This was one event I was glad I didn’t miss. The relationship between artist and fan is what makes this music work.

Every time I attend a concert I try to come up with a ‘theme’ for the evening, a summary of events that falls into a particular category. More often than not, those commonalities unfold as the night progresses. However, this time around we knew the theme well before the night began.

As you get older, the responsibilities increase. Age has a way of making you honest in ways you’ve never considered before, dependencies must be adhered. That was the case on Monday July 29th as constraints began to rear their ugly heads. I won’t bore you with the details but the decision to attend the event was in jeopardy.

Ultimately, we decided means and opportunity must be observed. If you have a chance, take it, there may never be another. Life is a complex game. To quote the band Striker if you are going to play, you’ve got to Play to Win.

The Metal Channel editor, Roger Schultz and I set out for Reggie’s (2105 South State Street Chicago, IL) in ample time to make the start of this event. We arrived just before the doors opened and were able to enjoy a bite and a couple of drinks before hitting up the bands to see if the interviews could still be had.

First up was Dan Cleary, the versatile vocalist from Striker. I’ve been a fan of the band for a few years now interacting with famed guitarist, Tim Brown, two years ago when the group rolled through with Warbringer and Dark Tranquility. I was anxious to find out how the Summer of Shred tour was progressing, Dan was happy to give me the scoop.

After that we got together with Eli Santana and Alex Lee of Holy Grail. I’ve been interacting with this group since 2013’s Metal Alliance Tour with Anthrax, Exodus & Municipal Waste. They are consummate musicians. I was curious to find out what was happening. Eli and Alex were more than happy to oblige.

Once the interviews were completed, it was time to take in the main event. There was a decent crowd on hand for a Monday night and we arrived just in time to see the band Bewitcher.

Bewitcher is a high-octane blackened speed metal act from Portland, Oregon. They were the surprise of the evening. The crowd was rabid for their supersonic attack. I’d never actually heard the band before but you can bet Satan’s ass I left with a copy of the latest record, Under the Witching Cross. Bewitcher is a group I’d like to experience again.

Striker was up next. The band’s high energy vibe had us all in an uphill swing. Head banging and fist pumping anthems were the priority. We got the message loud and clear. Striker ran through a set list with an emphasis on the new record (Play to Win – 2018). There is little doubt the group’s throwback style would dominate a stadium atmosphere, that success could be just around the corner.

Holy Grail was the final band of the evening. I hadn’t seen the group live since their 2016 tour with Black Tusk. Although they’ve always been considered a great live act, the boys from Pasadena took things to the next level. Holy Grail kicked our asses! Their performance was as polished as I have ever seen. Mixing the old and new with a solid emphasis on, Times of Pride and Peril, the attack was very satisfying. James Paul Luna’s new look is seriously scary. I can’t wait to get a hold of some new material! The conquest has only begun for Holy Grail and these artisans are ready to achieve it.

As I drove home later, I found I was filled with a deep satisfaction. This was one event I was glad I didn’t miss. The relationship between artist and fan is what makes this music work. There will never be a metal scene without bands playing live but it won’t be any fun unless the fans come to enjoy it. Tours are really a celebration of the music we cherish over and over again. \m/

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