If you have been going to a lot of concerts in the New York Area lately then you are already aware of some of the mainstays as far as the venues are concerned. One of the biggest providers of events for the Metal Community has been B.B. King Blues Club and over the course of three years I think we have covered about sixty shows from the venue. The performers have been some of the biggest acts across the wide genre scope that Metal has and now the owners have decided to up their game with the grand opening of The Highline Ballroom. The Highline is located Downtown on 16th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues and the venue is something awesome when it comes right down to it. This spacious room has a larger floor area than B. B. King’s and an upstairs seating area as well as a roomy stage for the bands to give you their all upon. The sound and lighting systems is top notch as well so it would be a treat to come here for the first time and review the appearance of Bobby Blitz’s side project The Cursed. For tonight’s show the Overkill singer would bring with him Joey Belladonna formerly of Anthrax and The School Of Rock All-Stars as the guest openers. Here is what you missed out on if you could not attend.
School Of Rock: I think everyone has seen the movie that featured comedian Jack Black as the instructor of a school where he trains them to become Rock musicians, well this movie is rooted in true to life fact and loosely based on the actions of Professor Paul Green. Green formed the School Of Rock music program back in 1998 and his goal was to increase the level of appreciation for Rock among the music superstars of the future. Tonight we would have some of the All-Stars from this program and their focus would be on Heavy Metal classics and believe me this was one fun set to witness. It seemed like there were about sixteen or so players and they would change lineups as the songs were performed in the set. It was great to see the younger Metal heads present for this especially since the players were all in their own age ranges. As I understand the program allows for the range of 8-18 but the players tonight seemed to be High School age and offered something for everyone to enjoy. We had girls belting out their best Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford during “Where Eagles Dare” and “Painkiller” to a pint-sized young lad who asked which members of the audience worshipped the Devil before belting out the King Diamond classic “Invisible Guest”. The players would switch things up on occasion and find drummers playing guitar or bass and they even had a young lady sporting one of those amazing electric violins that Mark Wood designed. Their set also featured some Metallica and Slayer and was quite entertaining on the whole. The good time I had found me making some effort to capture as many of the players names but I did not line out each instrument that they played. Among the featured talent were Katie Jacoby, Courtney Cox, CJ Tywoniak, Will Wright, Zach Goldstein, Max Bowman, Elijah Austin, Jenny Founds, Jen Pague, Allie Thrower, Joe Cummings, Evan Pollock, Rachel Forman-Rubinsky, Dave Hooper, John Norcross, and Gina Randazzo. My hope is that some of the players in the group tonight will be pursuing the Metal genre going forward, only time will tell.
Belladonna: After reuniting with the legendary Anthrax for a successful world tour and several celebratory live releases and archival editions the singer would choose to pursue his own future destiny in Metal by taking his own band on the road as opposed to continuing on with the thrashers. The decision to do this was not the worst thing in the world as Belladonna has a capable band under his direction and together they present a solid set of original material as well as many Anthrax standards and judging the reaction in the crowd around me it surely seemed to be going over very well. Joey fronts a company of three players who are made up of R.C.Ciejek on bass guitar with guitars by Robb Lotta and drums by Paul Marciano. Together they are giving their all and bassist R.C. is a lot of fun as he is so into it and getting the audience riled as Joey sings his heart out. The front man still has a lot of his original fire to him and that’s saying something since the pipes required for classic Anthrax are truly powerful ones. Tonight Joey’s set would begin with some of his originals and then be focused mainly on Anthrax tunes and these were really the part of his performance that got the people moving most. They were also among the more popular of the bands catalog and songs that prompted singing along or raising the fist at Joey’s command. As he sang he had your attention and when they stopped for a moment he would express thanks at the years of support everyone had given him. I found that nice for the older fans present and for the younger members in the crowd you could tell they were enjoying a Metal legend up close very much. At times he would slap their hands and with no photo pit present tonight they were able to get a closer than close view of the action. There’s nothing wrong with that if you ask me.
The Cursed: Now it was time for The Cursed and they would be announced by radio personality Eddie Trunk before they came on. The interesting thing about this band was that you had to leave all your knowledge of Blitz as a member of Overkill at the door and open your mind to some new sounds tonight. The Cursed are no so much Metal as they are a Doomy Hard Rock outfit and this was a welcome change for many in the audience. To me it represents another side of the performer and shows that they are capable of more than that which we have come to know best about them. The Cursed consists of Dan Lorenzo (guitar), Mike Cristi (drums) and Job The Raver (bass) with the three members hailing from Hades, Non-Fiction and Murder One respectively. Think of them as an Underground All-Star band in some sense and together they deliver a very Black Sabbath Doom Riff band that chugs and trudges along with some cool grooves and guitar feels. What I also enjoyed about the band was the idea that Bobby does not sound like the singer from Overkill doing something else in this band but instead a different vocal presence altogether. The album that they will be releasing is “Room Full Of Sinners” and will come out in late May on Screaming Ferret Wreckords. Blitz commented on the fact that doing a headlining gig with an album runs fewer than forty minutes would be amusing and that they would have to play songs twice as a result. Instead they decided to do some cover tunes as well as most of the pending release. Given the choice they audience was able to enjoy a little Aerosmith, Motorhead, Nazareth and Overkill ala The Cursed. All of the selected covers worked well in the context of the band so they sounded fine live. The album itself was not released yet but was available at the show for purchase and since the audience had no previous exposure to the music before tonight it was cool to see the material being received well. Blitz is a fun front man as well and would talk to the crowd often during the night thanking them for coming and making fun of various things he thought of as he went along. Highlights of their set outside of the fun covers would be “Queen Of The Down”, “All’s Right” and “Best Of The Worst”. The band sounded good for what it sets out to do and according to the commentary leading up to it this would be the first and last gig ever for the group. Since nothing is ever set in stone in the world of Metal and Hard Rock I will believe that statement when I see it and since there is a lot of cool Stoner feel going on here I am hard pressed to think that this will be the last we see of them. The Doom genre is rising once again with the likes of Pro-Pain and a reunited Trouble so if Blitz is following the business outside of his Overkill realm perhaps he will take this out a little further.
This was a fun evening of music at a great new venue that I am looking forward to visiting again. From the looks of their advanced schedule we have some really cool music to rock to really soon so congratulations to The Cursed, Joey Belladonna and the School Of Rock for being the kick off show for the Heavy Metal fan base.
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Official Web Site: www.the-cursed.net
Official Web Site: www.joeybelladonna.com
Official Web Site: www.schoolofrock.com
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