Halestorm shatter The Space at Westbury, NY 11-25-14

One of Hard Rock’s most electrifying acts over the past five years has been Red Lion, Pennsylvania’s Halestorm.  Fronted by the charismatic natural Rock vocalist Lzzy Hale, the band has risen from supporting act to headliner in no time. With irresistible swagger and style, the band is still riding high off the success of their 2012 sophomore album The Strange Case Of…,  and their latest fall tour proves why the band is still a top draw. Making a rare stop on Long Island, NY, Halestorm came to The Space at Westbury on Tuesday, November 25th with support from The Dead Deads and New Medicine. Selling out almost every night on its current tour, this show would be no different, and it is not hard to see why.

Show openers, Nashville’s The Dead Deads, offered a surreal mix of post-grunge hard rock, classic heavy metal, and classic punk, coupled with showmanship that would make Alice Cooper blush. Featuring members of The Wolf Sisters, PRIM! and Catfight, The Dead Deads are five women dressed mostly in black who wore black X’s over their eyes. They ripped through their thirty minute opening slot with an intense fervor featuring fuzzed out guitars, thundering drums, both lead and bottom end bass playing, intense vocals, and strange effects on keys. Playing tracks like “Rainbeau” and “Sour Blooms,” among others, The Dead Deads take three chord rock to new heights. They certainly were the perfect opener, intelligently blending a wide variety of genres, creating a style all their own.

Next on tap was Minnesota’s New Medicine. After making a splash back in 2010 with their debut, Race You to the Bottom, it had been four long years since the band released any material until this past August when the anticipated album Breaking the Model came out. Now on the road again in support of the album, New Medicine are ready to bring their brand of rap/rock bravado back to the masses. As lead singer Jake Scherer bounced across the stage, singing over rock-tinged music in a vocal style blending Rage Against The Machine and 311, the crowd got caught in the groove and did not let go. Providing a balanced eleven song set, including a moving tribute to his younger sister who passed away at 18 months with “Little Sister,” New Medicine had a great amount of momentum going their way. Bouncy and full of energy, songs like “Race You to the Bottom” and the fun “Rich Kids” had the crowd in a frenzy. New Medicine are a party not be missed, so make sure to catch them live.

With everyone from the floor to the mezzanine buzzing for Halestorm, the time had almost arrived. The band was founded by siblings Lzzy (guitar/lead vocals) and Arejay Hale (drums), and for nearly a decade now, Josh Smith (bass) and Joe Hottinger (guitar) have rounded out Halestorm’s lineup. True road warriors, Halestorm play upwards of two hundred fifty shows a year, and that experience shines through. Crafting rousing Hard Rock numbers with tinges of Heavy Metal and classic power balladry, Halestorm hits all the right notes for a wide array of followers. Proving their diverse reach, the crowd at The Space included parents with pre-teen children, hipsters, men and women in business attire, tattooed folks drenched in denim and leather, frat boys and sorority girls, all ready to be treated to a straight up, kick ass Rock show.

Taking the stage at 10:00 PM sharp, and opening with “Mz. Hyde,” Halestorm set the tone for the night with the hard charging number.  Beginning with a menacing bass and drum intro, “Mz. Hyde” features a classic sounding hard rock riff, great backing vocals, and Lzzy’s mix of sweet singing and fiery growls. It was a fitting introduction for the uninitiated and included all the ingredients that make Halestorm so appealing to so many.  The band continued to charge hard over the next four tracks which included “Freak Like Me,” “It’s Not You,” ”You Call Me Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing,” and a cover of Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor.”  Their adrenaline filled approach was greeted in kind by the crowd as the main floor, devoid of seats, was a sea of head banging and fist pumping.  Showing immense ability, Hottinger was the star of this run as his solos took center stage throughout, mixing power chords and fast-paced picking over tight rhythms.

For the next group of tunes, as they played “Innocence,” ”Rock Show,” and “Familiar Taste of Poison,” Halestorm offered up their melodic side, emulating the best of melodic Hard Rock stalwarts like Def Leppard and Sammy Hagar era Van Halen. Showing Hottinger is not the only guitarist with great finger work in the band, Lzzy torched a solo on electric guitar to a roaring ovation during “Hate It When You See Me Cry.” Opening up to the audience, Lzzy told the story of how the song originally came to life, which included her downing a bottle of wine, quickly recording it alone and sending it off to her producer.  A full band version was included on the deluxe version of The Strange Case Of…, but tonight the crowd got to hear it as it was originally intended. Here, Lzzy demonstrated her wide vocal range, sounding like a crooner and a Heavy Metal priestess over the course of the tune.

Stepping off the stage, Lzzy gave the spotlight to Arehay who put on an incredibly unique drum solo. Usually drawing big sighs and groans from concert goers, the drum solo is a Rock-n-Roll cliché whose time has come, but, unfortunately, not gone. However, Arejay  has completely reinvented the dreaded drum solo; with fervent rock beats thirty seconds in, the drum solo became much more than a typical hard and fast skin pounding with cymbal crashes galore. Drumming over a mash up of classic and contemporary hip hop tracks, featuring iconic hits from the ’80s right through to Jay-Z, this solo was fresh.

Keeping the excitement coming, a cover of Dio’s “Straight Through the Heart” came before a collaboration between Halestorm and The Dead Deads on “Daughters of Darkness.” A nice and interesting surprise spicing up the set was big hit “I Get Off” and the blistering “I Miss the Misery” followed by set closer “Love Bites (So Do I).” As Hottinger opened the final track with a riff that would not be out of place on Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All (1983) the song built to a frenetic crescendo with Lzzy wailing away over screaming guitars. This seemed like an absolutely flawless ending to their set, but Halestorm stepped back onstage for two encores featuring the country tinged rocker “I Like It Heavy,” and closing with a classic power ballad about life on the road, “Here’s To Us.”  As Lzzy sang about chasing dreams, failing, learning from failure, and making it, Halestorm connected with each and every soul at The Space in an extraordinary way.  This band has breathed life into modern Hard Rock with their tip of the hat to the classic rockers of the past.  Be sure to grab an early Christmas present and see them live before the year is through.

 Photo credit: Mark Schoen Photography

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