Renowned hard rock outfit SOiL was recently restored to its former glory by the return of their original singer Ryan McCombs in 2012. Since the celebrated reunion the group made their way overseas for a European tour, released a new album Whole and now are trekking their way across the US to bring the rock n’ roll glory days back to fans nationwide. On Wednesday, September 25 the men of SOiL made their way to The Chop Shop alongside Illinois industrial hard rockers Dope, Boston, MA’s Leaving Eden and Charlotte’s own melodic metal quintet Tattermask.
Despite a paltry attendance, likely attributable to the confusion over whether the show would go on or not, the energy was great. The fact that the show even went on speaks volumes about the music scene in Charlotte and the miracles that can be achieved when venues and bands get together. Apparently the promoter, Faded Frankenstein, pulled out of the show about a week prior to showtime and it was left up to The Chop Shop to make things happen. Not wanting to see Queen City miss out on this incredible line up, Tattermask threw their hat in the ring with The Chop Shop to help the show go on. It’s acts like this that make me still believe in the power of music and strength of the underground, because great things can happen when bands are truly willing to give their all to the music.
Thanks to a schizophrenic GPS system, arriving at the club was greatly delayed, leading to all but the very last song of Tattermask’s set being missed entirely. Despite missing the majority of the set, one thing can be said about Tattermask, they have an incredibly powerful sound that attracts a listener from yards away. Even crossing the parking lot, the singing strings and thundering percussion came across clean and crisp as if they were merely a few feet away not five or six yards away. The beautifully melodic and echoic vocals of Amanda Caines carried just as well, like a gorgeous ghost haunting your presence and leaving goose bumps. If this is what they’re capable of in just a few short minutes, the mind boggles at what the entire set contained. These Queen City locals are definitely one to watch, because there’s likely much more to come from Tattermask.
Boston, MA natives Leaving Eden were up next and they chose to kick things off with their rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Front woman Eve was all about trying to warm up the crowd and engage the audience. Her energy and charisma was only overshadowed by the high powered stage presence of bassist Daniel Cummings. Cummings was a madman on the bass with his insane stage prowling, jumps and spins. Their brand of eclectic rock n’ roll seemed to jump all over the spectrum from song to song. There was a certain grainy, raspy quality to Eve’s voice that was reminiscent of Janis Joplin in her younger years, which may or may not work for some listeners, but definitely distinguishes her from many other female vocalists.
SOiL has been around in one incarnation or another since 1997 and having McCombs back in the fold has had many fans overjoyed at the reunion. When the rambunctious quartet took the stage it was all eyes on them and anxious anticipation. McCombs hit the ground running. The band ripped through their set with a fury and energy that was unlike anything else that night. Bassist Tim King could be seen roaming his corner of the stage, making faces at the crowd and head banging along song by song. Guitarist Adam Zadel was opposite King going ballistic on the strings in a frenzy of hair and full contact, whole body strumming. Despite visible engagement by King and Zadel, neither were as involved as McCombs who was pouring sweat at the forefront of the stage, veins bulging in his face and neck with every howl and scream. Vocally it is apparent that McCombs’s vocals have gotten a bit gruffer since the early days of SOiL, but they still carry the same power and intensity, if not more intense because of the roughness. Nothing has changed about the soul of this band, they still know how to bring a show and McCombs was the ringleader on this night, engaging with audience members, cracking jokes between songs and keeping thing light and fun for all.
"Music begins with you and music ends with you..."- Ryan McCombs on the power of fan support.
All smiles, charm and humor, SOiL kept things aloft with their wit, style and intense set list consisting of a number of songs from their vast catalogue of work. From “Shine On,” the debut single from their latest album Whole, to “Unreal” to “37 Stitches” (from McCombs time in Drowning Pool),the band was hitting the audience with the songs they had come to love over the years. They even embarked on a cover of the Ram Jam single hit “Black Betty” to the raging excitement of the small crowd. Of course, no SOiL show would be complete without the infamously heavy anthem “Halo” for which McCombs, drenched in sweat and red in the face, joined the crowd for an all metal sing-a-long. Fans swarmed the 5’5 vocalist in hopes of getting a single note into the vintage style microphone he held in-hand. Cameras and phones were abound as well as audience members scurried to capture this moment by whatever means necessary and document their brush with greatness. It was clear that night that no matter how old or what band he’s in, Ryan McCombs could easily be classified as one of the best showmen hard rock because of his passion, fire, force and charisma. There is something to be said about any performer that gives so much they look as though they could literally pass out on stage and then still have the stamina to jump into a crowd.
When Dope took the stage the crowd had dwindled some when those who attended for the previous bands had already begun their departures. This absence of audience members did not go unnoticed by Edsel Dope who spent a fair amount of the evening commenting on the thinned out crowd. Performance-wise, Dope was impressive with their powerful bass and drums accompanied by the jagged guitar shredding and piercing vocals. One interesting performance by Dope that night was a cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” from their album No Regrets. This led to another crowd sing-a-long and a few “Breakfast Club”-esqe dance breakouts. Breaking out everything from “Die Motherf**ker” to “Motivation” and “F**k the Police” to their latest single “Addiction,” Dope made sure to play all the crowd-rousing tunes in their arsenal to shake up The Chop Shop that night. Everything would have been great had it not been for Edsel Dope peppering their set with comments about the meager attendance or occasionally mocking various audience members.
Overall, the standouts of the evening were easily Tattermask and SOiL with their fervor and impeccable delivery. For those that have had their apprehensions about the reunited SOiL, rest assured that you are getting the best, if not better, of them this time around. They are older, more experienced, more impassioned and obviously still in it to win it! Timelessness it a rare and highly sought after trait in band, being able to transition through time without losing your edge or your core, and SOiL seems to have achieved this almost flawlessly. Their live show is so much more than can be fathomed on record and even off-stage they are the some of the most congenial and approachable guys you’d want to meet. If you haven’t picked up Whole yet, get it now, check it out and show some support for these iconic metal masters! The show at The Chop Shop was only the beginning as they embark on their month long tour with Dope, so check out their page for more dates at a city near you!