Females can be guitar heroes, too.
Just ask Halestorm front-woman Elizabeth “Lzzy” Hale, who brought chops galore to House of Blues Cleveland last Tuesday when her Grammy Award-winning band swung by for a ninety-minute set in support of its latest Atlantic release, The Strange Case of….
The rockers from Red Lion, Pennsylvania notched two Top 10 singles off its eponymous debut while touring in support of heavy metal gods Megadeth and alternative heavyweights Shinedown, Disturbed, and Papa Roach and show no signs of letting up, averaging 250 gigs a year.
Halestorm will wrap its current U.S. tour in Chicago on Monday then enjoy a few well-earned months off before invading Europe (again) in April.
In the middle of the Halestorm maelstrom stands leggy Lzzy, whose intentionally didactic come-hither / piss-off persona repeatedly blurring the line between alluring sex kitten and provocative-but-unapologetic bad girl in high heels and torn stockings, Hale commanded center stage with an authority beyond her 29 years, belting out new songs like “Love Bites (So Do I),” and “Mz. Hyde” alongside tested hits like “It’s Not You” and “Innocence” while churning thick riffs from her signature Gibson Explorer.
In many ways, the custom instrument mirrored its owner: The guitar’s angular white body looked menacing yet sleek, its gleaming gold hardware and pearl volume / treble knobs combining functionality with elegance. Baring as much soul as skin, the leggy Hale thrilled the near-capacity club with her powerful pipes and deft rhythm guitar skills as younger brother Arejay pounded out muscular meters on his Ludwig kit (whose rostrum bore a ‘got drums?’ bumper sticker).
Josh Smith pinned the low end on bass, his four-string grooves undulating over Arejay’s beats and anchoring Lzzy’s crackling chords on the rambunctious “Nothing to Do With Love” and defiant “Freak Like Me.” Joe Hottinger shared guitar duties with Hale, the dark-haired shredder tossing his jacket away early to better manhandle his Fender Telecaster on “Don’t Know How to Stop” and “Daughters of Darkness.”
Hale swapped her Explorer for a metallic silver Les Paul midway through, tearing through the cheeky “You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing” and anthemic “Rock Show,” fingers wailing and hair flailing. The group dipped into its covers repertoire with respectful spins on Dio’s “Straight Through the Heart” and Judas Priest’s “Sin After Sin.” Other nights have seen Lzzy channeling Stevie Nicks on Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman,” but the metal classics over well on a cold night in Cleveland.
Arejay’s dexterous drum solo came sandwiched between the buzz-saw strains of “Break In,” “Familiar Taste of Poison,” and 2009 breakthrough hit “I Get Off,” whose sexually-charged lyric reflected the high-energy feedback flowing between the band and its devotees down front. Halestorm’s encore saw the quartet offering its take on recent Daft Punk dance track “Get Lucky” along with its unifying new single, “Here’s to Us.”
Watch the official Halestorm video for “Here’s to Us:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KC0DNLDXJW8
Spearheaded by singer / guitarist / motor sports enthusiast Mark “Kaz” Kaspryzk, Hollywood Records four-piece Redlight King amped the audience with cuts from 2011’s Something for the Pain and the just-issued Irons in the Fire. Known for his cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man,” rapper-turned-rocker (and sometimes TV personality in his native Ontario) Kaspryzk connected early, stoking spectators with “Comeback,” “Built to Last,” and “City Life.”
The left-handed Kaz favored a black Gretsch for the middle set, pumping new songs “Redemption,” “Critical” and “Caught in the Middle” with strong vocals and strident, biker-rock power chords (with co-guitarist Jules contributing to the solos). Burly session drummer Jaydon Bean enjoyed a few moments in the spotlight, pummeling his shamrock-adorned drums with a healthy balance of aggression and finesse before guiding the band into “Devil’s Dance.”
The new, uplifting we-shall-overcome theme “Born to Rise” went over well—and made for a nice thematic lead-in to the King’s suicide survivor single “Bullet in My Hand.”
Watch the official Redlight King video for “Born to Rise:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=FIsomh4L-bo
Stars in Stereo warmed things up at 8:00pm sharp with several tracks from its new self-titled disc on Hundred-Handed Records.
Like Halestorm, the Southern California outfit is led by a lady. And like Lzzy, 24-year old Rebecca “Becca” Hollcraft used both lungpower and cover girl good looks (and some vigorous guitar strumming) to get the crowd on her side. The initial response to offerings such like “The Broken,” “Violence,” and “Dealing Secrets” was inexplicably muted but—to the band’s credit—Bec and lead guitarist Jordan McGraw took the lukewarm reception on the chin and worked that much harder to draw onlookers into the fray .
Portland-bred Hollcraft—who released a couple solo albums in 2008-09 under the tutelage of Meredith “I’m a Bitch” Brooks—was alternately feisty, feral, and in-your-face. She gave her all on “Leave Your Mark” and “All Together” as McGraw slid a beer bottle up and down his guitar neck and cohort “Frogs” McCormick cranked out the rhythm. Drummer Drew Langan (in a Rolling Stones T-shirt) impressed with a three-minute solo, bashing his heads and whirling his sticks like switchblades.
Attendees caught on by the time Becca and company closed out, reacting enthusiastically to the band’s new single, “Every Last Thing.”
Watch the official Stars in Stereo video for “Every Last Thing” (some violent content): https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=f8VL2xKBKN8
The L.A. upstarts are helping Toys for Tots on the road by collecting unwrapped gifts for children in exchange for concert tickets and CDs. The first five concertgoers at each city who donate at the door get the tickets; everyone else gets the disc. Just look for the band rep (wearing a Stars in Stereo shirt) near your venue box office / will call to make your holiday donation and pick up your complimentary S ‘n’ S tunes.