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Live report : Mushroomhead

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Friday, October 15, 2010 - Backstage Live, San Antonio, Texas
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Photographer : Darren Cowan




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Mushroomhead: Nothing Face
Mushroomhead have once again released another album of masked malevolence, "Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children." With the new album dropping, this massive collection of musicians has gathered their keyboards, multiple bass drums, guitars, mics, fake blood and monster costumes in an effort to wow audiences with their spectacular live show.




Mushroomhead has been at it for over seventeen years, so the group has had plenty of time to perfect its trade. Although no longer capable of bringing in the large numbers of fans as their Universal Records debut, "XIII", which moved 400,000 units, Mushroomhead’s added experience and their most frightening, macabre-detailed masks yet made for a promising evening of eclectic, alternative metal.




The closing of Scout Bar led Mushroomhead to move to Backstage Live. Stories of crooked operations and a bad personal experience with Scout resulted in a welcome change of venue. The club’s Web site listed a 7 P.M. door time, but moved to 8 due to a meet-and-greet. Maybe thirty people stood in line to get pictures, autographs and shake hands with the mysterious masked men. This small gathering could have been taken as an ominous sign for their ticket sales, and the estimated 300 attendants may still cast a gloomy outlook compared to past glories, but was significantly more than the amount of early die hard fans.





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Koheleth: Johnny screams bloody gore

Koheleth

My girlfriend and I walked across the street to the Spaghetti Warehouse and missed the opening local band. We came back just in time to catch the first touring band, Koheleth take the stage. Sporting a Pantera "Cowboys From Hell" t-shirt, guitarist Tony literally wore his influences on his sleeves. He displayed exceptional skill emulating the tricks and riffs of his fallen guitar hero, Dimebag Darrel. Equally impressive, front man Johnny grabbed the crowd in an iron embrace, belting out long-winded screams and brassy hardcore voices. The crowd really took to the Fort Wayne, Indiana band’s stomping grooves and guitar acrobatics.

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Koheleth: Josh smacking the bass
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Koheleth: Tony riffin for Dimebag
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Koheleth: Tony and Johnny




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Stygian: Frank playing the jams

Stygian

Stygian’s Myspace page lists four members, but tonight they played as a three-piece. Vocalist Frank Leary handled all guitar parts, which led to his solo parts having a thin rhythm section. The Pennsylvania act’s sound was a partnership between hard rock, metal and alternative. If Metallica had assimilated into the grunge culture prevalent during the rise of The Black album, they would have resembled Stygian. Leary’s middle range was a dead ringer for James Hetfield. Stygian were a bit of a let down after Koheleth’s heavy set, but the group really picked it up near the end. Drummer Steve Baccha kept playing harder and harder, conjuring up a shit storm of rolls and fills. Tony from Koheleth joined the band for a cover of Pantera’s “Revolution is my Name.” Stygian followed the unwritten rule for playing Texas: Playing Pantera covers or anything Texas related will always bring down the house!

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Stygian: Mike Stewart & Steve Baccha
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Stygian: Three out of four isn't bad
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Stygian: Baccha about to explode




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Final Trigger: Final Trigger groovin'

Final Trigger

Mushroomhead’s direct support, Final Trigger reminded me of all the things that made me hate nu metal when it rose to prominence. The Toronto, Ontario, Canadian act purposely misspelled “Scrap” on their banner, as if this lent them some ghetto superstar status. J-Roc’s guitar playing lacked originality and speed, but the crowd loved jumping up and down to the Pogo-style rhythms. “Start a Mosh Pit” contained hokey, urban language as did “Rock ‘n’Roll Gangster,” which showed DJ Profit step out of the keys/turntable to drop some cliché rhymes on the crowd. This was rap metal at its worst, but the crowd enjoyed it and J-Roc wore a killer top hat.

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Final Trigger: Rap metal
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Final Trigger: Triple J
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Final Trigger: J-Rock & Profit




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Mushroomhead: Pig Benis beckons

Mushroomhead

Mushroomhead emerged from the obscurity of fog onto the crowd like monsters out of an old Universal film. The group opened with the first single and video from Ugly Children, “Come On.” Said track is one of the catchiest and most aggressive tracks of their career. The song’s energy transferred well onto an eagerly awaiting crowd. The dynamics of “Solitaire Unraveling” also helped the audience release some pent-up energy. Other highlights of their set include “Burn the Bridge” and “Save Us.” The audience sang with deep feeling the lyrics to the latter track’s melodic chorus.




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Mushroomhead: Stitch bashes bloodily

Mushroomhead

Mushroomhead is a band best experienced under the multi-flashing lights of a stage. The group’s outfits looked surreal and their playing was tight and clear. Both vocalists—Jeffrey Nothing and Waylon Reavis—sang as well as their album recordings. Gravy’s churning riffs rang thick but with clarity. The two keyboardists showed a diversity of skill, switching to water-covered floor bass drums. Due to the color of the stage lights, the splash of water created during each hit of the drum produced a panorama of colors. The strange pig-man incarnation that is Pig Benis provided extra, noticeable decibel damage with his long, black bass guitar. Both Waylon and Stitch took the show off stage and got up close and personal with the crowd.




Mushroomhead played an hour-and-fifteen-minute set that truly won over the crowd. From the band’s visual presence to the music they created, everything was in top form. They commanded the stage and the audience. Their meet-and-greet and ventures into the audience—as stage personas and as regular people (before performing)—shows they are in tune with their fans and do not have bullshit rock star attitudes. Not everyone had a good time, though. After being hit by a much bigger dude, a guy fell right in front of my girlfriend and hit his head hard on the floor. He eventually came back and even started another fight with the behemoth who knocked him the fuck out. Now that’s devotion!

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Mushroomhead: Nothing Face
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Mushroomhead: Raise your mushroomhead
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Mushroomhead: Pig Benis beckons
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Mushroomhead: Stitch bashes bloodily
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Mushroomhead: Reavis revs up the crowd
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Mushroomhead: Bloody Jeffrey Nothing
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Mushroomhead: No donuts for this pig
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Mushroomhead: Stage rage


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on October 19, 2010 by Darren Cowan
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