When Stone Sour announced their Chicago date, I found it quite interesting that it would fall almost exactly one year to the date that I had last seen them live. Since the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee is a much larger venue, I couldn’t even imagine the intensity from that show inside the House of Blues. Needless to say, the band and the fans were more than alive that night. So much so that Corey Taylor stopped multiple times to take a moment as he appeared to be in awe of the powerful vibe emanating from the crowd.
The night started off with Stolen Babies from Los Angeles. I knew nothing about the band prior to the show but after the first song, my initial thought was, “Well, that definitely was not what I was expecting.” I don’t mean that in a bad way either. This 3-piece band consisted of female front woman, Dominique Lenore Persi, and brothers Rani and Gil Sharone on guitar and drums. While a female fronted band is not unheard of, a front woman that also happens to play the accordion is pretty unusual. Not the most metal instrument by any means, but for sure the most unique since you couldn’t help but stop and take notice.
View the Stolen Babies photo gallery here.
Their 30-minute set was part eerie music, part haunting vocals, and part weird. Song after song, I found myself liking what I was hearing more and more. Dominique mostly song her vocals, but from time to time, she would get a little more aggressive. I couldn’t look past the creepy head attached to a skeleton body off to the side of the stage either. What appeared to be smiling face inside a flower looked more and more disturbing by the end of the night. Needless to say, once their set was finished, I had one thought. If a circus side show were to have a house band, they would be it!
Next up were Pop Evil. The Boys from MI brought more than their A-Game. Still riding on the success of their third and latest album, Onyx, they brought the heat. They started off strong with Deal With the Devil. Lead singer, Leigh Kakaty poised himself with his microphone stand, red lights flooding over him, and belted out the lyrics with every ounce of passion I know he has in him. The fact that they played seven new songs, including Flawed, Divide, and Torn To Pieces during their 40-minute set was definitely awesome.
When it came to Sick Sense though, this song was, well, sick live! During the song. I saw drummer Joshua “Chachi” Marunde drag his stick across his throat as if to cut it wide open while making the most evil face I’ve seen from him. Speaking of faces, if words were actions, he’d have written two novels by the time their set ended. The energy and magnetism that he portrays on stage sucks you in and you can’t help but get caught up in watching him play. Hair flying. Arms flying. He’s an insane player to watch. At one point during the night I noticed he caught a stick being thrown from side stage. This went back and forth a couple times and it reminded me of when I saw Red, at the same venue last year, and their drummer did the same thing. Maybe it’s a drummer thing? Who knows, but it was pretty cool to watch.
All night, guitar players Davey Grahs and Nick Feulling would trade off their time in the spot light. Both played with the same emotion that flowed around and through their band mates on stage. Bassist Matt DiRito found time to play on both sides of the stage, interacting with fans, head banging and helping with backing vocals.
I should mention, the first mosh pit opened up during Goodbye My Friend and the crowd went crazy for Boss’s Daughter. Eventually Leigh took his well being into the hands of the crowd as he told them to get closer together so he could walk on their hands. This of course led to Last Man Standing. Although a little unsteady at first, he finally got the footing he needed and sang a portion of the song literally, above the crowd. Prior to their last song, Leigh stated he wanted to see the HOB jump. Not only did the crowd participate, but the band did too. Just as powerfully as they started, they ended the night with an intense performance of Trenches that left the crowd wanting more. Leigh thanked the fans and the local radio station and mentioned they were going overseas in March to tour with Five Finger Death Punch. His final comment? “Just fucking raise your kids on Rock and Roll and metal.” This was met with lots of crowd cheers. Amen, brother. Amen.
View the Pop Evil photo gallery here.
As the quilted HOB curtain closed once again, the tightly packed Chicago crowd had a 30-minute wait for Stone Sour. Eventually the curtain opened one final time to darkness and a 70’s-ish sounding recorded intro song. One by one the band took the stage and the cheers from the crowd grew louder. RU486 chants continued during the intro but it wasn’t until the lights came up, and you heard the pummeling drums, that you realized what you were in for that night. Their 1-1/2 hour set, full of non-stop white and colored moving lights, started off with the title track from their last release, The House of Gold and Bones Part 2. Everyone on stage and many in the audience were head banging along to the heavy beat. Lead singer, Corey Taylor, in his trademark hunched over stance, leaning against his riser, commanded the attention of everyone in the building. The crowd could be heard singing loud and clear during the chorus. Not going to lie, I love good crowd participation.
Corey yelled, “Good fucking evening motherfuckers. Are you ready?” and launched into an absolutely crushing version of RU486. After the song was over Corey took a few minutes to check out the crowd and also commented on the shirt his was wearing. He joked that he didn’t think Josh knew that he had worn it. He unzipped his hoodie showing off his FRET12 Josh Rand Guitar Addict shirt. Josh shyly smiled while Corey’s smile was ear to ear. They continued with Say You’ll Haunt Me from House of Gold and Bones Part 1, also a crowd favorite, before playing another new song Black John. In practically every Stone Sour song you can hear great drumming from Roy Mayorga, but the beat in this song just makes you want to groove. Sitting behind his kit, at times, it was a little challenging to see him, but his pounding beats were very prominent all night.
I have to say, the biggest difference between Stone Sour touring for Part 1 of House of Gold and Bones vs Part 2, was the absence of Jim Root. With a commitment to writing the next Slipknot album, guitarist Christian Martucci stepped in. I felt he filled Jim’s shoes nicely. He held his own stage right, often with a smile on his face, and overall was a great addition to the line up. A year ago, bassist Johny Chow was new to the group. I found he still played with that quiet aggressiveness, a calm demeanor that meant business. He was in the spot light most of the night as he was usually flooded with rays of light.
Josh Rand, who I have personally dubbed, The Quiet Shredder, stood stage left. Focusing mostly on his playing during their set, although once in a while a smile would sneak up, Josh ripped though song after song showing why he’s a key player in the Stone Sour mix. I have to ask. Is there anyone who doesn’t love his pink polka dot guitar? I didn’t think so.
Having seen Stone Sour a couple times now, one of the things I enjoy the most is being able to see Corey’s facial expressions. Outside of Stone Sour, it’s hidden behind his Slipknot mask. I also can’t help but wonder what kind of faces he’s making with his other band that we will never see. With Stone Sour you get happy, angry, hints of sarcasm, those devilishly sly looks, and a smile that could light up a room. Add to that, his fist pounding, finger pointing and the direct connection he appears to have with the audience and you have one amazing front man.
View the Stone Sour photo gallery here.
Corey mentioned they hadn’t played Inhale in a long time and it sounded great. Before starting Mission Statement, Corey asked the crowd, “Do you even know how awesome you fuckers are?” After the song was over, Corey was the only one left on stage. With guitar in hand, he told the Chicago crowd that it was shows like this that made him very proud to have grown up in the Midwest. This was met with a lot of cheers as he went into The Travelers, Pt. 1 and continued with Tired as the rest of the band came back on stage. Eventually the crowd started chanting Corey’s name. They played Through Glass, with Corey still on guitar and plenty of the crowd singing along. Afterwards, Corey asked the crowd, “Were you really moshing during Through Glass?” He just smiled and shook his head. Before starting what has become my new favorite song, Gravesend, Corey mentioned that he probably shouldn’t, but that he was going to take us to a cold dark place. This song is even more amazing live.
By this point in the night, based on Corey’s reactions alone, I could tell, song after song, his mind was blown away by how into the show the crowd were. I’m sure that had a little bit to do with the massive energy inside the House of Blues that night, but the band continued to blow the roof off the place with a killer version of 30/30-150. Once again the band left the stage and there was only Corey and his guitar. He started off with a portion of Alice in Chains’ Nutshell before going into Bother, a song that always has the most amazing crowd sing-along that I have ever heard. A super cool moment that night was during this song. Fairly close to me, there were a couple guys that would consistently echo, “I don’t need to be” after Corey sang that line in the song. They were not obnoxious in any way and admittedly, sounded like they very well should have been singing along with him. Well, as the song went on, Corey happened to pause for a moment and the crowd started chanting his name again. Corey said, “I don’t know why I expected anything less than craziness in fucking Chicago.” He jokingly told everyone to settle down and to use all that energy for the next part, which they did as they continued to sing along, “Wish I’d died instead of lived, a zombie hides my face,” and continuing with the rest of the verse.
Towards the end of the song it looked like Corey could hear the guys near me singing a little more clearly. Well, let me tell you, as Corey sang, “Once I hold on,” these guys really belted out that same exact line right after him and it sounded fantastic. Corey stopped playing, stood there, amazed, and clapped as he said, “That’s what the fuck I’m talking about right there.” Before he finished the song, I’m telling you, this Chicago crowd was indeed blowing his mind! A recorded version of Blue Smoke played as the band walked on stage before they eventually started playing it live which lead into Do Me a Favor. Once again, when the song was over, Corey basically told the crowd they could chant his name all they wanted, but they were the reason that night was so awesome.
Corey mentioned he wasn’t sure how many people had been following the tour but that they had been playing a Cover of the Night. Turns out, Chicago was going to be treated to something special as they had never played this particular cover before that night. Corey mentioned that if it wasn’t for this band, Stone Sour wouldn’t exist. “Scary’s on the wall, scary’s on the way” Yes, they covered We Die Young by Alice in Chains. Two AIC songs in one show? I’ll take it any day, every day and they nailed it!
The band left the stage for a very brief moment when the most awesome opening notes for a song could be heard. I found it interesting that they actually opened with these last two songs of the night a year ago. To open a show with Gone Sovereign into Absolute Zero was just as awesome as closing a show with them. They are THE perfect one, two punch! “THIS IS MINE!” As was the case off and on during the night, the moshing continued.
As the band was leaving the stage, Corey spoke one last time, “Take care of yourself. Take care of each other.” I hate to say it, but if you missed a chance to see Stone Sour on this tour cycle, pray to the Rock Gods that you won’t have to wait too long before another tour rolls through your town. Hearing these songs live, watching Corey do what he does best, and watching how much each band member brings to the table, is something you definitely need to witness at least once in your life.