5 Kill Ace shoots ’em down at Paladino’s

Written by on June 3, 2010 in June 3, 2010, Live Reviews - 2 Comments

Valley veterans display dead-on aim, with Alcatrazz and Housholder

5 Kill AceTaking their name from fighter-pilot lore, 5 Kill Ace is a five-piece Valley outfit that flies high and true with their progressive rock sound. While preparing for the band’s show at Paladino’s on Saturday, May 22nd, a first-time listener was informed by a knowledgable friend that lead singer Shawna McDonald “has great pipes,” and she proved this to be true, in spades, through a set that showcased the quintet’s talent and energy. 5 Kill Ace’s seven-song roster was replete with the lightning licks, vivid vocals and expert showmanship that make them so popular on the local circuit.

Opening with “Say,” Shawna and company immediately proved why they refer to themselves as an “original metal” band. The song was built on an engaging, progressive construction that let the diminutive frontwoman bust loose, showing she stows a startling amount of energy in her compact frame. Shawna’s potent vocals were supported by strong guitars from Paul McDonald and Gary McDougal, with a rhythmic foundation provided by drummer Sergio Uribe and bassist Tom “Cuzz It” Nave. (Valley rock fans should note that “Cuzz It” is also a member of The Chimpz, another always-entertaining band in local venues.) During songs such as “Government,” Tom added a gruff, thrash-style vocals as a contrast to Shawna’s dulcet tones.

From “Stalker” on into “Drastic Measures,” Shawna held forth like a female Rob Halford, hitting the highs and holding them, and accentuating every musical shift and riff with body-motion syncopation. During “Point,” the band’s high-energy delivery spurred one fan on the floor to start up a mini-mosh pit – yet a dramatic slowdown in the middle left him momentarily stymied.

As 5 Kill Ace’s well-written songs all contain messages of some kind, from “Drastic Measures” to “Never Alone,” it was appropriate that the band ended their set with the timely content of “Message.”


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After 5 Kill Ace’s stellar set, veteran rockers Alcatrazz played the midnight show at the Tarzana nightspot. Founding vocalist Graham Bonnet hit the stage with guitarist Howie Sinmon, drummer Dave Dzialak and bassist Tim Luce for a hearty stroll down rock-’n’-roll’s memory lane, beginning with a classic taped keys-and-vocals preamble reminiscent of arena shows from bands like Rainbow in days gone by.  When Graham and the band emerged to blast into “Eyes of the World,” heads were bobbing like it was the Eighties all over again, a sentiment which was supported by the following number, “Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live.” The ensuing set journeyed through many fondly-remembered signature songs, including “God Blessed Video,” “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” and “Island in the Sun,” to name but a few. All was delivered with heart and soul and technical excellence, leading up to a closing number that could be the bookmark for an era, or perhaps even a theme song for more than one generation: “Lost In Hollywood.”


Earlier in the evening, before 5 Kill Ace came on, an outrageously talented guitarist named Darren Housholder demonstrated the fluid style that has made him legendary among six-string aficionados. During a mostly instrumental set, the former Love/Hate axeman gave a nod to recently-deceased rock legend Ronnie James Dio, and also mentioned the landmark contributions of Jimi Hendrix before venturing into one of the few vocal numbers of the set, “Stone Free.” Jimi’s shade was again invoked in the closing number, “Crosstown Traffic.” Like Hendrix, Housholder proved himself to be a master of both fretboard technique and creative feedback, effectively warming up the house for the good rockin’ to come.