To say that Iowa natives Stone Sour and Michigan's Pop Evil saved the best for the last night of their tour Saturday at Backstage Live might come across as San Antonio bias. Or at least as self-perceived Southern hospitality.
So let Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor (left) take it away:
"This has been the best Stone Sour tour ever, and I couldn't think of a better place to end this mofo than right here," Taylor said.
Sure, that may be construed as standard concert hyperbole from city to city. But the numbers at the door don't lie. A filled-to-the-brim show in the 1,200 capacity downtown venue -- and the enthusiastic screams that repeatedly permeated from within -- backed up the talk. So did the line that wound around to the back of the building near the bands' buses more than an hour before the sold-out doors opened.
Once inside, the Alamo City was treated to a typical rocking Stone Sour evening (with Stolen Babies and Dallas natives Drayter preceding Pop Evil). As usual, the charge was led by the ever-energetic Taylor, who also fronts Slipknot. Despite the absence of fellow Slipknot cohort and guitarist James Root, who bypassed the tour to "concentrate on writing the next Slipknot album," Stone Sour did not miss a beat.
Opening with the title track to latest double-album House of Gold And Bones, Taylor commanded the crowd's attention as only he can and refused to let it rest much between songs. Just when fans may have thought they could get a breather after tunes such as "Made of Scars," "30-30/150" and "Mission Statement," Taylor would consistently ask, "Do you want more like that, San Antonio?"
Throughout the night, several fans remarked how they had never seen Backstage Live as crowded. Having covered shows there since its new era as BSL kicked off March 18, 2010, with an L.A. Guns/Faster Pussycat concert (click here), the SAMME had only seen a 1,000-plus turnout on two other occasions:
- A free 10 Years gig on St. Patrick's Day 2011 (click here)
- A Hank 3 concert in September 2011 in which roughly two-thirds of his fans were country music enthusiasts who left after his country set, before he transformed into his metal band Attention Deficit Domination (click here)
Backed by always dapper-looking guitarist Josh Rand (see slideshow, top left), guitarist Christian Martucci, bassist Jason Christopher and drummer Roy Mayorga (watch our 2010 Uproar Festival interview here), Taylor had San Antonio eating out of the palm of his hand. During his solo acoustic performance of "Bother," the crowd sang the lyrics back so loudly that by song's end, Taylor was rocked backwards and mouthed, "Holy s---!"
From this vantage point, it would be OK if the band omitted "Through Glass" from the set, especially when "Hell and Consequences" is omitted, as was the case this night. But Stone Sour quickly made amends (for lack of a better term to describe a show that rocked from beginning to end) when Taylor ended the pre-encore portion with "the cover song of the night." Unveiling his James Hetfield impersonation from Metallica's 1993 live CD, Taylor let loose: "F--- yeah, we're ready! You ready, my friends? Creeping. Deaaaath!"
San Antonians could consider that a special treat, perhaps just for them, given that Stone Sour's cover of choice a couple weeks earlier in Chicago was Alice In Chains' "We Die Young."
And how did Stone Sour top a Metallica tune? By saving the intense House of Gold And Bones: Part 1 openers "Gone Sovereign/Absolute Zero" for the end (see slideshow at top for setlist).
It would be easy, and human nature, for bands to go through the motion on the final night of a tour, but such words are not in Stone Sour's vocabulary.
Nor are they in Pop Evil's. Prior to their set, the SAMME had the pleasure of interviewing drummer Josh "Chachi Riot" Marunde (watch here).
Pop Evil was playing its fourth San Antonio concert in as many venues. Seemingly with each visit, they're turning on more fans to their music, which included six of their nine songs played coming from latest CD Onyx. Vocalist Leigh Kakaty turned up the intensity, passion and appreciation for the fans with each tune, but his most poignant contribution came when he blasted the non-existence of San Antonio radio stations that play new hard rock and metal bands -- profanities included. It was deliciously ironic commentary given that several KISS 99.5-FM banners were strewn in and out of the building.
(Pop Evil's setlist): Deal With the Devil, Hero, Flawed, Torn to Pieces, Goodbye My Friend, Sick Sense, Boss' Daughter, Last Man Standing, Trenches.
Stolen Babies, fronted by accordion -- yes, accordion -- player Dominique Lenore Persi with twin brothers Rani Sharone on bass and Gil Sharone (Dillinger Escape Plan) on drums mixed a few growling punk-like screams with a mellower sound. Although the band had been on the entire tour, its style is different than that of Stone Sour and Pop Evil, and a bulk of the audience had difficulty warming up to it. A toy skeleton "stood" on one side of the stage, while Persi -- when she wasn't playing the accordion -- occasionally banged on a metal tube-like structure. Stolen Babies can be given credit for attempting to come up with a schtick to make them stand out from other groups, but that didn't translate well into the quality of the music or its presentation.
Dallas natives Drayter, fronted by Nyssa Garcia along with Cole Schwartz, Trajan Acquista and Brandon Pertzborn, were a pleasant surprise given that, for starters, they weren't listed on the original program locally. The high-pitched singing of Garcia, plus her enthusiasm for getting the crowd involved, showed a maturity beyond her 16 years. The band, which gave away downloads to its four-song EP, meshed well on stage musically and proved to be a difficult act to follow for Stolen Babies.
And what a difference two days makes. Drayter played to hundreds of early arrivals as the building continued to fill up. In other words, they performed to roughly five times the number of people that saw Dio Disciples headline the same stage Thursday in honoring the late Ronnie James Dio -- something Stone Sour does on the forthcoming (April 1) tribute CD This Is Your Life with their rendition of "Rainbow In The Dark." As has been the case in the past regarding Backstage Live, if it ain't happening on a Friday or Saturday, attendance tends to suffer. Drayter could consider themselves fortunate to be on the positive side of that equation, and they delivered a rocking 30-minute show that set the tone for a fun, sweaty, headbanging evening of metal.
Just the way Texans like it.
For related SAMME coverage, click on the "Suggested" links in blue below.
It pays to subscribe for free to the San Antonio Metal Music Examiner, no matter where you live. Do so at the top of this article for exclusive interviews, concert announcements, reviews, and all things metal. You can also get your fix via the SAMME Facebook page, follow along on Twitter or StumbleUpon, and check out his YouTube channel.