The mystique is gone and so is the money. Artists today play because it is in their blood. This talent should be showcased and it’s a shame that we do not value this ability more.

Every year I intend to go to as many shows as possible but life typically gets in the way. As I get older, the responsibilities seemingly multiply making it more and more difficult for me to get out and cut loose.  March 23rd marked my start to the concert season. What better way to kick things off than with two legendary punk acts and some sludge metal masters from New Orleans!

Longtime friend, JD Peterson, went with me to this event. We arrived sometime after 9pm and found a large crowd on hand. Skinheads and leather, it seemed as if the entire Chicago punk scene had come out for this show. I was thrilled for the Brauerhouse (1000 N. Rohlwing Road, Lombard) and I hope they keep booking these great shows!

The first act I caught was Murphy’s Law. I remember when I first saw them live at the Milwaukee Metalfest back in 1991.The group affectionately labeled the gig: ‘Death Fest’, due to the large quantity of death metal acts on the bill. The headliner that year was Deicide.

I hadn’t seen the band since and I was curious to see how they’ve held up. Murphy’s Law is from New York City and they’ve been around since 1982. The party-time lyrics of the band have always appealed to me. Back with a Bong (1989) is a hardcore masterpiece. Who doesn’t appreciate the song “Quest for Herb”? The use of funk, reggae and saxophone-led ska has really moved the band into a class of their own. Murphy’s Law gave us all the classics. It was a satisfying set which went over well with the crowd.

Up next was the Cro-Mags. I’ll admit the first time I ever saw this band I was scared shitless. It was at the Aragon Ballroom (1106 W. Lawrence Ave, Chicago) back in 1986. The line-up was TT Quick, Cro-Mags and Motorhead on Halloween! This was the first time I ever saw somebody with a mohawk aside from Mr. T on television. Real punk rockers in the flesh and getting crazy. It was a concert I will never forget.

The Cro-Mags in 2018 are the same as I remembered. A crossover act with a high-octane message of peace. In a world of media generated negativity, their positive declarations really rang true. I hope the new record they promised back in 2011 will be released soon. We could really use some new material from such a prolific act.

Closing the event was EYEHATEGOD. I discovered this band two years ago when I saw them open for Discharge at Reggies (2105 S. State St, Chicago). At that time the group was fronted by Randy Blythe of Lamb of God. I enjoyed the band’s performance, coming off like a sludge metal version of Black Sabbath. I ran into EHG bassist Gary Mader after the show and he told me all about Mike IX Williams and his pending liver transplant. I left that night an EHG fan. I injected myself with their back catalogue, absorbing all thigs EHG. I missed the Chicago show last year and was anxious to see the group helmed by their true vocalist. Not to mention a bird’s eye view of Mike’s recovery.

EYEHATEGOD was everything I expected and more. The band fronted by Blythe seemed tight and executed with dry precision whereas Williams’ version was loose. So much so that guitarist Jimmy Bower walked off between songs to take a piss and grab a beer. The band sounded better, as they were intended. The music dripping with a doom-laden Southern charm. Songs like “Parish Motel Sickness” or “Sister Fucker” sounded better than the album. The disavowing vibe of the band reaching the bleakest levels human morality.

Mike IX Williams has become one of the most polarizing figures in modern metal. Like an anti-shaman, his message is convoluted and full of contradictions. Watching him perform was like observing a beautiful train wreck. I wondered if these (visible) tribulations were a mechanism for coping or simply a means of shirking the responsibility of life.  If EYEHATEGOD manages to release a follow-up to their 2014 self-titled effort within the year, I think we will have our answer. I personally can’t think of a better way to embrace the fans who contributed to Mike’s cause, I hope he agrees with me.

As I left that night I contemplated the life of the modern rock star. The mystique is gone and so is the money. Artists today play because it is in their blood.This talent should be showcased and it’s a shame that we do not value this ability more. The solidarity we once took for granted is now reserved for these single events. Although the outlook may seem bleak, we must remember that life moves in cycles. If vinyl can make a comeback so can metal. I aim to see this cycle through! \m/

EYEHATEGOD – Upcoming 2018 Tour Dates:

Mar. 31 – The Wooly – Gainesville, FL
Apr. 01 – O’Malley’s Sports Bar – Margate, FL
Apr. 02 – Nighthawks – Jacksonville, FL
Apr. 05 – The Nick – Birmingham, AL
Apr. 21 – Gorod – Moscow, Russia
Apr. 22 – Mod Club – Saint Petersburg, Russia
Apr. 23 – Tapper – Tallinn, Estonia
Apr. 24 – Kuudes Linja – Helsinki, Finland
Apr. 26 – Kraken Rökerigatan 1D – Stockholm, Sweden
Apr. 28 – Pumpehuset – Copenhagen, Denmark
Apr. 29 – Hafenlang – Hamburg, Germany
Apr. 30 – Het Bos – Antwerp, Belgium
May 01 – Garage Saarbrücken – Saarbrücken, Germany
May 02 – Patronaat Haarlem – Haarlem, Netherlands
May 03 – Effenaar – Eindhoven, Netherlands
May 04 – Desertfest – London, United Kingdom
May 05 – Scorched Tundra IX – Gothenburg, Sweden
May 06 – Desertfest – Berlin, Germany
May 07 – Viper Room – Vienna, Austria
May 10 – Freakout Club – Bologna, Italy
May 11 – EVOL club Roma – Rome, Italy
May 24 – Maryland Deathfest – Baltimore, MD
Jun. 22 – Hellfest – Clisson, France
July 09 – MTC Cologne – Cologne, Germany
July 18 – 20 Monroe Live – Grand Rapids, Michigan
July 21 – Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK
July 28 – Heavy Montréal – Montréal, Québec
Aug. 07 – Rebel – Toronto, Ontario
Aug. 08 – M Telus – Montreal, Quebec
Aug. 16 – Psycho Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV

 

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