Dreams have come true for Rage Against The Machine fans the world over.
With fists up, we received the exciting news that the powerful band will be reuniting in 2020 with five shows in the southwest. Many of the band’s songs have touched on immigration and struggles of those our society has passed over. With 2020 being an important election year, it must be no mistake that the dates are all very close to the US and Mexican border.
Rage Against the Machine last performed together in 2011 in Los Angeles, and a reunion has long since seemed implausible. The band’s members have frequently been questioned about such a reunion, but all have been busy with their own endeavors. Rage’s leader, Zack de la Rocha, released a single entitled “Digging For Windows” in 2016, but no other solo material has come since. Influential offset, Prophets Of Rage was born in response to the 2016 election. The supergroup consists of Rage’s guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk, as well as B-Real of Cypress Hill, and Chuck D of Public Enemy.
The five dates were posted through the band’s Twitter, leaving no doubt that this news is legitimate. Venues are yet to be announced, but the dates in California coincide with Coachella’s two weekends.
El Paso, TX – March 26th, 2020
Las Cruces, NM – March 28th, 2020
Phoenix, AZ – March 30, 2020
Indio, CA – April 10th, 2020
Indio, CA – April 17th, 2020
Rage will no doubt make waves, take a stand, and bring their welcome voices to the forefront of America next Spring. Here’s hoping more announcements and dates are soon to follow.
Chilean protests photo by Susana Hidalgo, courtesy of @RATM twitter
Hozier delighted Caesars Windsor Coliseum with a night of incredible musicality on Tuesday August 6th. Starting off the evening was local duo, The Oh Chays.
When the husband and wife pair took to the stage, singer and keyboardist Kay said, “We are Hozier”. The audience laughed as she continued, “I’m just joking. We are so lucky to be here. This is so much better than playing in a bar.”
Right from the start, the audience applauded and cheered for each note. The Oh Chays were clearly grateful for the stage and opportunity to shine. After wrapping up their first song Kay told the crowd, “I think I’m about to cry. This is so amazing”. She explained that they had just received the email from Hozier’s team yesterday asking them to open the show. “Dreams do come true!”
A highlight of the set was when the band presented an original track entitled, “Never Too Old”. “Even though we look amazing, we’re like 1,000 years old. This is about not giving up on your dreams.” The Oh Chays encouraged the crowd to wave along, side to side. Kay asked, “Did my mom put you up to this? This is crazy!” Their set was packed with great lyrics, keys, some guitar, rounded out percussion, and even “a sexy song about a donut”.
Before wrapping up, Kay asked, “Can you guys come with us on the road?”
The band concluded their night with an exceptional cover of Michael Jackson’s empowering 1987 track, “Man In The Mirror”. The pair was a perfect start to the night.
Just after 9 PM, Hozier and his band appeared through smoke-filled dim light from stage left. The excited crowd absolutely roared to greet them. A steady beat started off the wondrous track, “Would That I”. The audience sang back the chorus’ “Oh”s appropriately.
To the delight of the crowd, Hozier immediately jammed into “Dinner & Diatribes”.
Keeping the theme of playing tracks from his latest incredible album, “Wasteland, Baby”, the band presented the remarkable, “Nina Cried Power”. The album track includes counterpart Mavis Staples (who recently celebrated her 80th birthday!), but Hozier sang each chorus and verse through himself. He also shouted out different musicians who have rallied for change.
After the song concluded, Hozier greeted the crowd. “How are you doing Windsor?” He remarked that this was the band’s first time playing in this part of the world. “Thank you so so much for coming out to the show and checking it out. It is an absolute pleasure”. A steady guitar rhythm began and Hozier continued, “If you wouldn’t mind lending your voices for one second, I just wanna see what voices you’re hiding. I’d ask you not to hide them from me because I will seek them out and I will find them.” The notes began of “To Be Alone”, and the crowd echoed back the song’s chant.
Early in the set, Hozier stopped to tie his shoe and chimed, “Safety first” as the crowd cheered for the deed.
Hozier’s thoughtful lyrics filled the packed Colosseum, as he kept an endearing dialogue open with the audience the whole night through.
After his first album’s terrific track, “Angel Of Small Death And The Codeine Scene”, Hozier presented more songs from his latest record.
Hozier kept a balance of subtlety and full musicality going with “Nobody”. He started the cleverly-rhymed song with a more acoustic feel, then brought in the full band sound.
After “Talk”, Hozier addressed the crowd with, “Since you’ve already shown me those voices, I know they’re there and if you know this one, don’t be afraid to let us hear you. You can’t hide them.” With beautiful instrumentation while backlit by spotlights, the band began “From Eden”. The gorgeous violin sound perfectly presented a lower tempo version of the jam.
After the song completed, Hozier told the crowd, “You sound beautiful!” He continued his conversation with the crowd by saying, “You’ll notice up here much of the band has deserted me, leaving so much room for activities, etc.” He shouted out Cormac Curran and Thandii, the two musicians remaining on stage to assist in instrumentation. “This next song was written mid to late 2016. I was writing a few love songs for the end of the world. This next one kind of falls into that category, and I suppose it tries to imagine the last human act on earth, sooner or later, hopefully will be some sort of act of kindness. It’s called ‘Wasteland, Baby!'” He started into his latest album’s title track.
When the song concluded, he thanked the audience, and encouraged them to welcome the missing band members back to stage. He gripped his guitar and said, “I just want to hold this for one second, just say hi to it.” A spirited gentleman in the audience yelled, “You can hold me for one second!” Hozier laughed and responded, “The feeling is mutual. I promise you that. Thank you very much.”
He proceeded, “This is a song named after a very vicious little bird of prey which is known to live near very very sharp objects… it’s kind of a Vlad the Impaler of the natural world. It tends to hang its prey over these things. It’s a horrible, gruesome thing to behold. I thought it was a fun theme for a love song. It’s a song called ‘Shrike'”. This was the precise moment I had the wondrous thought that with each Hozier show I’ve attended, I’ve learned something new and personal about each song. Accompanying violin beautifully rounded out the gorgeous song.
After “Shrike” concluded, Hozier encouraged, “Once again, Miss Emily Kohavi on violin!”
After “No Plan”, Hozier continued into “Jackie and Wilson”, which was greeted with a cheer. Hozier lifted up his hand during each chorus to correspond with the lyric, “raise ’em on rhythm and blues”.
During “Almost (Sweet Music)”, the band included solos for bass, violin, and organ, allowing each musician their own moment to shine.
When the song finished, Hozier shouted out each musician that had contributed. “This band is outrageous!”
Next, they jived into “Moment’s Silence”, an amazing track from the “Nina Cried Power” EP. The band jammed out thoroughly during each chorus under dancing lights, while the crowd happily clapped along to the rhythm of the verses.
The band then presented the powerful, “Movement” under a beautiful display of lights. Hozier passionately sang most of the song with just a microphone, but picked up a tambourine to belt out the final chorus.
The crowd positively roared when Hozier began the smash, “Take Me To Church”. The audience immediately started singing along, and Hozier held out his microphone to hear. Toward the end of the song he welcomed, “Let me hear you, Windsor!” Fans sang along, “Amen, amen, amen.” Hozier stepped down into the pit and reached out into the crowd. With a bow and a wave, the band exited the stage.
The crowd instantly began clapping, cheering, and stomping, with many holding up lighters. Finally, after a brief time away, Hozier reappeared with a smile and an acoustic guitar to greet excited fans once more.
“It has been an absolute joy tonight…. Thank you for making our first time in Windsor very very special. Again, don’t be afraid to help me out with this one.” Under appropriately red lights, Hozier solitary began the emotional, “Cherry Wine”. The audience sang along to the chorus and Hozier complimented, “You sound gorgeous.”
Upon the song’s completion, Hozier encouraged the crowd to welcome the band back on stage. He introduced each musician, and shouted out everyone who helped make the show possible from the light rigger to the instrument technicians. “As the song goes, it takes more than a hammer and nails to make a house a home.” He also thanked the Oh Chays for opening the show, and began into the beautiful “Work Song”. Fans clapped along to the slow and steady beat. The band closed out with breathtaking notes of harmony. While the audience cheered and clapped their way to a standing ovation, the band waved and bowed in a line of unison. Hozier left the crowd with, “Thank you so much Windsor, we’ll see you again.”
Hozier’s incredible tour continue through November, while making several more stops in the United States and Canada.
Words and photos by : Tiffany Cuthrell
Exceptionally talented singer songwriter Hozier made a marvelous stop at Grand Rapids’ 20 Monroe Live on Wednesday May 29th. The lovely venue was positively packed with excited fans, waiting to catch a glimpse and ear of Hozier’s latest album come to life.
Hozier, whose full name is Andrew Hozier-Byrne, is touring in support of his latest LP, “Wasteland, Baby!” The terrific album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts, leaving no doubt the musical world was eager for a follow up to his 2014 music.
Starting off the show was family band from New York, Bailen. The three members shared incredible harmonies, thoughtful lyrics, and unrivaled passion throughout their set. Their musical knowledge and depth shone bright throughout their performance, with close attention to every detail. Bailen kept an open dialogue with the crowd, presenting their music in a relatable way. The packed venue was with the band from the first note, cheering for both their music and stories.
At one point, vocalist Julia Bailen stated, “We are Bailen, as you can tell from our super expensive sign that we made”. The crowd chuckled along to the pointed out spelling of the band’s name in fluorescent tape. Bailen conveyed exceptional tracks from their debut album, “Thrilled To Be Here”, which came out earlier this year.
They even humorously touched on their first time shopping at Meijer (if you’re not aware, it’s our local Midwest one-stop grocery giant).
With vocals from every member, Bailen closed out with a couple of tremendous songs like “Not Gonna Take Me”, a powerful track about mental health with a groovy Graceland-vibed bassline. Last, the band welcomed their final song and thanked the audience for listening. Bailen asked, “Would it be cool if we have another soft song?” The crowd responded with a resounding cheer. Every member rounded out the vocals of acoustic track, “25 For The Last Time”.
The audience reciprocated gratitude with thrilled applause at the end of their set. Bailen thanked the crowd once more, and bowed before exiting the stage.
Right after 9 PM, Hozier stepped to the stage with the heavy drum introduction of “Would That I”. The audience was amped and excited, right from the start. Hozier delivered exceptionally passionate vocals and a full force energy throughout the entirety of the beautiful song, with the crowd singing the chorus’ carrying “woahs”. His incredible talent was on full display from the beginning of the set, along with that of his band.
Next the band rocked into “Dinner & Diatribes”, with the audience clapping along to the beat. The crowd swelled and cheered for Hozier’s pristine tone and vocal additions.
Sans his guitar, Hozier moved right into the phenomenal track, “Nina Cried Power”. He added improvised lyrics and shout outs to fellow musicians who have cried for change. Before the final chorus, he picked up his guitar and jammed with fellow musician, the stylish Suzanne Santo.
Hozier greeted the crowd for the first time with, “How are you doing this evening Grand Rapids? It is very good to see you”. He encouraged everyone to make some noise for Bailen, who opened up the show. He continued, “Usually this part of the set if there was seating in front of us, I’d encourage people to get the fuck out of their seats”. He informed everyone that “rapid” back home means “fucking great”. “We knew we’d have a good crowd, that was a good omen. In Dublin language, Grand Rapids is like the best thing”. He started into “Someone New”, beginning a trend of fluctuating between music past and present. His band completed the music’s sound fully and flawlessly.
Hozier went into “Angel Of Small Death And The Codeine Scene”, which included a Suzanne Santo violin solo, whilst Hozier shredded on guitar.
“Nobody” began with acoustic instrumentation. Drums kicked in and completed the song’s full sound. For the personified lyric, “I once warmed my hands over a burning Maserati”, Hozier put out his hands, as if warming them over a fire.
During the set, Hozier swapped between several guitars, giving each song a different sound and feel. With each carried note of poetic prose, the audience cheered along, recognizing every detail of the poignant lyrics. Hozier regularly added extra musicality with both tangible and vocal instruments.
Later, Hozier encouraged the crowd to not be afraid to sing along. The band presented a slowed tempo version of the smash, “From Eden”. The crowd sang as cell phone flashlights waved along.
Hozier touched on his experience in writing the new record with the state of the world. “I don’t know if you’re familiar with the doomsday clock. They moved it forward two minutes to midnight, so I was enjoying that feeling”. The crowd laughed along to the welcome sarcasm, in light of a dim time. “…and Writing a few love songs for the end of the world. This next song falls into that category. It’s called ‘Wasteland, Baby!’” He presented the latest album’s beautiful acoustic title track.
After the stunning song, “Shrike”, Hozier continued his conversation with the crowd. “I know we’re joking about how the world ends and stuff like this. This next song is something far far worse to look forward to. It’s based on the work of a scientist called Katie Mack who has a book coming out describing how all the stars will one day grow dark… So it’s just something nicer. Don’t sweat the small things. It’s called ‘No Plan’”.
At the start of “To Be Alone”, the stage was bathed in red light as Alex Ryan added the song’s heavy synth sound. Hozier encouraged the crowd by saying, “Prove you have amazing pipes and can sing like no one else”. He started into the song’s vocal chant, as the crowd echoed back every note.
Hozier welcomed his new single with a brief story. “It’s kind of about the feeling of hearing a sweet piece of music that you know and love, and bringing it you back to someplace that you really don’t want to go back to…you’re trying to get away from. It’s appropriately named ‘Almost (Sweet Music)’”.
During the stunning track, “Movement”, an array of small lights angled into the crowd. Hozier picked up a tambourine for the final chorus, with his fellow musicians filling out the vocals.
To close out, Hozier started into his monster hit, “Take Me To Church”. He sang without a guitar, passionately covering the stage. During the ending chorus, he stepped down into the pit, reaching into the crowd. He help out his mic to amplify the packed venue singing along. When the song concluded, Hozier applauded his band and help up signs of gratitude. With a wave, they exited the stage.
Phone flashlights illuminated endless applause that reached a crescendo when Hozier returned to the stage.
Hozier addressed the audience… “Again, if you know this next one, don’t be afraid to let me hear you”. With just an acoustic guitar, he began the gorgeous track, “Cherry Wine”. During the closing chorus, Hozier let the audience sing and encouraged, “You sound beautiful!”
When the song completed he welcomed endearingly, “Please welcome the band back on the stage. I’m going to introduce these wonderful people”. Hozier proceeded to not only introduce each of his band members, but everyone behind the scenes making the show possible. He also motivated the audience, “If you could make one hell of a noise for Bailen who opened up the show.”
Hozier then thanked the audience for “making this a very very special evening. You have been just a spectacular audience to play to, I mean that sincerely. Thank you so much….. This is a song called ‘Work Song’”. The crowd welcomed the beautiful track with a cheer.
The stage illuminated from behind, adding the perfect vibe for the emotional song. To conclude, the band ended “Work Song” with a tremendously stunning harmony. The members bowed and thanked the audience again, concluding an absolutely astounding evening.
Wasteland, Baby! is a tour that finds that finds Irish gentleman Hozier growing not only in his amazing musical abilities, but also his presence as a performer.
Thus far, the tour has been a resounding success with many sold out shows. Hozier will continue with concerts throughout the US, Canada, and across Europe into November.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
The 10th Annual Nirvana Tribute Show made an epic stop at Ferndale’s New Way Bar on Friday April 12th.
The exceptional tribute allowed musicians from all over the state to unite in a love of Nirvana.
Starting off the night after 9 PM was husband and wife duo, Snapcat. The talented pair has been playing together for 22 years, and their unison showed. The band shouted out the 30th anniversary of Nirvana’s debut album being released. They appropriately presented several tracks from “Bleach”, as well as other greats from Nirvana’s discography.
Next up was Old Man. The incredible one man band took to the stage with just an acoustic guitar and some pedals, giving his set a definite MTV unplugged type of feel.
The Analog Lights was another terrific solo act. Musician Greg Aubry remarked that he had played Nirvana as a guitarist and bassist, now this mix was the final frontier. “Where no Cobain has gone before”. His minimal synth arrangements were a unique spin on the louder rock songs he was covering.
Band Figure 8 presented their set under the moniker “Gimme Back My Alcohol”. The talented gentleman formed a powerhouse three piece that more than did Nirvana justice.
All the way from Traverse City, Biomassive brought a vast collection of instruments such as bongos, keys, bass, guitar, drums and vocals.
Bloodwood took to the stage, featuring several musicians from different bands. Their versatility shined bright as the members swapped out vocal duties, and played different instruments throughout.
Fronted by the night’s MC, Dustin Lince, Fucking Swords and Fire Will Kill You closed out the night with an in your face set. The powerhouse rockers left everything on the stage, putting every ounce of passion into their performance.
New Way was just about packed with excited audience members who filled the bar with excitement. After a decade of grunge, the tribute wrapped up in its 10th year.
As always, the evening did not disappoint.
Check out some of the night’s photos below…
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Badflower made an exceptional appearance at 20 Monroe Live in Grand Rapids on Wednesday March 6th. The band is joined on The Truth Tour by terrific likes of Palisades, Of Mice And Men, and Nothing More.
Badflower are touring in support of their debut LP, “OK, I’m Sick”, which dropped last month. As a treat to fans, the tremendous music was available as a limited edition color album pre-order with signed packaging. Signed CDs were available at the night’s merch booth as well.
Badflower is a voice for the panicked, a voice for the anxious, a voice for voiceless animals, but above all, a voice for those of us who are ready to rock and roll. Badflower’s recent release touched on love, loss, abusive fathers, anti-Trump, and staying young (to name a few topics). The album houses shades and shadows of some great heavy dark dweller musicians of my own generation, and a sound truly their own. When I listed to the album for the first time on a janky record player with a bottle of wine, I heard a bassline reminisce of Tool in one song, the darkness of NIN in another, a scale in “Heroin” that shouts out “Karma Police” before Thom Yorke sighs a “phew”, the vocal power of Gerard Way throughout…. But nonetheless (and I’m sure so many artists at times detest comparisons) a sound 100% Badflower. I cannot wait to see how this band evolves, and where they go from here.
On a cold Grand Rapids evening after Palisades started the show in rocking fashion, Badflower took to the stage and began their night with “x Ana x”, the first track from “Ok, I’m Sick”.
When frontman Josh Katz stepped on the stage, arms outstretched, panic disorder be damned! The rock and roll vegan was a beacon of lead singer greatness. Badflower brought a full sound that translated album to stage effortlessly.
Next up, Badflower presented two tracks from 2018’s EP, “Temper”. During which, Josh threw in a back bend that would make Lyn-Z proud.
Fourth in their set, Badflower rocked hard with “Die” and encouraged the crowd to clap along to end out the final chorus.
”I get the feeling that some of you tonight are familiar with us, you know who we are.” The band started into emotional track, “Heroin”.
After the song wrapped, Josh addressed the audience with, “How many of you have debilitating panic or depression and had to force yourself out of the house today?”
After a roar from the crowd he said, “Same… This is a song for all of you who screamed for that.”
Badflower then began into their massive track, “Ghost”. The whole audience seemed to sing along in unison.
Josh Katz thanked concert goers and continued, “I gotta tell you Grand Rapids, for reasons that I’m not going to go into right now, I think this might be the most authentic Badflower show anybody has ever seen… I hope you come back and see us again.”
The amazing band closed out their set with “Animal”, also from “Temper”. Every musician was feeling each note of the music.
The show was an absolute joy to witness, and I’ve felt so grateful to welcome Badflower to my playlists.
Badflower will return to Michigan for Riff Fest at DTE Energy Music Theatre on July 13th, alongside Shinedown, Seether, Sevendust and more. In addition, they will be continuing The Truth Tour across the US through March 23rd.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Incredible Irish songsmith Hozier has returned with a new album that is music to our ears.
Hozier is a gentleman who pulls from his roots… who appreciates the sounds that came before him, and that studious nature shows. Without question, “Wasteland, Baby!” is a nod to not only the greats, but his own evolution as an artist. “Wasteland, Baby!” is not an album that fears change, but instead embraces it. The instant gem is one that found Hozier exploring more layered and textured sounds. The album also pleasantly surprised me with Hozier’s repeated use of the F word (bold and powerful, dear sir!). The lyrics touch on both dark and light subject matter, a perfect refrain for life itself.
Hozier’s church was dismissed after the exhaustive touring that followed his 2014 debut album and (thank god) we are all in session, raising our musical hands again.
Up tempo tracks like “Almost (Sweet Music)” and “Nobody” get our feet tapping, and slower, sensual jams like “Movement” and hit right in the feels. No matter what the song, Hozier’s undeniable talent shines through. His vocals soar the entire album, be it in a direct lyric, or a beautiful chorus of layered vocals.
In true Hozier fashion, “Wasteland, Baby!” is packed with exceptional lyrics, and musicality that can stand up to the best of the best.
Hozier poetically articulates love on the deepest level, better than most of us could, and our world is better for having his voice.
“There’s no plan, there’s no race to be run
The harder the pain honey, the sweeter the song
There’s no plan, there’s no kingdom to come
But I’ll be your man if you’ve got love to get done”
The masterful musician’s knowledge and respect for rock and blues shines throughout the album as well, especially with his shout out track, “Nina Cried Power”. The album’s lead single also features the tremendous Mavis Staples. Together they belt out an anthem for the ages, perfect for these tumultuous times we find ourselves in.
Hozier’s homeland is well-represented through “Shrike”‘s beautiful harmony.
“Remember me love when I’m reborn
as the shrike to your sharp and glorious thorn”
The album is perfect for a long walk, an evening at home, a night with your love, or a long drive… In other words, pretty much anything. Like his first album, the cover art is masterfully painted by Hozier’s talented mother, Raine Hozier-Byrne.
Whether the album arrived at fan’s doorsteps via post, our inboxes to download, or through a trip to our local record store, “Wasteland, Baby!” has absolutely been worth the five year wait.
Hozier will be touring the US throughout the summer. Whilst singing, stomping and strumming, he will make a stop at the Fillmore in Detroit on May 28th.
1. Nina Cried Power
2. Almost (Sweet Music)
4. No Plan
6. To Noise Making (Sing)
7. As It Was
11. Dinner & Diatribes
12. Would That I
14. Wasteland, Baby!
Album review by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Winter Jam made a stellar stop at Ypsilanti’s EMU’s Convocation Center on a snowy Sunday February 17th. The festival was on it’s 22nd of 42 stops from city to city spreading faith, love, hope, and worship.
There were musicians who sang praises from all over the musical spectrum – hip hop, rock, soul and folk (to name a few). Regardless of background and influence, each band’s talent, passion, and power of praise shown through. The venue was packed with fans of all ages, and from all walks of life. The Convocation Center was filled with a positive energy, and lots of smiles.
Starting off Winter Jam’s main acts strong, Dan Bremnes presented incredible songs with an acoustic guitar. The audience was ready to sing and dance, right from the start.
Next, Hollyn brought terrific vocals with a dash of rock. The band got the crowd energized, to their feet, with hands in the air.
Throughout the festival in between artists, speakers would pass on positive messages, and even shoot t-shrits into the crowd. Adam Agee presented one song inspired by his mission trip. “I promised a bunch of kids I’d tell their story.”
Later in the evening, Adam returned to the stage to tell his account of sponsoring a child through the evening’s spotlight organization, “Childfund International”. Audience members were encouraged to sponsor a child. In doing so would come both the satisfaction of changing a life, but also a wristband to meet the night’s headliner (Newsboys United) after the show.
Winter Jam founders, NewSong brought a Sunday church feel with powerful vocals, an organ, rocking guitar, horns, and beautiful harmonies. Preshow opener, Ty Brasel made an appearance with a full on choir to ad a bit of hip hop to the mix.
Skillet drummer, Jen Ledger fronted her own outfit with memorable lyrics and an energetic performance.
The night’s next speaker, Zane Black, shared his experience to a better life through a life-changing trip to church. Zane went from a life of drugs, overdose, and even a coma to literally preaching from a skateboard to the Winter Jam crowd as a terrific metaphor for God’s love.
Next to the stage, Mandisa’s set was wonderfully choreographed with character, finding her backup singers and dancers getting down to the passionate jams. She brought a powerful message to keep going with memorable music about praise and hope. She encouraged the excited crowd to sing along with her. With a message of unity and love, Mandisa focused on all areas of the audience. Her fighter spirit shined her whole set through.
After Mandisa was the sharp-dressed Danny Gokey. With his rock-vibed set, Danny had an impressive horn section that swayed along. Danny got the crowd dancing, and impressed all with soulful, heartfelt vocals. Toward the end of his set, Danny performed a track with just an acoustic guitarist, and piano playing throughout. Phone flashlights danced and illuminated the audience as they sang along. He closed out the evening with “The Comeback”.
Before the night’s final artist, Rend Collective took to the stage with the hope of revival. The band brought a folk sound from Northern Ireland. The spirited group had a fiddle, accordion, electric and acoustic guitar, to name a few instruments. During their set, a sea of bubbles erupted against the stage, coating the crowd in sparkly orbs. A heavy drum sound kept time.
Singer Chris Llewellyn commented that it’s close to St. Patrick’s Day, and maximum Irish for the year. He encouraged fans to dance in Irish fashion, alternating hopping on one leg.
“It’s already like we’re in Dublin!”, he exclaimed. Confetti showered the dancing crowd, much to everyone’s delight. At the very end of their set, each member donned a panda mask.
After their set, NewSong member Russ Lee returned to the stage, and told a heartfelt story of one of his experiences Winter Jam had yielded. The moral was that he did not want anyone to have to miss the festival, and the message of worship it can provide. An offering bucket was passed around to help out the festival. Since tickets are discounted at the door, and folks even admitted who can’t afford it who need the evening’s message, Russ emphasized the importance of everyone pitching in and helping if they can. Ten percent of the offering was set to be donated to a local organization playing a large part in youth ministry.
The lights dimmed again, and the stage was set for the Jam’s main act, Newsboys United.
Newsboys took to the stage to start off their night strong with “Born Again” ,”That’s How You Change The World” and “Live With Abandon”.
Next, lead singer Michael Tait encouraged the crowd to move side to side “like this, come on! Like one big black gospel choir with a lot of white people from Michigan – love ya!”
The band started into “He Reins”. After the first chorus, Newsboys of old, vocalist Peter Furler and bassist Phil Joel emerged to round out the beautiful song. Together, the united six gentleman churned out greats like “I am Free” and “Breakfast” with rock abound and incredible harmonies soaring over the center. During “Something Beautiful”, Michael Tait shouted out each member of the band.
Newsboys United then shared new songs from their forthcoming self-titled album, which is due out in May. Through the festival, the band offered a special pre-order that included two albums for $10.
At one point, they even brought a couple of excited fans on stage to dance along.
Michael Tait touched on his love of Michigan, and shouted out keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, who is from the Detroit area. He also touched on the importance of putting God back in America, and taking time out to love people.
He encouraged the crowd to sing along to amazing track, “We Believe”. The chorus of audience members filled the room. Afterward, Peter Furler commented, “Mike, we might have found the loudest Americans in America”.
The band also performed dc Talk favorite, “Jesus Freak”, with a special appearance by the talented Tray Little. As a united unit, Newsboys were clearly loving presenting their message of worship, and enjoying performing together.
Next, Peter Furler remained on drums, as drummer Duncan Phillips set up on a rotating kit. The two incredible drummers faced off on opposite ends of the venue. Duncan’s drumkit rotating impressively as the audience cheered them both on.
Newsboys United closed out their night with gigantic song, “God’s Not Dead”. Michael Tait exclaimed, “God bless Michigan!” as the band stood center stage to bow together.
Pastor and author, Bobby Joyner ended the evening with a prayer.
Winter Jam 2019 will be continuing across the states through the end of March.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Warsaw, Indiana’s finest, Surprise Asteroid are here with a brand new track entitled “Speak”.
Surprise Asteroid is an ever-evolving collaborative effort, driven by talented singer / songwriter, Grant Reigner. Grant not only penned the song’s lyrics, but also played all of the instrumentation for “Speak”. The song also features background vocals by Joby Adams and Michael Burke.
According to Reigner, the song is a response to a higher power and the place we instinctively turn to when our backs are against the wall. “We crave independence and defy authority, both real and perceived. But as soon as we feel out of control or crushed by a burden we can’t bear, the first we thing we turn to is authority. A higher power is somehow necessary for our survival, and ‘Speak’ describes the struggle and pull of each of the two clashing emotions.”
As far as musicality goes, the song starts by catching listeners with a lovely and memorable acoustic riff. Quickly, the song is well-layered to include percussion, drum, and electric guitar. “Speak” presents very open, honest, and relatable lyrics, as well as terrific instrumentation the whole song through. The chorus is carried by a medley that would make even Weezer proud.
The song closes out with the same riff that drew us in.
“Speak” is a reflection of hard work, and passion for music. The time and production spent on the song absolutely shows. Surprise Asteroid’s hope is to unite folks both in the creative process of songwriting, as well as through listening enjoyment.
The single is making its debut today, and is presently available on iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Google Play.
Be sure to give “Speak” a listen, and keep a weather eye on the horizon for more to come from this great band.
Review by : Tiffany Cuthrell
Greta Van Fleet delivered an exceptional performance at Detroit’s Fox Theatre on Saturday December 29th. The concert was the second of three sold out shows for the band’s Michigan homecoming. In the holiday spirit, the band also joined forced with Gleaners Community Food Bank, setting up canned food donation stations at each of the concerts.
The Frankenmuth natives have had an unbelievable year releasing an acclaimed debut album, and just being nominated for four Grammy awards.
Opening the show was the talented husband and wife duo, Ida Mae from the UK. With a wave, guitarist Chris Turpin greeted the crowd.
“Good evening, Detroit. There’s a lot of you out there” …and with that, the pair was off on their incredible set. The musicians’ talent was evident from the very first note.
The audience, who was ready for great music, welcomed Ida Mae warmly. The band presented sharp rhymes and impressive playing. Stephanie Jean delivered lovely vocals and kept rhythm. The band had more than enough original material to round out a great set.
Guitarist and singer Chris played with a slide, while his wife kept rhythm. Her beautiful voice complimented her husband’s soulful sound flawlessly.
The band commented on being grateful to be at the theatre with their friends, Greta Van Fleet. They kept an open dialogue with the audience, talking about moving to Nashville, writing music, and even shouting out the gorgeous theatre itself.
Overall, Ida Mae was a wonderful opener to set the stage for the night’s main act.
Greta Van Fleet’s Peaceful Army of fans were out in droves to support their musical heroes. The audience was filled with all types of folks, young and old. Some were dressed in full on 60’s and 70’s attire, an appropriate homage to the band’s undeniable throwback sound. One fact was absolutely unmistakable; the turnout was rock n’ roll fans through and through.
The lights dimmed, and GVF took to the stage right around 9:30 PM. The beautiful Fox Theatre was alive with energy right off the bat as the audience ignited with applause that rarely dimmed throughout the night.
Keeping up a lovely tradition and class act move, lead singer Josh Kiszka handed out roses to fans. Greta Van Fleet wasted no time getting to the music as they started off their night strong with an intro into “Cold Wind”, the second track off their debut LP, “Anthem Of The Peaceful Army”.
The band was dressed every bit the rockstar part. Josh in a golden vest, adorned with a headband lined with draping feathers. Guitarist Jake Kiszka sported a black military-style jacket, whilst shirtless underneath. Bassist Sam Kiszka and drummer Danny Wagner kept a classic, minimalistic feel as well. The attire suited the band and night perfectly.
Second in the set, the crowd went wild for the band’s hit, “Safari Song”. To conclude the song, Danny Wagner drummed and exceptional solo. He was also celebrating his birthday!
Throughout the night, Greta Van Fleet performed tracks from their debut LP, as well as jams from their EPs that grabbed attention from around the world.
Next up, the band presented one of their Grammy nominated tracks, the epic “Black Smoke Rising”.
During “Flower Power”, bassist Sam Kiszka switched instruments to get down on an organ. A vase of white roses was perched upon it.
Josh exclaimed, “Watch me now!” as the band started appropriately into “Watch Me”, a Labi Siffre cover. During “Watch Me”, Josh Kiszka took to his mike stand, feeling every bit of the music. At times, standing next to his brother Jake, who absolutely shredded on guitar.
When the song concluded, Josh flashed a peace sign and thanked the audience.
“Now this next song if you know the words, sing along.” The band started into “The Music Is You”, a beautiful John Denver cover. Throughout the night, Greta Van Fleet put their musical knowledge and appreciation on full display.
During “You’re The One”, singer and guitarist were back to back singing the heartfelt chorus together. Jake traded his electric guitar for an acoustic for the softer, more intimate jam. Josh threw a few “Here comes the sun” lines in for a thoughtful touch. His effortlessly powerful vocals soared throughout the theatre the entire night through.
Next under a yellow-hued light, Greta Van Fleet presented the lead single for their new album, a track called “When The Curtain Falls”. The celebratory crowd danced and sang along accordingly.
After, the lights dimmed and in a blue smoke haze, the band started into “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)”, a cover of the 1970 Melanie track. Jake Kiszka took to center stage for an unmatched guitar solo, which was a common theme of the evening. Josh Kiszka added a passionate touch with tambourine.
During “Edge Of Darkness”, Josh Kiszka accepted a red rose from a fan and added it to the collection atop the organ. The crowd positively erupted when guitarist Jake started playing his guitar behind his back and over his shoulders. He didn’t miss a beat. Josh continued on tambourine and ended the song with a powerful note. The band thanked the crowd, and exited stage left.
The Fox Theatre roared with cheers and applause from the second Greta Van Fleet disappeared from view. There was even a loud “GRE-TA” chant going. Cell phone flashlights and lighters danced in the air, illuminating the anxious crowd. The audience hit a crescendo as Josh Kiszka reappeared with a wave, band in tow, and said, “Detroit, we love you!”
To start off the encore, the band performed another awesome track also from their latest release, “Brave New World.” Next, Greta Van Fleet rocked out with “Lover, Leaver” as the crowd danced along. During the first chorus, the crowd went mental for Josh’s dazzling vocals and creative microphone effects.
The encore was far from over as the band continued onto their massive track, “Highway Tune”, then a terrific cover of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ And Tumblin'”.
The band kept the music jiving, riffing into Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil”, and the Black Keys “I Got Mine”. Greta Van Fleet closed out their night jamming together, their musical talent shining bright.
Greta Van Fleet will be wrapping up their string of Fox Theatre shows tomorrow night, then will continue to tour extensively into 2019.
Review and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Michigan natives, Greta Van Fleet have been nominated for an impressive four Grammys. Their list of nods include the coveted best new artist, best rock album for EP “From The Fires”, best rock performance for the unmistakable “Highway Tune”, and best rock song for “Black Smoke Rising”.
The nominations come on the heels of their explosive debut album, “Anthem Of The Peaceful Army”, and lead the rock music community.
Though only in their late teens and early 20’s, these gentleman posses an unmatched talent that not only meets but exceeds all of the hype that has trailed the band through 2018.
Greta Van Fleet is presently on tour, and will be making three sold out stops at Detroit’s Fox Theatre later this month.
Words and photo by: Tiffany Cuthrell