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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.

Eric’s Top 5 (+1!) Concerts of 2015

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

2015 was a pretty good year concert-wise, with 17 shows under the belt this year! I always have fun, so its hard to pick shows that are “better” than others, but on the other hand there’s always moments that will stick out above the rest. With that in mind, here’s my top 5 shows (and an extra!) of the year:

5. Powerman 5000 @ Montage Music Hall (July 7th) – For a band I’m not even really a fan of, I had a really really great time. Their set had me grinning from ear to ear the whole time, and I’ve never seen a frontman jump this much. Ever. MUCH FUN. SUCH WOW.

2015-07-07 22.48.07 pm5k

4. Hatebreed with Hate Machine @ Montage Music Hall (May 14th) – Hatebreed headlining in a 300 cap room, plus springing for the VIP meet and greet beforehand? Oh, and did I mention this was part of the band’s 20th anniversary tour, so they played everything off of Under The Knife, and a big chunk of Satisfaction? Good times.

2015-05-14 19.07.10 hatebreed

3. Will Hoge @ Buffalo Iron Works (June 5th) – One of the rare shows that Tiffany and I attended together, one of our favorite singer-songwriters in a small place, with a super-long 23 song set, and Will comes out into the crowd to play the last song of the encore. Yes please.

2015-06-05 22.39.35 willhoge

2. Machine Head @ Town Ballroom (February 5th) – “An Evening With” Machine Head was exactly that. No openers, two-plus hours of just MH playing the “hits”, the deep cuts, and a little something off of every album.

2015-02-05 22.52.57 MH

1. Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Bullet For My Valentine, Motionless In White @ Darien Lake (July 29th) – This one was a no-brainer for the top spot. Show of the year hands down. Both MIW and Bullet were interesting enough as openers, before we got to the real deal. I had a pit ticket, so being able to go berserk during Lamb of God’s set at a place like Darien was awesome, and then Slipknot put on a hell of a spectacle as always. When you close with a run of (sic), People = Shit, and Surfacing, you’re going out on top. Summer’s Last Stand indeed.

2015-07-29 20.42.31 - LOG

…and because the one set was so good I have to mention it, the plus-one:

Deftones @ Darien Lake (August 2nd) – Part of a dual-headliner with Incubus, but Deftones blew them out of the building, let alone the stage. A great mix of tunes, and then concert moment of the year for me: Going absolutely BONKERS with a couple dudes in the aisle during “Headup”.

Honorable mentions:
The Hip @ CMAC (July 4th) – A fun hang with friends, Fully Completely from start to finish, but small crowd and Gord was a little off early.
Coal Chamber / Fear Factory / Jasta @ Water Street (August 8th) – Meet and greet with Jamey, fun nostalgia trip
The Tea Party / Big Wreck @ Artpark (July 16th) – We got the old gang back together, bands sounded good, but sitting that far back sucks, and Tea was better at the Ballroom the prior November.

Let’s see what 2016 brings!!

The Man Who Broke The Music Business

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

The Man Who Broke The Music Business

As I saw someone put it, if you downloaded *anything* between 1997-2006, it was probably sourced from this guy. Incredible.

Even this metalhead dad can’t hate on these moves!…

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Even this metalhead dad can’t hate on these moves!! (This is also Nate’s new favorite song of the moment

Even this metalhead dad can't hate on these moves!! (This is also Nate's new favorite song of the moment.)

A post shared by Eric Bonus (@eric_bonus) on


Saturday, February 28th, 2015

I. JUST. TOUCHED. GAVIN. ROSSDALE. All you 30-something ladies can envy me now. #swoon

As a lover of music and quality television… I’m …

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

As a lover of music and quality television… I’m watching the 30 for 30 about the Russian perspective of the Miracle on Ice #GRAMMYsSUCK

The Woopop-Certified Top 13 (and a half!) Albums of 2014

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Just like on last years list, I couldn’t limit it to only 10… and again, they’re in alphabetical order, because trying to rank albums or pull an overall favorite is just too damn hard.

Nate plays along with The Tea Party
Nate plays along with The Tea Party.

2014 felt like the year of comebacks. Fuel, Moist, Slipknot, and the Tea Party all released albums after some interminable waits, Theory of a Deadman returned to proper form, while Chevelle and Nonpoint continued the positive momentum they started on prior albums. Beyond those, there were just some really solid albums released by some of my usual suspects this past year. So without further ado, these were the albums that tickled my fancy in 2014:

Black Label Society – Catacombs of the Black Vatican

I spun this one quite a bit at work. It’s just more of the classic BLS sound. “My Dying Time” and “Beyond The Down” were highlights.

Chevelle – La Gargola

After what I consider a couple of mediocre albums in the middle of their career, Chevelle has really stepped up their game between 2011’s Hats Off to the Bull and now La Gargola. This one has more than a handful of tracks that go hard; the entire run of “An Island”, “Take Out The Gunman”, “Jawbreaker” and “Hunter Eats Hunter” is especially good.

Crosses – Crosses

This almost doesn’t count, because EP 1 came out in 2011, and then EP 2 in 2012, but it took until February 2014 to get the full album (both EP’s plus some new ones) out. Regardless, this is way more chill than 95% of what I normally listen to. Chino Moreno of the Deftones, and Shawn Lopez from Far put this project together for fun, and Chino put it this way: “minimal and soothing and it’s sort of like the stuff I like listening to when I’m not screaming my head off.” I love “This Is A Trick”, “Bitches Brew”, “Blk Stallion”, and I get “Prurient” stuck in my head all the time.

Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown

I have to admit, I didn’t like Ex-Lives nearly as much as some of the others, especially coming off of New Junk Aesthetic, but this one brought me right back. It’s funny, the one track that kinda sticks out like a sore thumb, “Moor”, is the one I like the most, along with “El Dorado”.

Fuel – Puppet Strings

It took 11 years and a complete lineup turnover to get another Fuel album with Brett Scallions singing on it, but it was worth the wait! This album shows that Brett can certainly do his own thing without any of the signature Carl Bell riffs. There’s a couple of instant Fuel classics on here that can slot in right beside the hits catalog, like “Wander” and especially “Cold Summer”, which apparently had been kicking around in one form or another since before Natural Selection. “Time For Me To Stop” is another favorite.

Machine Head – Bloodstone and Diamonds

Don’t ask why it took me forever to really, *really* get into these guys. I was always aware of them, even saw them twice as openers, and yet never invested the time until early last year, when Robb Flynn started his blogs about the 10th anniversary of Through the Ashes of Empires. I finally gave it a good listen and was like “YOU @#$%ING MORON WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THIS SOONER??”. Went back and got the whole catalog (even The Burning Red and Supercharger LOL), and was excited as hell for this release. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint. This album is fantastic! “Now We Die” starts it with a bang, and it goes from there. “Night of Long Knives” is a cool track, and I like “Game Over” as well.

Moist – Glory Under Dangerous Skies

As if 11 years between Fuel albums wasn’t long enough, it had been FIFTEEN years since Mercedes Five and Dime was released before Moist put out this new album. “Mechanical” is easily my favorite, as it’s the first song, first single, and track personally voted “most likely to sound like ‘Push’ had been updated for 2014”. There’s some classic-sounding Moist on here, like “Broken”, and “The River”, and then there’s some stuff that could easily be on a David Usher solo album. Pretty solid overall though.

Nonpoint – The Return

“The Return” may as well be the theme of my whole list, and while its the album title, it’s not like Nonpoint hasn’t been putting stuff out consistently. However, looking at 2012’s self-titled and now this one, they indeed have returned to prominence. “Pins and Needles” starts it off hot and heavy, and the album never really quits after that. Lots of good tunes on this one, including “Breaking Skin”, “Misery”, “Forcing Hands”, and “Never Ending Hole”.

Sevendust – Time Travelers and Bonfires

Not that there was ever any doubt that these guys could do their own Jar of Flies type album, especially in light of how good Southside Double-Wide was, but they proved it and then some with the original acoustic (and acoustic-esque) songs on here. “Come Down” is fantastic, “The Wait” is as heartfelt as anything they’ve ever done, and I really like “Upbeat Sugar” and “Bonfire” as well. It’s a role-reversal of sorts, as I’d love to hear these songs fully plugged in! The six new tunes would have been enough to land this on my list, but then there’s six acoustic versions of the heavier songs, including “Denial”, “Crucified”, and “Karma”. My one minor gripe is that we’ve already heard “Trust” and “Black” on SSDW, and they could have picked two more songs we’ve never heard acoustically, but that’s splitting hairs; they still sound great here.

Slash – World on Fire

I’ll trot out my old chestnut again: Myles Kennedy could sing over my cat’s screeching and I’d love it. Singing over a second whole album with Slash and the same band? Yes please!! I liked Apocalyptic Love a lot, and this one beats the pants off of that. The title track is amazing, as is “Wicked Stone”, “30 Years to Life”, and “Bent To Fly” is fantastic. Really, the whole album is; it’s what a modern straight-up rock record should sound like.

Slipknot – .5: The Grey Chapter

Sure, lets continue with the comeback stories. Six years after All Hope Is Gone, and after the death of Paul Gray and the departure of Joey Jordison, the nine lunatics come back with an album that blows AHIG out of the water, and rivals anything else they’ve ever put out. It runs the gamut from the atmospheric and downright creepy to the full frontal assault you’d expect. “Sarcastrophe”, “The Devil In I”, “Custer” and “The Negative One” are the heavy, and the tribute to Paul, “Goodbye”, is unlike anything they’ve ever done, except maybe “Snuff”.

The Tea Party – The Ocean at the End

One more comeback story! Ten years after the less-than-stellar Seven Circles, the trio got it right with this one. Back to the world music and blues influences that makes the Tea the Tea, this is solid from front to back. “The Black Sea”, “Cypher”, and “Submission” are early favorites, and “The Ocean At The End” is as great as any of their epic tunes.

Theory of a Deadman – Savages

Less of a comeback, more just a return to form after the generic radio-fare that was “The Truth Is…”, “Savages” is Theory getting their snarl back. “Drown” and “Savages” may be two of the heaviest songs they’ve ever done, while “Panic Room” and “World War Me” are solid TOAD tunes as well. There’s the requisite ballads and the country cross-over, but I’ll forgive those in light of how much I like the rest of the album.

Honorable Mention:

Clutch – Summer Sound Attack

This doesn’t really count at all, as it’s an online-only compilation put together for Clutch’s summer tour. Clutch is another band I was Johnny-come-SUPER-lately on. I saw them last December at Montage on a whim, and loved it. Got all the albums, and have been listening to them all year. Earth Rocker came out in 2013, so it’s not making the list, but this compilation of Earth Rocker tunes and a couple of “hits” from mainly the latter half of their catalog (Spacegrass the notable exception) will stand in nicely. Besides, if nothing else, this will make the list because every time I play “Electric Worry”, we follow up “Bang Bang Bang Bang” with Nate flipping out singing “DOMINOES DOMINOES!”

No, they’re not on here:

Black Stone Cherry (not as good as the prior three), Godsmack (same album for the 6th time), Hellyeah (it’s okay), Linkin Park (better than the last two, but eh), Mike Doughty (just missed the cut), Nickelback (LULZ), Seether (it’s growing on me, but see Godsmack)

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