"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.

Our Lady Peace/Black Lab
The Crowbar, State College, PA
May 6, 1998

On May 6, 1998, the rescheduled March 3, 1998 Our Lady Peace show invaded State College to a sold out crowd of 600 people. Originally, Headspin was going to open for Our Lady Peace, but they were replaced by Black Lab.

Black Lab did an impressive set of originals, which were high energy alternative rock numbers with a early '80s punk rock flair. They really worked up the crowd, especially when they did a cover of Devo's "The Girl You Want," which the crowd really enjoyed. Also after their set, Black Lab gave out autographs and promotional posters to fans whom wanted them. Black Lab proved that they will be a fan based band and will only grow in time.

After a short break, Our Lady Peace came out with the Canadian anthem while a video screen showed images. This was sheer theatrical performance. Some of the highlights include the song "Superman's Dead," which made the crowd go nuts, crowd surfing and jumping up and down. Complete chaos. Hard to believe that this was actually an Our Lady Peace concert and not a Pantera show. But what really got the crowd going was when Black Lab returned to the stage with a blow-up doll and cans of string and attacked Our Lady Peace. It was the most hilarious thing that one will ever see.

Overall this was a great show by both bands who will be selling out larger venues soon. Watch our for both of them.

- Al Slavicsky

Stix & Stones
Foxburg Inn, Saint Benedict, PA
June 12, 1998

Caught Stix & Stones at the Foxburg Inn, Saint Benedict, PA on June 12, 1998. These rockers featured loud, heavy breakneck music which was anything from Led Zeppelin to The Doors to Pink Floyd to Rage Against The Machine to Sublime to Pearl Jam covers. The crowd really got into the band's music and sound while bassist Red Solinski, who was wearing a cat in the hat type hat, really got into playing, especially on the band's original "Call On Me," which is a reggae infested rocker which sounds like a cross between Jimmy Buffet and Sublime. Also, the Kmett's drum gets tighter each and every time they play, and singer Morgan slowly works up the crowd with his phat angst style. Only in time -- Stix & Stones continues to improve and groove each time which they play live. Watch out for this band, which is currently doing their debut CD which they hope to have out soon.

- Al Slavicsky

Movin' on '98 (Queen Bee and The Blue Hornet Band, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, Hum, and Sonic Youth)
Pollock Stadium, State College, PA
April 25, 1998

I did not know about this event until the ride home from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones on Thursday and when I heard that this event was free, I decided to see who I could find that would be willing to road trip to Happy Valley, especially on the day of the annual Blue and White football game. I knew that traffic would be heavy and parking would be hard, but who cares for this a free show with six bands and outside.

Upon arrival, we had a hard time finding a parking space but eventually found one. We missed the first two bands and without knowing anybody at the show, I cannot obtain any information on the performers.

The first band which we saw was Queen Bee and The Blue Hornet Band from State College. Man, they could burn the roof off the house with their authentic blues and R&B sound. Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band got the crowd jumping and moving in style. This is one band which is worth checking out if you got a mess of them ole blues for the get you out of the dumps.

Next was Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, which was a shocker. Great rock with a major dose of blues. Blind man Robert Bradley got down into his storytelling mood and began to jam with the rest of the band. The bass player literally got into the groove and moved the crowd. A short 45 min. set but still a barn burner. This is one artist's CD that shall satisfy your taste for the blues.

Following Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise came Hum. What can I say about Hum? Post modern grunge which was unique and entertaining but the band was rather boring in talking to the crowd. Hum is one of those bands you either like or hate. I still do not know where I stand for this band -- probably leaning to the "like," partly due to the noise overtures in their tunes. The band played a number of tunes from its RCA release Downward is Heavenward including "Isle of The Cheetah," "Green to Me," "Dreamboat," and the alternative radio hit "Comin' Home." Overall, Hum was like the hum of guitar static infested neo-grunge noise.

The headliner of Movin' on '98 was Sonic Youth. This is the godparent of noise rock, and they are still molding the music world. One would think that the band would perform their hits, such as "Cool Thing" or "Bullet In a Heather." Wrong. The band actually played material from the next album. One must believe that these were the first public performances of these songs, for Kim Gorden announced that this was the band's sound technician's first night. Some of the song titles I can remember included "Meat Radio" and "Sunday," plus a cover of Venom's "Bloodlet." Thurston Moore's guitar noise was magnificent. Overall, the band's new tunes were cool and very experimental, which may have turned a number of persons off, but true hard-core Sonic Youth fans enjoyed this pre-album release warm up show, which in a strange way reminded me of the classic Simpsons episode were Homer meets Sonic Youth at an outdoor festival. 60 minutes of pure Sonic Youth terroristic noise. Awesome.

In conclusion, Movin' on '98 was a great show and was worth the trip. Can't wait to see who will be at Movin' on '99 next year.

- Al Slavicsky

Mighty Mighty Bosstones/Klowns In Progress/The Shods
De Gol Arena, St. Francis College, Loretto, PA
April 23, 1998

It has been a long time since a major rock act appeared on the Saint Francis College campus, and finally rock returned there on April 23, 1998 with Mighty Mighty Bosstones with special guests The Shods and Klowns In Progress.

Opening the bill was Boston's own The Shods. The sounds of The Shods can be best described as hybrid punk-a-billy and roots rock style. Their set was mostly originals, which were very impressive and makes me want to go by their CD when I have a chance. The Shods really shocked me by doing The Who's "Substitute" which so made everyone happy -- and any band whom takes a stab at a classic Who song and makes it rock gets credit in my book.

Following The Shods came New York City's Klowns In Progress, and I did not know what to think of this three piece which came on stage. But when Klowns In Progress began playing, I knew exactly what they were about -- power punk with a capital PUNK. They began with groove heavy beats and extreme guitars which made the crowd jump up and down. Like The Shods, I had never heard of Klown In Progress before, but they rocked and kicked butt on their own originals, but what was really cool was the band's versions of Neil Diamond's "Cherry Cherry" and their last tune, which was a cover of Cornershop's "Brimful of Asher," which was done as a high energy punk song. Klowns in Progress is a band to watch out for.

The headliners of the night, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, hit the stage around 9:30, and the crowd wend nuts. They performed all their hits -- "Rascal King," "Royal Oil," and "The Impression That I Get" -- plus they sneaked some chords of "Detroit Rock City" in their set, plus a cover of the Angry Samoans' "Light Out," which was funkier than the original punk rock classic. Lead singer Dickie Barrett was in rare form tonight, and got into a verbal fight with someone who was heckling the band in the audience, plus he took someones camera and tried to take a picture of the crowd but was unable to operate the camera. He gave the camera back to the fan, which was shocking, for there was a no flash camera policy. Cool that Dickie Barrett was a good sport. Skacore lives and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones proved that.

Overall, the show was rather tame for being a Bosstones show, but this was a good beginning for maybe more national acts to play at De Gol Arena at Saint Francis College in the future. Thanks, Saint Francis College, for bringing national rock and roll back to Loretto, PA.

- Al Slavicsky

Coal Chamber/Sevendust/Life of Agony/Ultraspanke/Drain S.T.H.
The Crowbar, State College, PA
July 8, 1998

This was an off day for Ozzfest '98, and the bands Coal Chamber, Sevendust, Life of Agony, and Ultraspank, who were on the Ozzfest tour, travlled to State College to meet up with Drain S.T.H. to do an all ages show for fans from central Pennsylvania.

Opening the show was Epric Records band Ultraspank. They really got the crowd worked up with their brand of hard edged metal with industrialized overtones in it. Pete Murray's vocals were extreme, even if there were major microphone problems during the set, the guitars of Neil Godfrey and Jerry Olivera really burned, the heavy driving bass of Dan Ogden hit you like a heavy brick, and the drummer of Tyler Clark was intense and made one wonder if he broke a drum head or something. The most impressive song which Ultraspank did was "Suck."

Next was Drain S.T.H., which was on tour in support of their Mercury/Enclave release Horror Wrestling and their new single "Crack the Liar's Smile." This Swedish all-female band really got into their hard metal music. They really drained the crowd of its energy and pushed into their music. With a set like this, one wonders why Drain S.T.H. was not on this year's Ozzfest. However, Drain S.T.H. made a lot of new fans at this show, especially when they did Motorhead's "Ace of Spade."

Next came east coast hardcore-metal legends and Roadrunner Records band Life of Agony. All hell went loose, and the fans began to mosh to sounds. New vocalist Winfield Crane (formerly of Ugly Kid Joe) never sounded better... this is far different from anything he did in the past. LOA really impressed the crowd, especially on "Weeds." If you must see one, LOA is the band.

After L.O.A. came TVT Records and Atlanta, GA's Sevendust (Formerly Crawlspace) doing material from their self-titled debut album. Very impressive metallic number with some scratches, and one must love the band's sampling from This Boy's Life, which was heard at the beginning and end of their set. Frontman and singer Lajon kept the crowd on its toes and made the crowd work a heavy sweat. Also, it must be noted that drummer Morgan Rose hit the skins into a blazing inferno, and one must be surprised if he did not destroy the heads of his drums and break his cymbals. Awesome performance.

At 12:00 midnight, headliners and Roadrunner Records artist Coal Chamber hit the stage. Visually, the stage had stuffed animals, wooden toy soldiers, and other props... sort of a Marilyn Manson look and totally bizarre. They opened with "Sway," which is influenced by the old hip-hop/rap number "The Roof." And the pit in front of the stage went totallynuts yelling the lyrics and crowd surging. Power chord metal, which created an internal hell on earth. This was one bizarre and mean band.

Also, the bands did a meet-and-greet before the show at the Nittany Mall and also gave autographs for fans during the show, which was very cool of all the bands. Hope more shows like this happen in the future.

- Al Slavicsky

Ozzfest '98
Coca Cola Star Lake Amphtitheatre, Burgettstown, PA
July 12, 1998

On July 12, 1998, the Ozzfest '98 invaded the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. Sixteen performers were featured at this show. Due to a problem in finding a parking space, I missed the opening second stage band Snot, which was on 12:00 to 12:30, which was a bummer, for the tickets stated that the shows would start at 12:30, and I missed half of the performance of Incubus but was able to caputre the tail end of the set, which featured material from their S.C.I.E.N.C.E. release, and the sound of the band was awesome and impressive. Excellent use of scratching and sampling through the performance.

Next was Columbia/American recording artist System of Down doing hardcore sounding music which cooked and burned the main stage, which they opened. System of the Down made many loyal fans in the crowd that day with tehir impressive performance.

Back to the second stage was the Brooklyn-based Life of Agony with its own brand of NYC hardcore-metal. LOA really worked up the crowd into a widespread panic of intense slamming and moshing. The crowd really got into the songs "Weeds" and "Tangerine." LOA did one of the best sets of the day.

Next up was Coal Chamber on the main stage. Coal Chamber stage props were cool, for they were toy soldiers and a stuffed bull and some demonic looking wall designs. Coal Chamber's sound was bizarre and freaky, but the crowd managed to sway to the song "Sway," with its controversial lyrics "The roof/the roof is on fire/we don't need no water/let the motherf**ker burn/burn
motehrf**ker burn."

Following Coal Chamber on the second stage was Monster Voodoo Machine, which played some eighties influenced punk-metal which reminded one of old Angry Samoans or Suicidal Tendencies. Monster Voodoo Machine was also a friendly band, for they came out to greet the fans after their set and gave autographs and free promo cassettes to their fans. Best song they did was "Stealth M.F." Monster Voodoo Machine deserves a lot of respect and thanks for its fine performance.

Back to the main stage, Atlanta, GA's Sevendust (formerly known as Crawlspace) played material from its TVT Records debut release, doing a great set that worked a sweat into the crowd, especially on "My Ruin" and "Bitch." High energy performance, which shows that the band feeds off the crowd's energy.

After Sevendust's set, Ultraspank invaded the second stage. Ultraspank did a kiler set that included "Suck" and other material from their Epic debut release. But the highlight of the set was when Pete Murray freaked out about the poor traffic conditions happening around the Star Lake Amphiteatre, which really got the crowd going.

Back on the main stage at 4:20, Soulfly did a set of songs which were mellower than the other bands on the bill. Their set included some great tribal influenced metal with a power impact. Great set of material, especially the guitar work on "Bleed." No wonder Soulfly is gaining fans worldwide!

The legendary Melvins hit the second stage after Soulfly's set. Buzz and the boys did a set of tunes which puzzled most of the people in the audience. However, if you were a guitar player or a person who enjoys experimental guitar music in the vein of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, you loved The Melvins. Buzz proved that he is a guitar genius during The Melvins' set.

While The Melvins' set was still going on, Limp Bizkit started their set. Bizarre looking stage, complete with a huge, flushing toilet. The lead singer even kicked some fan in the face with his boots. Especially enjoyed their cover of the George Michael classic "Faith."

With Limp Bizkit still playing, Kilgore (formerly Kilgore Smudge) played some get-heavy tunes for the crowd, including "TK-421," which they did with Jeff Burton originally on their Revolution release, "A Search For Reason," "Drop the Hammer," and "In Medias Res." Lead singer Jay Berndt even mentioned that he enjoyed being followed by his favorite bands Megadeth and Motorhead.

After Kilgore was done, Megadeth did some of their classic tunes, such as "Symphony of Destruction," "Sweating Bullets," and "Peace Sells." Dave and the boys really rock and roll and made the crowd enjoy every song they did. One of the best performers of the day.

On the second stage, headliners for that stage Motorhead blew up with some great classic rockers from the vast Motorhead hit library. Since it was getting late in the day, the crowd was getting rowdy, so it was hard to keep place with the band. But when they did "Ace of Space," the crowd went ape. Overall, Motorhead proved that they will be doing music until they are dead. Awesome and unbelievable.

Second to the last band Tool made its mark at around 8:00. Maynard, the lead singer of Tool, came out in a suit and hair -- he is normally bald. They began to play the set. Then Maynard announced to the crowd for everybody to get naked. And on the spot, Maynard stripped to his undershorts and flipped his wig off. Highlights of the set included Buzz of The Melvins getting on stage and doing "Sober" and "Stinkfest" with the band. This was one intense performance but did disappoint some of the hardcore Tool fans due to the selection of songs performed.

At 9:15... the video screen came down to show a wild video with Ozzy and all kinds of bizarre video segues and special effects. Ozzy with the Spice Girls, Fiona Apple, the Riverdance cast, Hanson, and others. Everyone seemed to enjoy the "Ozzy killed Kenny" South Park sketch. Then the madman did his sets of killer tunes such as "No More Tears," "Thanks God For the Bomb," "See You On the Other Side," "Crazy Train," Iron Man," "Suicide Solution," and "War Pigs, to name a few.  For almost two hours, Ozzy proved that he still can rock. Especially enjoyed Mike Borden's (formerly of Faith No More) drumwork with Ozzy.

All these guest musicians, plus booths and games, made this a great time for fans of heavy metal music. Can't wait for next year's line-up!

- Al Slavicsky

Vans Warped Tour '98
I.C. Light Amphitheater, Station Square, Pittsburgh, PA
July 21, 1998

It is slowly becoming a tradition -- skating, music and tons of booths is the best way to describe the Vans Warped Tour '98, which rolled into Pittsburgh, PA on July 21, 1998.

With three stages going on, it is hard to keep up with what is going on at all times. Here are some of the highlights of the show: H2O doing a great set of hardcore music and impressing the audience with guest vocalist Jimmy G. of Murphy's Law; Bad Religion bringing their brand of punk rock to the masses and doing an awesome version of "21st Century Digital Boy"; Zebrahead bringing the O.C. punk sounds to the audiences and gaining a wide crowd appeal; Wank delivering a great set of modern punk tunes and giving fans all kinds of autographs and more; All rocking the crowd with material from their new release and playing some classic Descendents tunes, including "My Age" and "Hope"; The Aquabats doing a humorous set of surf-punk mixed with lab coats, super hero costumes, a person dressed in a chicken costume, a person in a doctor's outfit, and a guy wearing a goat head mask; Save Ferris doing a great third wave ska set with "Come On Eileen," "Under 21," "Nobody But Me," and more; The Specials bringing two-tone ska back to the forefront with some great tunes, including "Message to Rudy" and "Monkey Man"; Rancid doing a set of new and old tunes, including "Bloodlet," "Rudy Soho," "Time Bomb," and "Roots, Rock, and Radicals"; The Prissteens doing a sort of hillbilly punk, which was impressive; MxPx doing righteous punk with a message, and these guys really packed the stage; L.E.S. Stitches doing some Lower East Side hardcore with aggression that was very old school in nature, similar to old Agnostic Front; GOB delivering some new school poppy punk; No Use For a Name doing some California style punk; The Smooths doing an East Coast style ska' Othapamania(?) doing a combination of Cuban, hip-hop funk, and ska in the mix, then going into the audience and playing acoustically to the crowd and making the crowd dance; NOFX and Fat Mike doing a classic NOFX set; assorted Jellybeans grooving to the nation by playing some cool ska-infested punk in the vein of old Op Ivy; a great all-star punk gathering jam at the end of the night; Seventh House doing this brand of poppy music to the local crowd... These were only a few of the bands on the bill. There is no way that one could see all the bands at the show without missing some other great bands and check out all the booths for political literature distribution, record labels, bands, and skaters rights. Also, there were some impressive skateboarders, in-line skaters, and bike stunts.

The main problem was that there was no printed schedule at the show, so you never knew who was on what stage at what time so you could plan to be there.

The Vans Warped Tour is one of the best concert package that your money can buy. It is worth every penny you spend on your ticket.

- Al Slavicsky

Third Eye Blind/Eve 6/Our Lady Peace
Tussey Mountain Amphitheatre, Boalsburg, PA
July 26, 1998

Third Eye Blind brought its "Blind Ambition" tour to the State College area on July 26, 1998. The crowd of 5,000 gathered for one of the most anticipated shows of the year.

The show started off with the young power punkers Eve 6, which really worked up the crowd to do crowd surfing and moshing in front of the stage. This three piece band demonstrated that they were able to rock with the best of them. Most of the material was from their RCA debut album, but the band managed to put a cover or two in the set, including a great rendition of The Who's "Baba O'Reilly." But the highlight of their set was their major hit "Inside Out," which really worked the crowd up.

Canada's Our Lady Peace came next. The band improved much since their headlining show at the Crowbar in May. Their sound was much tighter and more flowing. Even though the band did not have their intense video production unit, they were able to make the crowd really get into the music, especially on "Superman's Dead," a song they turned into a sing-along after the band stopped and talked to the audience, and someone yelled "Let's go smoke a cigarette," and the lead singer of the band shouted, "We smoked too many." Also, on the song "Clumsy," the band made the crowd get into it and start jumping up and down in place. This was one of the best crowd participation shows I have seen in some time. Our Lady Peace really outdid themselved and proved they are one of the hardest working bands in the world today.

During the brief intermission between Our Lady Peace and Third Eye Blind, a fight broke out in the crowd. This was very violent and almost like an Extreme Championship Wrestling match fight in the crowd. Someone pushed down the fence separating the band from the audience. The crowd was being very pushy and moving closer to the stage, but one must guess that you might have these problems at a general admission concert.

Third Eye Blind went on stage to play their set. They really worked up the crowd with tunes from their most recent release and some of the highlights included a great cover of Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day" that flowed into the dirty song, as the band described it, "Semi-Charmed Life." Third Eye Blind did a great show, and they really impressed the audience. Great performers and a great line-up of bands. Glad the tour stopped near State College, PA.

- Al Slavicsky

Violent Society/Chapter 5/Ten Sent Wings/The Esoteric
Our Lady of Fatima (formerly St. Leo's Rec Hall), Altoona, PA
July 31, 1998

Four hard edge punk bands play sounds which have not been heard in the city for some time. Missed the first band -- Chapter 5 from Altoona -- and only caught the tail end of Ten Sent Wings but managed to obtain a copy of their playlist. Some of the tunes they did included "More F.M.," "Satan," and "Cadillac." Skate influenced punk.

Next came the retarded punk sound of The Esoteric. The crowd really did not get into the band, and the pits were kind of weak, but the band still did an impressive performance, doing selections from their recently released demo, A Secret Society,
including "Fart City," "Government Extinction," "Dead Remains," and "Punk Died." Also, the band did some new tunes, including the anger-infested "Altoona Suck." The song really p.o.'d the audience. Either you love them or hate them -- The Esoteric is the true meaning of punk... angry, aggressive, violent music to make people mad.

The headliners were the Philadelphia based punk legends Violent Society, who recently got signed to Blackout! Records. Their set was a mixture of old tunes and new tunes, including "Piss On You," "Beyond Doubt," "The Problem," and "You're Caught." Despite some microphone problems, Violent Society delivered a great set of true punk gems. The crowd got into the sounds, and they really worked up the crowd. This is one of the punk bands in the world today that continues to make waves. Strong showing from some of the best punk rockers in the world today.

- Al Slavicsky

Black Lab/Athenaeum/Emmet Swimming
The Crowbar, State College, PA
August 5, 1998

A great triple bill invaded The Crowbar on August 5, 1998 with Black Lab, Athanaeum, and Emmet Swimming playing for the rather small, intimate crowd.

First up was Emmet Swimming, who were on tour to promote their new Epic release, Big Night Without You. It was only a few weeks before the Show that the Fairfax, VA band was on the road as part of the H.O.R.D.E. Tour. Tonight, Emmet Swimming was able to score big with fans new and old. Their short set included the band's single "Turnstile," plus "Arlington" and "Stealing From the Joneses." But what really made their set was the groove rock original and finale "Jesse," which really moved the audience to dance. Emmet Swimming may be the best kept musical secret in the world today, and they are finally ready to explode to the next level... stardom and headlining.

Next came Greensboro, NC's Athenaeum, who did the original blend of alternative rocker with a melodic flair to it. Their stage persona really worked well with the fans via crowd participation and talking back and forth with the crowd. Some of the songs were "So Long," "On My Mind," and "No One." But the highlight of the set was the impromptu version of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out," which occurred when the lead guitarist broke a set of strings on his guitar. Awesome way to cover a mishap and bring a great song out for the crowd to hear.

Finally, Black Lab hit the stage around 11:00 and played a great set of tunes from their DGC release Your Body Alone, plus some new tunes which the band recently recorded for a compilation release. This is Black Lab's return to State College after a sold out show opening for Our Lady Peace early this year. This is Black Lab's first national headlining tour. Some of the tunes Black Lab played for the crowd were "Can't Stand the Rain," "She Loves You," "Time Ago," "Anything," "Thin White Lie," and "Sleep With the Angels." Also, they brought out their classic rendition of the Devo classic "The Girl You Want," which really rocked... when will the band release this cover tune to the world? Plus, they did a great Zeppelin tune in their set, which was refreshing. Overall, Black Lab continues to prove that it is one of the up and coming bands in the world today -- can't wait to see them live again.

- Al Slavicsky

Metropol, Pittsburgh, PA
August 9, 1998

Despite the muggy weather outside and having my guest and camera passes screwed up, I made it into the show thanks to the help of a Snot roadie/music tech.

Huntington Beach's (hed)PE did an impressive set, from what I heard outside the venue. They really got into a Parliament Funkadelic-like groove fused with a strong dose of west coast hardcore punk. Totally G-funk inspired, and DJ Product's turntable presence was beyond belief, for it ranks up there with Funk Masterflex's and D.J. Spooky's styles. Most of the material the band performed was from their Jive self-titled release, including "Ground," "Serpent Boy," and "Tired of Sleep (T.O.S.)." Highly recommended for the true funk-punk-metal fan.

Southern California's Incubus came out next and really worked up the crowd during their set. Incubus, who recently came off their stinit with Ozzfest '98, did an impressive set of tunes from their Immortal/Epic release S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Despite being a brief set, Incubus shined through and treated their fans to an impressive performance of their material, which made the crowd start jumping around, crowd surfing, and trying to stage dive, especially on "A Certain Shade of Green." One of the songs Incubus highlighted tonight included "New Skin," which really grooved as much live as it did on the studio album.

Next came Geffen recording artist Snot, who came out on the stage and really moved the crowd with its high impact, intense hard rocking groove metal, making the crowd jump around and do crowd surfing. The lead singer even jumped into the stage and went stage diving. The crowd went absolutely nuts and were really into the show by yelling and singing with the band. This was one of the best crowd participation shows in the world today.

Finally, the headlining band appeared. Soulfly has now entered the buidling with its unique Brazilian tribal metallic death rock. Soulfly came out and dished the goods to the crowd. The fans chanted "Soulfly... Soulfly... Soulfly!!!" They totally blew the crowd away with their intense sound, especially during "Bleed." But the highlight of the set was when all the drummers from all the bands -- (hed)PE, Incubus, Snot, and Soulfly -- got on the stage and did an improvised groove session. It was awesome and unbelievable. Soulfly proved to the crowd that they are a force to be reckoned with. "Soulfly... Soulfly... Soulfly."

- Al Slavicsky

Matchbox/Soul Asylum/Semisonic/Dharma Sons
The Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre, Burgettstown, PA
August 15, 1998

Arrived early to see the show and got to hear and see Matchbox 20 do a great sound check that included some candid talking and "Push," "3 A.M.," and "Real World." This was actually a treat for fans who were aware of what was happening on the stage, a sort of pre-concert show to which people in the parking lot could actually party -- live music via Matchbox 20.

Around 5:30 PM, the gates opened as the crowd began to go in. There was a special second stage, which highlights local and regional acts from around the greater Pittsburgh area. Today, it was Dharma Sons, who have put out two self-released CDs to date, and a third one will be out in the near future. Dharma Sons was very impressive with a poppy alternative rock sound in the vein of Our Lady Peace, Third Eye Blind, and Black Lab combined with a groove rock sound in the vein of Emmet Swimming or Widespread Panic. Dharma Sons had an extremely good stage persona and played around with the crowd. They even let a fan get on stage and dance with them. Some of the original tunes they did included "Honey Pot," "Blood Brother," and "G.T.O." Also, one must be impressed with their selection of cover tunes which included Dr. Dre/Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Ain't Nothing But a G-Thing," The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour," which they announced as "This is a song which we wrote in 1968," and fused with their original "Come On Everyone," and their medley of Prince's "When Doves Cry" and Morris Day and The Time's "Jungle Love" in an Eve 6 or Harvey Danger style. If Dharma Sons continue to rock like this, they will be nationallly known soon.

Around 7:30, Semisonic drowned the main stage with material from both of their major label releases. For around 45 minutes, the band wooed the crowd with their poppy alternative rock. The major highlight of the set was the band's final song, "Closing Time," which was a good way to close the set. Semisonic proved that they are great rock and rollers.

Around 8:30, the legendary Soul Asylum hit the stage. It was everything one would expect. They did all their greatest hits, including "Runaway Train" and "Misery." Also, it was great that the band was on the over-the-crowd video screen so you could see them play even if you were on top of the hill side of Star Lake. I was glad to see that Soul Asylum has not lost a note since the days when radio blared their music 24/7.

Around 9:15, Matchbox 20 hit the Pittsburgh stage. Rob Thomas, lead singer; Brian Yale, bassist; Paul Doucette, drummer; Adam Gaylor, rhythm guitarist; and Kyle Cook, lead guitarist got on stage to perform hits form their Yourself Or Someone Like You release. The crowd really got into the hits "Long Day," "Push," "3 A.M.," and "Real World." Matchbox 20's persona glared brightly and made the people dance and party under the stars. For almost one hour and thirty minutes, they really sweated up a storm. Awesome use of video screens so people in the lawn area could see the show. Great performance from these new rockers who came to Pittsburgh to play and celebrate Paul Doucette's homecoming.

- Al Slavicsky

Gravity Kills/Love in Reverse/Cold
The Crowbar, State College, PA
August 26, 1998

Gravity Kills, with special guests Love In Reverse and Cold, made a stop in Beaver Valley to celebrate the first day of class with an intense triple bill.

First up was New Jersey’s Love In Reverse doing material from its new Reprise release Words Become Worms and their previous releases -- their first release I Was Dog and the sophomore effort I Was Here.  The band consists of Michael Ferentino on vocals, guitars, effects, and bass; Andres Karu on bass, synchs, and guitars; and Dave Halpern on drums/percussion.  This band was very impressive, for they had fun with the crowd and even did a song for pop superstar Madonna’s 40th birthday when they played a sample of "Papa Don’t Preach" before one of their original songs.  Also, during the middle of the band's set, lead vocalist Michael decided to do a rant and raving session backlashing tons of people within the media and telling everyone in the crowd who is over 18 to go get naked before shedding down to his underpants.  Shocking and revolting, but this really captured the true spirit of what rock and roll is all about.

Next came Jacksonville, FL’s Cold.  Cold’s stage persona was dressed up with dolls, child-like painting, and candies.  Cold came out on stage with a Medieval Gothic-like chant before going into its music.  Cold is Scott Ward (who donned the Penn State gear tonight and kind of looked like Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick) on vocals/guitars, Kelly Hayes on guitars, Jeremy Marshall on bass, and Sam McCandless on drums.  Their set list was the following -- "Goodbye Cruel World," "Give," "Everyone Dies," "Strip," "Insane," "The Wall" (I believe this is a new song), "Makes Her Sick," "Blame" (also a new song), and "Go Away" (which Scott dedicated to all the fans who came to hear Grundig tunes).  Overall, Cold proved that they could deliver the goods and play live.

The last band was Saint Louis’ Gravity Kills, which delivers some high-energy industrial rock while on tour promoting their new album, Perversion.  Gravity Kills really worked up the crowd and increased the heat within The Crowbar.  Not really much of a Gravity Kills fan, the band did prove to me to give these guys another chance, for the motivated the crowd jumped up and down and sang with the band.  Really enjoyed hearing "Alive" live, for it gave new meaning to the song.  Great metallic neo-industrial sound which is very pop yet brutal.  Gravity Kills slowly grows on you and is one of the great up-and-coming bands in the world today.

- Al Slavicsky

The Urge/Amazing Royal Crowns/2 Skinny J's/Sprung Monkey
The Crowbar, State College, PA
August 31, 1998

What has became an annual event, the "Get You Ass Back To Class" happened at The Crowbar on August 31, 1998.  This year’s line-up was awesome.

First out was Surf Dog recording artist Sprung Monkey.  Hailing from San Diego, Sprung Monkey did some excellent music in the vain on punk/metal while working up the crowd via pro-Penn State comments and anti-San Diego State comments.  This was really different and unique.

Second was Brooklyn’s own 2 Skinny J’s doing material from their Capricorn release !Super! Mercado.  Coming out in kung-fu clothes, the 2 Skinny J’s did some of the best hip-hop/funk/punk music heard in some time -- kind of like fusing House of Pain, The Beastie Boys, Spoonie G, Devo, Parliament, and The Lords of Brooklyn into one big melting pot.  Highlights of their performance was the chant to the Brooklyn phone area code (718) and the hit single "Riot Nrrrd" and the gunslinging masterpiece "The Good, The Bad, & The Skinnee."  Overall, the persona of the band was awesome and groovy and made for a memorable impression of the band.  Simply great.

Next, a little bit of rock and roll history occurred at The Crowbar tonight.  It turned out at this was the final appearance of The Amazing Royal Crowns, for the band had to change its name to The Amazing Crowns on September 1.  This performance was unbelievable for a Monday night.  The crowd was jitterbugging and swinging to the really rock-a-billy inspired numbers the A.R.C. are famous for.  The crowd went nuts when the band played their classic to hot rods "1965 G.T.O." and their wild hit "Do The Devil."  Long live the Amazing Crowns, which will always be loyal to the royal.

Last on the build was Saint Louis’ The Urge, who did an impressive set of horn-infested skacore-metal.  The crowd worked out and jumped around and partied to such songs as "Closer" and "Jump Right In."  Their performance was great and it proved to be a major impact on the music world for years to come -- one can sense that they are a diamond in the rough.

- Al Slavicsky

The Allman Brothers Band/Sister Hazel
Bryce Jordan Center, State College, PA
September 16, 1998

The Allman Brothers’ Summer Beach tour invaded Penn State and it was worth every red cent.  The rather small crowd of loyal fans gathered to see the legendary Macon, Geogria band perform tonight.

Opening up for the Allman Brothers was Gainesville, FL’s Sister Hazel, who did their one flare of alternative groove rock.  Their stage persona was great and had great harmonies, and they did try to work up the crowd with their long, extended guitar jams and melodical riffs.  Sister Hazel was actually able to tell a story that around six months prior to this tour they used to party and listen to the Allman Brothers all the time.  One must admire the honesty that the band presented.  Overall their set, which included a melodic rendition of their hit single "All For You" complete with an accapella interlude which made the crowd sing and dance, was strong.  Sister Hazel was a great warm up for the Allman Brothers and this band is destined to headline shows in the near future.

Around 9:00, the Allman Brothers hit the stage.  Their light show was spectacular, for it was filled with video images of anything from a psychedelic woman go-go dancing to a montage of dead rock stars -- Muddy Waters, Duane Allman, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Big Mama, Jim Morrison, and Robert Johnson -- to a flashing light of the Allman Brothers band logo turning around.  Musically, the band was in rare form, playing for 2 hours and 45 minutes featuring a extended version of "Jessica," which was hauntingly different than the normally heard version, for it had a intense space-like feeling to it, an incredible 25 minute version of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" with a wild 15-minute percussion jam with three drummers, a groovy, moving version of the classic "Statehood Blues," and a powerful, acoustic mini-set which was very blues oriented.  Despite not doing "Whipping Post" or "Ramblin’ Man," the Allman Brothers did an awesome performance which was enjoyable and memorable for all those who attended the show.

- Al Slavicsky

Sevendust/Monster Voodoo Machine
Hub Multipurpose Room, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA
September 18, 1998

On the way to the show, I decided to give the new Monster Voodoo Machine release Direct Reaction Now! a listen.  Unknown to me and my friends, we were going to see the band live -- completely unannounced as the opening band for Sevendust.

Around 9:00 PM, Monster Voodoo Machine hit the stage doing the material from their Dr. Dream release.  Musically, they were as powerful as ever, with Adam Sewell's vocals hauntingly eerie and able to capture the raw energy which was released in the building of roughly 150 to 200 people, Jason Cuddy’s guitars were a shred master's delight, Chris Harris’ brutal bass riffs, Darren Quinn’s guitar was equally balanced with Chris’s bass and Jason’s guitars, and Victor Threw's powerful bombastic drum playing were a sonic bliss.  Their set was great, playing material which sounds like a cross between metal such as the style of life of Agony, Cold, and Black and old school hard-core/punk in the vein of Naked Aggression, Angry Samoans, and GBH.  Some of the most memorable tunes of the night included "Stealth M.F. (announced explicitly)" where Adam dedicated the song to a hard-core fan of Monster Voodoo Machine wearing a blue shirt in the front row, "Gimme A Riot" which was for the crazy Pennsylvania fans, the alcohol influenced "Slowmotion Moonshine," and the bleak colored "Color My Soul Grey."  The band played almost all of their material from their Direct Reaction Now! release on Dr. Dream Records except the song "Holier," which is one song the crowd wanted to hear but the band plays live on rare occasions, which the band stated to me directly after the show.  Monster Voodoo Machine is a band which is ready to achieve the next level of success, which is the more fans, which would be achieved opening for bands such as Sevendust and playing the second stage at the Ozz Fest ’98.

Around 10:15, the headliner of the night, TVT Records artist Sevendust, hit the stage.  After playing Ozz Fest ’98 and selected off dates with Coal Chamber/Life of Agony/Ultraspank/Drain S.T.H., Sevendust is doing their first major headlining tour.  This band came a long way since the days when the band was known as Crawlspace in Atlanta, GA, performing material from their self-titled debut release Sevendust.  The crowd really got into the music especially the radio hits "Bitch," "My Ruin," and "Black."  Their stage performance was great, especially lead singer LaJohn’s vocals which seem much more harsh and powerful on tonight’s performance.  The band even surprised the audience with the soundtrack of Dee Snider’s Strangeland.

Overall, Sevendust proved to this rather small crowd that they are a band to reckon with and is one of the future metal warriors which will bring metal back to the forefront.  Long live Sevendust for providing an enjoyable show.

- Al Slavicsky

Indiana Mall Parking Lot, Indiana, PA
September 24, 1998

Rarely does a band roll up on a flatbed semi-truck and start playing to an audience outside for free, but that is what the legendary rockers from Kennesaw, GA, Jackyl, did.  This show was originally scheduled for the parking lot at the Galleria Mall in Johnstown, PA, but at the last moment the band decided to relocate the show to the Indiana Mall in Indiana, PA.  Is this because Johnstown has an amusement tax and Indiana does not? Probably so.

Jackyl is on a mission to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most tour stops and concerts by a band.  Jackyl is trying to do and document 100 shows within the 50 days.  Jackyl is strong on their way to capture the record.

The show was originally slated for 10:00 AM in the morning, but the band was late rolling in due to the mountains of Pennsylvania and its rough hillside.  Around 11:15 AM, the band arrived and set up its equipment and started to play around noon.  The crowd of around 200 to 300 people gathered around to hear some great tunes from the southern metal rockers.  Their set consisted of around 6 or 7 songs including "Down on Me" and the classic Jackyl anthem "The Lumber Jack Song" where Jesse Dupree got on stage with an actual chainsaw and played it in the microphone and cut a wooden bar stool in half.  He also lights the stool on fire on stage.  Rarely does the band actually does this.  Also, the band played their cover of the classic Grand Funk Railroad tune "We’re An American Band."  It was during this song where Jesse Dupree shot his gun that was part of his mic stand and shot a blank.  Overall the band proved that they continue to rock -- Tom Bettini’s bass playing was superb, Jeff Stiff and Jeff Worley’s guitar playing was better than ever, Chris Worley’s fire driven double bass drums placed with orange flames over a solid red background Chris really shred the skins, and Jesse Dupree’s vocals were strong with a clear vocal delivery.  Many people who were at the show were disappointed due to the set being so short, but what does one want for a free show.

After the show, Jackyl held a meet and greet session for their fans, so their fans had a chance to receive and shake the band’s hands.  (I managed to get a broken piece of the stool which Jesse cut on stage and got him to sign it).  Overall, it was a nice gesture that Jackyl would give their fans a great performance and meet their loyal fans.  Awesome show from a hard working band who says "If you don’t like this band Jackyl me off."

- Al Slavicsky

Rusted Root
Bryce Jordan Center, State College, PA
October 15, 1998

To start off the Homecoming ’98 festivities, Pittsburgh, PA’s own Rusted Rood presented a theater style concert with no opening act.  The vibe of the show was very unique and a party atmosphere similar to the days when the Grateful Dead was still creating their classic groove-like sound.

Rusted Root’s stage persona was awesome, and they were able to make the crowd of around 4,000 get up and dance.  There wasn’t a single person in the place who was not dancing to such classic tunes as "Send Me On The Way," "Ecstasy," plus a awesome cover of the classic Jimi Hendrix tune "All Along The Watch Tower" with a groove rock beat.  But what was extremely impressive was Jim Donovon’s awesome 10-minute drum solo.

Also, after the show Jim Donovon did a meet and greet session signing his new solo CD on Worldly Triloka/Mercury Records, Indigo, which is first in a series of recordings dedicated to using music as a vehicle for exploration of the mind and evolution of the spirit and creating an organic sound familiar to the soul.

- Al Slavicsky

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