Concert Review: Garth Brooks

Concert Review: Garth Brooks

So thankful that I finally got the chance to see Garth Brooks live.  After being a fan for three decades, and watching him set nearly every live performance record over the course of his incredible career, I finally got to see him perform.  He played five shows in four days in Indianapolis, and sold out every one of them – we were lucky enough to snag tickets to the last show, and man was it a memorable one. 

In the nearly 3 hour show, Garth played a non-stop barrage of number 1 hits, pulling from his seemingly endless library of great songs.  Friends in Low Places, Shameless, Two Pina Coladas, Ain’t Goin Down til the Sun Comes Up, Unanswered Prayers, and on, and on, and on.   In playing these songs, Garth proved over and over why he is lauded as one of the world’s best performers.  Even though it was his fifth show in four days (think about that!), he still gave it absolutely everything he had.  Running in circles, inciting the crowd in every direction, interacting with others on stage.  When Garth Brooks is on stage, there is never a dull moment.  

Concert Review: Avenged Sevenfold

Concert Review:  Avenged Sevenfold

Recently, The Music Pill got the chance to sneak up to Ft. Wayne, IN on a Tuesday night to check out a fantastic show at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The show featured four really solid bands. Swedish Metal band Avatar opened and were followed by Killswitch Engage and Volbeat. Filling out the bill was the explosive Avenged Sevenfold.

The review below compares Avatar and Killswitch to recent shows that I’ve already reviewed, and then dives a bit deeper on Volbeat and Avenged Sevenfold. Hope you enjoy!

Concert Review: Rammstein at Chicago Open Air 2016

Concert Review:  Rammstein at Chicago Open Air 2016

Chicago Open Air was an incredible weekend of music. Three straight days of great shows, great food, and great people. For anyone who participated in the weekend, there’s little doubt that some of the best moments of the weekend came during the unbelievable headlining set by German-based Rammstein on Day 1 (Friday). After a month of reliving the shows and releasing Chicago Open Air content, I am so excited to finally get back to Rammstein.

Typically, I would have covered Rammstein along with all the other Day 1 bands. However, I’m not following my typical process here, because…..well…because nothing about this Rammstein show was typical. It was absolutely brilliant. From the opening fireworks to the ending explosions, this was one of the greatest live music spectacles that I’ve ever witnessed. There is a motto around the Rammstein fan camp. “Other bands play, but Rammstein burns.”

Never have truer words been spoken. Rammstein deserved a post of their own. So, without further adieu, let’s get to the band that absolutely stole the show at the first annual Chicago Open Air.

Festival Review: Chicago Open Air 2016 Day 3

Festival Review:  Chicago Open Air 2016 Day 3

After two fantastic days of Chicago Open Air 2016, we woke up on Sunday with sore muscles and slight sunburns. However, none of that would stop the excitement surrounding a wild and crazy lineup of bands that was set to play that day. Some aspirin, a big breakfast, and the blackest coffee we could find, and we were off to Toyota Park for Day 3.

The first two days could be considered nothing but a wild success, and no doubt Day 3 would be more of the same. This was the first annual Chicago Open Air festival, and yet typical first-year snafus were noticeably absent at this festival. Logistically, Toyota Park was really well set up. Entrance to the festival was quick and easy thanks to a cloth wrist band that lasted all weekend. Restrooms and food vendors were plentiful and located in great spots. The side stage was extremely well built, and oriented in a way that could support a huge audience. In fact, in talking with countless other fans, the biggest complaint I heard was that fans had to traverse the venue stairs countless times as they went between the main stage and the side stage. Trust me – if that’s the biggest challenge that a first year festival like this has, it’s a raving success.

Musically, the venue was also a home run. So far, we’d been treated to fantastic shows over the first two days, including many shows that would stick with us for years to come. Day 3 also featured an incredible lineup, with We Came as Romans, Letlive, Babymetal, Killswitch Engage, and Five Finger Death Punch all slated to play. In addition to all those shows, festival headliner Slipknot would close out the weekend.

On a day that threatened thunderstorms, I couldn’t wait to get started. Chicago Open Air Day 3 – bring this thing home.

Festival Review: Chicago Open Air 2016 Day 2

Festival Review:  Chicago Open Air 2016 Day 2

The first day of Chicago Open Air 2016 gave us some amazing performances, but we’re thrilled to move the focus to our of coverage to Day 2 (Saturday). Every day is a great day for rock music, but the second day of this festival was especially perfect. The weather was as good as it possibly could be (partly cloudy and a high of 77°!), and a fantastic set of bands were slated to play. Saturday’s lineup was split right down the middle, with the main stage focusing primarily on hard rock bands, and the side stage bringing the heat and keeping the show metal. It made for an interesting experience as we traversed back and forth between stages – almost like we were alternating between a really great change-up and an unhittable fastball.

Thanks to a great experience on Friday, we learned the lay of the land, and spent more of our day Saturday enjoying the other “experiences” that Chicago Open Air 2016 had to offer. My personal favorite was the Monster Energy Experience, where we spent a good deal of time talking to fans from all over the world. (The free monster was a great pick-me-up as well!). We also put way more thought into food on Saturday, which was a far cry from the stadium food that these festivals used to feature. ‘Gourmet Man Food’ was on full display at this festival – I had meals that included a killer spicy shrimp po’boy, a thick and juicy Hawaiian burger, and a pulled pork/mac and cheese sandwich that was life changing. We ate like kings!!

Alright, enough niceties. As good as the food was, that’s not what is still ringing in my head two weeks later. Saturday gave us countless opportunities to see incredible shows and get lost in the lights. The day would feature great bands like Nothing More, Beartooth, Breaking Benjamin, Gojira, Alter Bridge, and so many more. To end the night, we’d hear from two titans of industry, Korn and Disturbed. Chicago Open Air 2016 Day 2 – it’s go time.

Festival Review: Chicago Open Air 2016 Day 1

Festival Review:  Chicago Open Air 2016 Day 1

There’s nothing quite like a music festival. As long time veterans of Rock on the Range and Louder than Life, the folks here at The Music Pill were extremely excited earlier this spring when the first annual Chicago Open Air was announced. This brand new three day festival was held on a beautiful summer weekend at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL (a Chicago suburb). It featured a spectacular lineup of hard rock and heavy metal bands from all over the world. The Music Pill was there all weekend, taking notes, snapping pictures, and digesting all the music so we could give you the gory details on how the weekend went down. If you missed the action, our goal is to make you feel like you were there to see the magic happen. If you WERE in Chicago that weekend, then this is simply an excuse to relive the madness.

To get us started, this post will cover Day 1 (Friday) of Chicago Open Air 2016. We’ll touch on many of the great bands that played on Friday, and split them up into three categories: rock solid shows, slight disappointments, and mind-blowing performances. Because of the logistics of the festival, we can’t review every band, but what you’ll find is a thorough analysis of a multitude of great bands from all different genres. Friday gave us fantastic bands like Periphery, Chevelle, Trivium, Meshuggah, In This Moment, and so many more, ending with the almighty Rammstein as the headliner.

Without further ado – here we go: Day 1 (Friday) of Chicago Open Air 2016, you are officially under way. Let’s do this.

Festival Review: Rock on the Range 2016 Day 3

Festival Review:  Rock on the Range 2016 Day 3

Rock on the Range 2016 Day 3 featured one of the most exciting and unique lineups in recent memory. Not only did it offer the chance to see several bands who were playing Rock on the Range for the first time, but from a genre standpoint, the lineup was all over the map. The main stage was a wild mish-mash of genres, especially early in the day, as we would be treated to bands like Highly Suspect (rock), Wolfmother (stoner rock), The Struts (English glam rock), Death from Above 1979 (dance punk), and many more. In addition, I was really excited about solid representation for punk rock, something that rarely happens at Rock on the Range. I couldn’t wait to see how the crowd reacted to bands like Anti-Flag and Pennywise. Finally, the day would close out with Bring Me the Horizon, Deftones, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, all of which had extremely high expectations to live up to.

Would this day be as good as it looked on paper? Would the metal-crazed audience at Rock on the Range appreciate the variety? Or, would they agree with many on the internet who complained that the day was way too “soft”. We fought off the headaches and sore backs and headed up to Mapfre Stadium to find out. Sunday was a beautiful day – after two days of rain and clouds and cold, it was sunny and warm with a cool breeze. It was the kind of weather that made you thank God you are alive, and thank Him even more that you were at a music festival. On a day like that, I can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else.

Time for the pièce de résistance. Rock on the Range 2016 Day 3. Let’s do this.

Festival Review: Rock on the Range 2016 Day 2

Festival Review:  Rock on the Range 2016 Day 2

Rock on the Range 2016 started out with a bang on Friday (coverage here). Saturday stacked up to be just as good – bands like Parkway Drive, Lamb of God, Five Finger Death Punch, and Rob Zombie made the lineup feel a bit more metal-focused than the first day, at least on paper. That being said, the day was still chocked full of variety, with bands like Lacey Sturm, Aranda, Pop Evil, and Clutch to cleanse the pallet. We headed to Mapfre Stadium from our hotel, stopping at Kroger (as we do every single ROTR day) for a made-to-order breakfast and the ever-crucial Monster Rehab. I grabbed a poncho on the way out of the store on a whim, juuuust in case it decided to rain on Saturday. Best decision ever: As painful as it was to wear something with an Ohio State logo on it, it was totally worth it. (Sorry folks, but The Music Pill is in Indianapolis, in the heart of Hoosier country).

It rained pretty much all day on Saturday, but try as she might, Mother Nature couldn’t put a damper on Rock on the Range. Saturday’s crowd was every bit as rowdy and engaged as the crowd from the day before, in spite of the cold and rainy weather. As the day progressed, it turned into a sloppy mess, but that didn’t stop it from being a fantastic day of music.

Speaking of music – lets get to it! Following a similar format as the Day 1 (Friday) blog, I’ll discuss the shows that were rock solid first, and then move on to a few that were slightly disappointing. Finally, I’ll explore the shows that really blew my mind in a bit more detail, and try to describe what made them so great.

Day 2. Let’s do this!

Festival Review: Rock on the Range 2016 Day 1

Festival Review:  Rock on the Range 2016 Day 1

Simply put, this is one of my favorite weekends of the year. For eight straight years, a contingent from The Music Pill has been traveling from all over the Midwest to meet in Columbus, OH the weekend before memorial day for North America’s biggest rock and metal festival. The weekend features nearly 60 bands on three stages over three days, and boasts a complete sell out audience of 120,000 for the weekend. It’s become the pinnacle of the concert season for me, and provided the setting for some of the most unique, memorable, and amazing shows of my long concert history.

Rock on the Range 2016 was no different – the festival celebrated it’s 10th anniversary this year, and did so in style by putting together their most unique and star-studded lineup yet. Staying true to it’s identity, the ROTR festival featured bands from countless sub-genres, resulting in a weekend that everyone could love. The three day festival boasted headliners of Disturbed, Rob Zombie, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Music Pill was there to capture it all.

As I’ve done the past couple years, I’ll do three separate posts – one for each day of Rock on the Range 2016. My hope is that by reading this, you either get to relive the madness that you experienced a few weeks ago, or you weren’t there, and you get so bummed that it finally convinces you to give ROTR 2017 a shot. If I’ve done that, I consider this coverage a major success.

So lets get rolling! Below is a detailed analysis of which shows were rock solid, which were slightly disappointing, and which ones blew my mind.

Happy Reading!

Concert Review: Mumford & Sons

Concert Review:  Mumford & Sons

I’ll admit that Mumford & Sons isn’t the typical band that I review. Clearly we gravitate towards the harder stuff on this site, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate great music of all kinds, and I think Mumford & Sons clearly fits that mold. The band is full of talented musicians who really love what they do, and their quick ascent to worldwide fame indicates that they struck a chord with a much broader fan base than anyone expected. I’ve heard so many good things about their live shows, and decided a long time ago that I needed to go see for myself if they were as captivating as I’ve been told. I finally got that opportunity when Indianapolis was given the last spot on the recent Arrow Through the Heartland Tour. The show got pushed back a day due to the Pacers schedule, but went off without a hitch on a Sunday evening, and it was undoubtedly a sight to be seen.