hear him over the music. And it wasn’t the mix if that’s what you’re thinking. At times he would get a burst and his vocals would come through loud and clear, and in some cases too loud and clear. I felt sorry for the sound guy because I had a feeling he was gonna get ripped a new one after the show but I really don’t think it was his fault.

In all Anberlin’s performance was lackluster and uninspired at best and I for one felt cheated. As I said I love the songs I hear on the radio and couldn’t wait to hear the same songs played live, but now that I have I wish I hadn’t. Maybe it was the altitude that affected Stephen’s vocals….who knows? So many people have blamed ho hum performances on our altitude, from baseball teams, to basketball and football teams, and yes even national touring bands.

For everyone that tours through the state of Colorado – whether you’re a sports team, touring band, or politician - learn this phrase, “O love….thy name is oxygen”... Live it. Love it. Screw being afraid of looking like a wimp for taking a hit from an oxygen mask. Believe me; in the long run you’ll save face.

This is to all bands, not just Anberlin! If you are not from Colorado hit the oxygen! Believe me; your show will go over a lot better if your singer doesn’t sound like an asthmatic toddler with laryngitis. Just sayin’.

We have reviewed sooooo many shows and CDs over the past few years that sometimes I can’t remember who I have or have not covered. Every once in a while I’ll come across a CD that I haven’t listened to in a bit and pop it in. Sometimes these CDs thrill me all over again and sometimes they just give me an ehhhh feeling. Here are a couple CDs of note that have thrilled me all over again.

Red Stinger’s “Money In The Blender” floored me the first time I heard it because of the killer mix of punk rock, metal and dare I say….pop punk? Every song on the CD just kicks major ass and as I listened to it again I found myself liking it even more than I used to. And that is saying a lot. From the moment singer/guitarist Timmy Merz gave me a copy it spent no less than two weeks on continuous play in my CD player before I finally shuffled it out to listen to something new. These Denver boys are punk rock at heart and throw down some ridiculously awesome, fast, gut punching tunes.

Seattle band Underride released an excellent album last year called “Distorted Nation”. While these guys may not be very well known across the US they
definitely should be. Distorted Nation is a lesson in hard rock and should be studied by any hard rock aspiring musician. The music is crunchy, adrenaline fueled rock n roll that is both unforgiving and melodic. The lyrics are not all gloom and doom, instead they paint a picture of adventure, good times and sex, drugs and rock n roll baby. The vocals on this album are stellar to say the least and Rev’s voice in the quintessential hard rock voice.

Underride also put on a mean live show. These guys sound just as good live as they do on CD but when you see them live you get all the little quirks that go with the band including X-rated banter and a seriously energetic cast of characters throwing down some awesome music. If you get the chance to check out a CD or see these guys live do it. They rock!

I am a child of 70’s and 80’s rock and I have never made any bones about it or tried to hide that fact in any way shape or form but I’ll be the first to say when an 80’s band should just hang up their fuckin’ hat and quit already.

Back in the day I used to love Dokken. I mean the whole line up. Jeff Pilson, George Lynch, Don Dokken and Mick Brown were the classic line-up regardless of what anyone tells you. These four guys are credited with turning the hard rock/metal world on its collective ear with their first single “Breaking The Chains”……. Even though the Pilson, Lynch, Dokken and Brown line-up is not the original that recorded that tune. It was not Pilson on bass but I do believe it was either Juan Croucier or the bassist from Accept that laid tracks on that album……regardless, from there they just kept “nailing” hit after hit.

It seemed for many years this incarnation of Dokken could do no wrong. Don Dokken’s goose bump inducing vocals paired with the guitar virtuosity of George Lynch almost guaranteed that every song they released would end up in the hearts and minds of every metal head alive in the 80’s.

“Tooth and Nail”, “Under Lock and Key”, and “Back For The Attack” were all great albums that showed the full potential of this band of extremely talented individuals. But alas……Lynch and Pilson would soon leave the band taking half of what made Dokken so great. And that is where the band faltered.

Don Dokken has done a pretty decent job of keeping the name alive and of course Mick is still on board, but it’s just not the same. The writing doesn’t sound the same and Don can’t hit those high notes anymore. A Dokken show is somewhat sloppy and underwhelming and Don has shown himself to be somewhat of a prick. The new album by Dokken has delved into more of a prog rock feel and gone are all those raw emotions I used to feel on the Dokken albums of old.

Don’t get me wrong……I think all the individual members of the current Dokken line-up kick ass; I just don’t think they gel as well as the classic line-up. Don needs to hang up the damn hat! That being said I can’t friggin’ wait to see T &N.

Other Happenings:

There have always been women in rock music but it seems that lately the spotlight is getting focused on female fronted rock bands more and more. It’s not just because the women are hot (in some cases) but they have some serious vocal chops and have proven that they are every bit as capable of belting out raw, gut punching vocals as their male counterparts. Two women that should immediately come to mind in the hard rock/metal genres are Maria Brink from In This Moment, and Lizzy Hale from Halestorm. Of course there are many more women in rock fronting bad ass bands. Some bands are more well-known than others, and some are on their way up….as is the female fronted Hessler.

Hessler is a throwback to a bygone era when big hair and screaming guitar leads ruled the airwaves. In those days Lita Ford was the rock n roll pin up model for horny teenage metal heads everywhere, slinging her axe while sporting tight leather pants that showed just about every curve she had. The boys attended her shows, bought records and watched her videos intently just so they could ogle her every chance they got.
Let’s face it, sex sells. Just look at all the long haired, pretty boy bands of the 80’s. They had some great music but women flocked to a lot of those bands because of the sex appeal. Well guys, it seems that lately it’s our turn to ogle again, and if you want some great hard rock with some eye candy thrown in for good measure you should check out Hessler. Lariyah Daniels is one smokin’ hot lady that can throw down the vocals with the best of em’ and their music truly rocks!

Hessler will be playing at Jugg’z Saloon on December 15th. Cost for the show at Jugg’z is low as always. Ten bucks gets you in but if you bring a toy you get in for a
whopping $5. That’s not much dinero to check out a great hard rock band with a damn sexy singer! Check it out! I’ll be there and you should too!

That’s it for Rants, Raves, Opinions and Other Happenings! We’ll talk to you again soon but until then keep your feet facing forward and your face off the floor! Cheers!!!