Archive for November, 2012

Lamb of God: Killadelphia Part 2

Posted in Concert Reviews on November 28, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Last Saturday, Lamb of God came back to Philly on a blinding tour for another videotaped performance, this time at the Electric Factory. The tour also included the likes of the Swedish power house group In Flames, Texas’s gut-busting Hellyeah, and England’s new up and coming Thrash titans, Sylosis (Hatebreed were also on a leg of this tour and there were rumors that Cannibal Corpse might appear on a few dates in place of Hellyeah).

Kicking off the evening’s rampage was Sylosis. I had heard of Sylosis before and I was familiar with some of their music, but I hadn’t listened to them in a long time and seeing them live made me want to go home and listen to all three albums nonstop. I thought they were incredibly good considering that a) this was their second time in America and b) they don’t move around a lot so they have to rely on their complex riffs and machine gun precision to keep people interested.

Next up as Hellyeah. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan really at all. They have a couple of tracks that are pretty good, but I just never got into them and Chad Grey bugs me as a singer. I just don’t think he’s that great. That being said, I was thoroughly impressed by their live show. The band really do sound like a stampede on stage (in a good way) and Grey can really control a crowd…or maybe that was just because the majority of people in attendance were drunk by this point in time. No, in all seriousness, this band seem to have a really loyal following and I thought they were really good. Plus, it’s Vinnie Paul on the drums, so I found that to be really cool and exciting, especially because he really is the driving force of that band both musically and because of his history.

Next we have In Flames, a band that I feel never really got the credit they deserve when it came to them being on of the big three pioneers of the swedish melodic death metal style that became a signature of metalcore, death metal, melodic death metal, etc. They had a live show that would rival any other headliner (except for the fact that Lamb of fucking God was the headliner…so that doesn’t really count haha) and they stormed through a collection of their all time greatest hits. The light show was phenomenal, and everyone seemed like they were having a good time. I was so glad to finally see them for the first time on a night as momentous as that night.

Moving forward to the main attraction, now it’s time for Lamb of God. After everything that’s happened to the band and Randy in particular, I think everyone was both curious and excited to see how things would turn out and how the band would play. Knowing that Lamb of God simply just do not fail live I didn’t have any doubts, but man, I have not seen them play that well before. It was an all killer no filler set and the new songs sound amazing. They opened with “Desolation” and “Ghost Walking” off the new record and they also dropped “Undertow” in the middle of the set. They played a blistering hour and a half long set with a four song encore of “In Your Words”, “Laid to Rest”, “Redneck” and “Black Label.” If you’ve ever seen Lamb of God before, then you know how crazy their shows can get and it was all that and more. The highlight of their set was during a small break in between songs; the whole crowd starting shouting “RAAAANNN-DY! RAAAANNN-DY!” the spotlight was on him and he was just grinning like a little school girl and you could tell he was just so thankful and truly happy. He then went into the opening lines to “Omerta” a vengeful song that seemed appropriate considering the whole Czech controversy surrounding the band. All in all, it was just such a great show. If you missed it, you really missed out.

No word yet as to whether the show will be produced into another live CD/DVD. As far as I know they just streamed the show live online, but what do I know?

Great show. Everyone killed it and fun was had by all.

Luke Helker


Ryan Tennis: Pack Light But Bring Everything

Posted in Album Reviews on November 11, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

I think it’s important to know that Tennis is actually a football player-turned-singer/songwriter. You would think that a football player-stereotypical jock would have no clue of what good music is or how to write it, but thank god Ryan decided to go down the musical path. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his songs are absolutely great.

The album opens up with “Sunshine and Shade” and “I Can’t Wait”, two anthems with inspiring choruses and ideas. “Walk On” has that slow, rustic, country feel to it that really drives into the ground. “Waking Dream” open up with some a capella harmonies and then goes into a soft, mysterious tune with beautiful lyrics and thought-provoking themes. The next song brings us back into the more laid back fell of things. “Already Been Down this Road Before” is a clear cut basic blues rock tune. With a great backing band. That’s another thing about Tennis’s music. He writes these songs that feature a full band on the record, but a lot of times he goes solo on tours and having seen him perform these songs in both styles, it’s amazing how these songs are great no matter how they’re played and the different lives they take on with or without the extra instrumentation. I believe it takes a real musician to be able to write songs that have that type of effect.

“Madeline” is the big love song on this album. To be fair, a lot of these songs have a love theme to them, but this is the only one that mentions a name, which usually means something, right? The song has a great southern rock piano solo breakdown that really gives the song some vitality. The next song, “Fight Song” might be my favorite on the album. It’s super catchy, like most of these songs and really drives like no other song on the album in my opinion. I also really love the chorus.

I don’t want to go over every song on the album, just know that it’s charged with great musician’s, great songs and no reason to not love it. I would say the big tracks to pay attention to are “Sunshine and Shade”, “I Can’t Wait”, “Fight Song”, and “Huddle Up and Hold On.” Regardless, all of the songs here are amazing and I can’t recommend this album enough. Ryan is a great musician and an all around great person. Fun to talk too, very down to earth, and really loves the music he writes. Please go out and pick up this album or see him live if he comes to your area.

Luke Helker

The Unshakable Tour

Posted in Concert Reviews on November 11, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Last friday, I made the mistake of going to Lancaster to see For Today headline this “Unshakeable Tour.” I wanted to go to this show because I liked most of these christian bands without necessarily believing their message and had yet to see half of them live. I wouldn’t say that it was a mistake overall, rather it was just something I shouldn’t have gone to.

The tour is sponsored by World Vision, an organization dedicated to trying to halt child slavery and human trafficking. They offer various rehabilitation efforts as well as trying to open these people up to God after enduring such trauma and trying to further help them overcome what will be forever implanted in these children. Fair enough. That’s an extremely noble cause that I support all the way.

I swear though, a majority of the people in attendance had never been to a show before because believe it or not, there are a lot of unwritten etiquette rules when going to a show that features a lot of hardcore-metalcore bands like these and most of the people in attendance never followed them. Combine that with that fact that it was wall-to-wall packed in the Chameleon Club (the most crowded it’s ever been for me) and I was fairly pissed by that fact alone.

So the first band Hundredth come on. Great hardcore band. Never seen them before; they killed it. Halfway through the singer starting giving a little speech about his experiences with God and how we can be saved etc. Having seen For Today numerous times before, I knew that bands like this liked to “preach” in between some songs in the middle of their sets. I don’t particularly care one way or another, because the messages are good even if I don’t fully believe what they believe, so it didn’t bother me. Texas in July got up, played a killer show, and preached a little too. Fine.

The next band to go up was Sleeping Giant. I had heard about them for a while, but never really listened to their music and had never seen them live. This band just pissed me off. Within a 40 minute set, they managed to preach in between every song (each is about 2-3 minutes mind you) longer than the song they just played. It was a little overkill and then the heat of the moment must have really start to get him charged up and he started spewing out a bunch of rants about how he rates a lot of this “fake christian metal” and how his music actually “speaks directly to God” unlike most bands. It got tot the point where he was basically telling me that I’m fake because I listen to this music. I’m not going to go on a retaliation rant, but it just seems funny to me that these bands try to wave this flag of tolerance, forgiveness, what-have-you, and yet he goes up denouncing all these bands. It’s a shame because when the band actually played they were really good, but I just can’t take that much preaching (I guess I’m going to Hell..).

Then people from the World Vision organization started getting up in between sets and preaching and talking about their experiences with God, etc. and coming off the back of the Sleeping Giant set, I just wasn’t having it. My mood went from annoyed to pissed off very quickly. Thankfully the next band was Impending Doom, who were the band of the night in my mind (this was my 6th time seeing For Today and having never seen any of the other bands, I wanted to gauge who was the best band of that night). Yeah they preached a little, but I was over it because they were so good. They are so heavy and they sounded like the world was imploding right there in the club. Very good show.

Finally For Today came on. They killed it because they simply don’t do bad shows. I’ve never seen a bad show from them. I was them this past summer at warped tour and between then and now they added some new tunes to their setlist. All the new songs sound great and the older ones are classics and will never die. Fun was had by all and every band was in fire, even though I’ve gotten my preaching fill for the rest of my life.

Luke Helker

Ryan Tennis @ The Ware Center

Posted in Concert Reviews on November 4, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

On Friday, November 2nd, Philadelphia native and singer/songwriter Ryan Tennis visited Lancaster to perform at the Ware Center. Those who live in Lancaster know how the Ware Center operates and how they bring in a huge music crowd. Combine that with the fact that it was also “First Friday” and you get a pretty good audience for Tennis. What was odd though was that he had to share the stage with a bunch of little ballet girls. Nothing wrong with that and the girls performed beautifully, but the girls and their parents weren’t necessarily there for him and so he had to really work to get people on his side.

When dealing with any singer/songwriter as a opposed to some full band, the live presence is different because it’s just a man playing guitar and singing and so having an arsenal of really good songs is what you need in order to win a crowd over and I think that’s exactly what he did.

I’ve been seeing Ryan Tennis almost every year since 2008 and every time he gets better and better. His songwriting is improving dramatically, his voice is solid and he’s very captivating. He also just released a new album through Milkboy records, which he gave to me to review so that review will be coming up shortly.

His show consisted of a few twenty minute slots in between three ballet performances. In total he played about twenty or some odd songs, most of which were new ones of his new record, some were old favorites of mine, and he also dropped a few covers in as well. Tennis is a big Paul Simon fan and so he covered “Graceland” and “The Boy in the Bubble”, which if you know anything about Paul Simon you know how huge those songs are and I think he performed them perfectly. I’d never heard those songs like that and I quite enjoyed that sound.

One thing I think is unique about a guy like Tennis is that the songs he writes can take two completely different shapes whether performed solo or with a full band and most of the time his albums have a full band so being able to see him perform these songs solo and then hear them with a full band take on two really unique lives. I think it’s hard for an artist to write songs that perfectly fit both sides of that particular spectrum and I think that has to be some sort of testament to his songwriting. There’s plenty of people that do that, but there aren’t a lot who do it well and I think Tennis is one of those songwriters.

Well that’s enough of me for this week. Thanks for getting back in the groove with me.

Luke Helker

Streetlight Manifesto @ The Chameleon Club (10/20/12)

Posted in Concert Reviews on November 4, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

I’m going to mark my return with a concert review. Notice: This review was written on October 21, 2012 so it’s a bit dated, but that shouldn’t stop you from reading it and enjoying the bands I’m promoting. Thanks


Last Saturday night, the Chameleon Club welcomed Streetlight Manifesto into Lancaster with open arms. Now I’ve been to the Chameleon Club a lot and have seen some pretty big name bands headline the venue, but I’ve never seen a band like Streetlight draw in a crowd as big as last nights. The first floor was absolutely packed.

The first band to open up the night was a band out of Oregon called the Chicharones. They were a bit of an odd bunch because they had two vocalists, a rapper who looked like Jonah Hill another rapper who did a lot of singing as well. Their guitar looked like he belonged with Emmure, the bassist looked like Snoop Dogg (correction he’s now Snoop Lion) and the drummer looked like that guy from the Office who was obsessed with his stapler. To top it off they had a DJ who wore a pig mask. By looking at them, it’s hard to picture what they would sound like or if they would be good, but they were absolutely great. They had a real Beastie Boys vibe and the rapper who looked like Jonah Hill was an incredibly fast rapper killed it. They were a really fun band that had a lot going on musically and I would definitely try to see them again.

The second band was a four piece called Lionize. With one guitar player. One bassist, a keyboard player, and a drummer, this band had very bluesy-slightly-reggae-experimental sound to them. I thought they were great as well, but they were the kind of band that are good for a half hour and then it gets boring. They ended up playing an hour set, which I thought was a bit much, but oh well. They were still an incredibly tight group of guys and put on a great show.

Finally, the moment we were all waiting for. For those of you reading this who are not familiar with who/what Streetlight Manifesto are, they are a ska group. They’re one of those groups thought they right such great songs, lyrics, and hooks that even if you despise ska, there is no reason to not like this band (Listen to the album Somewhere in the Between if you want to get of the Streetlight train). They absolutely kill live too. I was with people who were seeing this band for the 5th and even 9th time and said that Streetlight never fail live. The band is comprised of a guitar player/ lead vocalist, a bassist, a drummer, and a four person horn line (1 bari sax, 1 tenor/ alto sax, 1 trombone, and 1 trumpet ). This group of seven are so tight and the musicians in the horn line are some of the best on their respective instruments. Playing a show of mainly songs from their album Somewhere in the Between, they played a blistering hour long set and had Lancaster city in the palm of their hands.

It was such a great show. I would see it all again in a heartbeat and I’m not even a big ska fan, but they’re transcends ska into awesomeness. Plain and simple. You HAVE to get involved with this band. You won’t be disappointed.

Luke Helker