August 20, 2006

Concert Review: Flywheel w/ Stone Devil Hill, Trapnote, 3 Card Monte, Admit One (August 18, 2006)

This past Friday night I made my way to the local music clud to take in a night of local rock and metal. It's something I haven't done for some time, although I should do it more often, there are some good bands playing around here.

The first act went on shortly before 9:00, the band was Three Card Monte. This is one of those bands that really isn't my type of band, but there were things that I really liked about them. They came across as a laid back rock act, playing an alt-rock sound. The singing and style seemed a bit generic to me, although they were pretty tight. There were two things that I really liked about them. The first to catch my ear was the drummer, he had a good style, some nice transitions, and sounds like he could really cut loose with a heavier band. The second thing to grab my attention was the lead guitar player. He was doing a lot of interesting melodies, and lead segments, a lot of experimental atmospherics. He was an impressive guitar player, not flashy, but has a lot of skill in adding a lot of flavor to the sound, it would be interesting to hear some songs that were more purely centered on his playing. I believe they were a last minute addition when Them dropped off the bill, a fact I am very happy for, as I have never cared for Them, and Monte put on a pretty good show.

Next was Trapnote. This was my third taste of this band, the first was some years ago and I do not remember it all that well, the second was earlier this year when they were among the openers for Mushroomhead, then I though they were OK, but not that memorable. That brings me to this night, and what an eye opener it was. To say they sounded good would be an understatement, they have improved by leaps and bounds over the last time I saw them. Their sound blends hardcore and death metal in what I guess you would call metalcore, I am terrible with all these subgenres. Anyway, they were really on their game this night. The riffs were heavy, the breakdowns brutal, vocals a mix of the raw and the clear. I recently read that earlier this year they went through some lineup changes, with the addition of a new guitar player, as well as a new bass player, perhaps it just took a few months for the lineup to really gel. This is a band that has grabbed my attention and is definitely going to have me in the audience again. This is one of the joys of watching young and up and coming acts, witnessing their growth over a series of shows. Discovering and supporting bands like this is a good reason to support your local scene.

Now it was time for the band that I was most interested in seeing, Stone Devil Hill. In the interest of full disclosure, I have known some of these guys for a few years, but despite that, you will get nothing but honesty from me. Now, some of you may have known them when they were called 8x10, they were a solid, if not completely original sounding rock act, that bore a close resemblance to post Black Album Metallica. They had a shakeup which saw the exit of one of their guitar players, and the desire of singer/guitarist, EJ Krebs, to focus more on his guitar and not sing. This led to the arrival of former Pillowface singer, Donovan Cavallaro, and guitarist Steve Hanson. They joined remaining members EJ, drummer Dan Melious, and bassist Steve "Stickboy" Williams and formed Stone Devil Hill. They took the stage and delivered a solid half hour of rock and roll, an impressive performance to start getting them back in the scene. Now, I am not going to shower them with an undeserved praise, and the show was not perfect. The mix was partly to fault, as I think it could have been a bit more aggressive. The music was solid, but they seemed to be holding back a bit, it would be interesting to see them going at full throttle. This lineup does show a lot of promise, the music is stepping out from the shadow of 8x10, the sound is more original, and the new members have added a new energy to the band. It will be very interesting to see how they develop over their next few shows. On a side note, I wonder if Steve ever considered using his fingers as opposed to a pick on his bass, there were a couple of songs that would have benefitted from a more muted sound. One last note, congratulations and good luck to Stickboy on his impending wedding!

It was time for the headliner, although they were not to be the final act. I was informed that they wanted a better timeslot, so they went on before one of the openers. The band is Flywheel. I have heard of these guys, and they have headlined a number of shows at The Chance in the past, but never with me there. I was impressed with their high energy show, although I am not sure how to classify them. There's that trouble with all those genre distinctions again. The band name is fitting, a flywheel is a means of storage for kinetic energy. The band takes that energy, builds it up and transfers it back to the crowd, and it is downright infectious. The music is an accesible rock style with punk flavoring. The band is all about the energy right up to when they closed thier set with a pretty good cover of Rage Against the Machine's "Bombtrack." Impressive set, not as heavy as I usually like my music, but the ability is definitely there.

Now, we step back to the opening acts, this one playing after the headliner, and bringing with them an impressive cadre of fans, giving me some hope. Sadly, I stayed for two songs and then left. I do not want to be mean, but this band, Admit One, was not very good. The fans seemed to really like it, but the music was bland, the members did not seem to have much mastery over their instruments. The music consisted of constant bass drum thumping and strummed chords. Granted, they are young and have a long way to go, which is hopeful. They also were out there trying, but I was not impressed, I was getting tired and I left. Perhaps if I see them again they will turn my impressions around.

To close, be sure to support your local scenes, you never know what you may find. There are many good bands out there, but without our support they may not be able to grow and spread their sound to the rest of the country.


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