A triple threat triple bill of crunchy goodness, that’s what last Saturday night was in Pittsburgh at Stage AE. The almighty Clutch, Black label Society’s crusher Zakk Wylde playing Sabbath tunes as Zakk Sabbath, and the up and coming contenders Kyng out of Los Angeles. There was not much to top this line up except the surprise openers, The School of Rock kids of Pittsburgh who are under the artist in residence, Nick Cantanese, former Black Label Society axeman. It was an incredible night of fast and loud guitars, three expert drummers, and a cornucopia of musicians who put on arguably the best show of the year.
It is hard to say anything about Clutch that has not already been said. The blue collar based hard working band from Maryland has been at it since ’91. They have graced Pittsburgh’s presence more times than we can count and consistently jam pack Stage AE. Neil Fallon is just so much fun to watch as he has that signature style of moving around that on anyone else might look geeky, but he makes cool. The rest of the band stays tight in the pocket and stationary, but the crowd certainly did the moving for them. A giant mosh pit formed, which is sort of unusual at a Clutch show, and the rest of the audience found it impossible not to bob and sway to the groove that Clutch puts out. Getting to watch JP play the drums is a lesson in and of itself. He serves the song and bashes with the best, but his technique is unparalleled. Highlights include X Ray Visions, new song Quick Death in Texas, Electric Worry, and Sucker.
How could anyone miss Zakk Wylde along with Joey Castillo and Blasco playing Black Sabbath songs? The anticipation before the show was brutal and in the words of Willy WOnka, “I hope it lasts”. Opening with “Children of the Grave” Zakk ripped into some serious shredding of strings. Rob Blasco was all business and set into his bass groove early, hair flying with wild abandon. And Joey Castillo…wow, what an amazing force behind the kit. Having seen Joey play with Queens of the Stone Age there was a certain amount of expectation and he far exceeded any to be had. The band also played “Snowblind”, “Lord of This World”, “War Pigs” with Zakk playing an extended solo out in the crowd, “Into The Void” and “Fairies Wear Boots“. This was a once in a lifetime (but hopefully not) thing to witness and maybe just maybe Zakk will put together more shows with these guys. Check out a snippet of “War Pigs” and Zakk getting Wylde in the crowd…
Kyng is poised to release their third record this Friday (Oct 7), entitled Breathe in the Water”. This band is so underrated and it will be really fun to watch them breakout to bigger and better things, and they will. Watching Eddie Veliz play a mean guitar while having a throat of gold, along with Pepe Clarke who is an absolute demigod on drums, as well as Tony Castaneda play bass and pull off killer back up vocals is like watching an Ocean’s Eleven film…perfect teamwork. All three of these guys manage to put out a huge sound as well as craft tunes that are metal enough and vintage enough to create a hybrid that will rock your socks off. The new tune “Pristine Warning” is killer and just as killer to witness live. But don’t come expecting to hear “Electric Halo”…more on that in our interview with Eddie. Kyng is one of those bands that resonates with people who can appreciate great hard rock from the 70’s but also like the heavier drive of a good metal tune. They are not commercial, not watered down, and not over produced. They are however raw, blue collar ethic, down to earth guys who are putting out some of the best music out there today.
The special treat of the night was watching The School of Rock kids from the Castle Shannon/Pittsburgh school run by artist in residence Nick Cantanese, formerly of Black Label Society. The kids range from middle school to high school ages and rocked Stage AE to the core, the audience absolutely eating up their renditions of four songs. Playing some Sabbath and Maiden did not hurt in warming up the crowd either. The fact that Neil Fallon of Clutch came out to sing with the kids had to be a highlight of their lives and increased the crowd’s fervor. These kids have chops and whatever they are learning at School of Rock is worth every penny. It’s great to see the next generation of metal take up the torch, for some of these kids may one day grow up to be the next Zakk Wylde.
All photos © 2016 AWelding photo
School of Rock Pittsburgh