Here's part 2 of my crazy weekend.
Volbeat and Halestorm announcing a tour together was one of my favorite pieces of news of the whole year. I could not pass up the opportunity to see two of my top three favorite bands on the same night.
Unfortunately, finding which show we could go to was a tough thing to do. The closest show, Milwaukee, fell on a day when we were also playing a show, and Halestorm was not with them. The second closest, Dubuque, Halestorm was also not playing. The third closest, Gary, Indiana, was 21+. So we had to settle for the fourth closest show of the tour, which was 6+ hours away from home in Sioux City, Iowa.
Fast forward to the day of the show. We had to leave by 10:00 to make it to a restaurant in Sioux City by 5:00, and then to make it when the doors to Battery Park opened at 6:00. So we ate breakfast (a casserole made of eggs, sausage, and zucchini that my mom frequently makes), and headed off.
I don't remember much of the ride other than how most of the first couple hours of it was the same route that I drive from home to Platteville every weekend during the school year. I do remember that we blasted some of my favorite music for most of the time. Alter Bridge, Tremonti, Breaking Benjamin, Downplay, Starset, some of my own stuff, etc. Yes, there was some Volbeat and Halestorm in there as well. I know it's an unwritten rule that you're not supposed to listen to the band(s) you're going to see on the way there, but who cares?
We stopped for lunch around 1:00 (my mom's muffins that I've been eating as either breakfast or lunch every day for over a decade). Other than that, we rarely took any breaks. My dad's also a fast driver, so we managed to shave off over half an hour from the GPS's predicted time. We made it to a Greek restaurant in Sioux City at just past 4:00.
Let me tell you something. When you order a Greek platter that is supposed to serve at least 3 people, it's gonna be too big if it's just 3 of you. We didn't finish it all. It was good stuff, though. Lots of cheese, pasta, lamb, salad, and I don't remember what else. The dessert was baklava, and it was so sickening sweet.
Anyway, we headed off to the parking garage close by the venue at around 5:30, and immediately walked to the venue once we found a parking spot. I found it strange that there were a lot of bars close to the venue, where if you walked outside, you could probably hear the live music decently well. As we walked closer to the gates, I could hear that Daughtry's cover of Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" with Lzzy Hale was playing from the outside speakers of one of the bars. I sang along softly.
They checked our tickets, and we walked into the venue. We assumed our positions close to the stage (about seventh row if general admission had rows). The house music was different from what I was expecting. Instead of stuff by the two bands' contemporaries, it was mostly old school hard rock and heavy metal (Metallica, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Alice In Chains, Iron Maiden) and some thrash from all eras (Hatesphere, Mastodon, Testament). I was happy when I recognized Rob Halford's voice in one song, even though it turned out to be one of his solo songs and not a Judas Priest song as I had guessed.
The last two songs were Holy Diver by Dio and Du Hast by Rammstein. I sang every word to Holy Diver, and as the time got closer to 7:00, Du Hast helped turn my anticipation up to insane levels. I could see Joe Hottinger talking with his guitar tech on stage right, and as the song faded out, I caught the slightest glimpse of the top of Lzzy's head hiding behind the equipment on stage left.
When the house music stopped for longer than two seconds, I immediately started recording. I knew what was about to happen. We would be graced by Lzzy's amazing voice.
0. Raise Your Horns - I list this as song 0 because it wasn't the full song, just the chorus a cappella. I used to think that CHICO and the man (local band) had the best show intro ever, which was Sirius by The Alan Parsons Project. Nope. Lzzy belting out "Raise your horns!" from off stage, and then walking out, topped Sirius by miles. I was awestruck. Well, second line, Lzzy's mic cut out. I don't recall whether I could hear her live, but when I watched my video of the intro the next day, I noticed that her voice could still be heard faintly. That's how powerful her voice is. Anyway, once her mic came back on, she continued singing. She drifted off key for a while (about a half step higher than she should have been). And then BAM! The instruments came in.
1. I Miss The Misery - I've said before that I don't think it really makes sense for a band to open with their biggest hit. But in this case, I think it did. Considering they were the opening band and not as many people came to see them, playing something everybody knew as the first song was a great idea. And from the beginning of this song, I could tell everyone, including the band, was fully into it. I don't think Lzzy hit a single bad note during the song. They ended with twin guitar harmonies that weren't in the studio version. Amazing start to the show, and when my mom and I discussed the entire show the next day, we agreed that it was the best song of the entire night.
2. Love Bites (So Do I) - my favorite Halestorm song. It seems like for a lot of shows I've been to, the band plays my favorite song from them second. Alter Bridge with Addicted To Pain, Breaking Benjamin first time with I Will Not Bow, and Volbeat first time with Lola Montez (second favorite, but they didn't play The Bliss that time). And now this. The combination of these first two songs was amazing, and their stage energy was unmatchable. I continued singing every word. Lzzy did miss one note of her guitar solo, but that didn't throw the performance off one bit. Simply awesome.
3. I Get Off - Arejay immediately started the drum beat for this song at the end of Love Bites (So Do I). Lzzy switched guitars and took off her jacket, to an exciting response. It's an inside joke between me and my musician friends to yell "Take off your shirt!" at every musician on stage, but since I felt like Lzzy might actually hear me say it, I instead decided to record her taking off the jacket while saying "Take off your shirt" into my phone. I later sent the clip to my friend Danny Grams, who actually started the whole joke. (In retrospect, I doubt that yelling it out would have had any bad consequences, as I knew that she actually did take off her shirt at Download in June.) But back to the song. Lzzy dedicated it to all the ladies in the crowd, and asked for the guys to lift their ladies up on their shoulders. She also teased us about wearing her skirt instead of pants that night just for us. And then they played about two thirds of the song. I'm not a big fan of the song, but it sounded really good and was in a perfect position in the setlist.
3.5. Crazy On You - they stopped I Get Off at the end of the bridge. Instead, Lzzy sang a piece of Crazy On You by Heart while Josh played keyboard. Her voice really shone through on this one. Then they went back to the bridge riff of I Get Off, and finished the song early.
4. Wicked Ways - I wasn't sure whether they were going to play this first or Freak Like Me, although I knew they would play both songs for sure. This was one of the songs I knew was going to be massive live. In fact, I listen to a live version of it more often than the studio version. I think it was during this song that Lzzy pointed in my direction and nodded, although she very well could have been pointing at someone else nearby me. Either way, it made me so happy.
5. Freak Like Me - Lzzy didn't introduce the song with the usual "Are you a freak like me?" Nor did she do the usual leg kicks at the end of each riff, which I missed. They did all do the synchronized jumping, though. I jumped along with them. That was one of the many times I jumped when nobody else in the audience did. Well, that's what I like to do. The song was awesome as usual.
6. Familiar Taste Of Poison - I nudged my parents and told them that this song was coming next. My mom responded by saying that she knew it was coming because she had watched live recordings of their recent shows recently. Since when did my mom become a setlist analyzer? Anyway, this was another highlight of the night. I kept on singing along to every word, even singing harmonies to Lzzy's vocals in the choruses. Joe's guitar playing stood out in this song. The improvised solo was amazing, and I really need to find a clean guitar tone like the one he used. And then after the extended jam, Lzzy walked out holding a rose. After singing what I believe were ad-libbed lines while on her knees, she threw the rose out to the crowd…in my direction. The guy to the right of me caught it, but one petal fluttered down into my hand, and several more fell around us. I picked up one that was by my mom's feet, and then the guy that caught the rose told me that I could pick up as many as I want. So in the end, I came home with five petals from a rose that was in Lzzy's hands. I don't care that they're all dried up by now, I'm keeping them forever.
7. Takes My Life - great performance. They've been playing it a half step higher than the original version (if that can be said -- there is no studio version and the only officially released version is a live version from 2006), but somehow Lzzy can still hit all the highest notes. This time was no different. It was an amazing song choice, even though it's a very obscure song of theirs.
8. Drum Solo - the time when Arejay got to show off. He's been my favorite famous drummer for a while now, so I wasn't surprised by anything he did during the solo, but it's still all impressive. The funniest moment happened when he threw a drumstick up into the air and missed to catch it. That's the only time he missed it for the entire show. I lost count of how many other times he threw his drumsticks and caught them. The loudest cheers for that were when he caught one after the one he missed. When he was done with his regular sticks, I shouted out "Big sticks!" and I was surprised to hear that I wasn't the only one saying that. As expected, he brought out the big sticks and soloed with them for a while before the band walked out again.
9. Back From The Dead - another one I was really looking forward to see live. I again sang lower harmonies to the choruses, because I was getting tired of using my whistle register to reach Lzzy's notes that were out of my range. It really was a banger song. This was the last song of the run of songs that they were not switching up in the setlist, as the song(s) between this and The Steeple were always changing. I really hoped for Strange Girl as that's one of my favorite songs ever and it's literally perfect. A couple weeks back, Lzzy actually did respond to me online asking if they could play it with "I will try to remember!" Unfortunately, she didn't. But after the greatness I had already witnessed, I didn't even mind.
10. I Like It Heavy - I saw Lzzy's guitar tech walk out with the double neck SG. Were they going to play I Am The Fire for the first time this year? Well, I was temporarily proven wrong when Lzzy asked if we liked it heavy. This was the one song of the entire night that I was the least familiar with, so I didn't sing along much. I did start taking pictures though, in addition to the many videos I had already taken. I needed something to add to my collection of over 500 pictures of Lzzy, right?
11. I Am The Fire - they ended the previous song, but then Arejay continued hitting the rims of his drums. No way. I wasn't expecting to see live the first Halestorm song I ever heard. And it was amazing. It's a very vocally challenging song, so I understand that Lzzy cuts corners in many places, but she did sing the original melodies for some of the tricky parts anyway.
12. The Steeple - Lzzy introduced the band members one by one, and then herself obviously. That was just one of the many times I shouted out "I love you, Lzzy!" during the show. I'm not particularly fascinated with this song, live or in the studio, but they made it work just fine. And they did an extended jam at the end that was really cool. When they were done, it was almost like it was over too soon. I was sad that I only got to see them for less than an hour, but I'm sure I'll have many more chances to see them because they're not going away anytime soon! Joe and Josh threw out some picks at the end, none of which I caught because picks don't fly that far. Arejay threw a couple drumheads, also neither of which I caught. Lzzy brought out not one, but ten roses and threw them out into the crowd. They didn't reach anywhere near me this time. Although I hoped that I might get a whole rose, I was still happy enough to have some petals from the first one she threw out. Then I watched them walk out, particularly focusing on Lzzy, and that was that.
Overall show thoughts - I don't even care that they didn't play Strange Girl like I was hoping for. They made up for it by shattering my already high expectations with their performance and their energy, and we got an extra song more than they usually had played on this leg. The sound was crystal clear. They nailed almost all their parts. So many good things to say about them. And I had the heart eyes for Lzzy the entire time. It's gonna take a lot to top their performance in my eyes.