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Top Albums of 2020

Monday, December 28th, 2020

I bought a bunch of stuff this year, and didn’t really dive into most of it. Perhaps I should just list what I bought that came out this year instead:

10 Years – 2020 – Violent Allies
Black Stone Cherry – 2020 – The Human Condition
Breaking Benjamin – 2020 – Aurora
Clutch – 2020 – Weathermaker Vault Series (Volume 1)
Deftones – 2020 – Ohms
Deftones – 2020 – White Pony – Black Stallion
Gord Downie – 2020 – Away Is Mine
Five Finger Death Punch – 2020 – F8
Matthew Good – 2020 – Moving Walls
Hatebreed – 2020 – Weight Of The False Self
Will Hoge – 2020 – Tiny Little Movies
Lamb of God – 2020 – Lamb of God
Clint Lowery – 2020 – God Bless The Renegades
Metallica – 2020 – S&M2
Mark Morton – 2020 – Ether
Pearl Jam – 2020 – Gigaton
Pearl Jam – 2020 – MTV Unplugged
Morgan Rose – 2020 – Controlled Chaos
Seether – 2020 – Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum
Sevendust – 2020 – Blood & Stone
Stabbing Westward – 2020 – Hallowed Hymns
Static-X – 2020 – Project Regeneration Vol. 1
Corey Taylor – 2020 – CMFT
Trivium – 2020 – What The Dead Men Say


Top Show of 2020

Monday, December 28th, 2020

It was going to be a banner year…

02/08/2020 – Machine Head @ Town Ballroom
03/24/2020 – Pearl Jam @ FirstOntario Centre CANCELLED
04/02/2020 – TOOL @ KeyBank Center CANCELLED
05/13/2020 – Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, Saint Asonia @ Rapids Theater CANCELLED
06/26/2020 – Megadeth, Lamb of God @ Darien Lake CANCELLED
07/03/2020 – Nickelback, Stone Temple Pilots @ Darien Lake CANCELLED
07/21/2020 – Saliva, Flaw, Powerman 5000 @ Showplace Theater CANCELLED
07/24/2020 – Breaking Benjamin, Bush, Theory of a Deadman @ Darien Lake CANCELLED
07/27/2020 – Rage Against The Machine, Run The Jewels @ KeyBank Center CANCELLED
08/10/2020 – Disturbed, Staind, Bad Wolves @ Darien Lake CANCELLED
09/06/2020 – Korn, Faith No More @ Darien Lake CANCELLED


Top 5 Albums and Shows of 2019

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Albums (alphabetically)
———————–
Jasta – Lost Chapters Vol. 2
Killswitch Engage – Atonement
Mark Morton – Anesthetic
Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
Tool – Fear Innoculum

Honorable Mentions:
Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N., Cold – The Things We Can’t Stop, Papa Roach – Who Do You Trust?

Shows (in date order)
———————
2/20/2019 – Sevendust and Tremonti at @ The Rapids – Did the 7D meet and greet on my birthday, THE POWER GOES OUT so the openers play acoustically by candlelight, and 7D still got a rockin’ full set.

5/7/2019 – Killswitch Engage and Parkway Drive @ The Rapids – KsE was great as usual, and Parkway Drive was excellent in my first time seeing them.

8/2/2019 – Korn and Alice In Chains @ Darien Lake – Had pit, had friends to hang with all night, and both sets were fantastic!

9/27/2019 – Shinedown and Papa Roach @ KeyBank Center – Kiersten and Pete had the hookup to get me down on the floor, Adam joined us, and we had a ton of fun during both sets.

10/26/2019 – Mike Doughty performing Ruby Vroom @ Flour City Station – Me and Matt did the meet and greet, met Mike, and the opener was bizarre yet awesome.

Honorable mentions – 3/18 Clutch @ Town Ballroom, 4/5 Tea Party @ Town Ballroom, 8/25 Slipknot @ Darien, 9/4 Cold @ Iron Works.


Top 5 Albums of 2018

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Alphabetical, as I’m not rating them:

Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
Bad Wolves – Disobey
Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions
Myles Kennedy – Year Of The Tiger
Light The Torch – Revival

Honorable mentions to Halestorm – Vicious, Shinedown – Attention Attention, Dee Snider – For The Love Of Metal


Top 5 Shows of 2018

Monday, December 31st, 2018

In chronological order, since you can never pick just one favorite!

04/18/2018 Papa Roach, Nothing More, Escape The Fate (Rochester, NY @ Main Street Armory)

08/03/2018 Slayer, Lamb Of God, Anthrax, Testament, Napalm Death (Darien, NY @ Darien Lake Performing Arts Center)

09/03/2018 Breaking Benjamin, Five Finger Death Punch, Nothing More, Bad Wolves (Darien, NY @ Darien Lake Performing Arts Center)

10/24/2018 Sevendust, Ovtlier, Cry To The Blind (Rochester, NY @ Anthology)

12/15/2018 Tid the Season – Every Time I Die, Snapcase, Bouncing Souls, The Menzingers, Knocked Loose, Turnstile, Angel Du$t, Vein (Buffalo, NY @ Riverworks)


Top 5 Shows and Albums of 2017

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Top 5 Shows
———–
1/28/17 – Will Hoge @ Waiting Room
2/23/17 – The Tea Party @ Town Ballroom
5/30/17 – Tool @ Blue Cross Arena
7/21/17 – Clutch @ The Dome
8/16/17 – Guns N Roses @ New Era Field

Top 5 Albums
————
36 Crazyfists – Lanterns
Black Stone Cherry – Back To Blues
Jasta – The Lost Chapters
Nothing More – The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Papa Roach – Crooked Teeth


20 Years Of Concerts

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

June 11th, 2017 – 20 years since my first concert. Where does the time go? It was only yesterday that… No. No it wasn’t. It was 20 years go. You’re old, Eric. Get over it.

Anyway, since I’m a dork I thought it would be fun to run the numbers on the Concert Chronology and look at some basic stats:

* 355 shows over 20 years. It works out to an average of 17.75 shows a year, or a shade under one and a half per month. This doesn’t include the countless local bands / bar bands either, just the major stuff. I’m not even hazarding a guess as to dollars spent. I don’t wanna know,

* 2001 was the banner year – 37 shows, and 2009 was right behind that at 33. 1997 only had 4 (I was just starting!) and 2006 had a lowly 3, all in March (Thanks to the year of weddings and bachelor parties. Literally, they all happened that year.)

* 587 different artists at 101 different venues, in only 3 different states/provinces (PA got a handful). I even accounted for name changes! (Same building = same venue. Looking at you Marine Midland / HSBC / First Niagara, and also Milestones / High Fidelity / Flour City.)

* Bands most often seen: The Tea Party and Sevendust are tied for first at 17 shows apiece, Our Lady Peace is right behind at 16, Staind at 12, Theory of a Deadman and Cold at 11 each, and Econoline Crush and The Tragically Hip are at 10 each. Inexplicably, I’ve suffered through Velour (even when they tried to disguise themselves as the Turnstones) 10 times as well.

* “Weirdest” artists seen would probably have to be Wang Chung and/or Vanilla Ice (during his nu-metal phase). Can’t think of any others that are that LOL-worthy.

* Venues most visited: Water Street Music Hall (RIP) runs away with this one – 48 shows, with another 6 on the club side. Montage is next at 21, Darien Lake had 20, Town Ballroom had 19, Showplace Theater had 18.

* Rochester beat Buffalo 141 to 109. Darien was a distant third with 20.

* There’s no way in hell I could do any kind of ranking, not even of just “memorable” shows. There’s simply too many.

I wrote a little piece for 10 years worth of shows, and while most of those sentiments still hold true, however, with age supposedly comes a little bit of wisdom. I no longer wait in lines if I can help it. I now will gladly pay for a VIP meet and greet instead of waiting outside for hours by the bus, mainly because my time is more valuable, but also because that money goes directly to the artist that I’m there supporting in the first place. I’m forced to be a bit more judicious in which shows to go to, so I try to wring a bit more experience out of each one.

Finally, I hope I’m still doing this for another 20 years, hopefully with the boys! Nothing like being the old guy in the back complaining about the “kids these days” and how much better these shows used to be!


Top 5 Albums of 2016

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

As always, in alphabetical order:

Black Stone Cherry – Kentucky. After being a little disappointed with Magic Mountain, this one gets back to the stuff I love about BSC, the heavier, rockier tunes. Shakin’ My Cage is a banger.

Deftones – Gore, This one actually took me a little bit. For as much as I liked Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan right off the hop, Gore had to grow on me. There’s a lot to like here through repeated listens though!

Gemini Syndrome – Memento Mori. After hearing the pre-singles and really liking them, and also comparing to Lux (which I played a ton), initially the album as a whole didn’t grab me. Probably due to my own over-hype in my head. But upon repeated listens, I think it’s equally as strong as Lux with some really cool tunes.

Hatebreed – The Concrete Confessional. As Jamey always says, “It’s HAAAAAARRRRRRDDDDD!”

Killswitch Engage – Incarnate. The second album after the return of Jesse was better than the first, and that’s saying something, because Disarm The Descent was great.


Top 3 Concerts of 2016

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Considering I only went to 8 shows all year, even doing a top 5 would be kind of worthless. But for posterity, here’s the best 3 out of those 8!

3. 07/24/2016 Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, Alter Bridge, Saint Asonia (Darien, NY @ Darien Lake Performing Arts Center)

The big ol’ radio rock show didn’t disappoint. Solid sets from everyone.

2. 09/28/2016 Clutch, Zakk Sabbath, Kyng (Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom)

Getting to see Clutch now that I knew all their stuff, plus seeing Zakk Wylde cover Black Sabbath, makes for a great night.

1. 08/31/2016 Prophets Of Rage, Wakrat (Niagara Falls, NY @ Rapids Theater)

Having never seen RATM, Cypress Hill, nor Public Enemy, this was a chance to get a taste of all three… and hot damn did they blow the roof off the place. Fantastic “old-school” show.


Eric’s Top 10 Albums of 2015 (Plus 2 From Last Year!)

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

It’s that year-end list time again. A solid year for music, let’s take a peek at what I spun the most from what was released this calendar year. As always, it’s just alphabetical, not ranked, because trying to compare albums isn’t my thing.

Clutch – Psychic Warfare
I didn’t even really get into Clutch until seeing them late in 2013, and I subsequently went and got the entire back catalog, and really liked the direction they took on Earth Rocker. This one is even better! Firebirds and Quick Death In Texas are favorites.

Finger Eleven – Five Crooked Lines
This album surprised me, both in how much the sound changed and how much I liked it. I’d been down on Finger Eleven for awhile, but once I wrapped my head around the fact that the Tip/Greyest sound wasn’t coming back, I appreciated the last couple albums a bit more. But this one doesn’t sound like those either! It’s completely different, and it works for them.

Halestorm – Into The Wild Life
Another departure from a band’s signature sound, and I dug where they went. They could have maintained the “rock girl” track and it would have been fine, but these songs are more, I don’t know, serious? Darker? Lizzy still belts it out.

Lamb Of God – Sturm Und Drang
After all of Randy’s issues and the long layoff between albums, you knew this one was going to be a rager. It didn’t disappoint. And then on the other hand, the first hint of Randy clean singing? A Chino Moreno cameo? For all the heavy, there’s some true melody here too!

Papa Roach – F.E.A.R.
I’ve liked all of Papa Roach’s albums, and I really enjoyed the electronic flair on The Connection. This one expands on that sound, and it continues to work for them. “Gravity” especially stands out because of the duet with Maria Brink, and I don’t even like In This Moment at all.

Saint Asonia – Saint Asonia
The Three Days Grace / Staind combination worked out beautifully, as Mike Mushok gets his riffs out, and its plain to see Adam Gontier was the driving force behind 3DG (their new one, Human, was nowhere near as good as their other albums with Adam). These tunes are just heavy enough (can probably thank Corey Lowery’s bottom end for some of that), but catchy enough as well. Very solid debut from the “supergroup”.

Shinedown – Threat To Survival
There’s been a lot of fan backlash to this album for some reason, and I don’t quite understand it. They tried to make Sound of Madness Part 2 with Amaryllis, and almost got there; do people really want to hear that type of stuff yet again? Threat to Survival is an evolution to be sure, but it still sounds like Shinedown, and sounds like a natural progression. Cut The Cord is as heavy as anything they’ve ever done, and then you have the more nuanced stuff like State of my Head and Thick as Thieves, and then the tweeners, like Black Cadillac (which I really dig).

Sons of Texas – Baptized In The Rio Grande
This year’s entry for “found out about them on Music Choice”, these literal Sons of Texas are trying to be the heir apparent to Pantera, with a bit more polished and radio-friendly sound, and it makes for a fun listen. The title track was the lead single and hooked me in, but the rest of the album hits pretty heavy (Never Bury The Hatchet, Pull It and Fire), there’s a couple ballads (Breathing Through My Wounds, September) and enough of that southern groove to get your head nodding (The Vestryman, Texas Trim). I spun this one quite a bit.

Will Hoge – Small Town Dreams
One of the few Tiff and I can always agree on, Will Hoge just keeps putting out consistently great albums. He leans more and more country and less and less rock with every passing release, but I’ll allow it (LOL!). They Don’t Make Em Like They Used To is a highlight, as is Guitar or a Gun.

36 Crazyfists – Time and Trauma
Five years is a long time to wait between releases, but 36CF came back better than ever. Also Am I was the first song released and is still my favorite on the record; Sorrow Sings and Time And Trauma are also standout tracks.

And then, not released this year but in my heavy rotation for 2015:

Gemini Syndrome – Lux
My friend Dave kept telling me to check these guys out, and once I finally did – WOW. It came out in 2013, so I was a little late on them. I’m not sure exactly what makes me like this record so much, but it’s got heavy, its got melody, its hooky, its got enough screaming to keep it interesting, there’s some great riffs, just a great radio-metal album. Basement, Pleasure and Pain, Babylon, and Left Of Me are my favorites. Excited to hear the new one slated for 2016.

Nothing More – Nothing More
A band I’d heard a bunch about, but took awhile to finally dive into, and boy am I glad I did. It’s got enough of that electronic edge that I like, but it’s metal enough to have your head banging. Johnny Hawkins has a unique delivery, almost shrill at times, but you can tell its 110% effort on every note. This Is The Time, Mr. MTV, The Matthew Effect, If I Were, and Jenny are top of my list.

Just missing the cut this year for various and sundry reasons:
Chris Cornell, Disturbed, The Dreaming, Five Finger Death Punch, Matthew Good, Sevendust, Tremonti, Trivium.

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