Concert review: The Smashing Pumpkins

pumpkins

Schottenstein Center, Columbus, OH – August 11, 2018

Toward the end of the Columbus stop of their “Shiny and Oh So Bright” tour, Smashing Pumpkins frontman/fountainhead/dictator (benevolent and/or otherwise) Billy Corgan announced to – or, perhaps, reminded, though it was news to me – the assembled throng that 2018 marked the band’s thirtieth anniversary. As someone with almost as many years invested in the b(r)and as the members themselves – and, often, many more spent consecutively – I found the milestone interesting trivia but not exactly possessed of abundant applicable meaning. To the fans that helped make them arguably the Grunge era’s most artistically resonant musical export, The Smashing Pumpkins have already existed in a sort of non-corporeal form – meaning Corgan, his prodigious, occasionally brilliant (even in latter days) songbook, his demonstrably enormous ego, and what always seemed like a rotating cast of anonymous session players filling out the roster – for an intolerable amount of time. Continue reading “Concert review: The Smashing Pumpkins”

Concert review: Slayer

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also appearing: Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth, Testament
Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio – June 7, 2018

It can be distressingly easy to take Slayer for granted. Can be, has been, continues to be. The band is both force of nature and fact of life, and has stood a silent, menacing vigil as the unofficially understood gatekeeper of extreme metal for well over three decades. If ever a metal band this side of, let’s say, Black Sabbath, could be said to have projected a palpable aura, it was Slayer, though not quite in a way they probably ever intended, despite the over-the-top illustrated deviltry that, blaring from both their garish album artwork and overpriced t-shirts beyond count, is the hallmark of their image. I sometimes picture them – or, more to the point, bald, bearded, stern, stocky, tattooed and temperamental guitarist Kerry King – as bouncers at some dingy club, or as symbolic hired muscle working a neighborhood poker game made up of aspiring metal bands and fans – stentorian, intimidating, unbending – ensuring only the worthy are ever dealt in. Continue reading “Concert review: Slayer”

Event review: Ring of Honor Wrestling – “Masters of the Craft”

ROH

Express Live! Columbus, Ohio – April 15, 2018

I had so much fun at my first ever Ring of Honor live event that I barely know where to start. So I guess I’ll begin with some context.

I have pretty much always been a professional wrestling fan, though there were times I was more loath than others to admit it, sometimes even to myself. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly my problem was. I’ve always been fascinated with the storytelling prowess and superlative athleticism that go into the in-ring product, and discovering as a tween that the results were predetermined did little to deter my interest, actually deepening it in scope and intensity as the years passed. Perhaps it was simple seasonal boredom, or a zest to explore other arenas once I’d determined this one had grown stale. I did use my two self-imposed sabbaticals from conspicuous wrestling consumption semi-productively Continue reading “Event review: Ring of Honor Wrestling – “Masters of the Craft””

Concert review: Clutch (second opinion)

Clutch

also appearing: Devin Townsend Project, The Obsessed
Express Live! Columbus, Ohio – December 31, 2017

There was a time – a simpler time not terribly many backward miles removed from this one – when I could reliably count on any concert by the groove-slinging desperados in Clutch being attended by most everybody I knew. To me, a Clutch show has always been an event, equal parts party and performance, a saucy suaree chemically engineered to make both your butt wiggle and your head bang, and, as an uncut, undistilled, damned near undeniable example of rock and roll at its most simultaneously festive and combustive, perhaps the preeminent affable, affordable, bi-annual flame to which musical Midwestern moths like me might flock. Even if, beyond the surface, all those not-so-long-ago shows might not have ever been anything particularly special, they always felt singular to me Continue reading “Concert review: Clutch (second opinion)”

Concert review: All Them Witches

ATW

Ace of Cups, Columbus, Ohio – November 14, 2017

This never happens.

Every city has its big-ticket and mid-sized concert venues, and they seem fairly immune to the ravages of either recession or technology-aided obsolescence. The artists that play there have a level of prominence that sells itself, and it’s a good thing I despise a majority of them, since I’m generally loath to contribute any more money to the 1% than I have to. Thank heavens then for the musical proletariat – those touring bands eeking out a living, hand to mouth and a mile at a time, but inarguably living their dream. At a time when it feels like DIY publications and beloved businesses at the local level are folding at an alarming rate, I also hold particular affection, and not a little bit of awe, for the boutique music space, the small downtown club that embraces and enables a potpourri of these varied and varying artists, whether independent, underground, or otherwise obscure. Continue reading “Concert review: All Them Witches”

Concert review: Screaming Females

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The Union, Athens, Ohio – September 29, 2017

As ever, Screaming Females have me at a distinct disadvantage. In the immediate wake of their whirlwind show at Athens, Ohio’s delightfully cozy college strip bar (not the kind you’re thinking) The Union, I was struck with two immediate feelings, both conflicting and complimentary: that I could well spend the rest of my lifetime and never quite fully figure this band out, and that the effort expended might somehow still be worth it. For a little less than a jam-packed hour, I was so engaged by the music I was experiencing, I was damn near mesmerized. When it was over, suddenly and with zero ceremony, it fell on me to collect myself for the walk back to my car and to take stock of what I’d seen – the high points, the disappointments, the might’ve-beens, the oh-my-gods. Technically, my list of complaints from a purely selfish perspective should’ve been robust, but the truth is that, both in that moment and this one, writing on four hours sleep on a picture perfect still Saturday morning, I honestly couldn’t care less. Continue reading “Concert review: Screaming Females”

Concert review: Mastodon

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also appearing: Eagles of Death Metal
Taft Theater, Cincinnati, Ohio – May 14, 2017

Words do scant justice to the concussive force and frightening authority with which Mastodon’s full-length debut Remission landed, like a meteor or similar harbinger of doom, in my life in 2002. Muscular and uncompromising, this young band seemed immediately driven to push into and conquer territory other artists were perhaps unnerved by or else hadn’t the capacity to envision. Remission was, at once, exotic and pulverizing, and had a particularly invigorating way about it, a smart bomb cast into the wasteland of the then-dying “Nu Metal” scene to finish the job definitively. In fifteen years as a metal fan, I couldn’t recall ever hearing an album like it. Another fifteen years later, and six more official longplayers into Mastodon’s career, I still haven’t. Continue reading “Concert review: Mastodon”