GIG REVIEW: HELLYEAH: A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF VINNIE PAUL
THE SYLVEE, MADISON, WISCONSIN
NOV 27TH, 2019
When we got the O.K. to cover this show, it was definitely a bittersweet moment for us. This was the first time that we had a chance to see HELLYEAH live since the unfortunate passing of Vinnie Paul (#333 #RIPVP). But, this was A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF VINNIE PAUL. And we were all there to do just that!
The selection of bands on this tour are, for lack of a better term, EPIC. With the support from DEEPFALL, NONPOINT and select local Wisconsin favorites, we knew we were in for a great night of music.
GO PLAY GOD
Wisconsin natives GO PLAY GOD opened up the cold night at the Sylvee. I love it when opening bands pack a punch to get the night started, and this band was one of them. Each song lit up the crowd, with songs like, “I AWAKE“ and “COLLIDE “. During their set, they covered some crowd favorites with a 3-song melody of Eminem’s “LOSE YOURSELF“, Tool’s “SOBER” AND Led Zeppelin’s “KASHMIR”. Frontman Kurt had great vocal prowess, with his band making sure to keep the drive electrical. It was a great start to the night!
The next band up was Grand Rapids, Michigan’s own DEEPFALL. I had been looking forward to seeing this band live after listening to their album and chatting with them during our interview earlier. They are on tour in support of their latest album that was released in October, called “BROKEN”. Everyone in this band is a world class musician. Rich Hopkins, vocalist, is a force on stage. The rhythm section of Max and Anthony on guitar, Taylor on bass, Tim on keys and Nick on drums, was tight as it can be.
Blazing through their set with “MONSTER”, “BROKEN” and “WASTED”, there were no signs of slowing down. Even with their metal-infused cover of Journey’s “SEPARATE WAYS”, which a recorded version doesn’t do it justice, was amazing. Tim’s keys are on point and versatile, which is a refreshing tone to metal music.
I hope they come back to Madison, again, because they put on a great show.
Madison’s alumni and local favorites came up to bat. Vocalist Buddo came out, hood up, ready to storm the stage. This was my first time seeing LAST CRACK live. And you can clearly see that this group had deep roots in Madison 30 years deep, as the fans shouted back lyrics from “ICICLE”, “MY BURNING TIME” and “SIREN SONG”. Their progressive influences musically and Buddo’s haunting lyrics had a surreal feel that came over the crowd, The layering of guitar work between Paul Schluter and Don Bakken is almost mesmerizing at times. The raw musicianship in LAST CRACK definitely illustrates that there is a HUGE talent pool in Madison. I’ll have to check them out again.
When you experience NONPOINT live, there is so much energy and talent on that stage, it’s a tough act to follow. They have been a favorite of mine for a long time, and I don’t ever expect that to change anytime soon. This was one of their best shows that I’ve been to. That is saying something since the band has never given a bad show that I’ve witnessed.
Seeing the lineup change with BC Kochmit leaving and Jason Zeilstra taking over the slot of guitar, it was seamless. He has the chops, personality and talent to excel with the guys of NONPOINT for sure!
Overall, Elias and crew destroys stages, as their Facebook page states. Opening with “BREAKING SKIN”, “CHAOS AND EARTHQUAKES” and going full blast into “DODGE YOUR DESTINY” and radio hot-list “FIX-THIS”, it was surprising that the stage was still standing. I loved the extended version of the Phil Collins cover “IN THE AIR TONIGHT”. It always brings the crowd together. And to finish their set off “BULLET WITH A NAME” drove the fans absolutely insane!
Chad Gray is one of my favorite frontmen. He is a madman. He spoke to the crowd about empowerment and how heavy metal can bring so many people together. It was an explosive performance that made you mosh, smile and cry as he spoke of Vinnie.
Ray Mayorga had done a great job taking the seat of the legendary Vinnie Paul. To his credit, he would have made Vinnie very proud. Mad respect for this musician, to say the least.
Now, with that said, they came out of the gates full blast and horns up. As the intro “!” poured out over the speakers and the dark stage lit up with the “HY” logo, the guys came out of the darkness then… BOOM!! “X” starts with its freight train like guitar riffs, and Chad’s insane speed demon lyrical pounding, it was clear where they were taking us. Then backing it with the swirling and twisting “OH MY GOD”, and “DEMONS IN THE DIRT”, the crowd was ready to tear it down. Looking around the venue, you could almost feel the intensity that HELLYEAH brought out, as if an exorcism of sorts was being done.
Chad had great introductions, explanations and stories to tell throughout the night, helping us understand what HELLYEAH is all about.
As they dug in on the set they had prepared for us, HELLYEAH played “LOVE FALLS”, which hit Chad sideways a bit at the end when he was on the ego riser, kneeling and paused to catch his breath, both physically and emotionally.
The latter part of the set, the band walked off and the lights dimmed when “SKY AND WATER“, Vinnie Paul tribute video started. This song, performed on the album with Chad and Tom, was an emotionally driven and loving tribute to this great man. The lyrics and video set a sombre note over the crowd, as fans paid respect to their fallen brother in metal.
Chad once again graced the stage with his brothers, now telling a story about some of the music and influences that we all grew up with. Covering PANTERA”S “I'M BROKEN” and “WALK”was a great tribute to Vinnie’s legacy. Closing out the night they pounded out “HELLYEAH!” which left the fans wanting so much more.
It was an emotional show in so many different ways for fans and musicians alike. The tour honored the late great legend Vinnie Paul. We all left with an impression on our hearts that we will all carry for years to come…. “Don't sweat the small stuff, and just keep on keeping on”. --VP
Special thanks to the Sylvee, TAG PR, the bands and crew and especially THE FANS! It was a great night!
Image Credits: TStarr Photography
GO PLAY GOD:
Image credit: VIMH