Cale Dodds

Detroit, Michigan (February 14, 2018)Splice Magazine was on hand today when Warner Music Nashville recording artist, Cale Dodds, stopped by the MusicTown studios in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Out on a nationwide promotional tour for his first country single, “Take You Back”, Dodds was ready to talk country music and play a few acoustic cuts off his yet un-named forthcoming LP.

Cale Dodds performs live at MusicTown Detroit

WYCD's Roxanne Steele speaks with Nashville Up and Comer Cale Dodds and he performs live at MusicTown Detroit's downtown studio

Posted by MusicTown Detroit on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Cale Dodds
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Hosted by WYCD’s midday personality, Roxanne Steele, and broadcast on Facebook Live, the laid back thirty-minutes provided a small glimpse into the life of the young artist. Nestled in the small confines of the recording studio inside MusicTown, Dodds and Steele talked first loves, since it is Valentine’s Day and all, songwriting, life in Nashville and how the song “Take You Back” came to life.

As the animated discussion moved thru each segment, Dodds would pick up his acoustic guitar and play a song from his forthcoming LP. Each song performed was carefully chosen by Dodds to connect to the preceding discussion and to showcase his songwriting ability.

The early afternoon promotional visit culminated with the performance of the new single “Take You Back”. This song is unique by all accounts with the melody being composed first, and then stored on Dodds cell phone for over two years! It was finally completed during a songwriting session with some friends as Dodds puts it, “when the stars aligned and the cosmic energy was right we matched lyrics with the melody!

After signing multiple autographs for the fans that were lucky enough to enjoy this intimate event and taking a few promotional pictures for the WYCD staff, Cale Dodds was off to the airport and his next tour stop.

Are we witnessing the ascent of a future superstar? Time will tell. But if the reaction of the fans on hand today is any indication, you bet we are!

Cale Dodds:
     

MusicTown Detroit:
    

99.5 WYCD
    

Senior Photojournalist: John Swider

“It captures that ‘us against the world,’ concept,” Cale Dodds says of his debut EP, Wild and Reckless. “The title Wild and Reckless is about that desire for freedom and that endless ambition to fight for something more,” Cale says, while the album as a whole speaks to young love and its possibilities. “There’s no map…but there is that fire to chase it and try to find it.” Produced by Kyle Jacobs and Matt McClure (Lee Brice), Wild and Reckless was recorded at the renowned Ocean Way Recording Studios.

In addition to laying tracks in Music City, Cale Dodds is making tracks on the road, opening for the likes of Brett Eldredge, Billy Currington, and Sam Hunt. Cale has recently partnered with JustinBoots as “JustinAmerica Country Artist” and with AT&T U-verse for the Country Deep Tour with David Nail. Fans can check out Cale’s upcoming tour dates on caledodds.com and can hear Cale’s music, described by him as a rooted in Country, Classic Rock, and Pop, on iTunes.

Halestorm

Ypsilanti, Michigan (February 10, 2018) – When Halestorm was tabbed as the co-headliner along with Stone Sour for the Winter 2018 Tour, hard rock fans rejoiced. It was a chance to see each of the budding rock icons perform a full set of their own music on the same stage. With this heavy in their minds, fans of both bands packed into the EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, MI on a wintery Saturday night in February.

The Pennsylvania-based Halestorm had the middle slot of the three bands listed on the outdoor marquis this night. Led by vocal powerhouse, Lizzy Hale, along with brother, Arejay Hale (drums), Josh Smith (bass) and Joe Hottinger (guitar), the band is out in support of their 2015 LP, Into the Wild Life. With a reported, yet unnamed new album almost complete, fans wondered if they would hear any new material tonight; they wouldn’t have to wait long to find out!

© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

As the lights dimmed and Lizzy Hale approached the microphone stand with her white Gibson Destroyer strapped over her shoulder, the crowd came to their feet in anticipation. When the band broke into the brand new, unreleased “Black Vultures” off their forthcoming album, the musical onslaught was on.

Backed by driving guitar of Hottinger and the powerful, mind-numbing vocals of Hale, the band ripped through their planned 15-song set with energy and precision. Hard rock radio stalwarts “Love Bites (So Do I)”, “Mz. Hyde”, ”Amen” and “The Reckoning” were just a few notables the band covered in the first half of the show alone!

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One of the more subdued moments occurred during the cover of the Adele classic “Someone Like You”. While playing a white piano at the center of the stage, Lizzy stopped singing and began to talk to the crowd about children and growing up. While talking, she effortlessly segued right into a beautiful heartfelt solo rendition of “Dear Daughter” from 2015’s Into the Wild Life. This seemed to relax the crowd and provided her hard-working band a well-deserved breather.

That was all the rest the band would get during the rest of the set though. As soon as the piano was moved backstage, Lizzy and brother, Arejay, fired the crowd up again with the beginning licks off current radio favorite, “Apocalyptic”. It was during this time Arejay was featured during his performance of a mesmerizing drum solo that encompassed each member of the band. After a well-deserved ovation from the appreciative crowd, the band continued right into “I Am the Fire” and their first radio hit, 2009’s “I Get Off”.

As Halestorm worked through crowd favorites, “Freak Like Me”, ”Mayhem” and their last song of the night, “I Miss the Misery”, fans were treated to the extreme energy and thundering vocal prowess not many bands can duplicate.

With performances as tight as this and as musically solid as any band on tour, Halestorm is positioning themselves as a force in the world of hard rock. That being said, no wonder fans are clamoring for a new album!

Be sure to check out our coverage of Stone Sour!

Halestorm:
     

EMU Convocation Center:
   

Be sure to check out our coverage of Stone Sour!

 Senior Photojournalist: John Swider

Stone Sour

© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

Ypsilanti, Michigan (February 10, 2018) – Before we begin, let’s set the record straight right from the start – Stone Sour is NOT Corey Taylors ‘second’ band project; Stone Sour was already a solid entity before Taylors ‘second’ project donned the rubber masks and began their meteor-like ascent in the metal world. Any mortal with this much energy and creativity naturally would need multiple outlets to express themselves. Taylor moves effortlessly between both bands and seamlessly maintains their complete separate identities and distinctive sounds.

Make no mistake; the crowd that packed into the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center on this snow-laden Saturday night came to see Stone Sour. No masks or gimmicks, just straight hardcore rock, and roll, with maybe a ballad or two thrown in for good measure.

After a quick stage break from co-headliner Halestorm, Corey Taylor (vocals), Christian Martucci (Guitar), Johny Chow (bass), Roy Mayorga (drums) and a temporary replacement for Josh Rand (who is on a medical leave), took the stage. Stone Sour, using the instrumental track “YSIF” as entry music, wasted no time once Taylor took his spot up front.

The band came out blazing with “Taipei Person/Allah Tea” the first track off its 2017 release Hydrograd. For the next hour and 30 minutes bassist Johny Chow and Ray Mayorga “one of the world’s best metal drummers” laid the acoustic foundation for the rest to follow. Together they delivered a high-intensity, yet very tight 13-song set which featured tracks off “Hydrograd” and a few iconic tracks from the vault of Stone Sours vast music library. Some of the classics included “Made of Scars” and the iconic “30/30-150” after which the band slowed, not as much to take a breather themselves but give the fans a one!

When Taylor returned to the stage he had a guitar strapped up and began playing “Hesitate” solo. After working through the chorus, the band joined in and instantly amped up the intensity in the crowd. With Taylor throwing water bottles, firing confetti cannons and managing the mosh pit from the stage, the fans were witnessing Stone Sour at their absolute best.

The evening wind down began with “Do Me a Favor” and “Song #3”, which in previous shows was used to end the main set. Unexpectedly, the crowd was taken aback when an appealing, yet an extremely raw version of the 2006 mainstream rock hit “Through Glass” was started by the band. Often used as an encore, the polished, yet edgy performance of this classic radio tune left the fans yelling and screaming for more as the extended version came to conclusion.

After an extremely quick break off stage, the band reappeared to the thunderous roar of the appreciative fans! Breaking right into “Absolute Zero” from 2012 release House of Gold and Bones, Pt.1, Taylor instantly became the leader of an intense singing battle between different parts of the arena. It was an amazing scene in where Taylor could silence the crowd or bring them to hysteria with just the motion of his hand.

The night came to an end with a neck-breaking performance of “Fabuless”, a track off “Hydrograd”. With colorful air-dancers across the front of the stage, multi-colored flashing lights, and loud screaming fans, Corey Taylor was in his environment. A master showman with a strong, powerful voice, he IS the face of Stone Sour – one of the most Iconic Rock bands on the planet.

It’s not very often if ever, a band finishes off such a powerful show by playing a track off their latest release; only a band that has confidence in their music and product they put on stage night after night would even think about it. Stone Sour did more than think about it tonight; they went ahead and did it. And judging by the crowd reaction, it was a wise decision!

Stone Sour:

     

Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center:
   

Be sure to check out our coverage of Halestorm!

 Senior Photojournalist: John Swider

Year of the Locust

Detroit, Michigan (February 9, 2018) – Opening the night for the Starset – Immersion Part 1 show at Saint Andrew’s Hall tonight was New York-based Year Of The Locust (YOTL). The lil band from the Northeast is a hard-rock based quartet featuring Scott McGiveron (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Fred Serrell (Bass/Vocals), Peter Hellers (Vocals/Guitar) and Raeshwan Greene (Drums).

With a small sampling from their 2016 LP, Devolver, and current single “Rise Up” at their disposal, the thirty-minute set was a well-received surprise for the sparse crowd on hand. The music was loud and the YOTL performance was spot on. Rock and roll as was meant to be played loud and raucous. If you are a fan of innovative, well played, hard-rock music, do yourself a favor and put Year Of The Locust on your ‘must see’ list – you won’t be disappointed.

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New York’s Year of the Locust is doing things the old-fashioned way. Rather than relying on false accolades and manufactured hype, the band has taken their furious live show and stellar songwriting to the masses directly. Extensive touring throughout the country has endeared the band to fans and peers alike. Their new single, “Rise Up”, is a call to arms for the countless citizens of the world who are no longer willing to sit idly by and have their lives dictated for them.

Since releasing the full-length album, Devolver, was produced by Jimmy Sabella (Metal Allegiance, Marcy Playground, Nine Days) and mastered By Don Zientara (Foo Fighters, John Frusciante, Minor Threat, Fugazi) and released in July of 2016. The band has toured regionally with Saliva, Tantric, Saving Abel, Devour the Day, Sons of Texas and Puddle of Mudd, among others. The first single, “Rise Up” is some of the most innovative and energy driven music the band has produced to date.

Year of the Locust
     

Saint Andrew’s Hall:
   

 Senior Photojournalist: John Swider

Starset

Starset © Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

Detroit, Michigan (February 9, 2018) The snowiest day of the year was taking place right as Starset was arriving with their Immersion: Part One Tour in Detroit, MI. Also scheduled to appear at the fabled Saint Andrew’s Hall tonight are rockers, Year of the Locust, and the ever-popular EDM, wizard, Grabbitz. Would the onslaught of snow in Detroit keep the fans away or worse, cancel the show?

With an 8:30 PM door, fans were given ample opportunity to make it into the city. But unfortunately, the roads where virtually impassable and many elected to stay home. What they missed was an epic one hour and 40 minutes, 17-song set of arguably one of the coolest concepts in music today.

Starset is Dustin Bates (vocals), Ron DeChant (keyboards), Brock Richards (Guitar) and Adam Gilbert (drums). They formed as a group in Columbus, Ohio in 2013 and bring a sound that is unique to some yet unfamiliar to others. Classified by some as EDM with a splash of guitars, the assigned moniker doesn’t quite fit. To the fans in attendance tonight at Saint Andrew’s Hall, it was a fusion between metal and EDM, with a heavy dose of theatrics mixed in to create a visual and musical experience like no other.

The stage setup tonight was an exercise in visual stimulation in typical Starset fashion. The cramped space is littered with scientific gadgets and space oddities that resemble the control deck from a sci-fi show like Star Trek. Everyone except Bates, the lead singer, is dressed in a space suit, helmets and all, to enhance the effect. Not something you would typically expect to see at a rock and roll concert, but this is Starset, and they have the sound to back up the concept.

After a visual countdown from 30, the show was “launched”. Starting with “Satellite” and “Frequency”, from their latest album, Vessels, the band moved through the set with non-stop precision. Whether it was “Gravity of You”, ”Point of No Return”, “Telescope” or “Telepathic”, the music and the theme it portrayed was never altered. Even a small acoustic portion was thrown in, where at previous shows, the band would move off-stage hoping fans would cheer them back. Not tonight though, almost as if they were rewarding the fans for braving the elements, Starset just powered right on!

One of the more popular moments of the night was when crowd favorite “Monster” was performed. With the song getting plenty of airplay in recent months on rock format and EDM stations around the world, it’s clear why Starset’s popularity is rapidly growing.

As the band navigated their way toward the end of the night, they never wavered off course. Perfect execution; almost as if they had a map navigating through a constellation in a far away galaxy. Starset finished off the amazing night of technological brilliance with “Bringing It Down” and their mega-hit signature song, “My Demons”.

In the eyes of music experts, Starset seems to have found something like no one else. From the fusion of different genres and the way they deliver it on stage to the visual stimulation and the Augmented Reality app you can download, these guys are technologically savvy. Whatever that something is, it mesmerized the crowd tonight in Detroit like never before.


The next time you’re fortunate enough to get a chance to see Starset, do it. Download the app before you go and be a part of virtual reality for a couple hours, then while you’re there you’ll have one heck of a musical experience!

Be sure to check out our Year of the Locust coverage!

Starset:
     

Saint Andrew’s Hall:
   


Senior Photojournalist: John Swider

 Editor: Kate Sumbler

Candlebox + The Lows

Detroit, Michigan (January 26, 2018) – Seattle alt-rockers Candlebox brought their “25 years of Rock & Still Rolling Tour” to Detroit with a rousing show at Saint Andrews Hall tonight. A sold-out crowd of millennials, baby-boomers, and every generation in between, packed the 111-year-old venue to the rafters, anticipating the guitar-heavy sounds of hits from the band’s 1993 self-titled debut album to 2016’s Disappearing in Airports. Candlebox did not disappoint, churning up the crowd and giving us exactly what we came for.

Candlebox first hit the scene in 1993, releasing their eponymous debut album to much critical acclaim and chart success. The record featured the band’s two biggest singles to date, “Far Behind” and “You“. Their remarkable radio, concert, and chart successes garnered them a main-stage performance at Woodstock ’94 and put Candlebox at the top of the 90’s post-grunge scene.  Two more albums followed Lucy, which went gold in 1995 and Happy Pills three years later.

After a break-up in 2000, rumored to be the result of dissatisfaction with their record contract, the original members pursued solo projects before reuniting in 2006, spurred by the release of The Best of Candlebox compilation album. A few more personnel and label changes lead to the current lineup of original member Kevin Martin on vocals, Brian Quinn on lead guitar, Island Styles playing rhythm guitar, Adam Kury on bass, and Robin Diaz behind the drums. For the band’s 25th anniversary, this updated quintet kicked off the “25 years of Rock & Still Rolling Tour” in January 2018, performing hits from the album that launched their career as well as offering a career retrospective from their entire six-CD catalogue.

On this chilly winter night, local opening act, The Lows, warmed up the fans with an energetic set, teasing us with what was to come later in the evening with their modern take on the 90’s grunge/hard rock sound. Near the end of their set, lead singer Angelo Coppola introduced a special guest to help pay respect to the late Chris Cornell, welcoming headliner Candlebox’s own Kevin Martin to the stage, much to the fans’ delight. The two singers delivered a powerful rendition of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” that left the audience stunned and wanting more.

© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

We didn’t have to wait long before Candlebox took the stage. Bathed in red & blue lights, frontman Kevin Martin launched into “Sweet Summertime” from their fifth studio album, Love Stories & Other Musings.Stand”, from 2008’s Into the Sun followed, featuring moody Zeppelin-esque sounds from Brian Quinn and Island Styles on guitars. Introducing the next song, Martin recognized Detroit’s WRIF 101.1 for being the first radio station outside of Seattle to play their music on the air. The locals responded with a loud cheer that continued with the opening chords of “Change” from the band’s quadruple-platinum debut album. Fans sang along with Martin’s distinctly raw but soulful vocals throughout the song. The band followed this with a slower tune, the power ballad “Blossom”, dedicated to the ladies in attendance, and newer releases “Crazy” and “Vexatious” with Martin singing “Can you do what’s been done, can you shine in the sun?” after a light-hearted rant about the “big, beautiful world out there” outside of our phones.

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© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

The lights dimmed to red for the long, bluesy, intro groove to “Breathe Me In”, with Quinn and Styles trading intricate guitar solos back and forth before Martin returned to the stage. Another surprise awaited us when previous Candlebox guitarist Mike Leslie joined Martin to perform “Spotlights”, a song the two wrote together for Disappearing in Airports. A short story about Martin’s childhood culminated with him dedicating the next song, “Miss You”, to his late father and featured Martin playing acoustic guitar. A crowd favorite, “Cover Me”, was next, ramping up with the driving rhythm section of Adam Kury on bass, and Robin Diaz, on drums. The sexy “Supernova” followed, a song once described by Martin as being “about that moment when you’re so rattled by your partner that you just can’t get enough.”  Another 1993 hit “You” had the crowd singing along while Martin grabbed a cell phone to share the on-stage perspective with the band’s fans that were not in attendance via Facebook Live. Diaz then gave up his seat behind the drums to up-and-coming Detroit musician, Katelyn Corll, for her chance to shine with an amazing performance as she pounded the skins on the band’s biggest hit “Far Behind”. The set wrapped up with 2016’s “The Bridge” and allowed guitarists Quinn & Styles to show off their skills with blistering solos, leaving the crowd completely satisfied.

Candlebox’s “25 years of Rock & Still Rolling Tour” next heads to the Akron area, with a show Saturday, January 27th at Hard Rock Live Northfield Park, in Northfield, OH. The band then heads south to Florida for several dates. More dates can be found at the links below.

Candlebox:
     

The Lows
     

Katelyn Corll:
     

Mike Leslie:

Saint Andrew’s Hall:
   

Senior Photographer: John Swider
Senior Journalist: Kate Sumbler

Lanco

© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

Grand Rapids, Michigan (January 19, 2018) – Five years ago this week, Brandon Lancaster, (vocals), Chandler Baldwin, (bass guitar), Jared Hampton, (keyboards), Tripp Howell, (drums) and Eric Steedly (guitar) played their first show as the country group LANco in front of 15 family members. Today, with a Billboard top-ten hit, “Greatest Love Story”, and the just-released album, Hallelujah Nights (Sony Nashville) to their credit, LANco has been thrust into the forefront of country music.

Tonight Lanco had the honor to open the show for the sold-out Chris Young: Losing Sleep World Tour 2018 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids Michigan. From the onset, the fans in attendance could tell tonight was going to be a little different than normal. With the loyal following that LANco has developed during their short existence, and their popularity growing daily, Van Andel was packed early and buzzing with anticipation.

As the band took the stage at 7:30 PM for a 35-minute set, the sold-out venue erupted with excitement. Brandon Lancaster, the matriarch, and namesake of the band put on a show few will soon forget. Performing highlights from the album that was just released today, Hallelujah Nights, Lancaster’s presence and interaction with the fans made the set feel shorter than it actually was. The performance flowed effortlessly with each song and kept the crowd engaged and on their feet throughout the night. As the last notes of Billboard top ten fan favorite,“Greatest Love Story”, brought the night to a close for Lanco, it was evident by the loud cheers of approval why they were chosen 1/22 Cream of Country 2017!

Lanco:
     

Van Andel Arena:
   

Don’t forget to check out Chris Young’s + Kane Brown’s performances from this evening, too!

Senior Photojournalist: John Swider

Kane Brown

Grand Rapids, Michigan (January 19, 2018)Chris Young, with the support of Kane Brown and Lanco, brought his Losing Sleep World  Tour to the sold-out Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan tonight. Eager country music-loving fans packed into the arena for the undeniably talented, high-energy, and emotional-intensive performances that were sure to be on the agenda this evening!

© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

From the humble beginning of winning a high school talent contest singing Chris Young’s “Getting You Home”, to becoming a viral internet sensation, Kane Brown has run the gamut in his climb to country music stardom. Signed to Sony Music Nashville in January 2016, Kane released an EP titled Chapter 1, and then the self-titled LP, Kane Brown, in December that same year. As 2016 came to a close, very few envisioned that 2017 would be the breakout year for Kane Brown that all artists dream of.

With the release of a deluxe version of Kane Brown, the young man from Tennessee was on his way. His album soared to number 5 on the Billboard chart and Number 1 on the country chart. Kane became the first artist to have simultaneous number ones on all five main country charts. Everyone was taking notice, including Chris Young, who was planning a thirty-show world tour of his own starting at the end of 2017.  Chris Young reached out to Kane Brown to fill the middle slot at all 30 shows. Once Brown’s team accepted, the stage was set for one of the most anticipated shows in years.

After a quick 35-minute set from the country band Lanco, the stage was set for the budding superstar, Kane Brown. The large, multi-tiered stage was semi-illuminated; the anticipation and mutters of the crowd were evident. As the arena lights finally dimmed, Kane Brown took to the stage, the low chatter quickly turned into deafening roars! The fans were ready for a show and they would not be murmur tonight.

Opening his planned 55-five minute set with “Found You” Brown had his fans on their feet and singing back to him note-for-note. He masterfully worked the stage, side-to-side, like an experienced veteran performer does. Surreal beams of light with pulsating color cascaded down from around the stage. The ‘light show’ as some call it, created a high-intensity atmosphere not normally associated with country music. Brown, who is quickly becoming a master showman, fed off the crowd’s energy using the surge to move effortlessly thru a 12-song set highlighted by favorites “Used to Love You Sober”, “Heaven ” and “What Ifs”.

Kane kept everyone going with “Hometown”, “Rockstars”, “Better Place”, “Medley (“Billionaire”, “Miss Jackson”, “Over My Head”)”, “There Goes My Everything”, “Learning”, “Closer”, and “Pull It Off”. When his high-energy, 55-minute show came to a close, the crowd showered Kane and his band with appreciation and cheers of admiration. As if planned long before, Brown and his band took to the edge of the stage to pass out the remaining guitar picks while smiling and waving to the appreciative fans. Make no mistakes about it, Kane Brown is a country superstar; it is only a matter of time before he headlines his own world tour.

Kane Brown
     

Van Andel Arena:
   

Don’t forget to check out Chris Young’s + Lanco’s performances from this evening, too!

 Senior Photojournalist: John Swider

Chris Young

Grand Rapids, Michigan (January 19, 2018) When Chris Young brought his 2018 Losing Sleep World Tour to the Van Andel Arena, in Grand Rapids, MI, his music was at the top of the country charts. What started out as a typical Thursday evening was shaping up to be a wild night of hot country music in cold western Michigan!

© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

After very entertaining sets from Kane Brown and Lanco, it was Chris Young’s turn to take the stage. When the arena lights were extinguished, the crowd stood in anticipation. Suddenly a white-hot spotlight from overhead illuminated Young on the massive stage. With his hands cupped tightly around the microphone, hiding his lower face, he starts off the night with the title track off his latest release, Losing Sleep. As the band picks up the momentum they move effortlessly into “Gettin’ You Home”, a number one hit off Young’s sophomore album, 2009’s The Man I Want to Be. By now, the whole arena is up dancing and singing back at Young and his band word- for-word, becoming part of the show themselves.

While Young performed hit after hit from his 7-album music catalog, his emotions were overtaken multiple times by the sheer volume from the crowd. Between songs he was often seen stepping back from the microphone shaking his head and grinning ear to ear with a look of amazement and appreciation. This scene repeated itself throughout the night until he finally announced to the crowd, “this is the biggest arena I have ever sold out and my favorite show of all-time”, which, you guessed it, took the crowd’s noise level to a whole new level.

© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

Chris Young has figured out a path to success: make good music in the studio and then play what the fans want to hear. Whether it be new additions to his set like tonight’s “Hangin’ On” and “Where I Go When I Drink” from his latest album, Losing Sleep, or dipping back in time to the classics like “Beer or Gasoline” from his 2006 Chris Young debut album like he did tonight. From the enthusiastic reaction of tonight’s crowd, he proved this formula works.

As the show was winding down, with “You” from the album Neon, and a duet with Cassadee Pope, “Think Of You” from 2015’s I’m Comin’ Over, the crowd wondered aloud what Young had left for an encore. As Chris slowly tried to leave the stage while the band played, the crowd went wild. When the band finished, the audience got even louder as Young returned and held his arms up towards the fans. The crowd turned it up to 11, giving all they had for the man they came to see tonight. Finally, Young grinned and proclaimed to the crowd ”this is by far the loudest show I have ever played” which, you guessed it, brought the roar to a deafening level to which Young announced,“I was going to say something, but I just can’t top this, so I will just sing!” Performing arguably his biggest hit “I’m Comin’ Over”, the delirious crowd is left with a performance that other artists can only wish for.

Chris Young is a music artist that sneaks up on country music fans. His music catalog spans seven albums, several of which are certified gold, and the diversity it contains is second to none. From upbeat songs to country ballads that some fans actually say “speak to their soul”. Chris has a unique sound that mixes the old with the new. If you’re not a fan of Chris Young, you’re not a fan of country music.

Be sure to check out our coverage of Kane Brown and Lanco!

Chris Young:
     

Van Andel Arena:
   

 Senior Photojournalist: John Swider

 Editor: Kate Sumbler

Breaking Benjamin

Grand Rapids, Michigan (January 14, 2018) – On a  cold winter night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Van Andel Arena was the setting for one of the most anticipated tours of early 2018. Metal fans came out in force as Avenged Sevenfold, Breaking Benjamin and Bullet for My Valentine took to the stage for the second stop on the winter edition of A7X’s The Stage World Tour.

Opening the night festivities was Bullet for My Valentine, Matthew Tuck (vocals, guitar), Michael Padget (guitar, vocals), Jason James (bass, vocals), and Michael Thomas (drums) who played an abbreviated, high-energy nine-song set. With a high voltage light show and hard driving guitar sound, they put others on notice that this is not just another ‘throw-in’ opening band. These guys are good and a legitimate future headliner whose set shouldn’t be missed!

Next up was Breaking Benjamin, Benjamin Burnley (lead vocals, guitar), Aaron Bruch (bass, vocals), Shaun Foist (drums), Jasen Rauch (guitar), and Keith Wallen (backing vocals, guitar) who, it seemed, created as much buzz amongst the fans as the headliners. This latest iteration of the band, which was originally formed in 1999 by namesake Benjamin Burnley, has remained virtually unchanged since 2014. Although the names have changed, Breaking Benjamin’s signature sound has never deviated much from the metal/alternative origins since the band formed. This trademark sound is primarily due to Burnley being the primary songwriter and overall influence. So when it was time for the stage lights to dim the crowd knew exactly what to expect.

Breaking Benjamin

© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

From the opening strains of “So Cold” through fan-favorite number one hit “Diary of Jane” the twelve-song, one-hour long set was consistent and strong. One deviation that the crowd seemed to sense from the beginning was that Breaking Benjamin’s sound tonight was a little harder than the studio version; it was readily apparent during “Never Again” off 2015 LP Dark Before Dawn. The bass seemed to hit deeper and resonate much longer before the signature guitar licks took over. The harder sound seemed to draw the crowd in deeper into the music witnessed by the rhythmic swaying displayed throughout the sold-out arena.

The highlight of the night was when Burnley walked out to the end of the extended stage and confessed to being a “geeky nerd” while displaying a red lightsaber. After doing his best Darth Vader lightsaber duel with the crowd below, the band broke into a metal version of Star Wars “The Imperial March”. If that wasn’t enough to drive the fans into a frenzy, Burnley and the band turned the “Imperial March” into a medley consisting of “Schism” from Tool, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and finally “Walk” by Pantera.

As Breaking Benjamin wrapped up the night with “I Will Not Bow”, ”Phobia (Intro)” and “Diary of Jane” they left a lingering question with their diehard fans. Tonight’s setlist covered tracks off five of their six album releases, only neglecting the 2002 album, Saturate. With their upcoming album Ember finished and currently receiving airplay nationwide, why didn’t they play anything off it? Overall, Breaking Benjamin’s performance tonight was tight and with plenty emotion. The band sounded as good as it ever has and the crowd was appreciative.

The only remaining question left to be answered this night was when are they going to headline their own tour? With Ember ready to be released, that question should be answered in the very near future.

Breaking Benjamin:
     

Van Andel Arena:
   

 Senior Photojournalist: John Swider