Saturday, November 29, 2014

Boy Bands gone bad... The Monster Energy Outbreak tour, a review

Chris Fronzak, vocals, Attila, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Chris Fronzak, vocals, Attila, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
An early start on a Friday evening, and the line of mostly late-teen fans stretches around three sides of the block, sidewalk wide in the early dark, waiting to get inside and experience the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour. It's been a beautiful November day in Sacramento: sunny after early mist, warm, flowers blooming, one of those days that makes you remember why you live here. 6 p.m. and the doors have just opened: it's quite unusual to see so many people, so early: the show has sold out, and all of the four bands are touring, no local opener on this evening.

For this show, the majority of the Ace of Spades is configured for "all ages", no alcohol: I'm thinking: these are metalcore-cum-boy-bands, hardly out of their teens themselves or trying hard to remain teenaged into their thirties.. the sort of band you'll see at Vans Warped, floppy hair and metal tuning. And yes, there was some of that--Crown The Empire especially boy-band-esque but with a screaming twist.

Crown The Empire, Sacramento
Crown The Empire, Sacramento
So... much... energy in the crowd. So many happy and excited people. So many loud girls waiting for a meet-and-greet or three. And all Ace of Spades' security guys, knowing what they are going to have to work with tonight.

Wall Of Death, Attila, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Wall Of Death, Attila, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
All four bands screamed at the audience to crowdsurf, to form the biggest circle pit ever (did they check the size of the venue before saying that??? Slight exaggeration given the available space), to go for the wall of death. I hope there were no broken bones. It can be a tad intimidating to be caught up in the pit if you're not prepared.

Tyler Dennen, vocals, Sworn In, Sacramento
Tyler Dennen, vocals, Sworn In, Sacramento
I was warned--twice--to be careful in the photo pit with Attila, because it would get nasty and we probably wouldn't be able to shoot three songs (they were right--we were pulled out of the small, crowded photo-pit after little more than one song, bodies flying over the security barrier and all that). It was "interesting" negotiating a way out of the pit, through the crushing crowd and skirting a very-active circle pit while carrying two cameras, but that's another story. (It wasn't until I edited my photos that I realised that security was not only catching all the crowdsurfers and making sure they didn't crack their heads on the stage or the cement floor, but they were also in the middle of the crowd, making sure everyone was OK. Kids? You owe them a big thank you.)

Of the four bands, I found Like Moths To Flames most enjoyable, probably because they mix some melody and clean singing in with the more typical hardcore screams and yells. OK, "core" is not my music of choice: I love the energy, and the action, but I like to hear singers who truly sing. Given the number of people at the show, I was one of the minority who was there for reasons other than being a totally-devoted fan. There were also a few brave parents, accompanying their kids. Some of whom have obviously spent so much time listening to their kids' fave bands that they know all the words...

Aaron Evans, bass, Like Moths To Flames, Sacramento
Aaron Evans, bass, Like Moths To Flames, Sacramento

Chris Roetter, vocals, Like Moths To Flames, Sacramento
Chris Roetter, vocals, Like Moths To Flames, Sacramento
Attila. The last keep-the-crowd-entertained song played in the break between Crown The Empire and Attila's arrival on stage was "I Don't F**K With You" by Big Sean, and all the young women in the front row of the crowd were singing along to words that insult and disrespect a woman (or just as importantly--another member of the human race). So the beat is catchy. Shouldn't you also listen to the words?

And that set the tone for Attila.

To my ears, every word of each and every Attila song rhymed with duck, and there was no quacking, no feathers, and no kindness. That was the limit: of the vocabulary, of the lyrics, of the words, and of the entire F-you sentiment.

I find it hard, and very sad, that the whole, sold-out venue of kids are raising themselves to think that's more than OK.

Crowd and circle pit, Attila, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Crowd and circle pit, Attila, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Am I being hypocritical? I love Five Finger Death Punch, and Ivan Moody's lyrics can be ultra-angry. Yet he is so articulate, and his words are intensly personal. Attila? It's just S*** my F*** and variants thereof. I really don't get it. The energy, the atmosphere, the incitement to rebel? Absolutely. The spirit of the words that are used? No, I don't. Never in a million years.

It's been a crazy week: non-peaceful Ferguson protests, insane shoppers on Black Friday, and kids who think it's OK to have little or no respect for other people while classing it as "music". I feel a little old... I now understand why earlier generations always say, "the world is not the same as it was". Words used to mean something... other than a middle finger.

Guys? You can obviously make music. You've obviously enough talent to draw a huge audience, and the energy to maintain a following. Give Peace A Chance.

When I left the venue, it was raining. I played The War On Drugs all the way home.

All photos link to Toon's Tunes photo galleries: or click here for Attila, Crown The Empire, Like Moths To Flames, and Sworn In.

Agree or disagree with this review? Join the discussion on our Facebook page!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Music, music, music this weekend and more to come

I know. I wasn't here much lately. My excuse? I was here, and here, and here, and especially here. Anyway... some interesting shows are lined up, starting with tonight: Atilla, at the Ace of Spades. There have been several bands named Atilla: this isn't the one with Billy Joel, nor is it the metal Atilla that we knew in Europe a while back. This one is metalcore, and they come from Atlanta, Georgia. I'm going to be there to see if they live up (or down) to their reviews.

Then on Monday, again at the Ace, it's The Birthday Massacre, with a really interesting support lineup that includes New Years Day (I really, really, REALLY want to add the apostrophe), and rock-orchestral The Red Paintings. I think that Sacramento's Snow White Smile has also been added to the bill, so this should be a cool evening out.

Check out the Ace of Spades' calendar for this week and next weekend. You'll see me at a few of these shows!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What does half of a Megadeth equal?

Megadeth, Aftershock 2013
Chris Broderick, Megadeth, Aftershock 2013
So it seems that there's trouble afoot within (and now, without) metal band Megadeth. This week, both guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover announced a split with the band... which leaves only founding members, Dave Mustain and David Ellefson.

It's OK. Megadeth has seen quite a few personalities over the years... no doubt the name will go on. And it's a good excuse to post a couple of pictures of Chris.

Megadeth, Aftershock 2013
Chris Broderick, Megadeth, Aftershock 2013
More from Megadeth's show at Aftershock 2013 in the Toon's Tunes Megadeth gallery.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Zeroclient's Omnia: a review

Zeroclient album launch, Assembly, Sacramento
Zeroclient, Omnia release show, Sacramento 2014
It's taken me far too long to get around to writing this review, and I apologise. Blame it on business trips to Vancouver and to Chicago, with very little time in-between. Though it's allowed me to listen to the album over a few weeks... and it's well worth listening to again.

More prog-rock than metal (even though they were awarded "best metal band" in the Sammies in 2012), Zeroclient are one of my favourite local Sacramento bands. With intricate blending of heavy drums and bass, and adventurous guitar, and they have a strong local following, and the release of their first album, Omnia, was eagerly awaited and launched at a show at Sacramento's Assembly, a few weeks back.

The songs on Omnia are well into the length of your typical "prog" offering, with Beyond the Horizon, one of my favourites, lasting almost eleven minutes. Not that the length of a song should pigeonhole anyone into one musical genre or another, it's just big deal for a young band's first full-length album release, and something pretty unusual for a local band to step up and play live... which they do, to much applause. Time for a wider audience, I think... national tour next?

Omnia has some wonderful instrumental stretches, and very laid-back vocals... and check out the artwork, too. Take a listen to Beyond the Horizon here (and then go buy the album, OK?):

Zeroclient are Arnold Pena (lead guitar), Brian Vees (vocals, guitar), James Wolf (bass) and Cameron Ellis (drums). You can find (and buy) Omnia on Amazon, iTunes, and listen to it through Spotify and Pandora. Find the band on Zeroclient's Facebook page, on Twitter as @zeroclientmusic, and on the web at

Photos from a couple of recent Zeroclient shows are in the Toon's Tunes Zeroclient gallery.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Wayne Static... gone. Evil disco, RIP

Wayne Static live Sacramento May 2014
Wayne Static, Sacramento, May 2014
RIP Wayne Static, who passed away today at far-too-young an age.

Twitter is full of messages from those who knew him. He was obviously a much-loved man and one who inspired many others. And he put on one heck of a show...