In This Moment/Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom/November 19, 2014
Vocalist Maria Brink and lead guitarist Chris Howorth formed the theatrical metal band In This Moment in 2005 in Los Angeles, California. Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom hosted a free concert for SiriusXM subscribers which was broadcast live across SiriusXM’s Octane channel. Listeners were unable to witness the spectacle of an In This Moment concert, however. The show opened to the sound of sirens and tribal rhythms. Fog jets were launched and masked dancers moved on platforms before the band came on stage to perform “Sick Like Me” with melodic metal thunder. Brink wore a headset microphone, freeing her to join in choreographed moves with her dancers, but despite all the costume changes, props and other theatrics, this was a far cry from a Britney Spears show. The musicians played searing, scorching metal, though mostly in the dark, as Brink was the ringleader of this circus. “Black Widow” was introduced with a recorded voice narrating the dangers of the spider, followed by Brink appearing on stage in a burlesque-style nurse’s outfit and her dancers using giant syringes as props. Each song was packaged with grandiose visuals too numerous to recount, and the musicianship remained consistently rock solid. The 75-minute set mostly featured songs from In This Moment’s two most recent albums, but also included a medley of songs from Metallica, Slayer, and Pantera, as well as a full cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.” In the end, however, radio listeners only caught half the fun, as In This Moment is a band to both hear and watch.
St. Lucia/Terminal 5/November 19, 2014
Jean-Philip Grobler, known by his stage name St. Lucia, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and sang in the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir, learning everything from Bach to minimalist opera. Grobler experimented with rock music but, after 10 years, he grew bored with it and looked to the 1980s music from his childhood that had first inspired him. He moved to Brooklyn, New York, experimented with these new influences and the synthpop St. Lucia was born in 2010. St. Lucia headlined two nights at Terminal 5 and turned the cavernous venue into a dance party. After a nearly year-long tour, Grobler acknowledged that this engagement was a special homecoming that most of the songs were either written in New York or inspired by New York. Singing, playing guitar and keyboards and backed by four musicians, including his wife, keyboardist Patti Beranek, St. Lucia was all about lush, dreamy, high-energy, nostalgic pop. The band performed all of its debut album plus a few songs from previous EPs. While the songs were relatively new, the sound was a revisit to decades-old dance-pop music. The songs were driven by simple vocal melodies and layered synthesizer runs that repeated thickly to build crescendos. By the time the confetti canons shot during “Elevate,” it already felt like New Year’s Eve.
Trigger Hippy/Gramercy Theatre/November 20, 2014
On break from The Black Crowes, drummer Steve Gorman was jamming with an old friend, bassist Nick Govrik, in Nashville, Tennessee. They collected a few musicians and Trigger Hippy made its live debut in 2009. Several combinations later, Trigger Hippy now includes vocalist Joan Osborne, guitarist/keyboardist Jackie Greene and guitarist Tom Bukovac and performed as a well-credentialed roots-rock powerhouse at the Gramercy Theatre. Opening with “Turpentine,” the quintet played a rousing set of gritty guitar-infused rock wrapped in sublime country blues vocal harmonies and a rich, soulful texture steeped in earthy Americana roots. Greene and Osborne often traded strong vocal leads on the verses and then harmonized on the choruses. Whether a song veered more toward blues or rock, it all sounded organically Southern. Once the musicians started jamming, a song could last 10 minutes. Most of the set was comprised of original songs from Trigger Hippy’s debut album, plus covers of Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You,” Don Bryant’s “99 Pounds,” Delaney & Bonnie’s “When The Battle Is Over” and an encore of the Beatles’ “Don’t Bring Me Down.” The result was an honest, classic, vintage package by a collective of seasoned musicians that was greater than the sum of its individual parts.
Black Veil Brides/Best Buy Theater/ November 23, 2014
Vocalist Andy Biersack formed heavy metal glam band Black Veil Brides in 2006 in his native Cincinnati, Ohio. He relocated to Los Angeles, California, and in 2009 formed a new band there, continuing to use the moniker Black Veil Brides. Black Veil Brides headlined the Best Buy Theater to an audience that consisted largely of teenage girls in front and their parents in the back. The girls squealed at everything spoken or sung by Biersack while the parents squirmed at his barrage of f-bombs liberally peppered through the show. Although the black makeup flourishes, the long hair, the extensive tattoos and the black shredded clothing helped make the musicians appear like post-apocalyptic rock stars, the fans seemed to find them adorably and cuddly cute. Beyond the larger than life metal boy-band image, however, the music was solid and the “primp” and circumstance stage act was killer. Amidst bright lights, the front line of pretty boys played up to the cheers of the audience by frequently running onto the risers at the edge of the stage and smiling at the crowd below. Biersack’s voice was raspy when he spoke between songs, but any vocal shortcomings were disguised by the volume and intensity of the musical accompaniment. The songs were fast and fierce, with well-played guitar leads and plenty of opportunities for sing-along choruses. For 90 minutes, the audience witnessed a glam metal explosion.
Ace Frehley/B.B. King Blues Club & Grill/November 24, 2014
Paul “Ace” Frehley was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Frehley received an electric guitar as a Christmas present in 1964 at age 13, and taught himself how to play the instrument. In late 1972, Frehley joined Wicked Lester, which a year later was renamed KISS. Frehley was the lead guitarist of KISS from its inception in 1973 until 1982. After leaving KISS, Frehley embarked on a solo career, both under the name Frehley’s Comet and under his own name. This was put on hold when he rejoined KISS in 1996 for a reunion tour. Frehley remained in KISS until the band’s purported farewell performance at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Frehley and his band came on stage at a jam-packed B.B. King Blues Club & Grill to the sound of the instrumental “Fractured Mirror” from Frehley’s 1978 debut solo album. Frehley opened with a rocking “Rip It Out” from the same album. This set the tone for the show—short on theatrics, long on guitar-driven rock and roll. Frehley and his band performed 20 songs, and half of them were KISS songs, sung well either by Frehley or other members of the band. Anton Fig, a longtime Frehley collaborator, played on “Breakout,” a song from their days together in Frehley’s Comet. By the triple encore of “Detroit Rock City,” “Cold Gin” and “Deuce,” the audience had kome as klose to a klassik KISS koncert as possible.