CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY & REVIEW: Ice Nine Kills recently played at The Forge in Joliet, IL and Evan J. Thomas was there to capture the spectacle - SEE IT ALL HERE
It's that time of year with the crisp cool air infiltrating, the calendar about to hit October, Halloween stores open so it was only fitting that Ice Nine Kills played at The Forge in Joliet, IL in front of a Sold Out crowd that was just buzzing.
Ice Nine Kills whole aura is based around Halloween and their music has been fueled by the Horror Movie genre. Their stage show is a theatrical experience with horror imagery on 2 LED 15 foot screens, various costume changes for the band, props and various characters joining the fray throughout the set.
The band emerged and rocked out to their new single "Hip to Be Scared", a song dedicated to the Christian Bale 2000 movie American Psycho donned in suits and looking spiffy. Vocalist Spencer Charnas has the audience in the palm of his hand throughout as he transitions through the various characters for the songs he sings. The next hour plus we were graced with the likes of "Savages", "A Grave Mistake", "Rocking the Boat", "The American Nightmare" before disappearing into the darkness as the masses voiced their excitement for one more song. I9K reemerged as "It Is the End" as their encore to a deafening applause.
Ice Nine Kills shows has it all, the passion and dedication to not just the music but to their theatrical set up, the masterful lyrics that goes along with their catchy hooks and riffs and they know their audience and they give them exactly what they want. Rock On!
CONCERT REVIEW - METALLICA @ METRO: A week later, Evan J. Thomas reflects on the events that led up to epic night where Metallica played the 1100 capacity Metro Chicago - READ IT HERE
It has been just over a week now since that epic surprise show from the legendary Metallica at the 1100 capacity The Metro in Chicago that I was so lucky to attend. Metallica was using this show as a prep for their 2 night set coming up at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, KY. There were many circumstances that led up to me being able to go but it had all worked out and wow, I'm still reveling over the fact I was able to attend what would be the most talked about show of 2021.
It all started on Monday morning September 20 at approximately 8:43am when I was flipping through Facebook and saw a post saying "rumor has it Metallica is playing Metro tonight". A minute later I received a DM from buddy Dan Hardman stating the same thing and he shared an image of 2 semis outside of The Metro. I told him thank you but I wasn't really interested in going and I legit had zero intentions in making the trek out there but then things happened.
I finished my morning work shift at 10am and I took my usual after work nap for over an hour. Then I made some breakfast and after decided to do some Uber driving to make some extra cash. I had one pickup a few minutes from my house that put my destination about 1 1/2 miles from The Metro. I got down there just around 1pm and by that time the local radio station had announced the show and that a line has been forming since late morning. I thought to myself "WTF, why not take the chance and get in line". I put my destination on and arrived 7 minutes later and found some street parking. The line went down Clark Street and around the block down Racine spanning a full block. I realized that I had a slim chance of getting a ticket.
There were some rules though on attending, 1) you must be vaccinated AND have your Vax card on you and must show it, 2) Cash ONLY and holy shit it was only $20, lucky I had 6 $5 bills on me and 3) you MUST wear a mask in the venue at all times. I was 3 for 3 so now the wait. I stood in line chatting it up with a few people but mainly one guy behind me, we joked that if we did get close enough that we could potentially sell our spot for big money. The line would sporadically move and it was fun watching people get dropped off and run their ass off to get into line for this opportunity. I waited close to an hour and was getting closer to Clark St. That was the turning point, once we hit Clark Street we were about 20 people from the front door. There was a guy working at the Metro telling those in line "YOU MUST have your vaccination card out when I come up to you or I will send you to the back of the line". Well, I had mine ready and in a blink of an eye I was up to him and he was checking my card and stamping my hand to prove my vaccination. Moments later I was brought into the Metro and to the woman taking the $20 for the ticket. I paid my fee and when I turned around there were 3 guys who slapped the wristband on me then walked me out the side door. We were handed instructions on what would ensue that night. At that moment I realized and said "Holy Shit, I'm going".
It was now about 2:45pm and I had to run home and change since I was just wearing a workout hoodie and workout shorts, definitely not the best look for an epic concert like this. I arrived home just after 4 and got into my concert garb, grabbed a quick bite to eat and snagged a bottle of water and hopped in the car. I had found out that 3 other friends of mine had gobbled up a wrist band and were in route or already in line for the doors at 7pm.
It was time for the doors to open, we scrambled in and there were 3 check points for our wristband before we could get to the stairs. Once we made our way up and to the main floor we noticed there were 2-3 people deep almost all around the rail, except for a spot just to the left and by the speaker. This is where me being shorter worked out for me, that speaker was about 6 1/2 feet high so I was able to lean under and see the stage clearly and get some incredible video and photos. The buzz and anticipation grew as it got later, then the lights went dark and the guys made their way to the stage to kick off their set with "Whiplash" which they did back in 1983 when they first played The Metro. I sang, I screamed, I head bobbed and I watched in awe of the legends as they were mere feet away from me.
For about the next two hours those 1100 people witnessed a unique 16 song set from the mighty Metallica that we will never forget and will be talked about for generations. I was just glad things worked out for me being there. Rock On!
Check out my LIVE PERFORMANCE video of the finale.
NEW MUSIC: REDDSTAR unveil blistering new video for their single "Fukitol" - WATCH IT HERE
CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY & REVIEW: Evan J. Thomas covered Motionless In White as they made a stop in Joliet, IL at The Forge to a SOLD OUT crowd, check out his bad ass photos and review. - SEE IT ALL HERE
The Forge was buzzing Sunday night as a sold out crowd anticipated the triumphant return of Motionless In White to Joliet, IL. Fresh off of their Blue Ridge Rock Festival appearance and just days into kicking off their fall tour supporting their 2019 album Disguise, this show has been sold out for weeks and other shows on their tour are also sold out so if you are interested in catching Motionless In White get on it!
Motionless In White is arguably one of the most popular acts in the hard rock/ theatrical performance bands and for good measure with their bad ass music and brilliant lyrics. With the masses buzzing, Vocalist Chris Motionless strolled his way onto the stage wearing head to toe a pure white suit and donning a Saw mask as he crouched down at the front of the stage glaring back and forth before slowly removing it and exposing his painted white face to massive screams from the masses. The band kicked off their set with their new single "Thoughts and Prayers" and in the next 1 1/2 hours slammed through "Voices", "Another Life" and coming back to a crowd that was bursting at the seams for the finale of "Devil's Night" and "Eternally Yours".
This was my first time seeing Motionless In White in something other than an early afternoon festival slot and wow did they impress me. I've listened to a lot of their music over the years and even played some of their newer songs on my radio show but holy shit the overall ambiance of the stage set up, their energy, stage presence and passion MIW possesses blows the pants off lots of bands in their genre. and that is what I love about live music! Rock On!
CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY & REVIEW: Evan J. Thomas trekked up to Milwaukee to cover Shinedown and Zero 9:36 at the legendary The Rave/ Eagles Ballroom, check out his bad ass photography and review. - SEE IT ALL HERE
Shinedown at The Rave/ Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee was a date I had on my calendar for months when this show was announced and I was excited for a few reasons. 1) I've never been to the legendary The Rave/ Eagles Ballroom but I have heard such cool things of this venue, 2) Shinedown headlining, last time I saw them was one of the BEST shows i've EVER seen so the anticipation was high and 3) I got to experience both with my son Brandon as he also got to see one amazing show!
Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, Matthew Cullen or as he is known by Zero 9:36 was the opening act at the sold out The Rave. Zero is a rapper firmly building a name in the rock genre and his style can be reminiscent of legendary rapper Eminem. Zero dashed his way back and forth across the massive The Rave stage as he belted out his 30 minute set that featured his hit "Adrenaline". Zero grabbed the crowd and pulled them in throughout and received an awesome response. After his set, Brandon and I got the opportunity to meet and talk to Zero for a few minutes and he was gracious to take a photo with us. It was a great experience for the both of us.
The anticipation grew for the headliners Shinedown, the dim blue light engulfing the drum set was a cool effect before the lights went dark as vocalist Brent Smith along with band mates, guitarist Zach Myers, bassist Eric Bass and drummer Barry Kerch emerged to the sounds of the rocking "Cut The Cord". Lathering up the masses was just the beginning of an incredible set.
To me, Smith is one of the best frontmen in rock music as he commands the audience and connects intimately like he's talking to you and just you even though you are surrounded by thousands. With nearly 20 years of experience Shinedown has a catalog of music that ranges from hard and heavy to the softer more ballad type where everyone can just sing along. Shinedown graced us with "Save Me", "State of My Head", "45" but for me the song that got me was their rendition of "Get Up" where Smith asked the crowd to pull out lighters and/or cell phone spotlights that lit up The Rave light fire flies as he belted out the memorable song (see the YouTube video I took). Finishing off the night the guys rocked out with their cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" and wrapping it up with "Sound of Madness" that had the masses in a tizzy.
Shinedown has been known for having amazing shows, their 2018 show I covered was one of my favorite shows every and tonight was right up there with that with their performance. The Milwaukee faithful were not disappointed on this night and as my son Brandon said after and I have to agree, "That was amazing". Yes it was. Rock On!
NEW MUSIC: Los Angeles metal band Fate Destroyed has revealed a video for "Death Signs (ft. Jason Alessi)", the first single from the upcoming EP, Two Toned Hearts, due out on Oct. 1 and check out their tour w/ Vampires Everywhere. Check out the song t
CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY & REVIEW: Evan J. Thomas covered the legendary Living Colour at Reggie's in Chicago for their Late Night set after Riot Fest - CHECK IT ALL OUT HERE
Oooooh the buzz was there on Friday night for the legendary rock band Living Colour. Fresh off of their afternoon set at steamy Riot Fest at Douglass Park in Chicago, IL where former WWE and current AEW Wrestler CM Punk joined the band on stage. The excitement filled the main room at Reggie's Music Club for a late night Riot Fest after show.
Known for their 1990 Grammy Award winning Hard Rock anthem "Cult Of Personality", easily one of my favorite songs ever and a staple on my workout playlist, the quartet from New York City brought not just their metal chops but swooned the masses with their funk, jazz, hip hop, punk and rock catalog.
Right around 11:15pm, vocalist Corey Glover and the guys emerged and received a Chicago welcome. "Memories Can't Wait" kicked off the set as we took in the masterful solos and riffs from guitarist Vernon Reid with each and every song which was a sight for sore, eh, ears. Reid displayed his technical mastery that would put many other guitarists to shame. For the next hour plus we were graced with "Glamour Boys", "Love Rears Its Ugly Head" and the before mentioned "Cult Of Personality" but Living Colour wrapped up their set with a cover of The Clash's classic hit "Should I Stay or Should I Go" that had Reggie's in a frenzy.
It took me 30+ years to finally see and photograph Living Colour live and I loved every minute of it. The ONLY thing that would have topped it would have been an appearance again from CM Punk but we can only take what is presented to us. Rock On!
CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY & REVIEW: Avatar returns to the House Of Blues Chicago, check out Evan J. Thomas' Photos & Review CHECK IT OUT HERE
Swedish metal band Avatar made their triumphant return to the House of Blues in Chicago for the first time in just over 2 years. With their album Hunter/ Gatherer which was released in late 2020 during the pandemic shutdown the band is rocking the "Era of the King" look during this inception of the band. Vocalist Johannes Eckerstrom who dons the makeup similar to that of Brandon Lee's epic character "Eric Draven" from the movie The Crow.
Avatar came out a blazin' as they set the stage for the next 1 1/2 hour set with their heavy single "Colossus". Johannes and his court had the masses head banging along to hits "A Statue of the King", "Hail The Apocalypse", "Smells Like A Freak Show" and others. The lights, the atmosphere, the outfits and the music makes Avatar not just a musical but a visual experience. Rock On!
CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY & REVIEW: Evan J. Thomas photographed Butcher Babies, Infected Rain, Bullet To The Heart and Stitched Up Heart at Reggies in Chicago, check out his bad ass photos and review. - SEE IT ALL HERE
Women of hard rock/ metal were at the forefront on this mid September night at Reggie's Club in Downtown Chicago and were we in for a treat with these four bands. Keep reading below...
BULLET TO THE HEART
Chicago's own Bullet To The Heart were at their best as they kicked off the show as vocalist Audrey Queen took the reigns and lathered up the masses during their 30 minute set. The energy and passion that BTTH brought laid the ground work for what was to come. Thrashing through their new single "Tortured Pleasure" as well as "Falling Away", they capped off their set with the kick you in your fucking teeth "Knives Deep" and they left us wanting more!
STITCHED UP HEART
Stitched Up Heart led by the sparkling Mixi with her multi colored hair and warrior style outfit were next up and popped off their biggest hits with "Catch Me When I Fall", "Finally Free" and "Monster".
Infected Rain was the most intriguing band of the night for me. This was their first time touring the U.S. and their first time in Chicago and they slayed it! Hailing from Chisinau which is located in Moldova, Infected Rain features the flowing dread locked Elena "Lena Scissorhands" Cataraga on vocals along with fellow band members Vadim, Vladimir, Sergey and Eugen flanking her on stage. I wasn't sure what to expect but after 45 minutes of sheer metal I loved how Lena had the masses in her palm and how she connected with the crowd. "Passerby", "Black Gold" and "Taphephobia" were just a few of the songs they had for us tonight.
Headlining on this Friday night was the one and only Butcher Babies. Led by the female vocalist duo of Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey along with guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Ricky Bonazza and drummer Chase Brickenden their shows are an experience. I love how Carla and Heidi play off each other with their vocals on songs and how "in your face" they are throughout their set. Kicking off with "I Smell a Massacre", new songs "Bottom of a Bottle" and "It's Killing Time, Baby" Butcher Babies are always thrashing around the stage and capping off the night with "Yorktown" was a fitting way to go out. Rock On!
CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY & REVIEW: Evan J. Thomas photographed Alabama based Hard Rock/ Blues band Them Dirty Roses at Joe's on Weed St. in Chicago over the weekend, check out his photos and review - SEE IT ALL HERE
It was a few months ago when I was introduced to Them Dirty Roses by good friend and publicist Tom George. He was talking so highly of them and I take Tom by his word since he is the same man who has introduced me to Blacktop Mojo, Joyous Wolf, South Of Eden among many others over the past few years. Well tonight I finally had the opportunity to check out one of Tom's new finds at Joe's on Weed Street in Chicago. Joe's is a legendary and award winning live music venue featuring mainly country artists. Over the years Joe's has hosted up and comers like Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Eric Church and a bevy of others.
It was Them Dirty Roses first time in Chicago and the guys strolled onto the massively wide stage to take their collective spots moments before the music hit. Sporting bell bottom pants, tinted sunglasses, long flowing hair and beards like the legendary 70's "Southern Rock" bands before them the quartet had the look to fit their music catalog. It took a little bit early on for the masses and the band to get lathered up before the real fun started with their bad ass cover of "Mississippi Queen" before rolling through their head bobbing, baby making, booty shaking 90 minute set that included "Fix You", "Holy Roller", "Cocaine and Whiskey". I'm saying that because their was literally booty shaking going on.
The last few songs were epic! The inebriated crowd danced and rocked out as the Alabama boys got a well deserved Chicago encore request as we were chanting "One More Song" over and over till the guys wandered back onto the stage. We were in for a treat as the beginning riff of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" rumbled through the speakers to our wanting ears. Them Dirty Roses gave the Chicago audience what we wanted, pure rock and roll to end a show to a flurry of deafening cheers. To say that I was impressed by Them Dirty Roses would be an understatement, from their down to earth off stage personalities to their on stage musical magestry they just have it.
I've said this before and I will rehash my statements but we are witnessing a new generation of rock and roll bands that WILL be the headlining bands in the near future. For those saying that Rock Music is dead must be listening to the same old 20+ year playlists from the "Classic Rock" stations and not looking for the incredible new music that is out there. There are folks like myself that pride on sharing new music and new bands, so instead of ho humming through another tired 80's hair band ballad take a chance and listen to something new, something fresh and rocking. It's out there, just open your mind and take a listen. ROCK ON!
EVAN J. THOMAS PHOTOGRAPHY
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