Monday, May 13, 2019

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 157

The Time Mookie Went and Saw Halestorm Again


Halestorm - with openers -  In This Moment, Palaye Royale, and Beasto Blanco
Date:  May 9, 2019
Place:  U.S. Cellular Center - Cedar Rapids, IA
Time: 6:00pm

Upon hearing that Halestorm was coming back to the area, I was immediately excited to snatch up a ticket go see them. When I began asking people who would like to go with me, I was surprised - but yet very excited - that my youngest sister said that she was "definitely" in. Hell yeah.

Upon arriving at the venue, getting through security, hitting the bathroom, and procuring a cold beverage, we found ourselves standing on the floor in front of the stage. The floor had no seating (general admission) and we were free to get as close to, or far away as we wanted. After some quality people watching, the lights went down and Beasto Blanco hit the stage.

Beasto Blanco
I admittedly knew very little about any of the openers prior to the show. Beasto Blanco doesn't even have a Wikipedia page for goodness sake. However, they SHOULD. They were first, and came out with a thundering beat and dressed in gothic wear. The lead singer would trade vocals with a woman who spent a lot of her time swinging flags and baseball bats with knives sticking out of them. It was quite a show. The highlight for me honestly was the bassist, who wore a jacket that had metal studs all the way down both arms. It was sweet. The only thing sweeter than that was his massively huge black/gray hair and beard. The dude looked like an awesome cave man. As I told my sister, definitely not the worst opening band I've ever seen.

Palaye Royale
Next up was Palaye Royale. From what I read and saw, the group was made up of 3 brothers. There were six dudes on stage, so I guess they must have picked up some people along the way. Palaye Royale's sound and look was a mix of Bowie, and maybe a heavy punk version of the Cars (if that is possible). They weren't too bad and were fun to watch. You could tell these kids loved what they were doing, and were trying to make the people love it too. In between songs, they thanked everyone for coming out, and admitted they knew that no one in the building was there to see them that night. They probably picked up one or two fans out of the deal though I'm sure. Even though their music wasn't my jam, I admit it was entertaining, and again - definitely not the worst opening band I've ever seen.
In This Moment

The third band in the line-up  - In This Moment - was allegedly the co-headliner with Halestorm, but I knew little-to-nothing about them. During my impromptu pre-show investigation work, I determined they were probably an odd cross of Lady Gaga and Slipknot. Needless to say, my impression was spot on. This show was by far the most theatrical performance I've ever seen (which is odd because the last time I saw Halestorm, one of those opening bands achieved that title). They had a curtain in front of the stage before the show started, and when they dropped the curtain......oh my goodness. The stage was set with lots of silhouettes of religious imagery, altars, and graveyard settings. There were these blond women with expressionless masks writhing around another blond woman standing upon a platform, with a huge headdress of some kind. This lady began singing, and I couldn't understand a word. However the imagery and odd visuals were amazing. Every song had some performance on stage with the writhing blond girls, while the leader shrieked about God knows what.The band - like I said - resembled a Slipknot theme by wearing masks and scary attire. The last song was called "Whore," and the lead singer stood upon a raised platform for the song, and the platform had the word "whore" on it. I'm not sure if she was the whore, or if she was singing about someone else that might have been a whore. I didn't feel like a whore, so I never really got that answer. Needless to say I knew none of their songs, but it appeared many in attendance did so I hope they enjoyed the show. Again...not the worst opening act I've ever seen.

Then finally around 9:30, it was time for Halestorm. My sister and I made a push further into the crowd until we were about 8th row center stage. The lights went down, and everyone was ready.

Halestorm's drummer, Arejay Hale, walked out on stage and up to his drum kit and the crowd went crazy.  He started thumping the drums and and proceeded into a drum solo for a few minutes. Then he stopped, and reached behind him for THE BIG STICKS!  He uses these drumsticks that are the size a cardboard tube from wrapping paper, and proceeds to slam the drums, twirl the sticks in his hands and put on a solo that is not only bad-ass, but funny as hell too.
credit mookie5150

As he finished that up, guitarist Joe Hottinger, bassist Josh Smith, and lead singer Lzzy Hale came out on stage to thunderous applause and tore into Freak Like Me. They followed that with Love Bites (So Do I), and Mz. Hyde much to the crowd's appreciation.  Lzzy was rocking a sweet outfit of what looked like 4 inch platform boots with heels, skin tight vinyl pants with matching bra top, and a leather jacket. The stage had an immense light kit that strobed and flashed to the music, and a Halestorm logo that changed colors as the evening bore on.

The set was a great mix of their classic hits, as well as a number of songs off their newest album Vicious. One surprise song was one called Chemicals, that was released as a b-side to their single Skulls on Record Store Day. They admitted they had only performed it live one other time, so it was cool to see that. Then they wrapped up their set with the screamer Uncomfortable.

Apparently Halestorm ditched their previous stance on not doing encores, because they came back out a few minutes later and put on an encore that absolutely blew the roof off the dump. I'm not even kidding when I say that. They started slow with a wonderful version of their recent song The Silence featuring just Lzzy singing and Hottinger on acoustic guitar. Then they brought out the rest of the band, including the gang from In This Moment to join them on stage for a toast. After that they did they broke out everyone's favorite Here's to Us, followed by Lzzy's acapella rock hymn She Won't Mind.  THEN...just as you thought they might be done, Lzzy screams out OHHHHHHH I MISS THE MISERY!! and they kicked hard into that. It featured a blistering guitar show by Joe Hottinger, a brief bring-down of a crowd sing-a-long with Lzzy, and then just came back over-the-top vocally to finish off the show.
credit mookie5150

As we walked out of the arena, I turned to my sister and went "Holy balls that was awesome."
I'm out there in that crowd somewhere
photo credit @judyhwon on Lzzy Hale FB

All in all, an AWE. SOME. SHOW. I get that for some people that Halestorm is an acquired taste, but there is no questioning the talent these four individuals have.  Just amazing. Needless to say, I will see them again when they come back (They better). I recommend you check out their music and do the same.

Halestorm Set list 05/09/2019
Drum Solo
Freak Like Me
Love Bites (So Do I)
Mz. Hyde
I Am The Fire
Familiar Taste of Poison / Amen
Do Not Disturb
I Get Off

The Silence
Here's to Us
She Won't Mind
I Miss The Misery


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