|Pictured Above: Alice In Chains vs. Hoosiers!|
I have always been a product of the music that I grew up on and still find myself, for better or worse, stuck as a fan of Rock music above everything else. I have two “GO TO” albums on my iPod that have helped me get through some of the toughest times in my life, which has well as been the background music for some of the greatest times of my life so far. These albums are KISS “Alive II” and Alice in Chains “Unplugged,” so when I was presented with the idea of writing a concert review for AIC I was excited in a way that I hadn’t been about music in quite some time. I grew up in the 70s, was in High School during the 80s, college during the 90s and have played drums in several bands over the years and feel that I have had a lot of exposure to music. After discussing music for several months with my coworker Syd Bishop, I was turned on to a new possibility to use some of my life experiences in a way that I had never considered before…writing reviews for local shows…this is where my journey begins.
I was traveling to work one day listening to a local radio station when I heard the advertisement for the upcoming AIC show at Horseshoe Indiana. Here was a chance to see one of my favorite bands at a local venue…and then reality set in…how can a single dad of two boys justify spending that amount of money on tickets to a show? I couldn’t and I started to get bummed out. I went on into work and it was obvious that I was a little down and was asked by a co-worker if everything was okay. I went through the story and then I was met with a totally unexpected response, “How about you do a music review of the show for Never Nervous?” Umm…what? Syd was very supportive and encouraging about this possibility and talked me through the process of getting started. Within 20-30 minutes of getting to work that day, I had started the process of becoming a freelance writer. The things in life that are unexpected, seem to be the greatest gifts of all, and besides my beautiful Cara, or recently reaching 99.8% on LEGO Marvel Superheroes…this was the single best thing that has happened to me in a long while.
I drafted up an email to Horseshoe, not knowing what to expect, and hit the send button. By the end of the day, I had been contacted by someone who we will refer to as “Sister Silver Hoops” (rep from Horseshoe), and the ball was rolling. I sent back an email explaining my plan, and I was met with open arms. I began to get very excited about this opportunity and wanted to make the most of my experience. I continued to email my contact every few weeks in order to keep everything fresh on both ends. There was, what seemed like, a very long dull time in this process, but my doubts were unwarranted as things really picked up about 3 weeks before the show. Before I knew it I was signing PR and Record label Release forms, hearing terms like “photo pit,” “3 songs- no flash,” and “fish eye lenses”…. what the hell is going on here…have fallen victim to a Jedi Mind Trick or fallen into the Twilight Zone? Having been given permission to shoot the show, as well as being granted two passes, I needed to find someone who could get the job done behind the camera. I turned to my buddy Ben who, without a doubt, is the most kick-ass photographer I know. So with a week to go before the show, everything seemed to be getting lined out perfectly.
|Pictured Above: Never Nervous is the real shit.|
So…it’s concert day and I am almost peeing my pants with excitement at this point. I can’t focus at work and all I can think about is getting to the venue. After what seems like days at work, I hit the road to meet up with Ben. As soon as I leave work, I get an email from AIC’s PR guy and he informs me that there will no longer be a photo pit at the venue and that we would have to shoot from the sound area. I was somewhat pis
sed about this, but who am I to complain…Ben is taking the pictures…RIGHT? We arrive at the venue about two hours before the show to meet with Sister Silver Hoops and get our tickets and check out the room in preparation for the show. We meet her at the Will Call counter and she gives us the tickets and photo passes. We still have about a ½ hour before the show…so what do two dudes do with extra time before a show? We head around the corner to Legends, of course.
Now that we are primed and ready to go, we meet back up with SSH and to my surprise I am greeted by a dude who looks somewhat familiar, but I can’t place him at first…then it dawns on me…he is one of the dads from my son’s freaking Baseball team that I coach. I find out that he is one of the VP’s for Horseshoe and we chat it up a bit and I am met by ANOTHER dude…YEP, another dad from the baseball team. At this point, I am not sure if I am on one of those reality shows and about to get PUNKED or if this is just all proof of how small of a world that we really live in. After the random meetings from the baseball team, I realize that I may have just sparked some contacts for the casino golf course…SWEET!!!
Then I realize how awesome SSH has been and she is really the only contact that I have needed all along. (My son and I already had a Tee Time reserved at Chariot Run for Friday morning anyway…but maybe next time.) We make our way into the venue and man our post next to the sound area and realize that we didn’t bring the correct lenses for the cameras…DAMMIT!!! I have to give Ben major props at this point; he was doing things to his camera that should be illegal in at least 40 states. He reminded me of the dad in A Christmas Story when he was cussing the furnace…SumBeechyFarginFreekinFrackin…I am pretty sure he made a few new ones that night.
|Pictured Above: Definitely not Blank Range.|
He got things situated and we were ready to roll…the opening act (Blank Rage) started to play and there was almost a dead silence in the room…THEY FREAKING SUCKED!!! I think I was in such amazement that a band that was this terrible could actually be a signed and touring band that I didn’t actually realize how small the room was, which would enhance my experience later in the evening. We stuck around for a few minutes…or seconds maybe…and then headed out into the hallway area to check out our environment a little more. It was obvious, as soon as we walked out, that we were not the only ones who shared a dislike for the opening band. There were more concertgoers in the hall way than there were in the room; I guess they were equally unimpressed.
After we endured the torture of the next 30 minutes or so…we were ready for AIC. The stage was reset really quickly and the lights went down pretty soon. Ben and I had both been scouting the “Setlist” sites trying to get a handle on whether or not to expect our favorite songs to be played. Since we were only able to shoot the first three songs, we had a pretty good idea of what to expect, or at least we thought we did. The lights began to move around and powered chords were ringing when Jerry Cantrell hit the stage. At this point I realized that I was standing in a room that was smaller than the gymnasium at my high school…and this was Alice in Freaking Chains…Holy Crap, It’s go time.
Jerry started with this dragging riff with Reverb, Distortion, Wah, or some other fancy guitar effect (I’m a drummer, remember?), and I felt the hair on my arm stand on end…CHECK MY BRAIN started screaming through this small room and I seriously thought the roof was going to blow off: this was not they way they had started any show that I had scouted. (And no show since this night.) Ben was busy at work shooting every possible second he could and
I started to jot down some notes so I could remember every detail about the night but found myself too engulfed in the experience, so I just tucked away the notebook in my pocket and took it all in as a fan of this amazing band.
My main focus, at first, was on Sean Kinney. HE is a GORILLA on the drums. HE hits amazingly hard, but also has gentle finesse when he needs too. His sticks looked like baseball bats from the audience. His bass drum head read simply “LSMS” in honor of the two fallen band members, Layne Staley and Mike Starr. Having them there in spirit every show, seems like the perfect remembrance. I had never seen AIC with Layne, so I can’t compare William DuVall to him, but as a fan of the band for more than 20 years…I cannot imagine that they were ever as good as they are right now. Next, they ripped into “Them Bones” and “Dam That River.”
With our first three out of the way, we were free to roam the room without limitations…I really can’t remember the entire setlist, but I do know that I got way more than I could have ever expected. We only went out once to refuel, take a pit stop, and for me to grab a shirt…which I realized later has a big black cock on it (ROOSTER), but hey…I will wear that sucker everyday if I can…and my girlfriend will tell you that I almost have. The encore was simply amazing to me and made me realize even more how much William adds to this band and how AIC is really Jerry Cantrell’s masterpiece. All three songs that AIC played during the Encore were sung by Jerry. William, not only played but, shredded the solos on all three. (Angry Chair, Got me Wrong?, and Would).
On the trip home, Ben and I talked about how awesome the band was live, and that we would do everything we could to see them again if they came anywhere near Louisville. This was my first, and hopefully not my last experience reviewing a local venue and I loved every minute of it. I want to give a shout out to Syd, Ben, and last but definitely not least Sister Silver Hoops for providing the Hook-Up for the show. As I mentioned before, my son and I had already planned to play golf at the casino course the next day, which made for an even earlier morning. He ended up beating me on Friday for the first time ever.
So, I found myself in the sun…Hell of a place to end a run.
Story by Travis Henretty. Photos by Ben Brown.