Halestorm

support Nothing More + Wilson
author TL date 23/03/15 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

US radio rock phenomenon Halestorm are famed for touring quite a bit, and as such it's less surprising than it could be that they've already visited little Denmark two times despite having only two albums out (with a third coming right around the corner on April 3rd). Their shows have been well-attended while growing steadily, from BETA over the smaller Vega stage and now to the noticeably more sizeable Amager Bio. Bio is one of the best of Copenhagen's larger venues, due to being more wide than deep and having a stage of a good height, guaranteeing that almost everyone will be able to see a band, as can sometimes be a problem in places like Falconer Salen and Vega's larger stage.

(Make sure to also head over to troest.nu to see even more awesome photos from the show)

Combine this favourable location with an alluring tour package, including support from Nothing More and Wilson, both of whom have received solid critical reception in our reviews of their recent albums "Nothing More" and "Full Blast Fuckery" - and the result has not only drawn us out to review a Halestorm headline show for the first time, it has also managed to sell out Amager Bio, which is hence pretty packed with beer-drinking Copenhageners as we arrive. Monday-schmonday, right?

Wilson

That attitude is at least what Detroit quintet Wilson bring to the stage, rushing on with their singer dressed in the top half of a marching band uniform and banging a large drum with the band's album title on it. "Full Blast Fuckery" is indeed a pretty apt headline for the band's expression, which feels like a crossing of Every Time I Die and Andrew W.K. It's not as batshit complex as the former but it's almost as forthcoming and mindlessly exhilarating as the latter. All members of the band are putting energy into the show like they were approaching a gym routine pumped with motivation, and incidentally, they look like they spend a fair amount of time lifting as well, with particularly guitarist Jason Spencer on the left flexing some impressive guns.

Unfortunately, Spencer's part in the band's frequent dual-guitar pieces is a bit low in the mix while the drums and vocals are way loud. This is not unconditionally to the band's advantage, as the screamed portion of Chad Nicefield's vocals sounds rather choked. Fortunately, the band is prepared to overcome the audience's initial confusion by engaging them on the basic entertainment level, soon ensuring that there is fist-pumping, left-to-right waving and timely clapping happening. Nicefield plays the host role well, asking who in the crowd is hoping to get laid tonight (it turns out tonight's audience is mostly optimistic in this category) and assures us that the band would love nothing better than to take us all home with them to Detroit.

The "Full Blast Spectacle" ends after a half hour with Nicefield going for a crowd surf atop a well warmed up audience, and all are likely to agree that the band is fun to watch. As for the musical side of it, the guitars and the vocals never really reach an impressive level tonight though, which means that the song that catches on the most by far is a corny cover of AC/DC's "Back In Black". Whether Wilson is a great band to listen to isn't really established based solely on this performance, but they're more entertaining than most, and in a half hour support set, that's not so bad at all.

7

Nothing More

Where Wilson had a pretty down-to-earth set going with room to banter with the audience between songs, San Antonio alternative hard rock band Nothing More has a much more carefully planned performance in store for us. The band blasted into more widespread appreciation with their phenomenal self-titled album of last year, and today they blast onto the stage with frontman Johnny Hawkins topless and chiseled like a fitness magazine frontpage. He storms up to a set of drums set up for him at the front of the stage and starts pounding in sync with drummer Paul O'Brien and thus the band is off to the races. Their album is a carefully adorned production with loads of little details in the picture, and these are sadly quite ruined by a poor mix during the first two to three songs, while the sound desk struggles to get the mix between lead vocal, backing vocal and guitar just right.

Soon things start to level out however, and particularly the vocals of Hawkins and bassist Daniel Oliver start to compliment each other solidly. Considering their production value on record, its remarkable how little backing track is present in the sound. Those quirky noises heard are actually played using various guitar effects, and guitarist Mark Vollelunga even creates spacey effects somehow, by holding his guitar up to the mic and crooning into the mic alongside the strings. And that's only a minor detail, as Oliver soon produces a strange contraption which is mounted on top of Hawkins' drums before the bass is fastened on it, spun in a full circle only to then have both Hawkins, Vollelunga and Oliver playing an instrumental piece on it - The latter two tapping on the neck with their fingers while Hawkins drums on the strings with drumsticks.

Halfway through, the set has been hard-pumped and frantic, and the audience seems at a loss at keeping up with everything that's happening, despite how quickly the group's songs actually catch on once you've listened past their often inventive openings. Hawkins is still throwing himself around, often manually introducing vibrato into his voice with a finger on his throat. Yet he does occasionally lose his breath, forcing some crucial choruses to end up in a lower key than is ideal. The small difference between the songs on record and live are easy to get distracted from however, as the band puts on another circus act in closing track "Salem" (the only song aired that's not from the new album). Here, Oliver and Vollelunga juggle one drum around each, holding them ready at exactly the right times for Hawkins to strike, as he engages in a syncronised drum solo with O'Brien.

Overall, the sound was never quite perfect, and judging from the audience wide-eyed yet mostly static reception, Copenhagen's "Halestormers" weren't quite prepared to keep up with such a fast-paced performance, but even with these factors left to be remedied, Nothing More put on a set unlike any we've ever seen: One of musical complexity, full energy and careful preparation and innovation performance-wise.

Halestorm

With it becoming Halestorm's turn to commence the headlining set, the audience are immediately cast back into very safe waters. There's not a song on the setlist tonight that does not railroad ahead predictably along the radio-rock formula. The band is nothing if not conventional in the way they write, relying on tried and tested recipes to act as a platform for their charismatic frontwoman to put on a show. Dressed fully in denim, Lzzy Hale throws her gravelly rock voice around, sounding comparable to a Brody Dalle or a Courtney Love while riffing away on her guitar with confidence and making sure to gaze out over the crowd with active facial expressions.

On guitar and bass, Joe Hottinger and Josh Smith groove about fairly casually, and it's clear that the spotlight is on Lzzy and her brother Arejay Hale behind the kit. Arejay is responsible for by far the most lively element in the band's sound, striking power and variety into the otherwise rather basic guitar figures that hold up the main pieces of the group's songs. He is also easily the most animated member on the stage, often playing while standing up and leaning forcefully into his hits or getting up on the drum kit itself to come in with a hit delivered at the end of a jump down onto his stool. Furthermore, he also holds up the mainstay of the vocal harmonies, and all these contributions considered, you're prone to forgive him his somewhat clowny outfit: Black bandana on red hair, red striped tie on wifebeater.

Overall though, Halestorm are not as energetic as either of their support bands, but they're still active enough. They display their American school of thought when it comes to hyping up the audience and conversing with us between songs, for instance when Lzzy remarks humorously that she will now be spitting on a different section of the crowd, but spitting "lovingly", as she changes position at one point during the set. The set is primarily about the choruses though, as Lzzy and Arejay's energy is fuel for the easy hooks that are carefully placed in the centre of each and every Halestorm song. Amager Bio dutifully sings along; "I get oooff on you", "You're a FREAK LIKE ME", "Love biiiiites, and so do I"; and there's a large group of waving and bouncing arms to be spotted holding up the middle part of the venue floor, while more discerning fans bop their heads casually from the sides and the balcony.

The set makes room for a couple of curiosities, one being a spirited cover of Judas Priest's "Dissident Aggressor" and the other being a drum solo with only Arejay on stage, where he throws in the choruses from "Last Resort", "Rock And Roll All Nite" and "Highway To Hell" (by Papa Roach, KISS and AC/DC). Otherwise it's a fairly business-like performance, which gets to look better than it is from how full Bio is, and how excited the mid-section of the crowd is for the band. Ironically, the main obstacle for Halestorm as live performers is the fact that their songs are as cliché and predictable as they come, a fact that could be elaborated on in an entire article for itself. But to their credit, what they play sounds well-adjusted, the mix having improved appropriately over the subliners, plus they have the attitude of professional entertainers and a bag full of choruses that people can sing along to. It makes for a solid performance overall, which is perfectly satisfying for the casual rock fans, of which there are naturally many tonight. Any guests who routinely look below the surface of radio rock in search of a bit of depth or inventiveness though, were likely checking their watches impatiently in the back.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Mayhem
  • 2. Mz. Hyde
  • 3. I Get Off
  • 4. Freak Like Me
  • 5. Bad Girls World (new song)
  • 6. Daughters Of Darkness
  • 7. Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest cover)
  • 8. Amen
  • 9. Break In
  • 10. Familiar Taste Of Poison
  • 11. Heavy
  • 12. Drum solo (incl. choruses from Last Resort, Highway To Hell and Rock And Roll All Nite)
  • 13. Love Bites
  • 14. It's Not You
  • 15. Apocalyptic
  • 16. I Miss The Misery

Encore

  • 17. Rock Show
  • 18. Here's To Us

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXIX Rockfreaks.net.