Finally, we come to the final day at Rock n’ Skull Festival 2016. It’s taken quite awhile to get to this point in the story, but here we go! After our now standard routine of hotel breakfast and returning to the odorous room to kill time before the venue, we prepared for the final day. This day was to be the shortest at Rock n’ Skull 2016, having less bands than on previous days. The leader today being InnerSeige. None of us were even remotely familiar with them, but a quick YouTube jaunt through a couple of half songs had everyone’s ears perked up.
Upon arrival at The Tree, we ran into Kivel Records maestro John Kivel just inside the venue. A quick chat resulted in confirmation of a Tango Down interview later today and he mentioned how he’s never had a website review one of his CD’s like we did. For the Decibel Geek album review of Tango Down‘s new Bulletproof album, we had three reviewers comment in one article (Album Review)!
From there we descended on the very attractively displayed InnerSiege merch booth erected near our sound board stomping grounds. The artwork on the shirts and CD covers was incredible and visually appealing. The pleasant and smiley young lady attending the stand informed us that there were only 5 CDs left as several of us studied the discs. Apparently, they have been selling well on the current tour of shows. We ended up purchasing 4 of the 5 in stock and that was before the band even hit the stage! As you might discern, we were impressed by what we heard via YouTube about an hour ago! As we exchanged the money she also let us know that a new album was in the works and coming in 2017.
InnerSiege hit the stage right on time. And I mean hit the stage. They came out hard in what was about to be the heaviest set we would witness this weekend. They were off to a thundering, galloping start with “Dragon Rider”. Singer Jeremy Ray‘s European style piercing vocals cemented this awesome Power Metal sound. Treated to engaging guitar solos throughout, the set charged on including material off of our newly acquired CDs. Also in the mix were some newer compositions, notably the heavy pumping grind of what I think was titled “Reborn”. Apparently, their inaugural time showcasing the track live had my fist smashing the air above. Shawn and Brian were able to grab some awesome photos, unfortunately, however, my crudely shot cell phone video was just not postable. At times throughout the set my mind flashed with the thought “too heavy for this bill?” but then I remembered Loudness last year. Overall a fantastic show and a great new band discovery. Even more anticipation of spinning this Kingdom of Shadows disc once home and look forward to the new album down the horizon.
After that fantastic start, next up was American Bombshell. They already delivered a great set on Friday, but have returned to fill the void left when Tiger Tailz were denied US entry. It works very well since American Bombshell are currently on tour with Junkyard who appear on the bill a little later today. Their set was, as to be expected, basically the same. There may have been another song thrown into the mix since they were cut short about 15 mins on Friday as were all sets due to venue complications. They led off with the ripping “Tattoos and Booze” and followed with more great selections from their No Regrets album. During one song InnerSeige‘s bass player came over and presented Mikael with a signed setlist. Earlier, after the set Mikael had lined up to have is CD booklet autographed and inevitably entered into a chat with the Norwegian gentleman. Bombshell surged on with “No Regrets” after which vocalist Jay made me laugh. He stated that when they chose their moniker they were unaware that there was a line or brand of sex toys out there called American Bombshell. So be careful when you’re looking us up later! A similar thing as my friends in Lady Beast who discovered that their moniker is also a subculture of extremely roided out women! The Indiana-based band ripped out a couple more tunes before closing an electrifying set with “Another Dead Rockstar”. This band’s repertoire contains some top form sleazy hard rock anthems, I definitely recommend buying the debut album, No Regrets.
The anticipated set from Tango Down was upon us. These guys, fronted by Chaz West, were severely impressive at 2015’s Rock n’ Skull. They came out in full force behind a recorded intro with “Punching Bag”. The material leaned heavily on the new Bulletproof album, but lots of classic Tango Down also appeared in the list. Chaz hit everything right where it needed to be. Bassist Axel was on fire as expected, fun to photograph and a joy to watch on stage. Guitarist Scott “Rif” Miller doled out the riffage (as his nickname may suggest) in rapid fire succession. All this while Keith Michaels bashed hard on his skins, providing the thunder. “Gimme a Reason” came next. Vocal harmonies that will melt even the Grinch‘s heart…check! A big thing about Tango Down is their vocals and they were on point here. The Bulletproof barrage continued with the title track, “Carry On” and “Going Under” before back catalog tracks surfaced. “I’m Done Lovin’ You” and “Charming Devil” all were served with blonde locks of hair flying everywhere. “Change My World” and “Hearts Catch Fire” brought us to the closer. Being as Chaz once fronted Lynch Mob, it’s fitting that Tango wrap proceedings up with “Wicked Sensation”. Another great show despite still no Meister fave of “Cry to Me” appearing in the setlist. check out Shawn‘s Tango Down Spotlight Review.
As the line to meet Tango stretched from the Kivel Records booth right across the width of The Tree and past our station we received the word. What word? Well, the word that all the Decibel Geeks might just be going on stage to introduce headliner Stephen Pearcy! Let’s see how that plays out.
Next up was King of the Hill. Not a band that I was at all familiar with prior to this. Straight off I liked their sound however and will certainly check into more of them when I get back home. Unfortunately, at some point we would have to eat, so King of the Hill got sacrificed as a couple of us ventured across the street to Juliet of Joliet for our usual daily burgers.
As we were preparing to exit the restaurant, Shawn popped in with Rif and Axel from Tango Down for the interview. I tagged along as did Ron (silent man) and we retired to our interview room upstairs. I guess the Juliet was growing tired of us utilizing their upper area for interviews as when I purchased drinks for the interview the bartender poured triple shots instead of the singles that I asked for, raising the bill by quite a bit. I guess eating and drinking there for 4 days just wasn’t enough for them. I didn’t argue at all, just passed over the money and didn’t want to delay or cancel the interview since Ron, Shawn, Rif and Axel were already setting up. I definitely did not ask for triples and that friggin’ bartender damn well knew it! Maybe I’ll just urinate on their wall outside!
Returning to The Tree after our chat with the Tango Down guys, we had completely missed PJ Farley and Junkyard were already well into their set. I’m not sure just how I’m not more familiar with these guys as they were absolutely ripping! They sounded fantastic, even a little Four Horsemen-ish at times and this is another band I definitely need to become more acquainted with. Right the injustice of their obscurity to my ears, one might say.
Official word! Official word! Official word! We are all going on stage to introduce Pearcy! Wait….wait…wait…go…go…follow Kate backstage! It’s thanks to her awesome husband and fellow Killer Dwarf golf tournament teammate that we have this opportunity. We are too early! Back out…wait…wait…go again…go again…we are not alone! Two other young ladies also had been granted this privilege and pleasure. No worries, we are all rock fans, the more the merrier! We lined up in the hallway leading up to the stage and waited. Ron spotted Pearcy as I reigned in the fanboy in him….why can’t I reign in my own fanboy (see Friday’s experience with Anthony Corder of Tora Tora). We flooded the stage, previously deciding that Kate and one of the other young ladies would be the spokeswomen for the myriad of us. Feeling sheepish as the crowd stared at this group of ragtag rockers, some sporting Decibel Geek tees, some sober, some not. Kate did a fantastic job, mentioning Decibel Geek, her brothers (us) and about downloading the weekly podcast before Penny took over to call Stephen Pearcy up. We were told before going on not to mention the word RATT at all….Blotzer has ears everywhere I guess…lol. What a fiasco of fun! Ron wrote an engaging blog story of the experience, From Big Apple to the Stage At Rock n’ Skull. Thanks Chris for the cheap thrill that we all got being on stage…there’s video somewhere of the whole thing, all 1.5 minutes of it that I’ll remember a lifetime!
“You’re In Love” started things off in a set loaded with all the essential classic RATT tunes. This was my third time in recent weeks witnessing Pearcy on stage. First at the world famous Whiskey A Go-Go in LA, then with DeMartini, Croucier, Cavazo and drummer Jimmy Degrasso on the Monsters of Rock Cruise West and now, here in Joliet Illinois. Some say that his voice is shot. I don’t hear it. A little raspier maybe, but overall I thought he was awesome in all of these performances. Ratt is after all one of my fave bands from youth and one of the few that I’ve never seen live until Pearcy at the Whiskey. Before that the closest I came was Croucier at The Rockpile (Croucier Ratt n’ Rolls The Rockpile). I loved every second of hearing these tunes played live. Yes, I was singing along at my full tone deaf capacity. Sorry if you were close enough to hear me. The set covered “Lay It Down”, “Lack of Communication”, “Way Cool Jr”, “Slip of the Lip”, “Drive Me Crazy”, “Dangerous but Worth the Risk”, “I’m Insane”, “Wanted Man” and “U Got It” I was surprised with “Heading out To the Highway”, a Judas Priest cover. Partly because it was Judas Priest cover and partly because I loved Pearcy singing it! Billed as Pearcy and Friends it wasn’t surprising that Juan Croucier appeared for “You Think You’re Tough”. This was followed by “Body Talk” and “Back for More”. Croucier put on a veritable clinic for all bassists that should be required learning as he bobbed and boogied all over the stage. “Round and Round” closed things up and although it was awesome, I was a little disappointed that it was Pearcy and Friend. That’s singular. I expected that we may see DeMartini or Cavazo as we had on the cruise, but it is what it is.
Until next year Rock n’ Skull!
Full Photo Galleries from Brian Ronald and Shawn Irwin: