I took a ride over to the Gramercy Theater in NYC to catch the Brothers In Arms tour featuring Drowning Pool and Ill Niño with support from HED.PE and Evolution Empire. While I have been long time fan of Drowning pool, this was my first time seeing them and any of the bands on this bill.
Massive music festivals are commonplace now, but they were far and few between fifty years ago. They are hard to produce well, but can be great moments in time for fans and musical artists. For every Lollapalooza, Wacken, and Ozzfest, we have Altamont, Woodstock 1999, and Fyre Fest as well. No festival sets out to fail or do harm and hurt the trust of fans, but sometimes that happens. Blue Ridge Rock Fest, as it turns out, became a perfect storm of too many fans, too small a town, to support those fans. Purpose Driven events had put on severa
Quickly shaping up to be the biggest music festival in the USA this year, Blue Ridge Rock festival has announced their full line-up of 180 bands. Headlining the massive 4 day festival are Five Finger Death Punch, Rob Zombie, Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin, and Limp Bizkit. There is a special club warm up show which includes headliner Ludacris, T-Pain, and Lil Jon. Also on tap: the Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue, a vaudeville freak show of wonder by Hellzapoppin’s Ringleader and Producer, Mr. Bryce “The Govna” Graves. In addition, excitingly, the festival will be hosted by Steve-O (MTV’s Jackass); and special guest Lou Brutus (SiriusXM). The fest takes place September 9th – 12th at Blue Ridge Amphitheater, a long-awaited large-scale concert venue in Southwest Virginia. Tickets are on sale now at the link below and here is the full lineup:
I believe that it is human nature to want to find a lasting way to immortalize a loved one that has passed away. History has proven that the custom of creating a tangible or abstract method paying homage to the deceased has been a mainstay in almost every culture bringing comfort and solace for centuries. Humans that possess the soul of an artist seem to process loss and grief on a completely different level, most of the time creating something ethereal from their pain. Case in point, the sixth studio album from Heavy Metal badasses HELLYEAH, Welcome Home (Eleven Seven Music) is a fitting and spine-tingling tribute to their dearly departed drummer, Vinnie Paul Abbott. The album as a whole possesses some very tasty stand out tracks.Continue reading →
The time is nigh! For tomorrow Bud Light River City Rockfest number six takes place at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The fest has expanded with a huge lineup this year featuring Nine Inch Nails, Primus, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Chevelle, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Clutch, Yelawolf, Living Colour, Suicidal Tendencies, and many more. The AT&T Center is San Antonio’s premier live entertainment venue, the home of the San Antonio Spurs and Rampage, and hosts the biggest concerts in South Texas. Check out the full lineup, set times and other experiences on tap. Continue reading →
Bud Light River City Rockfest has expanded is festival with a huge lineup for year number six. Nine Inch Nails, Primus, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Chevelle, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Clutch, Yelawolf, Living Colour, Suicidal Tendencies, and many more to booked play the one day festival on September 22nd at the AT&T Center is San Antonio’s premier live entertainment venue, the home of the San Antonio Spurs and Rampage, and hosts the biggest concerts in South Texas.Continue reading →
News has come down that award-winning music producer Kato Khandwala died yesterday in a motor-cycle crash. No other information is available at this time. Khandwala was known best for his work with bands such as The Pretty Reckless, Pop Evil, Blondie, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, Drowning Pool and Pierce The Veil. Some of the bands he worked with released comments, upon the breaking news of his death. Continue reading →
Chicago Open Air, buoyed by naming Rammstein as their inaugural headline act, has now added a plethora of bands including Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, Chicagoans like Disturbed, Chevelle, and Ministry, plus Meshuggah, Of Mice and Men,In This Moment, Hollywood Undead, Trivium, Carcass, Hatebreed, Periphery, Drowning Pool, Butcher Babies, Through Fire, Breaking Benjamin, Pop Evil, Gojira, Deafheaven, The Devil Wears Prada, Helmet, Nothing More, Saint Asonia, Miss May I, Beartooth, Silver Snakes, City Of The Weak, Marilyn Manson, Bullet For My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, Babymetal, Asking Alexandria, Corrosion Of Conformity, Letlive. All That Remains, We Came As Romans, Jim Breuer & The Regulators, Upon A Burning Body, Gemini Syndrome and more. With this incredible lineup of talent as well as craft beer and “Gourmet Man Food”, Chicago Open Air from the very outset is vying to become the premiere American music festival.
Disturbed released a statement about playing the festival in their hometown:
“It is long overdue that one of the greatest rock cities in the world has a festival of its own. We are honored and excited to be one of the headliners at the inaugural Chicago Open Air festival in our hometown of Chicago.”
Daily band lineups (subject to change)
Friday, July 15:
Rammstein Chevelle Ministry Of Mice & Men Meshuggah In This Moment Hollywood Undead Trivium Carcass Hatebreed Periphery Drowning Pool Butcher Babies Through Fire
Saturday, July 16:
Disturbed Korn Breaking Benjamin Pop Evil Gojira Deafheaven The Devil Wears Prada Helmet Nothing More Saint Asonia Miss May I Beartooth Silver Snakes City Of The Weak
Sunday, July 17:
Slipknot Five Finger Death Punch Marilyn Manson Bullet For My Valentine Killswitch Engage Babymetal Asking Alexandria Corrosion Of Conformity Letlive. All That Remains We Came As Romans Jim Breuer & The Regulators Upon A Burning Body Gemini Syndrome
Weekend GA Field: $219.50 Weekend GA Bowl: $119.50 Weekend VIP: $399.50 Weekend VIP 2-Packs: $860.00 Single Day GA Bowl: $49.50
All VIP tickets include: VIP entrance lanes into the event, access to a VIP lounge area featuring dedicated food and beverage offerings (for additional purchase), field and stadium level viewing areas of the main stage, dedicated restroom facilities, and a commemorative Chicago Open Air VIP-only laminate.
Festival doors open at 11:00 a.m. each day and the show ends at 11:30 p.m. on Friday, 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Over the past year, San Antonio rock outfit Nothing More has impressed audiences with their eclectic hard rock sound. Their self titled album (debut for Eleven Seven and fifth album overall) have made waves throughout the music community and have yet to slow down since.
Known more on the DIY circuit around their home state of Texas, the band has slowly built a steady following that gradually became a force to be reckoned with.
“We would go out to the West Coast, go to LA, go up to the Northeast a few times, but no sort of normal real tour. It’s all DIY,” explained guitarist Mark Volleunga.
Photo Credit: Bright Music Photography (via Facebook)
Coming out the state of Texas, which has historically produced bands such as Pantera and Drowning Pool, Nothing More spawned out of a San Antonio music scene that had the pride of their music scene but had to fight to get ahead. This paid off in the long haul but Volleunga had his own concerns about where his home scene is nowadays.
“Texas in general has always had an attitude to do it as they wanted to and being different. We’re definitely of that mindset to tell it like it is through our music and be proud of that. I would definitely say that it’s true for the major of the state and the major of the bands that come out of there. It is a huge fricken place. I think it’s just as big as the UK, but the cities are so sparse. Just going from San Antonio to El Paso there’s 500 miles and there are literally one or two cities that are actually like cities that have more than a couple thousand people.”
“Surprisingly enough, none of us are fans of the San Antonio music scene right now. I’ll totally call it out…I think a lot of it has to do with not having a current rock station. The station there only plays classic rock pretty much – nothing new past 2006. That’s not any one person’s fault. It’s all corporate. They have a playlist they have to stick to because they do what they’re told. It’s really sad because I think it affects kids making a band. They’re not exposed to rock on the radio. Especially with us coming from there, we never thought we could get on the radio because it was impossible. It was surprising when radio was so important and other stations played cool shit.”
“The actual scene there is kind of metal and Tejano. There’s nothing exciting happening. I’m sure there are bands that I don’t know about that are doing something cool there but I haven’t heard them. The majority of the city hasn’t.”
Photo Credit: Sarah Carmody Photos (via Facebook)
He elaborated on the origins of Nothing More and how they transitioned from being a regional DIY act to a signed band with a larger recording label like Eleven Seven.
“Our singer Jonny [Hawkins], who used to be our drummer – I’ve been with him for 15 years and have been touring for the past ten years, right when Dan [Oliver] joined the band.”
“We’ve been around for a while. We have a lot of material. A lot of it we discontinued, mainly because it was just a different singer. We just wanted to keep it special for those who have it.”
“Basically we focused on our region, more Texas and Louisiana, and slowly but surely grew our fan base, matured as artists and we always wanted to partner with a label, mainly because it’s the next step to reach more people. So we had been trying this whole time but we’re definitely thankful things happened the way it did.”
“Otherwise we wouldn’t have been at the right spot for people to hear us for the first time and for us to be where we are as artists, as far as maturing our sound.”
Musically, their sound is anything but your standard rock music heard today. Their sound focuses on the rhythm section, where drumming and bass guitars play a huge role within their sound and stands out greatly.
“We’re definitely not just a rock band. We try to in all genres of music, just take the path of a sponge – soak up all that’s good and interesting, from electronica to black metal. There are a lot of cool things that all of the genres do, but a lot of the times we find ourselves…’that was really cool but the rest of the song was lame…’ or something like that. So we kind of had been inspired to make every song cool all the way through and have dynamics, of course, up and down. That’s how it’s always been I guess when we first started the band. We tried to challenge ourselves musically and put our own spin with our take on rock,” he said.
Aside from their music, he spoke about the band’s odd sounding name and how they made it stick with audiences everywhere.
“For a long time, we couldn’t settle on a name. So we were kind of nameless. I remember Johnny being over at my place and we had joked about being Nothing. Then he had the idea of ‘what if it’s Nothing More?’ Then we went into a conversation about going to shows and always being it so cool. They were normal people like us. They would talk to us. It would be cool. They wouldn’t have an ego. They wouldn’t be a dick. That’s the worst thing that could happen – when you look up to your heroes, you meet them and then they’re a dick; or they’re too good to talk to you. It was always been what Nothing More meant. We’re nothing more than normal guys. We’re normal dudes who want to connect with everybody there. We all love music. That’s why you’re here so we’re not any better. We’re just people.”
Photo Credit: Bright Music Photography (via Facebook)
Volleunga talked about each member’s musical origins and how it helped shape their sound. “I did go to University of Texas in San Antonio and I studied classical guitar for a couple of years. I actually dropped out when we decided to go full time and decided there is no Plan B – just make Plan A work. Dan, our bass player, moved to Nashville and went to Belmont University and went there for a couple of years and studied music. Jonny, right out of high school started doing the band thing full time. He was involved in drum line for two years, so he’s got that background training.”
One tune in particular that stuck out was “Mr. MTV,” which pays tribute to the one time music television channel’s ties to a popular tune. Volleunga explains, “Definitely a throwback touched on Dire Straits. When I definitely first started playing music videos and now it’s no more.”
“It is kind of funny how a lot of this generation doesn’t see that. They’ve never heard that song before. That was kind of shocking and funny to me. But I think it’s almost better because it means something special. When they do find out, they go ‘oh holy crap! Look at that.’ “
“It’s funny I remember seeing a few postings from people saying ‘MTV is playing your song!’ It’s like ‘What? How are they playing our song….ohhh they’re just playing the Dire Straits melody and you thought it was us. That’s crazy!”
While fans have slowly been introduced to their music, they have quickly learned how they have been the odd band out on most tours, with their sound often in left field compared to their touring mates on each bill.
“We’ve always worked on our live show and invested in that over time. Doing the DIY circuit, you really realize how we can get people to come back to the show when they don’t know your songs or when they’re seeing you for the first time. You really have to put on a show. So there are a few certain elements that we’ve been polishing and working on over the last ten years, like now with this intricate bass solo thing that we do, along with drum breakdowns to where we’re all jamming on some drums. So we feel like we can cater to almost any crowd, like playing with Killswitch Engage or with The Pretty Reckless, which we just did a tour with them in the UK.”
This earned them slots on bigger events, such as Knotfest in 2014. They have attracted other larger band’s attention along the way and instantly turning them into fans.
“We were definitely happy to be there. It was a bit of a dust fest. It was so much dirt and dust in the air from everybody having a real good time, which is always good but not so good for your lung cavity. I do remember hacking quite a bit.”
“It was really cool to once again be part of that and with all of the other awesome bands on the bill. I got to catch Atreyu. I like them and they’ve got that reunion show. They’re back at it.”
He also spoke about all of the attention Nothing More has generated over the past year from larger bands and getting personally asked to join their tours.
“It’s definitely crazy. When you hear people like Vinnie Paul or Jesse [Leach] from Killswitch [Engage] or anybody like that, who are all great human beings and our heroes and peers now – that’s a crazy thing and has changed in a matter of a year. So yes we definitely are surprised and definitely honored to have gone on the rocket ship and be where we’re at.”
One person they toured with and became a fan was Vinnie Paul of Hellyeah, where they toured together across the United States, and also their first experience on an arena sized tour.
“It was amazing. There’s really something different about an arena tour compared to a club tour. It’s great the amount of people but the connection is a little different because the people in the front row are 20 feet away. It’s a different strategy. You have to play up if you will, not down because everybody else is right there in front of you, and kind of exaggerating your stage presence helps a lot too, which is easier to do when you have a bigger stage to do it. So that was a blast. I will always have a better time if I have more room. Typically at club shows, I’m having to dodge Johnny and try not to nail him with my headstock.”
So far, so good? “Kind of. He’s not very aware of his surroundings ever – so always looking out for him,” he added, with a chuckle.