TROUBLE / PALE HORSEMAN / COKEGOAT / DEEPSPACEPILOTS
Date: 12th August, 2017
Ticket: $15/€13 (GA) - $22/€34 (VIP)
The occasion was the celebration of the 23rd anniversary of Chicago’s Rebel Radio station, and the heaviest name on the billing was TROUBLE. Leaving aside the anniversary, seeing TROUBLE getting (re-)activated was a massive hint that there are some good things on the making in the legendary band’s camp, so getting at BrauerHouse was no brainer. The icing on the cake was that the place was nicely packed during GOKEGOAT’s pounding set. The sound was pretty good and definitely as loud as it should be. However, we had to skip this set and we had a good reason; METAL KAOZ got the chance to have a really interesting chat with the entire TROUBLE lineup and then, feel super-excited after learning what Chicago’s classic Doom Metal finest band has in store for all of us. This is the only spoiler you’ll get here, since everything will be revealed in the interview which will soon be posted online.
After the interview with TROUBLE, and with huge smiles on our faces, we found a nice viewing spot taking into advantage the in-between-sets break as people had stepped outside to enjoy the nice night with a beer in hand and some of them to (also) have a smoke. The changeover took longer than anticipated, so PALE HORSEMAN stepped onstage fifteen minutes past eleven. Yeah, the timetable had been thrown out of the window... The set started with "Bereavement", and even though I didn’t know the band prior to this show, I immediately understood their trade; the band from Chicago delivers hard-pounding Sludge Metal with some Death Metal undertones mainly through the screaming / growling vocals shared between the two guitarists, Ruch Cygan and Eric Ondo. The first two songs of the set were heavy and fast enough to get the party mood going, but as it happens with Sludge, things seem to start sounding the same but only if you are not familiar with the songs. In my opinion, this type of Metal requires some homework in order to know the songs and appreciate the studio atmosphere that sometimes gets lost when delivered at high volumes and in small settings like in this instance. However, this does not cancel the fact that PALE HORSEMAN delivered the goods additional credit is in order to Eric Ondo and especially to drummer Chris Pocius who sweated their arses off by giving all they’ve got that night. The band dropped the curtain around some minutes before midnight, and I started wondering whether the beer and the late time would cost TROUBLE the crowd they full deserved.
PALE HORSEMAN setlist:
02. "Gnashing Of Teeth"
03. "Final War"
04. "Long Way Down"
05. "Witches Will Gather"
06. "Phantasmal Voice"
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To make things even more worrying, there were some sound issues during the changeover with the most annoying being the mic noise whenever Mark Lira was hitting the tom of his drum set, something that was not fixed and stayed with us during the entire set. I don’t want to whine over this, but one expects that by the time the headliners will hit the stage, all the sound-issues would/should have been resolved. As I said, there was an almost one hour delay, so spending more time on solving these issues was not part of the equation. After all, I am sure there was some strict curfew looming above our heads like a modern version of the Sword of Damocles, so things just had to move on.
Half an hour past midnight, it was (about) time to get TROUBLE onstage push the scales towards classic Doom Metal and get more people closer to the front rows. Yeah, the five piece band opened the set with the massive “Psalm 9” and all my worries were immediately thrown into trash can. Sure, there were still issues but, man, the sound those two guitars deliver is so massive that some things can be easily overlooked. One difference between this and the last TROUBLE performance I had watched was that the band looked absolutely wired and hungry to play live. On top of this, Kyle Thomas looked the most relaxed I have seen him onstage since the day he (re)joined TROUBLE. His level of confidence and the way he presented himself among those two legendary guitarists was phenomenal and this was reflected to the entire band with an energy surge going around the stage getting increased after every loop. Without pausing, the double guitar work marked the time for “The Wolf” and it was great seeing all this headbanging action going in the front rows when not singing along. Rick and Bruce share the same massive guitar sound but they deliver the goods in different ways; Rick is a more relaxed ‘70s guitarist while Bruce can be described as a Uli Jon Roth / Ritchie Blackmore hybrid who puts lots of energy in his playing with all those old-school guitar-playing poses which are close to extinction nowadays.
After the two old-school hits, it was time to revisit the latest TROUBLE LP with the fast(er) “When The Sky Comes Down”. Kyle nailed this one (too) with the same level of energy he used for the two setlist openers. I do not know how to put it in words, so I am going to repeat myself by saying that his vocals sound more confident with the crystal clear message “I got this”, but you just have to see / hear it to get my saying. “It's good to be back here tonight; it’s better than back home in Louisiana”, said Kyle commenting on the less humid and cooler weather, even though everyone had already broken some serious sweat inside Brauerhouse. And then, it was time for the trademark guitar phrase-exchange which sends shivers down my spine each and every time as it opens the way for the headbanger titled “At The End Of My Daze”. Oh yeah, there was singing along, headbanging, fist-pumping and whatever people do when they’re having a killer time.
The response and the energy coming from the audience made Kyle to admit that “Ok, I lied - it is hot here too” after the killer “The Sleeper” (I kinda missed Rob’s bass in the beginning of this one) and before the Hard Rockin’ “Mr White”, which continued on the already gathered momentum from the “Manic Frustration” era (which was introduced to everyone on the other side of the pond via MTV and the Headbangers Ball TV program). And as you can imagine, the family atmosphere among the people closer to the stage and the band peaked during the awesome twin-guitar work. “We’ll go way back here to when I was probably in high school; I am not trying to take any credit - I think the song belongs to all of us”, were the exact words Kyle used before letting the clean guitar to lift the curtain for the massive “The Skull”. In case you’re reading these lines in search of some drama or (even worse) for making comparisons, then look elsewhere because taking sides has nothing to do with enjoying music, and this is exactly what everyone inside Brauerhouse was doing. Kyle sounded fantastic (I really loved his expressive performance during this one and the way he formed the shape of cross with his hands), even though that annoying noise from the tom mic kind of creeped in. It may have been there the whole time or maybe the Mark’s hard-hitting drumming made it worse, but whatever the case was, the soundguy should have had straightened out this that deep into the set.
The stage was rather small for a five piece band, so bassist Rob Hultz was confined to the corner of stage left, and it was kind of expected for him to be the less energetic one. After all, he had Bruce on his right, so he gave all the space to Mr. Franklin to deliver his most characteristic guitar moves. “Hunters Of Doom” and “Psychotic Reaction” came almost back-to-back (nice, solid drumming by Mark here, especially during the latter), before passing the baton to Kyle who said: “the next song will be a first for us, and it’s about 30 years old”. And while we were trying to figure out the title of this one, the trademark drum / twin-guitar combo erased any cloud of doubt that this was “Run To The Light”. This was definitely one of the highlights of the TROUBLE set, and I really like seeing this band constantly changing the setlist, and not just throwing out all the classics just to get done with it.
For the last two tracks before the end of the regular set, TROUBLE chose to serve their ‘trademark’ “Supernaut” BLACK SABBATH cover and the badass “Revelation (Life Or Death)”, showcasing that this band (still) has onstage fun and keeps spreading the Doom. Once again, Kyle nailed the vocals of these two, making the hair on the back of my neck to stand up with the “eternal death / in the lake of fire” line.
Hell yeah, the time clocked 35 minutes after 1am (!), the audience looked sweaty and a bit smaller in numbers than the beginning of the TROUBLE set, but it was amazing that you could still hear cheering and clapping who demanded in this way the return of its beloved Chicago doomsters onstage. So, Kyle, Bruce, Rick and the rest of the band answered to our demands ‘for more’ with less talking and more action, first, with the all-time classic “The Tempter” (it was really cool watching the dynamic guitar duo standing side by side for a few seconds in the middle of the stage while delivering the goods), and then, with “All Is Forgiven” that dropped the curtain of this magnificent performance, around 15 minutes before 2am. And there is no need to say we definitely left Brauerhouse with huge smiles carved on our faces...
“Every time I see your face
It reminds me of my past
To think one of my dreams
Has come true at last”
01. "Psalm 9"
02. "The Wolf"
03. "When The Sky Comes Down"
04. "At The End Of My Daze"
05. "The Sleeper"
06. "Mr. White"
07. "The Skull"
08. "Hunters Of Doom"
09. "Psychotic Reaction"
10. "Run To The Light"
11. "Supernaut" (BLACK SABBATH cover)
12. "Revelation (Life Or Death)"
13. "The Tempter"
14. "All Is Forgiven"
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