I've discovered some of my favorite bands by catching opening acts. However, experiencing the artist you paid to see--unfatigued by songs you don't know and half-hour set changes--is a nice change of pace. Especially since Alice in Chains gave us more than our money's worth.
This was my second experience at Brady Theater. I love this venue. It's historic, but tough. The floor isn't too deep, and a large balcony wraps around the whole room. Any seat offers a solid view of the large stage, as well as a look at fellow fans. Shows at the Brady just feel good. The sound at this particular concert was excellent--not too loud, and mixed very well.
The crowd? Diverse. Black T-shirt-wearing rock fans...long haired metal dudes...couples enjoying a night out...young people sporting the second coming of '90's grunge fashion.
A calm fell over the crowd as the room went dark...then loud cheers erupted as the band walked on stage. The backdrop was simple, but powerful. A big screen and bright colored lights, covered by a sheer fabric. The guys were in silhouette much of the time as green, red, orange, and blue flashed behind them.
"Angry Chair," started the set. It's a perfect example of Alice in Chains' signature dark harmonies and unique song structure, full of mood and time changes. The night ended with "Would?," as fans cried out every word along with the band. Hits like "Man in a Box," "Them Bones," and "Down in a Hole" filled the time in between. They all sounded as good as I'd hoped. Before one of AIC's best-known tunes, "Rooster," we got to meet the man who inspired the song, guitarist Jerry Cantrell's father. Cantrell Sr. was greeted with applause and cheers, as he told us to enjoy our evening. Thanks, Jerry's dad.
Alice in Chains' two most recent studio albums, recorded with singer William DuVall, were also represented with "Check My Brain," "Hollow," and "Stone." Check out the full set list here.
DuVall is a stellar front man/rhythm guitarist, bringing songs to life, while doing an excellent job performing classics made famous by the band's original vocalist. However, the star of any Alice in Chains show is lead guitar player Jerry Cantrell. Cantrell's harmonies with the late Layne Staley are a huge part of the AIC sound. I didn't appreciate Cantrell as a guitar player until seeing him play live. This guy is the definition of cool. Whether he's churning out a gut-punching, groovy riff, or ripping through a solo, Cantrell makes his bad ass playing look completely effortless.
Rather than subject you to paragraphs about how Alice in Chains' music is so dark and amazing it makes you feel feelings you didn't know you could feel, I'll just ask you to listen to "Stone." This riff is one of my favorite riffs ever. Behold:
New to Alice in Chains? I recommend starting with Dirt. Their most recent album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, is great as well. Don't let the "grunge" label scare you. Alice in Chains has proved they transcend that trend. After seeing them live, I very much agree with assertions the band falls into the "heavy metal" category.
I don't consider myself an Alice in Chains superfan, (I honestly didn't know the titles of many of their songs until I looked up the set list!) but this is one of the best shows I've seen. Seriously. If you get the opportunity to see AIC live, don't even think twice. Do it.
Keep on rocking!