Danzig @ Center Stage Theater, Atlanta (US)

DANZIG / BUTCHER BABIES / TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION / A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH

Date: 12th October, 2013
Venue: Center Stage Theater
Ticket: $29 (€21) advance / $34 (€25) day of show
Promoter: n/a


MariaV: Airplane-tickets; check. Hotel-booking; check. Car-rental; check. Walmart supplies; check. Yup, we did it again; since DANZIG announced their 25th anniversary shows with Doyle around the US without a stop in the Windy City, we had to take a couple of buses, an airplane and a rented car but not only because of the headliner. So, we reached the always hospitable shores of Atlanta in order to catch Glenn and his mouth-watering billing, including BUTCHER BABIES, TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION and A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH and get a taste of how ‘old-school’ concerts are happening nowadays according to Glenn’s ‘no-permitted-photo-shooting’ directive. But we’ll be back on commenting this later.

DimK: The trip to Atlanta was not actually planned but was demanded since DANZIG was on the 25th anniversary tour and the latest show in Chicago was in the context of a festival that means shorted setlist. So, taking into account the scarce shows from Glenn this was no brainer for METAL KAOZ. Plus, Center Stage Theater turned to be an awesome venue with sits in an amphitheatric arrangement but also a good-size arena satisfied both sides of a Metal audience: those who want to get physical and those who want to just watch the show (ok, the latter has an age restriction also).

MariaV: This was my first time entering the baronial and artistic venue of Center Stage Theater and I have to admit I was quite impressed by the size, the set and the function of this live concert lounge that seems to be perfect for 1000-people gigs, including both standing and sitting spots for everybody. The personnel was quite polite, even though they had to follow to the letter Glenn’s orders about prohibiting any type of photo/video-shooting inside the venue, and whoever felt a bit of a law-breaker had to be guided outside the Center Stage Theater without second thoughts or talks. Even the journalists who had photo passes to shoot the other three bands of the billing had to face this kind of problems, making our lives difficult, but we knew from the beginning what was this all about, right? So, I’m done with complaints – let’s go to the fun part.

Following the time schedule to the letter, Brooklyn’s A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH stepped onstage at 7:30pm and personally speaking I was really excited to watch Sal Abruscato’s gang live in action since both their studio releases are impressive and breath-taking. Under the first notes of “To Die In Your Arms” one-by-one the band’s members took their onstage positions looking a bit nervous on how the Atlanta people would react, something that got out of the way during the first minutes and the first round of applause. “Come on, guys, you sound dead – you can do better than that” Sal said in a friendly way and right then I saw a couple of TYPE O fans expressing their excitement having Sal and Johnny Kelly on the same stage. “As Black As My Heart” was groovy enough to make us move and headbang following the Grungy/mournful rhythm and the drumming/guitar sound did the trick letting the magic filling the venue. Yes, the sound was crystal clear, the guys did their thing and everything looked quite promising for a wonderful night, even this was just the beginning. Matt Brown did an excellent job accompanying Sal with his backing vocals and guitar solos, while Dave Bizzigotti seemed quite comfy torturing his bass strings.

“This song is about growing old” Sal simply said as a preamble for the following “Growing Old” that was the first track on setlist coming from their more recent “Lay My Soul To Waste” album, and I got goosebumps listening to the TYPE O-esque intro and the guitar scratching-scales coming from Sal’s six-string black lady. And then, ‘w-o-w!’; the dominating bassline of “Shallow Grave” and Kelly’s characteristic drumming exploded causing a lot of movement in the first 3-4 rows. My ‘wow’ originates from my inability to describe using words the feelings created listening live the lyrics like three feet deep and covered with leaves / no one is here, here to grieve” delivered by Sal’s characteristic singing. On the side note I tipped my hat to Sal for his sincerity saying that fuel that keeps him going on is the fans’ love and appreciation for his music – a true statement from a down-to-earth artist, simple as that.

Almost 15 minutes before 8pm, it was time to get a bit more aggressive with the vicious tunes of “Killer By Night” that watched a confident band that has still a lot to offer with the sweet depression for our days and nights. After a 25-minutes set, I can’t wait to fully enjoy these guys in their upcoming headlining US tour. Hell yeah, I’ll be there!

A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH setlist:

01. “To Die In Your Arms”
02. “As Black As My Heart”
03. “Growing Old”
04. “Shallow Grave”
05. “Killer By Night”

A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH

A Pale Horse Named Death @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) A Pale Horse Named Death @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) A Pale Horse Named Death @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) A Pale Horse Named Death @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
A Pale Horse Named Death @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) A Pale Horse Named Death @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) A Pale Horse Named Death @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) A Pale Horse Named Death @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: I will be honest and admit that I hadn’t done my homework regarding TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION and their outlaw Metal, so I didn’t know what to expect. After seeing Big Dad Ritch’s mic stand though, I got a hint of what would take place for the following set. So, around 8:10pm, the lights were dimmed and the four gentlemen came onstage to rock our asses with some Rock ‘n’ Roll, Red Dirt Metal the Texas way (I suppose). Big D spitted the first lyric lines of “Hands Up”; “I’m the king of Texas, for those that don’t know” and I think this was the perfect way to get educated about the Texans. The crowd seemed to have the time of their life moving up and down according the “everybody get your hands up” chorus, with D’s cult ‘taken-from-a-western-movie’ figure and his ‘yee-haw’ hat being the icing on the cake.

“What’s up, Atlanta? Are you ready to Rock ‘n’ Roll?” rhetorically asked Mr. Ritch as he was placing the huge ‘shotgun’ mic-stand right at the center of the stage. The groove-as-hell “8 Seconds” and the PANTERA/Zakk Wylde-esque riffage saw the first mosh-pits from an audience that seemed pretty familiar with TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION. “How the hell are y’all? If you came here tonight for the sex, make some noise” Big Dad Ritch stated and kindled the crowd’s reactions with his Southern accent and attitude. “Sex & Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll” with the heavy riffage almost snapped our necks as Big D preached the THX drinking/drugs-inspired lyrics while the bass lines blasted our eardrums convincing everybody to move their bodies like riding a bull (yup, ladies included).

“Thank you for having us Atlanta, this is the time to turn it up” the known-gruff voice of Big Dad introduced “Turn It Up” that apparently was the most favorite track of the band’s back-catalogue. Both Gunnar Molton and John Exall helped Big D on the vocals part during the refrain, arousing up the crowd to participate in the “come on, come on, come on, turn it up” chorus. “One thing I cannot control is my fucking temper. Down in Texas they call me Diablo Rojo (red devil)” Big Dad added before the last track of the 25-minutes set that did a perfect job to warm us up exceeding all of my initial expectations. I have no doubt when I say that these Texans brought their Southern attitude and sound to the Southeast and judging by the crowd’s reactions, they did a hell of a job. Yes, Big D, you have gained one more fan that night! Well done, guys!

TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION setlist:

01. “Hands Up”
02. “8 Seconds”
03. “Sex & Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll”
04. “Turn It Up”
05. “Pissed Off And Mad About It”

TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION

Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Texas Hippie Coalition @ Center Stage Theater (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: Let me start by saying that I have no idea why the promoters placed BUTCHER BABIES that high in the billing. Sure, their modern groovy Metalcore and most importantly the looks of the two singers can be appealing at a certain extent, but there must be a limit. On the other hand, such a selection could be an attempt to target younger audiences (note that this was an all-ages show) and hence pack venues.

Anyway, I am not the one calling the billing-related shots, so let’s talk about the main course that was the live performance. There was no warming-up and BUTCHER BABIES exploded on the stage with Heidi ‘The Butcher’ Shepherd and Carla Harvey on the leading roles. These two corset-dressed ladies have done their Metal-fronting homework and their performance was full of movement and intense headbanging, while stepping on the lighted small stage elevation when they were not roaming the stage. The arena stand-standing metalheads responded with a lot of up and down jumping and occasional mosh-pitting, but all this kind of faded away since the music felt flat with similar-sounding songs. What I am trying to say is that this type of Metal is bound to be only for the fans because I don’t think it can attract new listeners without guitar solos simply based only on the doings of the beautiful frontwomen. And the clean-vs-growling vocals recipe has become more cliché than a happy ending in romantic comedies (you know what I talking about, right?). If you choose to blame my more than 35 years old taste, I won’t hold it against you but anyway I can only recall “Magnolia Blvd.” and the bass driven “Grim Sleeper” as the best moments of the show (ok, Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine” was fun too), but nothing to remember afterwards.

“We need some help for this one” said Heidi inviting the crowd to chant “there’s blood everywhere” before getting back to the Metalcore festivities. I hope this was something I imagined but I think I heard some booing from those who were sitting at the back, something I didn’t like simply because if you don’t like what you’re watching, take a break, drink some beer and see what the merch tables are offering. You don’t have to be harsh and maybe spoil the experience of those who have fun. Anyway, I will give kudos to the two ladies for putting so much energy in their show and excuse myself for failing to become a BUTCHER BABIES fan.


DimK: Everyone knows that Danzig and taking pictures (or worse, recording/filming a show) is an explosive combination, so the venue’s bouncers had an extra task in their usual to do list. I was kind of afraid this because the last thing I wanted to have in a Metal show was the really annoying battle between the mobile phone owners and the crew staff. Fortunately, the number of incidents was really small and I guess the DANZIG educated audience knew the dos and the don’ts for this show, so extra kudos to them.

The stage was pretty much set like all the times I have seen DANZIG before with the lights playing a really important role to the evil atmosphere of the show. At last, the 30-minutes wait was over and the amazing guitar groove of “Skincraver” brought the band onstage seeing the trademark figure of Glenn entering last but definitely not least. The response from the crowd was instant and there was no one sitting while the arena looked pumped and ready for headbanging, moshing and crowd-surfing. The sound was amazing, even though in the beginning the vocals were a little bit lost under the drums but that was improved in the following songs. And Glenn is an unknown parameter in his gigs (based on what we learn from the press) being mainly governed by his mood swings, but that night everything looked awesome and he was interacting with the fans in the front rows by extending the mic to sing and provoking them to join the DANZIG celebrations. “Hammer Of The Gods” was a reason to celebrate and sing-along the catchy bridge/chorus before having every hair on the back of our necks stand during the slower break.

“Welcome to the 25th Anniversary DANZIG tour” said Glenn before hitting us with the tone heavy riff of “Twist Of Cain”. This song is mid-tempo but possesses amazing heaviness and the perfect break to sing along following Glenn’s one of a kind vocalisms. “Am I Demon” and “Her Black Wings” came back to back and yes, there was more chanting from everyone inside the venue following Glenn’s whipping with the mic chord characteristic moves. I am sure there are some who would expect to read among these lines that Glenn did this and that hoping to find something to laugh with, but the painful truth for all the haters is that the entire band and consequently the crowd were in top mood.

The first surprise of the setlist was the amazing “Blood And Tears” where the vocals stepped on the limelight underlining the Johnny Cash-meets-Elvis one of a kind singing-breed of Mr. Danzig. I was surprised to listen to the audience singing along but this simply made the experience even stronger. As much as I love “Dirty Black Summer”, the next one was bound to gives us goosebumps all the way. Yeah, I am talking about “How The Gods Kill” with the unforgettable clean guitar intro performed flawlessly by Tommy Victor while Johnny Kelly was putting the finishing percussion touches. Glenn simply nailed the vocals lines and honestly it felt like it was the 90s when I was watching the Geiger-filled video on those rare MTV moments. Even though this was right in the middle of the set, I knew it would the climax of this gig and while I’m writing these lines, I simply affirm those thoughts. I mean, can you really resist the guitar vibrato, the vocal melodies and the explosive drum-lead groove? (rhetorical question mode off).

“You know that I have a friend of mine in this tour, right?” asked Glenn and everyone knew it was MISFITS time. Doyle!” screamed the Boss and without further ado we dived right into the 80s guided by the Punk bass doodle and the simple yet most effective guitar chords of “Death Comes Ripping”. This was party time and really it didn’t felt like it was 2013 anymore simply because there was a lot of old-school moshing, crowd surfing and most important the family-like singing along the Punk scene introduced back in those long-gone but not forgotten days. No matter what many like to believe Punk offered a lot to Metal apart from fueling the anti-social, anti-establishment or whatever you wanna call it attitude. Anyway, the amazing MISFITS-suite (check the setlist below) ended with a bang entitled “Last Caress” seeing Doyle leaving the stage. I wouldn’t have a problem at all having Doyle and Danzig doing an entire tour playing all the MISFITS Glenn-fronted songs.

Back on the DANZIG set with “Soul On Fire” that gave us a chance to catch our breath before getting back to business with the probably biggest hit, “Mother”. Watching Glenn singing this one having the mic tilted on the side or even upwards while roaming the stage was another reason for the crowd to give every drop of energy as we were approaching the end. The band said a brief goodnight but everyone knew that there was more, so the loud chanting “we want more” got Johnny Kelly behind the drum kit where he started the drum-groove of “She Rides”. “I will bring Doyle one more time onstage for this one” simply said Glenn putting the cherry on top of this one of a kind cake with the “Die, Die My Darling”.

The celebrations in Atlanta for the 25 years of DANZIG did justice to the band’s rich history and watching all those happy faces (of every age) leaving the venue, I couldn’t help but wonder when DANZIG will be again on the road. Thank you, Glenn and see you next time!

DANZIG setlist:

01. “Skincarver”
02. “Hammer Of The Gods”
03. “Twist Of Cain”
04. “Am I Demon”
05. “Her Black Wings”
06. “Tired Of Being Alive”
07. “Blood And Tears”
08. “Dirty Black Summer”
09. “How The Gods Kill”
10. “Death Comes Ripping”
11. “Vampira”
12. “I Turned Into A Martian”
13. “Skulls”
14. “London Dungeon”
15. “Astro Zombies”
16. “Last Caress”
17. “Soul On Fire”
18. “Mother”
19. “She Rides”
20. “Die, Die My Darling”

This was my first time entering the baronial and artistic venue of Center Stage Theater and I have to admit I was quite impressed by the size, the set and the function of this live concert lounge that seems to be perfect for 1000-people gigs, including both standing and sitting spots for everybody. The personnel was quite polite, even though they had to follow to the letter Glenn’s orders about prohibiting any type of photo/video-shooting inside the venue, and whoever felt a bit of a law-breaker had to be guided outside the Center Stage Theater without second thoughts or talks. Even the journalists who had photo passes to shoot the other three bands of the billing had to face this kind of problems, making our lives difficult, but we knew from the beginning what was this all about, right? So, I’m done with complaints – let’s go to the fun part.

Following the time schedule to the letter, Brooklyn’s A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH stepped onstage at 7:30pm and personally speaking I was really excited to watch Sal Abruscato’s gang live in action since both their studio releases are impressive and breath-taking. Under the first notes of “To Die In Your Arms” one-by-one the band’s members took their onstage positions looking a bit nervous on how the Atlanta people would react, something that got out of the way during the first minutes and the first round of applause. “Come on, guys, you sound dead – you can do better than that” Sal said in a friendly way and right then I saw a couple of TYPE O fans expressing their excitement having Sal and Johnny Kelly on the same stage. “As Black As My Heart” was groovy enough to make us move and headbang following the Grungy/mournful rhythm and the drumming/guitar sound did the trick letting the magic filling the venue.