Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Sword/Royal Thunder/The Ready Room/St. Louis

On a rainy night in St. Louis, a few dozen people stand in line outside The Ready Room. The crowd is a mix of old-school metal fans sporting denim vests filled with patches...plenty of black band T-shirts...a few skinny-jean-clad hipster types with gauged ears...tons of dark-rimmed glasses...and a particularly endearing dude wearing a shirt proclaiming, "Sorry, I'm awkward. Sorry." Oh, and plenty of men with long, flowing, Pantene-commercial locks I could only dream of. I didn't count more than two dozen other women.

I really like The Ready Room. It reminds me of Springfield's The Rockwell. (RIP) The Ready Room is super wide and shallow, so even if you're in the back of the concert area, you're still fairly close the the stage.

Royal Thunder kicked off the night. The Atlanta-based four-piece won the crowd over quickly, largely due to the talent of vocalist/bassist Mlny Parsonz.

I would not even try to put Royal Thunder's music into a box of any certain style...their set took us on a hard rock journey featuring unique guitar licks courtesy of lead player Josh Weaver. Sabbath-like doom metal, blues, and hints of Zeppelin make up a sound that is uniquely Royal Thunder. Parsonz voice effortlessly glides between breathy and soft to Janis Joplin-caliber screaming.

It's always fun to watch a band "win over" a crowd, and that's exactly what happened at the Ready Room during Royal Thunder's set. The audience ended up cheering in the middle of songs as the tunes floated between hard and haunting.

If you, like me, are too lazy to click on links, I'll make it easy for ya. Here is "Forget You:"

The Sword took the stage after the lights in the Ready Room went down, and Christopher Cross' "Ride Like the Wind" (I'm sure there's a story here?) played, then stopped with a record scratch.

"Three Witches" opened the Sword's set. The crowd, a sea of bobbing heads, sang along. A few more songs from 2012's Apocryphon followed, before the band launched into tunes from its latest album, High Country.

High Country features much more variety than The Sword's previous albums. The August release incorporates synths, horns, and funk into the mix, while keeping the band's hard rock sound.

To say The Sword has a cult-like following wouldn't be too far off. One guy in the front row was raising his hands like he was in church on a particularly spirit-filled Sunday morning. When guitarist Kyle Shutt walked to the edge of the stage, the guys in the front row reached toward him like one touch of his Gibson Les Paul would give them some dose of enlightenment.

Highlights from the new album-- "Tears Like Diamonds" and "Mist and Shadow." The latter has an absolutely amazing riff that is mesmerizing on the album, but live, it absolutely kills.

More songs from Apocryphon and 2010's Warp Riders closed out the set.
In conclusion...this show was pretty damn awesome. The Sword's music is interesting, yet catchy. You can dance to it or mosh to it. (Fun, cute moshing...not scary Slipknot moshing) 
This night was an intense, fun, all-consuming trip to a rock 'n roll fantasy land that I didn't want to leave. As a bonus, the constant hope of any music fan--that the opening band will give you a new set of songs to be obsessed with--came true thanks to Royal Thunder.
Keep on rocking,
--Mrs. W.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Things I'm loving right now

A collection of things I'm loving or looking forward to as we approach the holidays. Don't say I've never given you anything:

* Scorpion Child have released several new songs. This is "She Sings, I Kill:"

I definitely dig this, especially the main riff. It seems Scorpion Child is headed in a heavier direction, while still keeping the throwback psych-rock sound. I'm assuming this song will be on the band's upcoming second album.

* Plenty of musicians are paying tribute to the late Scott Weiland. My favorite is this video of Slipknot and Stone Sour front man Corey Taylor rocking "Sex Type Thing:"

No, it's not the same...but Corey could sing the alphabet and I would enjoy it. Maybe a little too much.

* For a music geek like me, this article on how the metal nominees for the Grammys were selected is super interesting. If you read to the end, you'll see speculation on the outside chance Slipknot could perform on the main show. How great would that be?! Aside from the thrill of seeing Slipknot featured on such a huge TV broadcast...I'd love to see the audience reaction shots of artists from other genres.

* Apparently we can expect a new Alter Bridge album by summer?! And Mark Tremonti's follow up to Cauterize, Dust will be released in April. But really--all I want for Christmas, or my March birthday, is a freaking Myles Kennedy solo album. Especially if it's going to sound like Mayfield Four.

* Finally, everyone on the internet is talking about Chris Stapleton, so I don't really need to add my comments on the pile...but dammit, I can't stop listening to Traveller. I don't think I've ever had as much fun singing in the car as I have belting out "Nobody to Blame" and "Might as Well Get Stoned."

A photo posted by Carrie Winchel (@mrswrocks) on

Concert review of The Sword's show at The Ready Room in St. Louis coming soon!

--Mrs W.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Goodbye, Scott

I was waiting to get my paycheck today so I could buy a ticket to see Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts at The Regency in Springfield next week.

That show was cancelled yesterday morning. Last night we found out why.

I have no personal experience with addiction, so I can't speak to what may or may not have lead to his death. What I can speak to after looking at my friends' social media posts: the music Weiland leaves behind had a huge impact on people my age.

Stone Temple Pilots hit big when I was an preteen, sitting in my room breaking house rules by watching MTV and VH1 all day. (Back when those channels played music videos...rock music videos even)

STP's music defies genre--some lump it in with grunge. I've argued with someone over whether or not the band should be blamed for "butt rock."

I say we all just love those solid riffy guitars jangling under Weiland's killer, instantly memorable melodies. Each STP song gives you highs, lows, and surprising bursts of energy. I think that's why they still sound good. As many times as I've heard "Interstate Love Song" or "Plush" or "Sex Type Thing," I will NOT change the station when an STP song plays on the radio.

"Vasoline" is the perfect dark, driving '90's song.

"Plush" is a soaring classic. It always makes me smile because my old friend Daniel would sing it at karaoke nights.

"Sex Type Thing" is kinda rapey. But I still think this growly, bad ass tune is sexy.

Later, Weiland teamed up with several members of Guns 'n Roses to form Velvet Revolver--arguably the last true rock 'n roll band to really hit big. "Slither" may be my favorite rock song ever. I've listened to it three times this morning.

"She Builds Quick Machines" is another example of the pure rock magic that happened when Weiland teamed up with Slash, Duff and Matt.

My husband informed me there are some people at our workplace who do not know anything about STP or Velvet Revolver, and therefore have no idea who Scott Weiland was. If you are one of those people, listen to these songs on Rolling Stone's list of 20 Essential Scott Weiland tracks. Now.

I hope Scott is at peace.  I hope those close to him have memories of good times to hold onto. He was an amazing front man.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Long Drive Home

Yes, I treat every concert I attend like it's my senior prom.

So this gushing I'm about to do over seeing the Turnpike Troubadours this Friday should surprise no one. The Troubadours are one of my favorite bands. During my year working at a concert venue, they played there twice, both while I was working. It's been way too long since I've sang and--tried to--clap along in time with Long Hot Summer Day.

I have no rhythm. At all.

I'm also stoked for this show because it will be my first time seeing Turnpike perform new songs from the self-titled album the band released in September.

This is one of my favorite songs from Turnpike Troubadours, Long Drive Home.

This song is everything. Melancholy yet catchy. Wistful. Comfortable yet new and exciting.

For some reason, it just brings me to this really emotional place.

Well people anymore, they ain't got no staying power
A love you come by easy, it'll leave you just the same
You want something bad, you gotta bleed a little for it
You gotta look it in the eye, you gotta call it out by name

Lovers they march by, but they ain't like you and I
They all wanna be Hank Williams, they all wanna have to die

And we got a long drive home...and I'm damned if I do, and I'm damned if you don't

The last 13 months of my life have completely kicked my ass. Only a few people really understand the journey I've been on. Fewer know where I still want to go. I don't know how I'm going to get there. Something about this song speaks to the part of me that's wiser about how the world works...but still hopeful and determined.

So, yes, while Friday's Turnpike Troubadours show could blush and roll its eyes and tease, "you say that about all the concerts," I really mean it this time. This one is special.

--Mrs. W.