"Concert Reviews"

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NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included in the print edition of Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter. These reviews are only available here in the online edition.

by Al Slavicksy... 

The Reverend Horton Heat/Flat Duo Jets/The Amazing Crowns
Crowbar, State College, PA
December 15, 1998

A night of rockabilly hit the stages of the Crowbar with the return of The Reverend Horton Heat and some very special guests -- Flat Duo Jets and The Amazing Crowns.  All the greasers and rebels were in the house for a blazing hot good ole time.

The first band was the Flat Duo Jets.  The rockabilly monsters really demonstrated why they are one of the best underground rock bands of today.  They made the crowd sway and stroll to their sounds.  Phat daddys and mommas moved to their sound.  This trio would have made Johnny Burnette proud.  The stage only consisted of the band and two big old-fashioned Gothic style flowerpots that were heavy just like the band’s sound.  Their set list was as follows: "Hot Rod", "String", "Lucky Eye", "Lonely Guy", "Fat Back", "NY Studio," "Blues Wrapped," "Creepin," "Love Is All Around," "Dark Night," "Shark’s Flyin’ In," and "John Law."  The total time of the set list was around 25 minutes, but they proved their point -- they were able to rock and roll with the best of them.

After a short intermission was a band which hailed the State College area many times in the past and continues to move the crowds every time they play in the area.  The Amazing Crowns, who are still loyal to the royal, were ready to play the punk-a-billy to the crowd.  The force of this band is the way which these greasers combine strong punk overtones with a major dose of rockabilly.  Tonight’s line-up consisted of the following: Jason "King" Kendall on vocals, maracas, and mayhem; J.D. Burgess - guitar; Jack "The Swinger" Hanlon - string bass; and Judd Williams - drums.  Tonight their set list included the following tunes: "Intro", "Shiverin’ In The Corner", " Amateur", "Rollercoaster," "Minute With The Maker", "Handsome Tom", "Xmas", "First Last", "Scene of The Crime", "Gretschy", "Fireball Stomp", "American", "Ride", "1965 G.T.O.", "Hatsize", "Greasy", and "Do The Devil."  The Amazing Crowns delivered their x-mas present early to this crowd by still being loyal to the royal and making the fans rock and roll.  This is one band that, whether you're 16 or 60, you will enjoy.

Finally, the services of Reverend Horton Heat were in high gear.  "The Reverend" Jim Heath, dressed in a white dress shirt with a red bow tie, came out with his vintage Fender guitar along with bassist Timbo Wallace and drummer Scott Churilla.  They came out on stage kicking and rocking with the songs "Big Sky/Baddest of the Bad", "One Time For Me", and "Five-O-Ford," which got the crowd moshing.  They continued the flow with extreme roots rock inspired "Slow" after the Reverend preached to his loyal crowd with "Hook ‘Em Horns," which went in a set of more new songs including "Lie Detector" backing into a rockabilly for Gilley’s type crowd, and did the song for all the drunks in the crowd, "It’s Martini Time," plus "Bad Reputation," some more new songs, "Nuture My Pig," and the song which Reverend introduced the band "Psychobilly Freakout" which ended the main set.  The encore was an extended version of "I Can’t Surf".  Overall, the Reverend Horton Heat set was way better than the band’s Pittsburgh Warped Tour date, for it was all music and less talking.  If you enjoy rockabilly, then The Reverend Horton Heat will dish you a big greasy platter on your service plate with some Texas two-step toast and will shake your body and fire up your hot rod and burn one up for the beat of the Reverend Horton Heat. 

Kiss/Econoline Crush
Bryce Jordan Center, State College, PA
November 18, 1998

The special illusion-filled Psycho Circus tour moved into Happy Valley.  Kiss really pulled out the strings this time with one of the best stage shows ever.

Opening up for Kiss tonight was the Vancouver, Britsh Columbia, Canada-based band Econoline Crush.  This fivesome really shined by playing material from their latest CD The Devil You Know.  Some of the songs which the band rocked out during their all-too-brief 30 minute set included "Surefire," "Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll," and "Wicked."  Their sound can be best described as transcending of music vibes ranging from Haircut 100 mindwarping with INXS and Skinny Puppy.  Singer Trevor Hurst thanked Kiss for the opening slot and thanked the crowd for being great sports even though most were not really into the band, for they were here to see Kiss.  At least they did not get booed off the stage like some bands in the past did at Kiss shows.  Won’t be surprised to see this band on the small club circuit sometime soon.

There was a 30 minute intermission between Econoline Crush and Kiss.  During this intermission, got to experience the whole Psycho Circus.  Roamed around the Bryce Jordan Center and looked at all the Kiss collectibles.  There were really tons of merchandise and stuff for Kiss -- shirts, comic books, CD’s, trading cards, dolls, etc. -- one never knows what they will see a Kiss merchandise table.

Went back to my seat just in time to see the house lights dim, and the clown face from the Psycho Circus album cover appeared on huge video monitors around the building telling everyone to put on their 3D glasses.  Soon, the audience heard "State College, Pennsylvania... You wanted the best... You got the best... Kiss!!!"  Then with all the smoke, lights, and flames, festivities, the title track for Psycho Circus was played while the video screen flooded circus images and Paul, Gene, Peter, and Ace making wild gestures in 3D towards the audience.  Then Kiss went into their classic rock and roll anthem "Shout It Out Loud"... more explosions and lights lit up the B.J.C. when Gene Simmons took over lead vocals for "Deuce."  At this time, Paul Stanley got annoyed and addressed the crowd to a fan near the front using a laser pointer and he violently told the guy who was doing this if he got hit one more time he would kick his ass.  Then Paul introduced the song "Do You Love Me" followed by the song which Gene used fire breathing techniques on "Firehouse."  Then the spotlight shifted to Ace Frehley who sang "Shock Me."  Gene again fronted "Let Me Go Rock and Roll" before Paul went into a wild public service announcement on the drinking and driving before heading into "Cold Gin."  At this time, Paul Stanley noticed that the audience needed some medical help before "Calling Dr. Love" rocked the house.  The 3D video monitor signaled for the crowd to put on their glasses again before the band went into the Ace Frehley song from the new album "Into the Void."  Out of this song, Ace went into an intense guitar solo with the guitar catching fire and smoking and levitating into the heavens then going into a fireworks explosion which knocked one of the lighting banks out.  Mind boggling.  Paul came back out and introduced a classic song, "Mr. Speed."

After a few seconds of silence, Gene Simmons came on stage in silhouette form then surfaced onto the stage front while playing evil tunes.  The infamous blood came out of Gene’s mouth and the packed crowd went ape.  Fans of the band knew this signal the beginning of "God of Thunder."  After this anthem, Peter Criss’s drum solo occurred with the entire set floating on air.  Very space-like, even if the set up had a minor production flaw.  After this intense solo the band did "Kings of the Nighttime World" and then Gene sung "Within."  The 3D effect was running crazy at this time.  Now it was time to dance to the band’s disco ara classic "I Was Made For Lovin’ You" followed by the extended "100,000 Years."

When the song ended, Paul Stanley worked his magic on the crowd and told them that he used to dream of being on stage when he was in the crowd.  He asked the crowd if he could join them in the dream before swinging out to a stage in the back of the floor.  From this small platform, he sung "Love Gun" before being hoisted back to the main stage.  There, the band finished out their main set with "Rock and Roll All Night."  While the song was being played confetti blew across the stage.  This was a total white out condition and really crazy.  Confetti in the hair of people.  Awesome effects.

Even the confetti could not stop the crowd from begging for more.  The band came back.  First Peter Criss came out solo to do "Beth" and presented some lucky ladies in the front rows looking up to the band all night, and now it was time to look back.  Then the video monitors showed people from all around the Bryce Jordan Center.  The crowd cheered.  He then introduced "Detroit Rock City."  The crowd got quieter for what was the band’s last song of the night, "Black Diamond."  Paul went to work up the crowd by encouraging them to sing.  As the song got more and more going on, the crowd got into the song.  The show ended with the video screen showing an ad for the Kiss car contest.

Was the show worth the money?  Yes, for it was an experience of a lifetime and highly recommended.  3D effects, explosions, fire breathing, confetti, and more.  This was really a rock and it is the best entertainment band ever. 

Vanilla Ice/Dial-7
Hadley Union Building, Indiana, PA
April 9, 1999

Arrived early to the show to find out the show was completely sold out and did not have tickets, so went around to the tour bus to say hello to Dial-7 and told them the situation. They were kind enough to let me and a friend help them out as roadies to get into the show. Having experience with bands in the past and knowing that most bands would not take time to help hardcore fans get into shows, this proves that Dial-7 are home hearted people and are a type of band that appreciates what fans would do to go to see them. A big thanks to Dial-7 for getting us into the show and letting me experience what backstage live is all about.

Before the show, I was able to find out that Chauncey B was recording and mixing some tracks for future projects. Some of these tunes may be used on either a solo release or the next Dial-7 release. These demo tracks would decide the next direction. Too bad I had to leave the room before any playback occured, but just to know that whe was doing some demo work at Indiana University of Pennsylvania is newsworthy.

So, after helping the band out with some promotional work, I was able to enjoy something which most people rarely get to see -- Vanilla Ice’s soundcheck. The soundcheck occurred later than usual; in fact, it did not start until the scheduled time of when the doors were supposed to open at 8:00 PM. Vanilla Ice and his crew did some great sounding stuff but had some problems with the sound. A power surge happened a few times, which sounded very crappy and distorted and brought the levels of the sound way too loud. Vanilla Ice thought the acoustics in the building were bad and seemed disappointed in what was happening with the sound. After they worked out the problem, Vanilla Ice performed the song "F**k Me" off his latest album, and the vibe was beyond belief. This was able to prove to me that Vanilla Ice was a true performer who still goes through hardships before his performances. Overall, the soundcheck performance was awesome; Vanilla Ice deserves a lot of credit for his hard work.

Around 20 minutes after the sound check happened, the crowd of over 600 people entered the Hadley Union Building. They probably could have sold an additional 200 tickets, if available, for there were fans waiting in line who did not have tickets who had to be turned away at the door. This rarely happens at this venue, for most of the time there are 300 to 400 people at the shows. One could sense that this was a special night.

The opening band for tonight was southern California’s Dial-7, who were promoting their new Warner Brothers record release Never Enough Time. The band consists of Mic Lord (vocals), B-Real (bass), Claw (guitars), Chauncey B (vocals), and Mikey Clamez (drums). Most of the crowd was unaware of what the band performed or what style of music they did. Most people were at the show to see Vanilla Ice and assumed he was doing a retro to of old school stuff. Back to Dial-7 -- the band was really impressive and played a groove-oriented hip-hop fused with punk and reggae backbeats. The raw impact of what the band was doing was a total inspiration of a hard working band. Even though some of the crowd was yelling "east coast rules," the majority soon began yelling "Dial-7." Some of the many tunes the band included were "133," "All I Want,’ "S.J.L.," "Haven’t You Heard?," "Power," and "One 2 Grow On." Highlights of the show were when Chauncey B asked if the crowd was into break dancing and performed a brand new song -- unaware of the title (one must assume it was one of the songs he was working on backstage). He encouraged some of the crowd to form a circle for the breakdancers. The crowd followed the request. Chauncey B stagedived through the crowd and did some breakdancing himself. Dial-7 proved to the huge crowd that they are a huge band to reckon with, and don’t be surprised if this band will be headlining shows in the not-too-near future, for they are one of the best crowd-motivating bands in the world today.

After a brief intermission, the lights went down and Vanilla Ice’s tour  manager came out in a Republic Records t-shirt and addressed the crowd. The lights went down, and the fog machine went on, and the party went out. First came out another member of Vanilla Ice’s crew, and he fooled a lot of people in the crowd. But then Vanilla Ice came out with a cardboard box of baby powder and sprayed the front of the stage with it. Actually, this was don so that he or anyone in his band would not slip on the wet stage and fall. But it did get in the hair of a number of ones looking on, including security and myself. Ice came out and performed material from his Republic Records release. Most of you say that Vanilla Ice was a poppy white rapper who became the joke of the industry. Well, the joke is now on the world, for Vanilla Ice is all grown up and has a new hardcore attitude similar to Murphy’s Law, Polly Wog Stew-era Beastie Boys, or Suicidal Tendencies fused with a metallic hip-hop similar to the Bloodhound Gang. Some of the new tunes which he performed included "Horney Song," the anti-critics tune "F**k Me," which is now becoming a crowd favorite, the pro-marijuana legalization number "Zig-Zag," and others. But the highlight of any Vanilla Ice show is his caller response segment prior to the "Ice Ice Baby" song where he stops and lets the crowd sing the entire song before going into the new version of the classic from 1999 called "Too Cold." After the song, he lets his DJ -- DJ Ground Zero -- get on the wheels of steel and cut up the record, making it repeat "Get wicked!" and sound like a helicopter. This was definitely old school scratch. Then Vanilla Ice went to some really old school stuff and was surprised that some people in the crowd guessed that he was referring to me when I yelled "Having a Roni"... and that was exactly what he did. Then, for his encore, he did his heavy metal song "Prozac," and tonight he crashed into the drum set and banged his mic stand on the floor. This was very similar to something The Who used to do. Vanilla Ice proved that his comeback was no farce and he is still one of the best entertainers in the music world today.

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