Review & Photography by Greg Hamil for MPM
July was a busy month for concerts, and August is even busier. First up for August was the “Psychotherapy Session” tour featuring Mudvayne, Coal Chamber, GWAR, Nonpoint, and Butcher Babies. Thankfully the high temperatures gave way to a nice cool night after a round of storms passed through the area during the day.
With five bands on the bill, this show started a little earlier than normal with the Butcher Babies hitting the stage at 5:30 p.m. The band is a metal group formed in Los Angeles in 2009. With Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd belting out the vocals, they are backed by Henry Flury on guitar, Chase Brickenden on drums, and Rocky Bonazza on bass.
Butcher Babies do not mess around as they leap straight into “Red Thunder”. The girls crisscross the stage alternating between screaming and singing. They get the crowd going right away with arms waving, fists pounding, and heads banging.
As the short set continues, the Butcher Babies continue to slay the audience with songs like “Monsters Ball”, “Beaver Cage”, and “It’s Killin’ Time, Baby!”. The entire time, the entire band plays to the crowd and is rewarded with great appreciation.
Butcher Babies Setlist: Red Thunder – Best Friend (Saweetie Cover) – Monsters Ball – BEAVER CAGE – It’s Killin’ Time, Baby! – Last December – Magnolia Blvd
After clearing the stage with lightning speed, it was time for Nonpoint! I have had the pleasure of photographing this band on many occasions and they never disappoint. Based out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, this heavy metal band is fronted by Elias Soriano on vocals, with Robb Rivera on drums, Adam Woloszyn on bass, and Rasheed Thomas and Jasin Zeilstra on guitars!
With hair flying, feet stomping, and over-the-top energy, Nonpoint hits the stage with one of the oldest and most popular songs in “Victim”. From the start, Soriano get the crowd pumped like a commander leading his troops. The crowd responds with fists in the air and “devil horns” flying.
As the set progresses, they energize the crowd with yet another oldie, but ever popular “What a Day”. Rivera, who always sets his kit up sideways so he can engage the crowd, does so by hitting the kit extra hard while engaging the crowd. He even looked in my direction and flashed a finger gesture in my direction, which in the photography world, is a compliment!
In the short set, they included their brand-new single, “A Million Watts”. This draws a nice pop from the crowd. Before the roar can quiet, it swells again as they lead into “Chaos and Earthquakes”.
The set rounds out with the ever popular “Bullet with a Name”! The crowd jumps and dances along with band and rewards them with a huge cheer and round of applause as the band bids goodnight to all in attendance.
Nonpoint Setlist: Victim – Dodge Your Destiny – What a Day – A Million Watts – Chaos and Earthquakes – Ruthless – Bullet With a Name
When we were given the instructions for photographing each band, I wondered why GWAR was from the sound board, while all the other bands were from the pit. It wasn’t long before I found out, and nothing could prepare me for what I was about to witness.
As we were escorted to the sound board, the first thing I noticed was that all the monitors and the entire pit area were draped in plastic. In my mind, I immediately thanked the venue as I was sure it was about to get messy. Little did I know how right I was.
GWAR pounced on stage in costumes that looked as though they came straight from a horror film. It didn’t take long before heads, arms, and other body parts were being chopped off which allowed for massive amount of blood to spew onto the stage and into the strangely appreciative crowd.
Regardless of what song they were playing; GWAR could find a reason to get the blood flowing. The cheering and screaming from the crowd only seem to goad them into further violence.
At one point they even had a standoff with Putin. The carnage continued through the entire set, right up to the final song which was a cover of AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)! And oh boy…..did we get it!
GWAR Setlist: Hail, Genocide! – The Cutter – Mother Fucking Liar – Sick of You – Completely Fucked – Let Us Slay – Fuck This Place – Berserker Mode – If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)
Coal Chamber has been an off and on band over the last several years. They recently reunited to play the Sick New World Festival in Las Vegas and became a part of the Psychotherapy Sessions tour shortly after that. But given the pauses in their career, they cam out swinging for the fence and the crowd was clearly happy to be a part of their return!
Dez Fafara lead the stampede as the band opened with “Loco”, followed shortly by “Big Truck”. Backed by guitarist Miguel Rascón, drummer Mike Cox, and Nadja Peulen on bass, Coal Chamber thundered through a set that could only be labeled as a “Best Of”.
While Fafara led the charge roaming side to side of the stage jumping up on risers and raising his arms to get cheers from the crowd; Rascón often came to the center, crouching low for his solos. Cox often playing with his eyes closed or with a very intense look on his face showed the emotion that always goes hand-in-hand with music. Peulen danced and swayed with the beat with her hair blowing in all directions.
Having heard of Coal Chamber before this performance, but not being super familiar with their entire catalog; I found an immediate appreciation of their music and their live show!
Coal Chamber Setlist: Loco – Fiend – Big Truck – I.O.U. Nothing – Rowboat – Drove – Dark Days – Oddity – Another Nail in the Coffin – Something Told Me – Sway
Mudvayne is a heavy metal band that formed in Peoria, IL in the mid-90s. Being that Peoria is only a few short hours away from tonight’s venue, this is sort of a homecoming show for the band. The group consists of guitarist Greg Tribbett, drummer Matthew McDonough, bassist Ryan Martinie, and Chad Gray on vocals.
There are a lot of great front men in metal, but in my opinion, no one embodies what a true front man is better than Chad Gray. As the curtain drops, he is already right at the front of the stage engaging the crowd. As he sings ”Not Falling” he almost immediately jumps into pit and stands on the barricade high fiving and leaning out into the crowd.
His “sad clown” looking make up is contradictory to the crowd interaction and stories about how metal is family and respect is the norm. As the band played “World So Cold”, the crowd was encouraged to take out their phones and light up the amphitheater.
Tribbett moved slowly around the stage. With his black and red makup, goggles, and spiked hair; he always appeared to be in almost in a trance as he soared through his solos. In strong contrast, Ryan Martinie paced and circled the stage like a man possessed. That didn’t change the fact that he was in complete control, playing complicated runs on a 5-string bass.
While he couldn’t be easily seen through his massive drum kit, Matthew McDonough pounded through every song with extreme precision. And not to be forgotten; touring guitarist Marcus Rafferty stayed towards the back of the stage, dressed in all black with pure whit make up. His contributions to the show were extremely important.
Mudvayne played through their set with signature time changes and hard-core rhythms. Crowd surfing started almost immediately and continued throughout the show. Security certainly earned their keep tonight. But they made sure everyone stayed safe and free from harm. Another item of note from a Mudvayne show is the respect shown to the photographers in the pit. Both during the show and on social media, Gray thanks us for being there and encourages us to share our photos online and tag him in them. In today’s world, that kind of respect for the media is rare!
As the show came to an end, Gray dove into the crowed and sang the entire song, ”Happy” with a smile on his face. No one walked away from this show disappointed. All five bands had great performances with each one feeding off the previous band’s energy.
So with a shout out to the great staff at Credit Union 1 Amphitheatre who are always courteous; and a thank you to Live Nation for the approvals. It was a great night! See you all at the next show!
Mudvayne Setlist: Not Happy – Under My Skin – Internal Primates Forever – World So Cold – A New Game – Severed – Death Blooms – Fish Out of Water – Dull Boy – Determined – Nothing to Gein – Dig – Happy?