Cold, cold, cold! Folks lined up early while waiting on the doors to open at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland. This Friday night it was a sold out show for Stone Sour, Pop Evil and Stolen Babies. The excitement was high and the crowd in a great mood to welcome them to the city again.
At about 8PM the opening band Stolen Babies of Los Angeles / Oakland CA took to the stage. The trio is self labeled as “experimental rock,” which I think fits perfectly. They have two albums under their belt; “There Be Squabbles Ahead” released in 2006 and “Naught” in 2012 with a hiatus in-between the band is now hitting the road. I won’t put my own label on the sound because I wouldn’t be able to hit it correctly. I heard hard rock, sultry-bluesy sounds, screamo and even a taste of the ’80s New Wave. Dominiques voice was dark, intense with fun thrown in too. See the accordion? “Splatter” from “Naught” was one of my favorites. The lighting was black light with fluorescent paint and a carnival mad house feel, a challenge to shoot. The makeup around her eyes really played with my mind. The way the lights and fluorescent paint shined on them as well as her accordion and hanging drum at center stage. The band trio consists of Dominique Lenore Persi (vocals, accordion) and twin brothers Gil Sharone (drums) and Rani Sharone (bass). If you get a chance, pull them up on stolenbabiestheband.com and listen to their very unique sound and don’t forget to play Splatter!
Next up was a Baltimore favorite…Pop Evil. I smile as their banner drops from the three storied high ceiling at Rams Head and a roar goes up in the crowd. As their road crew sets up with an incredibly fast turn around, I found myself disappointed with the amount of space left to Pop Evil and their gear. Rams Head Live is a good size stage but they had less then half to set up on. However, the upside to this situation is that Joshua “Chachi Riot” Marunde’s drum kit was even closer to the crowd for his fun to watch high energy portion of the show! The lights dimmed and Motley Crue played on the PA system getting the crowd energized. I’m betting this was a tip-of-the-hat to a band that was one of Pop Evils early influences. They also collaborated with Mick Mars on the song “Boss’ Daughter” from 2010’s War of Angels.
As Pop Evil took the stage to “Deal With The Devil”, their second single to hit #1 off their most recent album “Onyx”, the crowd proved with their voices that they were ready for the show. The guys tore into their all to brief 9 song set and I must say they won hands down for stage show no matter how much space they had to work in! They feed off the crowd and the crowds give back. Leigh Kakaty was left, right and center stage with in your face power rock vocals and then switching for melting ballads that all can relate to and right back to kickin’ all American rock riot. Leigh is one of the best front men in rock today. Garnering praise wherever they play, Leigh’s unique, creative voice, emotion and mesmerizing stage presence creates fans everywhere. Matt DiRito pulls your eye with his bass of many colors, hair flying, guitar throwing, whirling like a dervish and making your stomach thump with the driving bass. It didn’t matter where you were standing in the packed house, he too was all over the stage engaging the entire crowd. Davey Grahs & Nick Fuelling anchor each side of the stage. I say “anchor” loosely as these two work together and play some of today’s rock most artistic and in your face guitar riffs. Each slamming and jumping on the risers and making those guitars sing and scream. As I look through my lens, it’s tough when trying to decide whether I should focus on their faces or on their hands manipulating the heck out of the strings. I have fun deciding! And then there is Joshua “Chachi Riot” Marunde on the drums. Many have described him as an animal playing the drums, he is and more. Most drummers hide behind their kits but I am so glad Joshua does not! He is up and down and up again, standing for half the set I think, tearing those drums up and literally reaching out to everyone and having fun…yeah, you can easily tell!
All but two of tonight’s songs were from the new “Onyx” album. Already both of the so far released singles off of Onyx; “Trenches” and “Deal With The Devil” have hit #1 for multiple weeks on the charts. When I first heard Trenches, to me it was quite different from their past hits, just as hard hitting but with a different sound. It’s hard to explain or put my finger on since I am not a musician. The guitar riffs were original and far ahead of anything I’ve heard recently on the radio. The video for Trenches is clean and simple but wonderfully showcases this amazing song. As their last song of the set, it was pretty incredible with the crowd singing their hearts out and trading off lyrics with Leigh who was enjoying every moment sharing the song with the crowd.
One of the things that really stands out to me with Pop Evil is they want to be there, they want to see the crowd, and the way they perform shows us they want to be right where they are, at that moment and no where else. Incredibly entertaining, high energy, captivating with a powerful new album is Pop Evil’s show this night. They owned it and the crowd. You can check them out here, see their current Onyx video trilogy and see where the tour is taking them next.Vocals: Leigh Kakaty Guitar: Davey Grahs Guitar: Nick Fuelling Bass: Matt DiRito Drums: Joshua “Chachi Riot” Marunde
Pop Evil / Set list – Jan. 17th 2014:Deal With The Devil Hero Flawed Torn To Pieces Goodbye My Friend Sick Sense Boss’ Daughter Last Man Standing Trenches
Very quickly the stage crew did what they do so well and had everything ready for Stone Sour. The lights dimmed, and the band walks on stage to a driving drum beat from “The House of Gold & Bones”. Corey Taylor walks to the center riser, welcomes Baltimore and says “Let’s go!”…and it was on! A 19 song, almost hour and a half show of non-stop roller coaster emotion.
The crowd was die hard! I don’t know who was louder at times, Corey or the awesome Baltimore fans singing every word with him. Corey was the man of the night and the center of all attention. Many in the crowd before the show were commenting on the clarity of his voice, his vocal range and the girls were also loving his looks. Throw in the rock, the rage, the ballads, the ease he had with the crowd and you had some very happy folks.
The tour highlights their “House of Gold & Bones” Parts 1 and 2 but with a large mix of past hits as well. About midway through the set, they played their current radio single “Tired”. All the songs were well spaced out to create a Stone Sour Symphony of sorts and imagine Corey as the director, not just for the band but audience too. His connection with them was magical. Further along, almost an hour in, he stands alone on the stage in stark lighting with his guitar and sings “Nutshell”, a Alice In Chains cover and melds into “Bother”. He stops at one point and the crowd swells into a roar, he smiles and absorbs the acclamation for a moment with a humble nod. And then rolls right into head banging, crowd surfing, blinding lights of “Blue Smoke/Do Me A Favor”.
At the end of the night he states that Stone Sour does what they call a “cover song of the night”, to pay respect to the bands that helped and set the foundation of rock. This nights final encore was a Judas Priest cover, “Heading Out To The Highway”. The fans were thrilled and again sung so loud Corey stood amazed. If you missed this show, you missed this weeks Octanes Big ‘Uns Countdown’s two top bands: #1 Stone Sour with “Tired” and #2 Pop Evil “Deal With The Devil”! This tour is one not to be missed and they still have another month to go! Go to www.stonesour.com to see the remaining cities on the tour. Many dates are sold out already so get your tickets and catch it now!Corey Taylor: Vocals/Guitar Josh Rand: Guitar Roy Mayorga: Drums Christian Martucci: Current tour filling in on guitar for James Root Johny Chow: Bass – Current tour
Stone Sour / Set list – Jan. 17th 2014:The House of Gold & Bones RU486 Say You’ll Haunt Me Black John Inhale Made Of Scars Mission Statement The Travelers Part 1 Tired Through Glass Gravesend 30/30-150 Nutshell (Alice In Chains cover) Bother Blue Smoke Do Me A Favor Gone Sovereign Absolute Zero Heading Out To The Highway (Judas Priest cover)
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