By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: The State Theatre, St. Petersburg, Florida–October 19, 2017
If you were in the vicinity of the State Theatre Thursday night, you would be forgiven if you thought an earthquake was finally happening in Florida. Six of the world’s loudest and proudest metal/punk/hardcore/sludge/thrash bands were shaking the building and surrounding area. Due to the 5:00 doors opening, this reviewer was unable to arrive in time to catch the Kadaver Dolls, a Tampa Bay addition to the tour.
Child Bite was already tearing up the stage when I arrived, but at least I had the chance to hear a few songs.
Child Bite is a post-punk/art rock band formed in 2005 in Detroit, Michigan. Established by Shawn Knight, the guitarist/vocalist and sole original member through multiple personnel changes in the band. In addition to Knight, current members include Sean Clancy (Bass), Brandon Sczomak (Guitar), and Jeff Kraus (Drums).
Child Bite’s sound consists of atonal guitar melodies, distorted bass and organ, frequent rhythmic shifts, and frenzied, howling vocals. Their lyrical content is abstract and metaphorical, often dealing with topics such as fear, paranoia, and despair. They are self-described as having a “horrorshow/slasher-flick” flair, and I would agree. A great introduction to a night of bone-rattling sound!
Next up was a group out of New Orleans, Louisiana known as Cane Hill. With darker lighting came some darker beats and lyrics. Lead singer Elijah Witt belted out some strong vocals as the rest of the guys punished the guitars and drums, making the crowd jump, hoot and mosh along to the music. Described as a metalcore or alternative metal band, they formed in 2011. The band consists of Witt, guitarist James Barnett, bass guitarist Ryan Henriquez, and percussionist Devin Clark. The band was a natural fit for the tour, as Pantera is cited among their influences.
The band was the odd band out as they lacked the huge banner with the band name on the wall behind them, but perhaps this was a blessing in disguise as they made greater sand more creative use of the lighting, including a background projection unit with varying patterns.
The latter half of the six-band package was introduced by King Parrot, an Aussie band whose next step, unsurprisingly, is headlining their own tour in the UK. With their first EP titled The Stench of Hardcore Pub Trash and a humorous yet hardcore award winning video for the song “Shit on the Liver,” followed by an interview by none other than Phil Anselmo on his Youtube channel, it should surprise no one that they joined him on this tour.
The high energy antics of the entire band has led to a reputation as a must-see live performance, but be prepared to be sloshed with water if you’re near the stage! They are a grinding, thrashing, punk hardcore metal machine, and they have all sorts of fun doing it (don’t be shocked to see a twin moon on the stage!) Made up of Matthew “Youngy” Young – vocals, Ari “Mr. White” White – guitar, Andrew “Squiz” Livingstone-Squires – guitar, Wayne “Slatts” Slattery – bass guitar, and Todd “Toddy” Hansen – drums, they bring a down-under attitude with them wherever they go!
Following in their hard-to-fill footsteps was the Southern California countrified groove metal band calling themselves DevilDriver. Band Members Dez Fafara – Vocals, Mike Spreitzer – Guitar, Neal Tiemann – Guitar, Diego Ibarra – Bass, and Austin D’Amond – Drums put on a dark show – and by that I mean the lighting was moody colors so dark you could barely see with occasional flashes of overwhelming intensity – a complete contrast to the acts they were sandwiched between..
Didn’t make any difference to the crowd, which welcomed them with open arms. Established in 2002, the band’s gone through the typical personnel changes, with Fafara being the only original member and Spreitzer joining him two years later, and the rest of the band joining in 2016. Despite the changes, the band was tight and seemed well-choreographed moving around the stage. Yes I did say countrified, Fafara lists the late Johnny Cash as an influence, while elements of Primus, Motorhead, Metallica, BBQ, and beer are incorporated.
Last but certainly not least came the band that started this and influenced many of them – well, Phil Anselmo and Pantera did! Anselmo now fronts Superjoint, formerly known as Superjoint Ritual. Originally formed in the early 1990s, the band’s lineup once included Hank Wiliams III – then band disputes put them on hiatus for ten years! In 2014, Anselmo and other former members Jimmy Bower (guitar) and Kevin Bond came back together, along with Stephen Taylor (bass guitar) and Jose Gonzalez (drums).
The band was heartily welcomed by a wider selection of fans, many who were around when Anselmo first took over frontman duties with Pantera. Experience showed, while the energy level didn’t drop a millimeter, these guys were obviously master craftsmen used to performing in front of huge crowds, and the reception they were given made it clear they were appreciated!
Unfortunately, the tour is now over, and the bands have gone in various directions. If they come in yours, don’t miss them!