Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Where to begin... three days of Chicago Open Air... and I choose, letlive

Jason Aalon Butler, vocals, letlive
Jason Aalon Butler, letlive, in the crowd at Chicago Open Air
Three days of intense, heavy, loud, even-heavier-again, music. Three days with one of the best festival lineups you're likely to see in a very long time, if you are a metal fan; Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed, Korn, Chevelle and Rammstein, just to list the final two acts of each day... and remembering that the show started before noon, with performers on two stages, one after the other, with little, if any, time between each. More than 75,000 people attended over the three days of the weekend, the crowd was truly enormous, especially when everyone came into the main stadium together to see the headliners; everyone ate well, drank well, were generous to good causes including FXCK Cancer and Take Me Home... and enjoyed so much music. There was something for everyone, with varying degrees of heaviness, ranging from the brilliantly heavy, heavy, heavy French Gojira to sweet-and-cheerful Baby Metal (who drew a huge crowd to the second stage).

And among all the delicious-looking-and-sounding burgers with heavy-metal names like Five Finger Death Dog and The Midway Monster Dog, something that yours-truly-vegetarian-celiac could actually eat and really enjoy: the Kimcheesy Fries!!! After carrying around sixteen pounds of camera equipment and water bottles there and back, there and back, all day, beginning-to-end, between the two stages throughout the hot, humid (and on Friday, occasionally torrential), days, that food was very welcome indeed. Judging by the number of people eating, everyone found something to enjoy from a huge variety of gourmet "man foods' plus the regular stadium concession stands.

Jason Aalon Butler, vocals, letlive
Jason Aalon Butler, letlive
I will be sharing photographs from almost every one of the artists' performances. It will take a little time; there are quite a few (that's a typically British understatement... OK, it's a huge understatement... a few, yeah, right, a few) to work through, edit and publish, And the challenge, when faced with a festival's worth of photos: where to begin? With my own long-time favourites, Five Finger Death Punch and Pop Evil and Gemini Syndrome? Or with the band that so many were there to see, Slipknot? With dramatic and photographically-enticing In This Moment, or one that so many are asking me for already, Ministry? So many to choose from! A bit like a deer frozen in headlights, not knowing which way to jump. How to choose?

And so. I've decided to start with letlive. Here are my first band photos from Chicago Open Air. I begin with letlive, a new band to me this weekend, and here's why.

letlive (no capital, it's not a typo) are energy personified; dramatic, without a doubt; at one point, singer Jason Aalon Butler tied half the pit photographers up with his mic cable, on the way to leaping into the crowd; he sprayed water, he jumped, he ran, he screamed, the sound as metal as anything else you'd hear at the festival. And then suddenly, they are playing melodic, almost a ballad.. a beautiful surprise.

letlive have so much energy you'd think they were powering the thunderstorm that landed as a spectacular and resounding grand finale to the Chicago Open Air weekend. Their latest album, If I'm the Devil... is out now.

And another reason I'm starting with letlive? They'll be appearing at the Boardwalk in Orangevale, next Friday, 29th July. Thought those of you from the Sacramento area might like a preview... and a reminder to buy tickets now. Because at under $20, you'll have a night to remember.

More photos from letlive at Chicago Open Air in the photo gallery: click here!

Loniel Robinson, drums, letlive
Loniel Robinson, letlive
Here's a video of letlive's performance at Chicago Open Air:   Legendary status indeed!

If you're not in Sacramento, check out other tour dates for a town near you on the band's Facebook. Friends and family in the UK and in Europe: they are heading your way at the end of the year!

Chicago Open Air was produced by Danny Wimmer Presents, Live Nation, and Toyota Park, with the support of the Village of Bridgeview and Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek. And I really really hope it's the start of an annual event for Chicago.  Every city needs its metal fest!!!!

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