Riffs, grooves, and that familiar Black Sabbath-y guitar tone are core elements of stoner rock, doom, and sludge. These genres can fly under a lot of people’s radar because they’re not really on the radio or in the rotation on whatever is supposed to be MTV these days.
Thing is, even without much mainstream exposure, these genres have a much bigger audience than many may realize.”
(I could be accused of bias being in a band from the aforementioned genres. Oh, well.)
On Friday, January 26th, my two bandmates and I made the drive from Orlando to St.Pete to see Black Label Society, Corrosion of Conformity, and Red Fang at Jannus Live. It was all of our first times at the venue, and we had all heard great things about it from our music friends. And even though expectations were high, the venue delivered a great experience. Most important to me, was the audio quality. (As many who know me can attest, I am a tough audience.) Every instrument and vocal was audible, clear, punchy, and defined; all the while keeping a fat, full, and genre-appropriate volume level which created the thick, wall-of-sound-like experience.
It was just a perfectly mixed show.
Portland natives, Red Fang, had the responsibility of starting the musical party, and they more than fulfilled the duties. Their set was relentless and interesting from the first song. Their tunes, like them, have a lot of personality and go in a lot of different directions, sometimes all at once. Their live show expressed dynamics and pure unstoppability. Incredible grooves and riffs were executed accurately. Aside from being stupid-tight, they emanate energy. There was no restraint on their part, which was appreciated by the fully-packed house.
What an incredible start to the evening.
I’ve been a fan of Corrosion of Conformity since I was in my teens and had never gotten to see them live before. Their performance was the most fulfilling part of the evening for me.
THEIR SOUND! EHRMAGHERD. THEIR GUITAR AND BASS TONES!!!!
The sounds emanating from their rigs, they might have been perfect….
The three of us commented to each other mid-show how incredible it sounded. “Vote With A Bullet” got the crowd amped and let the grooves run deep. Their tribute to Obituary, with their cover of “Who’s Got the Fire,” garnered a raucous response from the floor. Probably had a lot to do with those grooves and riffs I keep talking about.
CoC have a deep band history I won’t get into here, but the North Carolina spawned outfit date back to the 80’s with some periods of hiatus. While I’ve only been listening to them since the 90’s, they have a deep catalog to choose from for set lists, so I was really stoked that they played a couple of my favorites. Many are familiar with “Albatross” from their Billboard Charts hit album Deliverance, which they played next to last. This was a sing-along song for the whole crowd. But they ended their set with fan-hit “Clean My Wounds,” which had the heads bangin from that first easily recognizable riff. You know, this one:
Black Label Society, pseudo-cult-spawning band of living guitar-viking Zakk Wylde, came out swingin riffs. The group, which has fan bases in each city that they refer to as “Chapters” the same way biker gangs do, are 100% all about their fans. Wylde and the guys playing with him, (some for over 20 years) put it all out there from the beginning of set opener, “Genocide Junkies.” The guitar tone crushed.
Anyone that has ever seen or heard Zakk play is aware that he’s got his own sound, which makes its way into many of his riffs via his use of pinch harmonics. Ozzy brought him into the fold as his guitarist after Randy Rhoads passed, and this sound made an instant fan out of me and many others after hearing Ozzmosis for the first time.
In Black Label Society, (his band) his style is prominently on display, and the fans love it.
This “Chapter” was no exception.
“Bleed for Me” got a strong response because of it, but that’s not all they loved. Towards the latter part of the set, the band did a tribute to Dimebag Darrell for which Zakk sat and played piano. And, not just kind of played it… he played it the same way he plays guitar, like he’s the master of it. I was legitimately impressed with his fluidity and dexterity on the instrument. Truly, a renaissance man.
The set ended with a crowd (and personal) favorite, Stillborn. Definitely the band’s biggest hit, and not surprising since the studio version features genre-godfather Ozzy in the chorus and puts Zakk’s riff/groove style on display right up front.
This was a perfect show to experience Jannus Live with for the first time. Big thanks to No Clubs for all of their hospitality! I can’t wait to return for another show!
Black Label Society Live Review at Jannus Live by Joshua Jauz.
Black Label Society Concert Photos by Randy Cook.
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