Stalking The Beast (On Tour With LADY BEAST) (Concert Reviews)

For a musically passionate (recently named bonkers by a UK friend) individual such as I, following a favorite band on a mini-tour is borderline erotic. Maybe I am bonkers, but this crazy Canadian recently bought himself a little week-belated birthday gift. Flying from Toronto to Columbus Ohio I began a four night, four show, four city parade across four US states following (or perhaps stalking is more appropriate) Pittsburgh’s Lady Beast. Almost 1500 miles of road.

I have followed (insanely worshipped) Lady Beast since hearing the debut album somewhere around six years ago. Their music touched and resonated with me somehow. I’ve seen them play live five times before this journey, the first being the 2014 M-Pre party. The unofficial Baltimore event that takes place before the M3 Festival and not long after the sophomore, Lady Beast II, became available.

LADY BEAST: II Album Review / 2014 M-Pre Party Report

I’ve had the pleasure to witness them twice in Canada even! I’ve broken bread (and beer) with the members. Even stayed up all night (to catch a 6hr bus home after a show) with them! I’ve set foot in their rehearsal studio. For crying out loud I’ve stayed at their house! Ya, I’m friends with them. A friendship born out of mutual love and support of the music and the scene in general. Some of the best humans this planet has to offer. Through it all, I’ve watched them grow. Watched them develop. Watched them really come into their own. Both in songwriting and stage presence. I’ve bought every piece of merchandise they have. Yes, every single item! I am not a fan because we’re friends. I am friends because I’m a fan of the music.

With some instability in the lead guitar slot in the early days, the addition of permanent member Andy Ramage solidified things. A perfect fit, Ramage’s younger brother has been seated behind the kit since Lady Beast’s inception. Joining the Ramages we find guitarist Christopher Patrick “Twiz” Tritschler, bassist Greg Colaizzi and Lady Beast creator and frontwoman, the diminutive powerhouse Deborah Levine.

LADY BEAST: Metal Immortal EP Review / Invade Canada Review

Earlier in 2017, Lady Beast departed their French record label, Inferno Records, in favor of the larger Italian outfit, Cruz Del Sur. I was beyond happy and proud of this Pittsburgh band and the further reach that the power of Cruz Del Sur would surely bring. Thanks to Lady Beast‘s addition to an already booming roster, I found myself heading to Chicago for the Legions of Metal Festival. After perhaps the worst year of my life, a stress relieving need found me in Cleveland, Ohio at the Metal Holiday Food Drive featuring Lady Beast in a stacked band roster.

The Vicious Breed album arrived in October 2017. While on an overnight working contract my cell phone alerted me to the arrival of the promo download from Cruz Del Sur. What a pleasure work was that night with Vicious Breed as my soundtrack over and over and over again. Bound and determined not to consider the album for my best of 2017 list at the outset, not wanting to allow any biases to influence my choice. That didn’t last too long as Vicious Breed became a daily listen. It truly has not left my MP3 player since! Listen to the episode of the CGCM Podcast that I co-host below for my best of 2017.

LADY BEAST: Vicious Breed Album Review / Top 2017 Albums Episode of CGCM Podcast / Legions of Metal Festival 2017

My friends are no doubt sick and tired of hearing me tout the values of the Pittsburgh-based Traditional Metal band. But I won’t stop until the world discovers this wickedly engaging metal band. Some friends have caught the buzz and I often find myself as “the merch mule”, transporting items back for friends. Even a friend as far away as Sweden received his order of their complete vinyl collection.

BUY: Vicious Breed

OFFICIAL WEBSITEFACEBOOK

Here’s a few notes on each of the four dates and cities and venues. I’ll keep it fairly brief as the sets were basically the same. Also a few comments on certain opening bands also kept brief. A small window into stalking a band.

LADY BEAST at Ace of Cups, Columbus, Ohio Wednesday, April 18, 2018

…Lost In America

Lady Beast-Ace of Cups Columbus 2018Rolling into town, excited to begin “stalking”, I was quickly amazed at the sheer friendliness of airport staff, patrons and city bus drivers in Columbus as I Google-mapped my way to my residence for the evening. It’s not a “Meister Trip” without getting slightly lost and Alice Cooper‘s “Lost In America” played on a loop in my head as I wandered the city subdivision on my way to Wayfaring Buckeye Hostel. A very nice and welcoming hostel run by Robbie (actually perhaps one of the best I’ve stayed at the world over!), chosen for its short walk away from the Ace of Cups venue.

On the way to meeting up with good friend Dave Dillman, creator and promoter of the previously mentioned M-Pre Party, and Vickie, a Tim Hortons sighting brought great joy. If you’re not Canadian, you may not understand that. Pizza for dinner and pre-show beers at a wicked cool bar/80s video arcade prepared us for Ace of Cups. A great little club featuring dark decor and decent sound.

…Lady Beast’s set at Ace of Cups

Lady Beast took to the corner angled stage as the second of a four-band bill featuring Bat as the headliner. Opening with “Seal The Hex”, Vicious Breed‘s leader, saw my fist punching the stratosphere right away. As I expected, Lady Beast delivered another exhilarating set, comprised mostly of Vicious Breed tracks and one each from both previous full-lengths and the EP. I loved hearing “Lone-Hunter”, Colaizzi‘s thundering bass lines reverberating around Ace of Cups, my top cut off Vicious Breed. During one of only two very brief between-song comment respites in the metal assault, Deb dedicated the set to her cousin who passed away only a couple of days before.

LADY BEAST at Black Circle Brewery, Indianapolis, Indiana Thursday, April 19, 2018

…Greyhound bus travel

The good folks at Greyhound whisked me away from Columbus at the God-awful hour of 7am! Again, upon arrival at the downtown bus terminal Google maps led me to the Indy Hostel, my night’s bed. Again, located a short walking distance away from the venue of the evening, I basically had the dorm to myself at the immaculately clean Indy Hostel on this slow business weeknight.

Black Circle Brewery, a very cool little space with a smaller sized room housing the stage, a bar and also a decent sized outdoor patio. From watching plates laden with food served to guests, Black Circle Brewery appeared to have delicious food output to compliment their beers. Curse that McDonald’s I passed on the way, this would’ve been a much better food choice! The usual Lady Beast merch girl Hollie being unable to attend this road trip saw Clarissa behind the table for this tour. During a quick meeting and introduction, it struck me that this young lady was the very same frontwoman of her own band Tartarus that I’d previously met outside the Lady Beast rehearsal space in Pittsburgh.

…Lady Beast’s set at Black Circle

With the bill’s opener of Gunpowder Grey having to drop out at last minute for reasons unknown, Lady Beast took the stage. The band, framed by the Sphinx looking twin Flying V guitar slinging duo of Tritchler and Ramage at either side of the stage supplied the same set as the previous night. A little monitor sound issue for Ramage during the first song did little to slow this machine down! Again, bassist Colaizzi displayed his passion and enthusiasm for the music, right into his playing while Adam Ramage thunderously crashed away in the back. The real draw of the live Lady Beast experience is Deborah Levine. She has a unique way of reaching each every audience member.

Cruz Del Sur labelmates Sacred Leather, fronted by Skeletonwitch drummer Dee Wrathchild, headlined the night. First alerted to Sacred Leather thanks to last year’s Legions of Metal Festival, their debut album simply smokes. Check out the Decibel Geek review by staff writer Graham Spark: Sacred Leather – Ultimate Force (Album Review)

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LADY BEAST at Reggie’s Rock Club, Chicago, Illinois Friday, April 20, 2018

…more Greyhound inter-city travel

Thank-you Greyhound for another “interesting” journey between the cities on my tour. At least this one was not a crack of dawn departure! Easily navigating my way this time on the very short walk from the bus depot to my accommodations at Chicago’s Parthenon Hostel. This downtown hostel is loaded with charm and the staff were extremely friendly and welcoming during my arrival. A comfortable common room offered a quiet space to complete some CGCM Podcast editing of our forthcoming episodes while I passed the time ahead of tonight’s event. Being unaware of the Parthenon‘s existence while booking my stay for Legions of Metal 2018, I think I will look into canceling and booking here if possible.

…Lady Beast’s set at Reggie’s

Situated in the middle of a doom-laden five-band bill, Lady Beast laid down quite possibly the best set I’ve ever seen them play on this night at Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago. There just seemed a chemistry and magic on stage that while always present simply shined this evening. On fire is how I described it to the band later on in the night. The stage moves and jumps and general interaction between all members, not to mention great sound all led me to this conclusion. Unfortunately, the band’s stage time was a little less tonight on account of the stacked bill and so “Caged Fury” was omitted from the setlist. In my elated (beered-up) state, high on the Lady Beast set, I missed the two following bands nearly completely.

As the very same venue hosting Legions of Metal Festival, I was familiar with the establishment. A fantastic rock club that I look forward to visiting again in the weeks to come. I consumed beer. Many beers, in fact, as I perched at the bar during non-Lady Beast stage times. The bartender seemed beyond familiar as he diligently and very attentively made sure I was never without beverage. Then it struck! This guy was the drummer from awesome Chicago based Hard Rock band, Hessler, that I was fortunate to see last year here. After asking this very question, we chatted briefly and he let me know his other band Black Actress was worth checking out. I drank many more beers this night, chatted with several fans and patrons and generally don’t recall leaving Reggie’s!

…quick mention of Smoulder

Fronted by a Toronto Facebook friend that I didn’t meet in person until this very night in a foreign city, Smoulder led the night. On this EP release party for their debut recording (only available on cassette, unfortunately), their female-fronted doom output went down very well. As did the following act of Professor Emeritus. Both bands now clearly marked on my radar. As I said earlier, unfortunately, Amplified Heat and Black Road went largely unnoticed as I buzzed around the Lady Beast band and back bar area.

LADY BEAST at Club Garibaldi’s (NYDM Spring Bash), Milwaukee, Wisconsin Saturday, April 21, 2018

…near death in Milwaukee

Being the experienced traveler that I am, I can find my way around pretty much any city in any country anywhere in the world! Google Maps is my best friend for this. What Google doesn’t tell you, however, is areas that are not very safe. For example: Google mapping my way from the Milwaukee bus terminal to my hotel reported a two bus journey. The transfer point left me standing on a street corner in an obviously un-touristy area. The minute I stepped off the bus I was scared. I could just tell that I didn’t belong here. Boarded up windows and broken glass. Broken down, dilapidated buildings that the local government just hadn’t gotten around to condemning yet. Garbage piled in corners and blowing down the street. Cars passing were all at least 20 years old, held together by bondo and bird shit. Gang looking groups conglomerating on one street corner openly drinking cheap beer….at 9am!

I do not belong and I tried to be inconspicuous as I crossed the street, waiting on the corner for my connecting bus. I could feel the stares burning through my sweater. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. And thank goodness for the bus as I looked around nervously. Happy to be away from there I paid my fare and took a seat. Even the bus driver looked me up and down, surprised to see me board from the area it seemed. And now the decision is made! Uber to and from the venue as I ain’t doing a trip like that one at night!

…Shokker, thanks to NYDM

NYDM was, I’m sure a great event. The seemingly neverending parade of awesome bands showed that. If there’s a 2019 event I’ll certainly look into attending, this time when I can go for the whole weekend! I was here only for one day, for Lady Beast as the last stop on their tour…..and the added bonus of Shokker! The 2017 issued III, Shokker‘s debut album also cracked my best of the year list. In a brief chat with vocalist Rachl Raxx Quinn, she filled me in on the album’s title of III. With stage time right in front of Lady Beast, Shokker suitably impressed. Impressed Lady Beast members too as I watched the set with them. Check out my Shokker article covering both this NYDM show as well as the M-Pre Party two weeks later coming soon.

…Lady Beast’s set at NYDM

Then I held back tears of joy as Lady Beast took the stage for the last show of my little stalking tour. After the same set up for three nights, Andy and Twiz/Colazzi switched sides for this set. Starting off with a vengeance, “Seal the Hex” had the crowd’s attention. Then, as I’m sure happens to all bands from time to time, disaster struck. During “Forest of the Impaled” Deb went silent, well her mic did. Quickly jumping to action, hardly missing a lyric she grabbed the corded mic from the stand in front of Andy. He looked a little confused as Deb untangled the cord from his feet to allow her mobility back into center stage territory with virtually no break in the song. The incident served to ignite Lady Beast as they reigned in and pulled together another awesome set! Indeed members of Shokker remarked to me afterward how good Lady Beast were. Hmmmm, two great traditional metal bands. Both female-fronted. It’s like a match made in heaven if these two would do some shows together in the future….maybe even with Substratum on the bill and Savage Master leading the way? I even know a music-themed brewery in Southern Ontario that would book this…just my little wish.

…hot merch from Lady Beast and Shokker

Shortly afterward, I noticed that there were no Vicious Breed CDs left on the Lady Beast merch table. It appears that they sold out, which is awesome! Also pretty much all the t-shirts were sold out as well! What a great and successful little run for Lady Beast. Indeed earlier right after Shokker‘s set that band also sold out of CDs in minutes to the “shock” of Quinn behind the merch table. You can next catch Lady Beast in their hometown of Pittsburgh with Savage Master on May 12, 2018. Also coming up is their first appearance at California’s Frost and Fire Festival in October!

Lady Beast Setlist (*“Caged Fury” not played in Chicago)

“Seal the Hex”

“Forest of the Impaled”

“Lone-Hunter

Vicious Breed”

“Caged Fury”

“Every Giant Shall Fall”

“Lady of the Battle”

“Lady Beast”

BUY: Vicious Breed

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icon_001Cheers,

The Meister

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