Volbeat 4/6 House of Blues Sunset Strip Review

Written by Farhaad Esfandiary of LAHaadcore.com, Photos by Internal Arts Photography

I usually don’t go to shows two nights in a row for a couple of reasons. The first being I’m not in shape enough to stand around for hours upon hours every night. Sad, I know. The second — I usually forget my ear plugs at home. That might be some kind of subliminal machismo thing, but I’m really not into that idea of using a hearing aid when I get older. Fortunately, for me, I remembered to bring ear plugs, and (mostly) an open mind to the Volbeat show just one day after the L.A. stop of the Metalliance Tour. I decided to cover this show because the few things I heard about Volbeat were all positive and I was genuinely curious to see what this band was about. A friend of mine told me James Hetfield thought highly of them, but I knew better than to give a shit about what post-1991 James Hetfield says. I had to see it for myself.

I was pretty excited to not have to put up with five local generic rock bands on the bill. Hourcast may have not been local, but they sure as hell were generic. Who takes chances on this shit? Their set opener was enough to bring back bad memories of working in the music industry, trying to peddle stuff like this to the “who’s who” of music news bloggers as if it’s the next biggest thing. Out the door I went to regret the past, people-watch and play Words With Friends near the valet parking area. A pretty diverse crowd started coming through; Suits, older heads, rockabillies, band sluts, babes in leather, babes not in leather, younger kids etc. The lack of beards and sleeveless shirts was actually kind of refreshing. The girls are more attractive at a Volbeat show, than, say… a Decrepit Birth show, knawimsayin?

The Damned Things were next. I never thought I’d see Scott Ian playing an instrument in front of me. I’ve seen him on television so much after the last 10 years or whatever, so the Anthrax factor has definitely worn off. The band took the stage and played “Ironiclast,” followed by “Friday Night.” I thought I would be in for a good time, but I was completely fixated on the awkward stage presence of the band. Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano were up there playing as if they were in a metal band, Joe Trohman was practically staring at the ground the entire time, and I couldnt help but feel Keith Buckley was a subdued version of himself. Sure, this is not ETID, but it was kind of a weak showing for a guy who is in another band that has had an intense, and memorable show every time I was there to witness it. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, though. They had plenty of chemistry. The songs sounded tight, and everyone was on the same page as far as the music goes. Between songs I did some yawning, some arm folding, some note taking etc. It wasn’t all bad, though. The song, “We’ve Got a Situation Here” is catchy as fuck, and it sounded like that was the only one the crowd wanted to hear.

Check out the video I captured of The Damned Things playing “We’ve Got a Situation Here.”

Finally, it was time for Volbeat! I have to admit I was pretty excited to see a band I had never even listened to before. People were piling in as Motorhead’s “Born to Raise Hell” was playing. I suppose it’s some kind of ritual of theirs cause once it ended, they lights dimmed and out came the band to a massive roar from the crowd. They jumped right into “The Human Instrument” which I got video of. (Click here to watch) From that first beat, to the first chord struck, to the first lyric uttered, I knew I was in for a damn good time. It seems that, although they came to play music, they wanted to make sure they had fun first. I don’t get that feeling too often, so it was nice to see them cats slap hands with the fans, talk to folks in between songs, and take massive swigs of Jack Daniels straight from the bottle. Booze, first and foremost = good times. Basically, the entire set was impossible to not enjoy. I wasn’t at all familiar with the material performed, but the odd mix of pop-punk, country, and rockabilly influences over some pretty heavy riffs worked remarkably well.

Perhaps the most memorable portion of the night was an exchange lead singer Michael Poulsen had with a fan in the front. It must have had something to do with Motorhead, because they started to play “Ace of Spades” to a great reaction from the crowd. From there, they did a little metal medley that included Slayer’s “Raining Blood,” and Metallica’s “The Shortest Straw.” After the set ended, they came back and did a pretty long encore. For the last song, they invited a ton of girls on the stage to dance around and presumably flash body parts while they performed “Thanks,” a song thanking the fans for all of their support.

(Click here to watch Volbeat perform “Thanks”)

I was truly bummed the night had to end, but happy for whatever town got to witness Volbeat next. I guess post-1991 James Hetfield deserves an apology. I’m sorry, James. I will only slightly doubt you from now on.

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