An Avalanche Buries Richmond, Virginia

Written by on May 26, 2011 in Cover Story, Live Reviews, May 26, 2011 - Comments Off on An Avalanche Buries Richmond, Virginia

V9 - Issue 4 Cover

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The National
Richmond, Virginia
May 3, 2011

Review by: Melissa Gibson
Photography by: Stephen Gibson Photography

On a beautiful spring night, The Avalanche Tour rolled into Richmond, Virginia and buried its hard rockin’ citizens under the music of Art of Dying, Halestorm, Skillet, Theory of a Deadman, and Stone Sour.

What was a show originally scheduled to be at the Richmond Coliseum the venue was changed and for that I was grateful.  The National (thenationalva.com), allows for a more intimate performance and the bands are able to interact with the audience on a more personal level.

Art of DyingThe first band up was Art of Dying (www.artofdyingmusic.com), comprising of Johnny Hetherington (Lead Vocals), Greg Bradley (guitar), Tavis Stanley (guitar/vocals), Cale Gontier (bass/vocals), and Jeff Brown (drums).

I had the opportunity to meet Johnny Hetherington (lead vocalist) before the show and right off the bat I liked the way he spoke about the music and their philosophy on their music.  But I wasn’t expecting what I got when they took the stage.  They were hard hitting from the beginning.  All 6 songs of their set were off of the album “Vices & Virtues”.  First up was “Straight Across My Mind”, right off the bat these guys were working the stage and the crowd never staying in one place for too long and giving the audience some time with each one of them.  Johnny Hetherington asked the crowd if this was their first show and let everyone know that they had actually played here in town a few years ago with Disturbed and told them to get a beer, get immersed in the music and asked them “Do you wanna get a little f***in’ crazy?  Of the course they said yes!  Next song was “Whole World’s Crazy”.  He offered the audience the chance to sing the chorus in this one and I was honestly surprised at how many people knew the words enough to sing it with him.  Third song was “You Don’t Know Me”, here is where I got the impression that they were appreciative of the fan support and each one of them, like I said, took a few minutes at quite a few points on the stage to be direct with the fans and even posing for a few camera phones.  The next song, “Best I Can” became one of my favorite of their set because it showed off the harmonies.
Art of DyingArt of Dying Art of DyingArt of DyingArt of DyingArt of DyingArt of DyingArt of DyingArt of DyingvArt of DyingArt of DyingArt of DyingTavis Stanley started it out, was joined shortly by Johnny Hetherington, then Cale Gontier, followed by Greg Bradley, and finally Jeff Brown.  Here they said it was “Great to be back in Virginia” and thanked all the other bands on the tour with them.  Next was “Get Through This” which was written after learning that his Father was diagnosed with cancer.  Hetherington yelled out to the balcony section to “Stand the F**k up!”  He said this has been one of the best months because the cd had finally been released.  “It’s been 1 ½ years of tears, beers, Jack, &…” he couldn’t find anything to rhyme with Jack from that point.  Lastly was “Die Trying” and after that they said good night and surrendered the stage to the next band.

Halestorm (www.halestormrocks.com) was up next.  I honestly hadn’t heard of them before this but I’m glad I was introduced to them tonight.  Hailing from Pennsylvania, the band consists of Lzzy (Elizabeth) Hale (Lead Vocals/Guitar/Keyboards), Arejay Hale (Drums/Percussion/Backing Vocals),  Joe Hottinger (Guitar/Backing Vocals), and Josh Smith (Bass/Backing Vocals).  This is a young group but talented beyond their years.

They came out with a purpose to rock the hell out of the crowd and they accomplished just that and then some.  Beginning with one of the songs from their upcoming album, “Love Bites”, followed by “What Were You Expecting” from the self-titled album released in 2009.  Lzzy asked the audience “Do you want to play with me?” well honestly; I don’t think anyone said no to that one.  She told them to “Get on your knees and let the games begin”, to which they went on to play “Dirty Work”, also from the Halestorm album.  Next up they played “American Boys”, also from their upcoming album.  She told the audience that this was “so much more than a one night stand” and played “I Get Off” and what has quickly become one of my favorites already, “Familiar Taste of Poison”.  They left for a few seconds to let Arejay have the stage and crowd to himself and he didn’t let anyone down for a minute.  Along with a great stage performance, this guy is a monster on the drums.  I couldn’t tell which was flying around more his hair or the drumsticks but it was awesome.  The rest of the band rejoined him on stage and played Skid Row’s “Slave To The Grind” which they did a great job on and lastly “It’s Not You”.

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Like I said, I had never heard of Halestorm before tonight except maybe one time in light conversation.  I now consider myself a fan of Halestorm and their CD has taken up residence in my car for the last few days.  Doing my research for this review, I found out that Lzzy and Arejay are in fact brother and sister and that their father actually played the bass for them before Josh Smith joined them.  I am equally impressed by the fact that Lzzy has been writing songs since the age of 13.  They have been paying their dues by almost constantly being on tour with many other bands including Seether, Three Days Grace, Papa Roach, Megadeth, Disturbed, Shinedown and Avenged Sevenfold to name just a few.

This group is a force to be reckoned with and I certainly hope to hear more from them soon and will be hoping to see them again live as well.

SkilletThird band of the night was Skillet (www.skillet.com) and I am a huge fan of these guys.  We saw them live for the first time last year and to quote Steve Gibson “they NEVER disappoint”.

Opening with “Sometimes” from the “Awake” album, John Cooper (Lead Vocals/Bass), Korey Cooper (Rhythm Guitar/Keyboards), Jen Ledger (Drums/Vocals), and Seth Morrison (Lead Guitar) took the stage with a vengeance.  These guys were not playing around tonight.  The bass was so hard I could feel my physical body vibrating with it.  I loved every bit of it.

They followed it up with “Whispers In The Dark” from “Comatose” and “Hero” from “Awake”.  At this point in the show, John and Korey exit the stage and Jonathan Chu (Violin) and Tate Olsen (Cello) join Jen Ledger on stage for a fantastic performance before being rejoined by John and Korey once again.  They played “Comatose” from the “Comatose” album.   After that John took a minute to talk to the audience about the “war for our souls” and “how people try to tell you how to live and how to think and what to believe and that he was tired of being told what to do”.  The audience agreed with that statement whole heartedly.  That was followed up by my absolute favorite Skillet song, “Awake and Alive” from the “Awake” album, followed by “Savior” off of “Collide”, “Monster” also from “Awake”, which here in Richmond, that song has gotten the most radio play of any Skillet song so naturally the crowd went ape shit when they started that one.  They ended the show with “Rebirthing” from “Comatose”.

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I have seen these guys live 3 times and every time I am even more of a fan than before.  They are hard hitting, nonstop energy, the music speaks to me personally (especially “Awake and Alive”) and they were the first band of the night to set my ears ringing and they rang well into the next day.  I always look forward to seeing them in concert and I take every opportunity I can do catch them live when they are close by.  I strongly encourage everyone to do the same, as I said in the beginning “they never disappoint”.

Theory of a DeadmanNext up, you hear this little diddy that sounds like something from Pee Wee’s playhouse, saying that we should “Blame Canada” and a few seconds later Theory of a Deadman (www.theoryofadeadman.com) took the stage.

Tyler Connolly (Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar), Dave Brenner (Rhythm Guitar), Dean Back (Bass), and Joey Dandeneau (Drums) took the stage and opened their set with “So Happy” from “Scars & Souvenirs”, and “Hating Hollywood” from “Gasoline” before addressing the audience and asking them “How are all you beautiful mother fuckers?”, “Thanks for comin’ out”, “The new album comes out on July 12th”.

Next up was “Got it Made” and “All or Nothing” again from “Scars & Souvenirs”.  Following that, they gave the crowd a taste of the new album by playing “Low Life” & “Bitch Came Back” both from the upcoming album “The Truth Is…”.  The next song was “Not Meant To Be” from “Scars & Souvenirs” and then they did their rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” and they did an unbelievable job at making it sound true to its roots but also putting their personal twist on it and it sounded fantastic.  That was followed up by “Hate My Life” and afterwards the lead singer announced that he just received a text from Corey Taylor (Stone Sour) saying “How’s the crowd?”,  he texts back “they are some beautiful mother fuckers” and then he holds up a camera and tells the audience to “Say cheese mother fuckers and takes their picture”.

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I think one thing I have come to like about this band is that they are very no nonsense when it comes to their lyrics.  They tell it how it is and if you don’t like it tough shit.

Stone SourLast band of the night was Stone Sour (www.stonesour.com)

Right off the bat Corey Taylor (Vocals) came out giving the audience a double barrel salute.  The rest of the group, James Root (Guitar), Josh Rand (Guitar), Shawn Economaki (Bass), and Roy Mayorga (Drums) wasted no time getting the night started with “Mission Statement” from the new album “Audio Secrecy” and “Reborn” from “Come What (ever) May”.  After which Taylor spoke to the crowd “Richmond Fucking Virginia”, “Are you ready to have a good fucking time with Stone Sour?”  Of course they were, they had already been treated to some amazing sets by 4 unbelievable bands that night and were ready for more.  Next up was “Digital” which was “Dedicated to a generation that needs to unplug”, “Dying”, after which Taylor asked the audience if he sounded alright because he had been battling a cold to which the audience told him HELL YEA you’re doing Awesome, next up was “Hesitate” which Taylor said is the latest single off the album “Audio Secrecy” and he asked the audience, “you gonna help me fucking sing it?, they responded, “Hell yeah”, and he said “Just don’t fuck it up”, to which I think both him along with the audience sounded great.

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Corey Taylor then instructed the audience that during this next song he “needs them to do 3 things, 1 – put your fist in the air, 2 – they better fucking sing along, and 3 – he wanted every fucking ass jumping up and down”.

They continued with “Made of Scars” from Come What (ever) May” and then Taylor dedicates “Say You’ll Haunt Me” from “Audio Secrecy” to “everyone in the fucking room”.  This was followed by “Unfinished” from “Audio Secrecy”, “Bother” from “Stone Sour”, “Through Glass” from “Come What (ever) May”, “Get Inside” from “Stone Sour”, and finished the night up with “30/30-150” from “Come Whatever May”.

As the last song was ending they buried The National in an Avalanche of Confetti and Said “Richmond We Love You, and Thank you for having a great time with Stone Sour tonight, Good night”

In Closing, I’ll have to admit I was so worried that The National wouldn’t hold these five bands as it’s a smaller venue than I am sure these bands are used to playing in, but that is another thing that I like about The National, it allows the fans to get up close and personal with the band members and you know now a days with all these bands going out on tour doing their thing you would have thought that the bands would have said you know what this isn’t worth playing in front of 1500-1600 people and end up either rescheduling or cancelling that part of the tour, but no these 5 bands came out on stage and absolutely blew the roof off this place, they deserve to be playing larger venues which I am sure they have been and I understand it’s the economy and all that, but these bands came out and gave every single fan that stood up during the whole show “Waving their hands”, “Flickin their Bics”, “Singing every tune of their favorite song”, every dime they paid to come see them and then some and for that part I want to say a SPECIAL THANK YOU.

For that alone you all earned a lot of respect and admiration from not only me but I am sure every single fan that was in the crowd that you definitely entertained.

We would also like to send a Special Thank you to the fine folks at ASHTON-MAGNUSON MEDIA for allowing All Access Magazine the opportunity to cover this tour and to see what “REAL BANDS” are like out there giving their fans everything they have.