It’s always risky when a band, especially a well established band, welcomes a new member into the fold, particularly a new singer.
Not to say the other members in any band aren’t integral parts of it, but a singer has the ability to completely change a bands sound. Because of that, I’m usually a little worried when any band changes vocalists, because there’s always that chance that it could turn me (and other fans) off of the music.
It’s something the Dallas Metal band Drowning Pool knows all too well, though, having been through a couple vocalists since the death of the bands original singer, Dave Williams. They recently found the latest addition to Drowning Pool, after former singer, Ryan McCombs, left the band late last year.
This night marked their first hometown show with Jasen Moreno in the lineup. As usual, they were performing at Trees, and I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this would probably be one of the biggest hometown shows the band had done.
Several acts were opening, including one I didn’t even know was on the bill. I’m not sure who they were, though they were not from Texas, and I’m relieved I only saw the last minute of their set.
They were very Metal, which is a good fit for this bill, but with the excess screaming that I heard, they were too Metal for my taste.
The Fort Worth based, No Scope was on after them.
I had seen them a little over a year ago, when they also opened for Drowning Pool, and didn’t much care for them then.
That held true this second go around, mainly because I just don’t dig their singer’s voice. It’s more of a borderline scream (again, that’s just not what I’m into), but even when he does sing, he doesn’t have a very strong voice.
On the other hand, they do put on a good live show, and it was better than what I remembered it being. And whereas the last time I couldn’t wait for them to get off stage, I did at least find some enjoyment in the performance this night. It probably didn’t hurt that they didn’t even get a 30-minute set, though.
They have a few records that you can purchase in iTunes, and for more information on the band, check out their FACEBOOK PAGE.
There was one local act after them, and it was Serosia.
I had missed their CD release show a couple months ago, so I was pretty excited to finally get another chance to see them.
As the curtain opened on them, guitarist, Derek Troxell, was hitting the back of the guitar’s neck, creating a killer sound. Soon, drummer, Anthony D’Agata, ripped into their first song with some hefty beats, while Joseph Kuban proceeding to attack his bass and Derek started thrashing about. The song was one from their new “Variables” EP, “Friendly Fire”. It was an explosive way to start the show, and they didn’t let up, following it very closely with “Criminal”. “I am concealed…” sang/shouted singer, Lucas D’Agata, upon starting the song. They did another tune after it, and afterwards Lucas announced they were now going to play some stuff from their new EP. “…We recorded it up in New Jersey with some guy named Cristian Machado…” he said, adding, “If any of you know that guy. Oh yeah, he’s in Ill Nino.” That got a roar from the mass of people, most of whom seemed more excited about seeing Ill Nino then Drowning Pool this night. “This song’s called The Architect.” Lucas finished. It’s one of the bands slower songs, in the sense that he sings on the entire song, but he brought out his signature brutal scream for parts of their next song, “Sway”. Sadly, they only got a 24-minute long set, and at this point, they just had one more to go. “I feel a war… A war’s going to start tonight.” Lucas said to the crowd, who seemed unsure of what he was talking about. The Serosia fans knew, though, and it was the song I had been most looking forward to hearing from them. “I feel a war, fast approaching like a storm…” he sang, while his band mates tore into “Superposition”. Lucas tired to get some audience participation towards the end, asking everyone to join him and shout, “I FEEL A WAR!”, though not enough people did to really make it audible. After a few times of that he resumed command and finished out the song by flailing around while producing some violent screams.
Honestly, even though I’ve only seen Serosia a few times, I’ve seen much better shows from them than this one was. Lucas’s voice was off. It was worst on the first song, and while it did improve steadily throughout, it never hit its full potential. But what they were lacking in sound was more than made up for by their performance.
Very few bands in the Dallas are (or probably the world for that matter) bring it like Serosia does, where everything is left on the stage. And even them on a bad night is about then ten times better than what most bands could ever hope to do. Really. It’s the raw energy and passion they all put into it, and more often than not, it’s hard to figure out who to watch, because they are all very intense performers.
They have a show coming up on December 31st, if anyone wants to ring in the new year with them. It will be at the Boiler Room in Dallas. And to listen to/purchase their music, go to either ITUNES or their REVERBNATION STORE. A few of their records are on iTunes (including their newest one), but the latter has their earlier stuff.
So, I mentioned everyone was pretty pumped for Ill Nino, and I overheard countless conversations by people talking about they couldn’t wait for them to take the stage.
I wasn’t one of those people, though. I knew the band was pretty hardcore Metal, and while I may like Serosia and Drowning Pool, what I listened to of Ill Nino seemed to push my tolerance for the genre. But I was just going to have to suffer through it.
Now not being a fan, I obviously don’t know the band’s music, but I think I may have pieced part of the show together. And if correct, they opened their 45-minute set with “If You Still Hate Me”. I hated the screaming Cristian Machado did on this and every other song, and the music was much heavier than I care for, but even with all that, I found something odd happening. I was enjoying it. All that aside, they were excellent performers and just that one aspect was more than enough to keep my eyes glued to the stage. They continued with “This is War”, and upon finishing it, Cristian thanked everyone for coming out. “…We’re just a little Latino Metal band from New Jersey…” he said, seeming to sincerely mean that, though I think that bands history and achievements speaks to the contrary. They did a couple more songs which I didn’t know, and before starting the second of those two, Cristian got a Texas flag from somewhere and draped it over his back, proclaiming how glad they were to be back in Texas. It was also that song that had an acoustic guitar part, and a roadie of the bands brought what appeared to be a mic stand out on stage, though it had a acoustic guitar secured to the top of it, which one of their guitarists proceeded to play for a few lines. I can honestly say I had never seen anything like that before, and it was pretty cool. They got back to some really heavy material with their next tune, which I think was “I Am Loco”, and was my favorite of theirs. “Does anyone here have our new record, Epidemia?” Cristian asked before they started the next song. Some people seemed to, though it was awfully silent. “…This one’s called The Depression”, he said, starting the lead track from their most current record. One of the most interesting things about Ill Nino to me was the fact that they used two drummers. The mere idea of that seemed like overkill to me, but then I heard it. Oddly enough, both full drum kits meshed well, and I believe it was the secondary drummer, Daniel Couto, who even delivered some of the beats by slapping the cymbals and drums with his hands. Anyway, at this point in the show, drummer, Dave Chavarri, tore off on a short solo. It was just the right length, long enough it showed off the skills he posses, but short enough it never got boring, and shortly after finishing it, they fired up their next one, which might have been “How Can I Live”. “Alibi of Tyrants” followed it, which sounded like one of the heaviest, most aggressive things they had done thus far, and then came yet another song from 2001’s “Revolution Revolución”, “What Comes Around”. That album seemed to be the main focus of the night, and before doing one of the earlier songs from it, Cristian asked if it’d be okay if they took everyone back to 2001. “…Eleven years later and you are all still coming out to shows and singing along to these songs…” he said, sounding humbled by the peoples dedication. It’s also worth noting a later conversation he had with the audience, saying back in his day people “had the balls” to go into a record store and walk out with an album, not pirate the music, which is so easy these days. He went on to encourage everyone to keep buying music, one way or another, to keep them and other bands, like Deftones, alive. There time was almost up after that one, having just enough time for one more, and I think it was “Liar” that concluded their set.
I said I thought I’d have to “suffer through” their set, but that was proved very wrong.
There’s no doubt about it, Ill Nino is a beast live, and their performance was impeccable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like nor can I appreciate their style of music, but some things transcend music and can appeal to everyone, and that was what happened with their show. And looking at it in both my unbiased and personal opinion, they were the best band of the night.
They have a few show dates scheduled, and to see where and when, check out their OFFICIAL WEBSITE. And to purchase their albums, go HERE.
It was getting close to the moment I had been waiting for, and I figured I’d either really like this new incarnation of Drowning Pool or really hate them. And at 12:08, after their intro song played, the curtain opened and it was time to find out.
Guitarist, CJ Pierce, bassist, Stevie Benton, and drummer, Mike Luce, were at the ready, and as they tore into their opening song, “Step Up”, Jasen Moreno removed his microphone from the stand, and they were off. It got the excitement going, with its untamed, aggressive sound, and to follow it up, they had a classic and the title track of their 2001 album, “Sinner”. The crowd went crazy upon realizing what song it was, and sang along to almost every word. “…You look at me but you don’t see, understand I’m a sinner. Don’t corner me, don’t lecture me. Raise your hands, you’re a sinner…”. Most of their set this night was comprised of songs from that release, but they of course had to add in some other stuff, such as one more song from the “Desensitized” album, “Think”. It didn’t do much for me, but I grew more interested with the next one, as Mike started them into “Let The Sin Begin”. It was after all the song that got me interested in the band in the first place. It became apparent with it, though, that I was not digging Jason’s voice, which was a mix of a growl and a scream. I thought (and hoped) it was just those first few songs, but here you had my favorite Drowning Pool song. A song that they opened with when I first saw them a little over a year and a half ago and it had me instantly enthralled. A song that I loved so much it caused me to go to a store and buy their most current record (2010’s “Drowning Pool”). A song that both previous times I had seen them sent me into a state of euphoria. Yet now, I felt nothing. It was just another song. Oh boy, that couldn’t be a good sign for how I was going to enjoy the remainder of their set. Pretty much the same thing could be said about their next song, “Children Of The Gun”, which lacked the edge it did, and afterwards, the sirens from the sample track revved up, beginning their anthem for the people who keep this country safe, “Soldiers”. The talk was kept to a minimum during their set, but after that song, Jasen said they had some members of the service at the show this night, and asked everyone to make some noise for them so they’d know how much we appreciate what they do for us. “…Do y’all want to hear a new song?” he asked after that, which the fans seemed eager to hear. I found it to be so-so, again, because of the vocals. It was still Drowning Pool, though, and in terms of the music it’s about what you’d expect from them (in the best way possible). It kind of surprised me that, that was only one of two new songs they did (I guess they’re keeping the bulk of it under wraps until their new record is out). But that meant they could do a lot of what people wanted to hear, like “Pity”. I will say this, Jasen’s voice is most comparable to Dave Williams voice than any other singer the band has had since, so he was able to pull of those classic hits quite well, but it still didn’t engage me. So far this night there had seldom been a break, with at least one of the musicians playing an instrument to bridge the songs together, and that held true at this point, as Mike went into a short drum solo. As he neared the end of it, CJ proceeded to lace a few soft guitar notes over it, sounding just enough like a certain song of theirs. It was a cool prelude to lead them into “37 Stitches”. And near the end of it, before the final chorus, CJ ripped into an amazing guitar solo where he really rocked out. Mike again brought them into the next song, one of the singles from the “Full Circle” record, “Enemy”, before hitting a string of classics. “Follow” was one of them, while Mike next got them going on “Told You So”, which was one of many songs that showed off how tight they are, with Jasen and Mike alternating on who sang certain words of the chorus. For example, one shouted “SHUT UP!” then the other would, and it went back and forth. Jasen made a statement before their next tune, encouraging everyone to pay close attention to the lyrics. “…It’s probably the truest rock song you will ever hear…” he said. I think he was referring to the line, “…I don’t care about anyone else but me… I don’t care about anyone or anything…” from “Tear Away”, and he was sort of right about that. They then broke out another new one, and the first single from their forthcoming album, “Saturday Night”. It is a stellar rock song and I am fond of its mantra (chorus), “…I’m gonna live my life like it’s Saturday night. I’m gonna live my life, sleep when I am dead and buried…” I suspected that was a sign their set was nearing its end, and that seemed even more likely with yet another single, “Feel Like I Do”. Then came the part everyone had been waiting for. Mike began pounding out some beats, and eventually CJ and Stevie added the guitar and bass into the mix. Jasen walked back and forth across the edge of the stage, holding the microphone out towards the crowd, who were shouting, “Let the bodies hit the floor!…” over and over again. I believe it was Mike who started singing “Bodies”, of course whispering the first couple of lines before letting out a scream on the third one. That staple song ended their 75-minute long set, and once it was done, before leaving the stage, they took time to shake some hands of some of the people down front and threw out some picks to the people. I think that’s pretty cool, because not every band makes their appreciation of theirs fans so obvious.
In regards to the show, it was not what I was hoping for. I had listened to that single (“Saturday Night”) and liked it. But be warned Drowning Pool fans, Jasen’s voice does not sound remotely the same in the live setting as the recording(s) would lead you to believe.
No one this night seemed to have an issue with that, and I imagine most Drowning Pool fans won’t. His voice is somewhat of a mix between Dave Williams and Jason Jones’ voices, so if you’re a longtime fan of the band, you’ll probably like it. But for me, it was too big a departure from Ryan McCombs vocal style.
I just don’t think he has that good of a voice, and I guess because of it, I won’t feel like I have to see Drowning Pool the next time they stop by Trees (or any other Dallas area venue).
At least I saw two amazing Drowning Pool shows when Ryan McCombs was a part of the band, and I’ll just have to be satisfied with that.
However, this is still a Drowning Pool concert, and they all (yes, Jasen included) go all out. It’s as intense a performance as you could ever see, and even that one aspect makes it well worth seeing a show.
As for now, they have one last date scheduled, on December 21st at The Midland Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. And to buy all their music, go HERE.
The below photos are courtesy of James Villa Photography. All rights belong exclusively to him.