by: Michele Landon
Redhead LIVE! Photography

dsc_0459I had never seen Halestorm in concert before. I had heard their songs on local rock stations WZBH 93.5 The Beach & WIYY 98 Rock in Baltimore, with the most recent being “Love Bites (So Do I)” from their newest album “The Strange Case Of…” which hit in April of this year. So I honestly went to the concert that Friday night the 29th of June at the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach, DE with a blank slate, just ready to absorb whatever came my way.

As I stood there with the crowd and my friends K-Rock and Mrs. MARR (the husband & wife team that created & run Mid Atlantic Rock Review), the stage crew was doing what they do – pulling a great show together and everyone was sweating buckets. Because at 11 PM that night it was still in the high 90’s in temperature. For those familiar with the Bottle & Cork, it is mostly an open-air type venue at the beach. Next thing I know, Arejay Hale, the drummer of Halestorm is coming out in a marching band type hot (as in I thought he was crazy to be wearing in this heat! hot) jacket with a skull face biker type winter facial cover and marching band hat! I truly thought this guy is crazy to wear something like that on a night like tonight…he’ll be dead before the show is over!! The crowd went nuts! I still didn’t know what to expect.

Then bam! Lzzy and the rest of the band took the stage and launched right into “Love Bites” and the power started fast! I remember standing there smiling because many national acts tend to save their recent radio hit for the encore, not Halestorm…and I loved it!! What a powerful way to start the night. I knew from that moment I was hooked.

This band was everything I like, the tunes that make you move, talent, fun and connect with the crowd. They made you feel like you were watching them in their local neighborhood bar having fun and we sort of were. Halestorm said the Bottle & Cork was one of their beginning stomping grounds and they had family in the crowd that night. The connection between the band mates was a delight to watch throughout the night. The sister Lzzy, giving her brother Arejay a ribbing as only a sister can do. I have a sister and brother both so I understood the vibe and the fun behind it all. Lzzy sweetly dabbing the sweat from Joe’s forehead only to go on to make it funny. Those little things that make you walk away smiling and wanting to see them again as soon as possible. But that was only the beginning…

Lzzy Hale and her voice, wow! Crystal clear and angelic, but ROCKS!! Some rock voices seem to strain when the volume goes up. Lzzy’s voice seems effortless. The power comes out and knocks you on your heels. Again…found myself grinning ear to ear. Later I read that from the age of 16 to 18, Lzzy took lessons from Maryland’s own Steve Whiteman from KIX who taught her what she had, how to use it and preserve it. So glad he did!

Arejay Hale is the drummer, brother of Lzzy and co-founder of Halestorm. What a show this guy puts on. He gives everything and leaves NOTHING on the table. I usually don’t like drum solos much, (I apologize to my drummer friends!) but I watched this one wondering what the heck he was going to do next. At one point he threw his sticks away and proceeded to solo with his hands only, then after the hands, with these huge “drum” sticks. Each about 30 to 36” long and 1 to 2” diameter, which he continued the solo with. Lot’s of fun to watch and hear. I’m always amazed at drummers that have the ability to climb a kit, as Arejay did many times that night, and keep rocking the songs without a pause. Oh, and yes, he did take off that hot jacket from the entrance of the show after the first song!

Josh Smith, the bassist/vocals, was more layed back and subdued than Lzzy & Arejay. Giving a great balance to the constant motion on the stage. He creates the backbone bass to the songs and moves around the stage in a subtle way. Which is why I enjoyed watching as he’d break out in a smile as he interacted with his bandmates, especially Arejay as they made what I love most in a song, that makes me want to dance…a great back beat. It made you feel like you got a peek into what makes him happy. I look for that type of thing from musicians. It makes it real and personal.

Then there is Joe Hottinger, guitar/vocals. I loved the way he and Lzzy play off each other. He has this sly smile that is friendly and open. Joe just really enjoys himself up there which communicates that energy through the crowd. We got to see both ends of the musical spectrum with the acoustic song, “Familiar Taste Of Poison” he did with Lzzy and the rock you hard song “I Get Off” with him and Lzzy working the guitars together! Magic.

The set list that night consisted of a mixture…a lot of hard rock, a few ballads and songs that contained both hard and soft in the lyrics and the music. Taking us up, slowing us down and back up again, a true ride in the best sense. The night ended with “I Get Off” which punched it and left us high. I am happily planning my next time to see Halestorm and finding where and when they will be playing the area again.

By the way, I just want to mention how lucky we are to live in the Maryland, Delaware, and Delmarva area. We have quite a few really great venues around the area that are bringing the bigger national acts in to play in the smaller venues. When the big tours swing by our area, often the bands will book dates on the shoulders of the big venues in the smaller clubs. What a great way to get up close and personal with your favorite bands. Stadium concerts have their allure, but nothing beats the energy and feel in the smaller venues. The bands seem to relax a bit more and really connect with the fans, which I love.

Now about the other storm they brought…just as Halestorm ended for the night, that huge thunderstorm that has shut down the power in much of the Mid-Atlantic area for the last week? Yes, that hit as soon as we walked out of the Bottle & Cork doors! Certainly made the evening even more memorable! I’m guessing everyone who left was covered as I was in the 50+ mph blowing sand that stuck to the sweat from that night. Crazy! Thank you Halestorm for the awesome experience and fun! Looking forward to seeing you again!

Band Members:

Lzzy Hale – Vocals, Guitar

Arejay Hale – Drums

Josh Smith – Bass, Vocals

Joe Hottinger – Guitar, Vocals

To view more photos from the Halestorm concert, visit my Facebook page.