Brent James and the Vintage Youth at the Deluxe at Old National Centre 10/19/18

See my review for Brent James and the Vintage Youth right below the Candlebox Gallery.

Candlebox at the Deluxe at Old National Centre 10/19/18

See my review below this gallery

Live Review – Candlebox with Brent James and the Vintage Youth at Old National Centre, 10 19 18

By Laura Fox for The Front Row Report

After a two-year absence, Seattle-based Candlebox returned to Indianapolis Friday night, playing to a packed crowd at the Deluxe at Old National Centre. The five-piece band, who describe themselves as “Face melting kinda metal but not really grunge yet close and VERY Blues based,” are undoubtedly icons of the 1990s Seattle music scene, and I was really stoked about seeing them again.

I was also excited to hear Brent James and the Vintage Youth. Although I knew the quartet from Cincinnati was more Muscle Shoals than Seattle Grunge, I was a little surprised when half the band appeared on stage barefoot. It started to make sense as they started jamming on their first song, “Fine Young Man,” which could’ve been on a Molly Hatchet album back in the day. Skillfully blending blues, rock and rockabilly, frontman Brent James, accompanied by Ricky Veeneman on guitar, Matt Gandenberger on bass, and Nick Baverman on drums, performed a rollicking nine-song set that left the audience in a great mood.

As I waited for Candlebox to take the stage, I thought about the last time I saw them. It was 1995, and they were at the peak of their popularity, right after the release of their sophomore album, “Lucy.” Their sound was fresh, and their performance was electrifying. After 23 years, a six-year hiatus and a few member changes, I wondered how they would sound. Would Kevin Martin’s distinct vocals still be strong? Would their music still be edgy and fresh?

The answer was a resounding, ”YES!”

They came out swinging with “Don’t You,” a high-energy hit from their self-titled debut album, which happens to be 25 years old now. They followed it up with “Change,” also from their debut album. I was relieved that founding member Kevin Martin’s distinct vocals were as strong as ever, and maybe even a little better – more mellow and less raspy than in Candlebox’s heyday. He did a fantastic job of engaging the crowd, making constant eye contact, giving high-fives, telling personal stories, repeatedly expressing appreciation for their loyalty, and explaining the meaning behind many of the songs. I found his “HAS BEEN” t-shirt hysterically ironic given the amount of energy he put into the show, as well as the fan love that was bestowed upon him.

That love was shared by Brian Quinn and Island Styles on guitar, Adam Kury on bass, and Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Famer Dave Krusen on drums. Although Martin is the only member who’s been with the band from the beginning, they played Candlebox’s syncopated riffs as though they’ve all been together for years. They jammed hard during their sixteen-song set, which included newer releases as well as older hits, along with some deeper cuts from their six studio albums, and extended versions of several songs. Nearly every song had at least a few people singing along, and I’m pretty sure 100% of the audience (including yours truly) was singing to the chorus of “You,” “Cover Me,” and “Far Behind.”

I was a little confused when the Martin took a survey near the end of the show to find out who all in the audience was Christian, then who was Catholic and who was Protestant. But then he explained that he doesn’t care what religion everyone is, and that we all need to respect each other’s beliefs and get along together. I normally hate when artists get political in their shows, but this is one message I can get behind. He then picked up an acoustic guitar for “Cover Me,” bringing an entirely different vibe and meaning to one of their biggest hits.

Candlebox finished their regular set with an intense and passionate version of “Far Behind,” which left everyone clamoring for “one more song.” The encore selection, “Rain,” started out slow and bluesy and ended with an all-out jam, which was a perfect ending to an amazing evening of rock and roll.

The Amity Affliction - Vans Warped Tour at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center

The Amity Affliction have been around the music scene long enough to know how to get the crowd going - and they did it with great skill at the Vans Warped Tour at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - Vans Warped Tour at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center 07 24 18

Of all the women who have impacted the music industry, Joan Jett is without a doubt one of the most influential. In fact, I don't think there's a person over the age of 10 who can't sing the chorus of "I Love Rock and Roll."  To be able to photograph this living legend was a dream come true for me and all the other photographers - it was the most crowded photo pit of the entire day. The pavillion was jammed with fans, as well, and the sides and back of the stage were packed with other Warped artists and VIPs. Joan Jett's voice was strong and loud, her attitude and guitar skills were as was as badass as ever, and the Blackhearts kicked ass right along with her. 

Asking Alexandria - Vans Warped Tour at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center 07 24 18

Asking Alexandria's raw power and smooth-as-silk vocals shouldn't work together, but they absolutely do! They also have a whole lotta fun on stage, making them a crowd favorite.

Motionless in White - Vans Warped Tour at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center 07 24 18

Motionless in White are one of my favorite bands to photograph. Their intensity, drama, and overall stage presence are over the top - it's enough to drive the fans nuts and make photographers lose their sh** trying to capture it all.

Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, and The Cult at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center - July 19, 2018

Live Review: Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, The Cult at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center

By Laura Fox

Torrential rains, extreme heat, and gusty winds didn’t dampen the spirits of concertgoers at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center Friday, July 19. Clad in plastic ponchos, garbage bags, or just their soggy clothes, they soaked up a great night of rock and roll as the Revolution 3 tour rolled through town. LA-based Julien K were the first to take the stage, getting the crowd warmed up with their edgy, electro-rock sound.

Post-punk/metal giants The Cult were up next. Somewhat ironically, the heaviest downpour of the night was during their second song, “Rain.” At the end of the song, however, an announcer came on stage and told everyone in the lawn to come down and sit in open sections of the pavilion; he didn’t have to ask twice!

Stone Temple Pilots started their set with their mega-hit, “Wicked Garden.” Frontman Jeff Gutt, who joined the group in 2017, nailed the rock star role, performing with great energy and passion, along with an in-your-face attitude and tons of crowd interaction.

Veteran band members Dean DeLeo on guitar, Robert DeLeo on bass and Eric Kretz on percussion also showed the fans lots of love. With the exception of “Meadow,” and “Roll Me Away” from their latest studio album, “Stone Temple Pilots” the band stuck to classic hits from their older albums, ending with another huge single, “Sex-Type Thing.”

Bush’s set started dramatically, with percussionist Robin Goodridge silhouetted behind his drumset, sticks raised. Then the first iconic riff of “Machinehead” rang out from the darkness, and lead singer/guitarist Gavin Rossdale leaped onto the stage. The crowd went nuts, lunging to their feet and shouting wildly.

The commotion never really died down as Bush powered through their biggest hits, plus an amazing cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together.” Rossdale, along with Chris Traynor on guitar and Corey Britz on bass, made constant eye contact with the audience, which they ate up. Rossdale, in particular, was in constant motion, pacing from front to back and side to side throughout the set.

By the time Bush closed their set with “Comedown,” the temperature had also come down. The rain had also stopped, leaving concertgoers basking in the echoes of the heavy-hitting show they had just experienced.


Stone Temple Pilots

The Cult

Lindsey Stirling and Evanescence with Cellogram at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center 07/12/18



Lindsey Stirling

Live Review by Laura Fox

Co-headliners Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling, currently on tour together, have distinctly different musical styles, visual and performance aesthetics, and messages, yet they complemented each other perfectly. Accompanied by a local orchestra, both acts artfully wove beautiful stories throughout the night, bringing thunderous applause, cheers, and tears to the adoring crowd.

The night’s headliner, Lindsey Stirling, reminded me of a Gaelic faerie – she danced, ran, leaped, beat back demons, and even moonwalked, all while furiously playing the electric violin. But along with her spritely and energetic music, she also shared a deeply personal and inspirational message about her struggles with anorexia and depression. Backup dancers, multiple costume changes and stunning background graphics completed the big-production, sensory experience you’ll just have to see first-hand to understand. 

In contrast, Evanescence’s performance was dark and almost dreamlike. Although Evanescence is comprised of five extremely talented musicians, all eyes were on Amy Lee as she strode onto the stage. Her rich vocals and commanding stage presence masterfully pulled the audience into her world. When Evanescence was joined by Stirling on stage for “Hi-Lo,” the crowd absolutely erupted.

Openers Cellogram, which consists of cellist Dave Eggar and percussionist Chuck Palmer, engaged the audience with their enthusiasm and antics. Their eclectic set included a lively mix of classical, rock, folk, tribal, bluegrass, and jazz that was just about perfect for a balmy evening under the stars.

16 Candles at Federal Hill Commons, 06 02 18

There's just something about '80s music that makes people happy, especially when that music is performed outdoors on a balmy evening, by a talented band who is doing what they love. If you've ever seen Chicago-based band 16 Candles, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you need to check them out! They rocked, bopped, and walked like Egyptians through an upbeat set that had people of all ages dancing and singing the night away at Federal Hill Commons park in Noblesville, Indiana. 

Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press at Federal Hill Commons 05/20/18

Rod Tuffcurls and the Benchpress kicked off the Noblesville Parks Concerts at the Commons series with a set of popular tunes from a variety of genres. The talented foursome from Chicago played everything from vintage Elton John to the theme from Disney's "Moana," and they played it with sensational style and skill. Their entusiasm was contagious - they were there to have fun, and they made sure everyone else did, too. I can't wait for them to come back this way!

mc chris at The Hi-Fi Indy

Live Review

mc chris and Bitforce at The Hi-Fi Indy 04/26/18

By Laura Fox - assisted by Michele Livingston

I admit, I’m not a huge fan of rap; I’m more of a head-banging kind of girl. So why did I jump at the chance to do a live review of mc chris at The Hi-Fi Indy? Because mc chris isn’t your stereotypical rapper – he raps about nerdy stuff.  And he’s wicked funny. And the opening act was a nerdcore band called Bitforce. (And yes, nerdcore is really a genre.) I expected a fun show, and that’s exactly what I got.

While waiting for the show to start, I couldn’t help overhearing bits of conversation around me. There were animated discussions about game characters and strategies, superheroes, bitcoins, wizards, and the latest Pokemon Go! raids. Although much of it was completely foreign to me, it was hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm for all things nerdy. It was interesting (but not surprising) to note that the crowd was mostly male, bearded, and under the age of 40.

What did surprise me was that there were moshers during Bitcore’s set! From the futuristic opening notes of “Exordium of Heroes” to their last triumphant chord, Bitforce commanded respect from the audience with their warrior attitudes, LED-lit uniforms, and kick-ass metal music. The San Antonio-based trio played a nine-song set that included original compositions, as well as metal versions of movie, game, and TV theme songs. Crowd favorites included the Power Rangers theme song, a Batman/Teen Titans medley, “Castlevania,” and the Pokemon theme song. Vocalist/guitarist Joey Devine (AKA Banta), Bassist Marc Lopez (AKA Ryokuen), and percussionist Toph Lawrence (AKA Shiden), were polished, yet edgy, throughout the set, and when they decided to get heavy, they got REAL heavy. They were great fun to watch!

Things were pretty casual when mc chris first took the stage, munching on a cookie and chatting with the audience. Then he suddenly switched gears, launching into “mc chris the shit,” a frenetic, autobiographical rap that’s both self-promoting and self-deprecating. His distinctive voice meshed well with the synth-y background tracks, and although I had trouble catching all the lyrics, Chris’ in-your-face attitude came through loud and clear. The audience clearly had no trouble understanding the lyrics, singing along lustily to “Neville,” “Pizza Butt,” “Hoodie Ninja,” “Wiid,” “Smackababy,” “I Want Candy,” and “DQ Blizzard.”

With over 17 albums and EPs, along with numerous movie and TV show credits under his belt, mc chris has a vast repertoire, and his setlist is always different for every show. His set at the Hi-Fi Indy was comprised of 15 songs, and included topics such as Star Wars, pot, Mario Brothers, obesity, pot, drug dealing, Harry Potter, pot, and cannibalism. Many of the songs drip with irony and reference things only fans of nerd culture and fans of mc chris would understand. Others appear straight rap/hip-hop, but take a corkscrew twist when you listen closely to the lyrics. And they all are insanely fast-paced and energetic, with mc chris spitting out the words like machine-gun fire.

One of the things that struck me about this show was the incongruity of every element of mc chris and his music. Logic says combining references to General Patton, Legoland, The Avengers, and Elizabeth Warren – all in one song – should not work. But it does. As does the unique blend of hip-hop, rap, pop, and cartoon theme-song styles. What’s also a little strange is that the artist himself is a vertically challenged, helium-voiced, 42-year-old white dude from Libertyville, Illinois.

The other thing I noticed was the way Chris interacted with the audience between every song. He went beyond the typical, “Hey Indy, how ya feeling tonight?” and cracked jokes about politics, drugs, tour life, sex, food, and the ridiculousness of life. He also took song requests, as well as talked about his wife and son, his nephew’s battle with Cystic Fibrosis, and the inspiration for some of his songs. It made my night when he asked a very tall man in the front to move over so the shorter people behind him could see, and later addressed me as “my Linda McCartney,” which was very sweet. (Google the story if you don’t know it already.) His mid-show, funny t-shirt contest was a hoot, with so many potential participants they wouldn’t all fit on the stage. (The winning shirt had a Luigi graphic on it I didn’t really get, but the crowd loved it.)

The only negativity of the night came when a drunk heckler got so out of hand that mc chris stopped performing his last song to chew him out. Fortunately, the guy settled down a bit, and Chris was able to pull it back together. Starting “Fette’s Vette,” over, mc chris rounded out the set on a positive note, with the crowd cheering and singing along, sharing in the super-cool nerdcore experience.

mc chris Funny T-shirt Contest at The Hi-Fi Indy 4 26 18

The Funny T-Shirt Contest is a huge part of every mc chris show, and there were some awesome entries at the Hi-Fi Indy!