March 1, 2016 Hellyeah Dominate Livewire Scottsdale, AZ 2-21-16
It seems as if the Heavy Metal band known as Hellyeah are an unstoppable freight train on a mission. Initially viewed by many music fans as a novelty upon their formation back in 2006, Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray, Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, and Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul now laugh in the face of critics a decade later. Trying their way with the 2007 self-titled debut album, Hellyeah morphed into shape through 2010’s Stampede, 2012’s Band of Brothers, and, as Gray himself states, everything came into focus with the impressive 2014 effort Blood for Blood. Touring non-stop for two years now, Hellyeah spent time on the mainstage of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival in the Summer of 2015, as well as shared stages with everyone from Five Finger Death Punch to Volbeat. Now in 2016, they jump head first into the fire with more shows on tap.
Playing Shiprocked in January, they partook in a few dates in February and one of those came on Sunday the 21st when they came out to Scottsdale, Arizona to host a night at Livewire. Sort of a sample size of the large We’re All In This Tour slated for later this Spring, expectations were high and the feeling of excitement was nearly tangible as people filed into the venue to watch Hellyeah perform. After all, many of its members have played in notable and extremely influential bands such as the aforementioned Pantera, Mudvayne, and Nothingface. Yet, despite the fact that many of its members have played in such highly renowned bands, Hellyeah has successfully created their own sound and style, earning positive feedback that continues to grow. With that said, Arizona heavy music lovers were in for a ride with Hellyeah they soon would not forget.
Setting the tone for the evening was a local band called Interfate. The quartet consists of Vocalist and Guitarist Jordan S., Bassist and Vocalist Ty Koile, Guitarist Ry Guy, and Drummer Charles Kendall. No stranger to opening for big acts such as In This Moment, Nonpoint, and Saving Abel, the members of Interfate showed complete confidence when they walked onto the stage and started their set. Besides displaying great cohesion as a band, all the band members had good chemistry with each other as well as with the audience. Ty and Jordan acted as frontmen and musicians. In addition, Interfate’s Hard Rock guitar riffs alongside Jordan’s and Ty’s heartfelt lyrics and vocals quickly caught the audience’s attention. Interfate was a perfect band to open the concert. Their sound was contemporary Hard Rock. Most of their songs had strong melodic verses and solid hooks. Though most of their set included original songs, they threw in their own rendition of Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People.” The band’s set was short and sweet, but they made sure to leave a lasting impression with the audience.
Following Interfate was another local band, and one of Arizona’s most talked about all-girl Punk bands, Doll Skin. The group has only been around since 2013, but, already, Sydney Dolezal (vocals), Alex Snowden (guitar), Nicole Rich (bass), and Meghan Herring (drums) have displayed a level of musicianship far beyond their teenage years. Their talent and drive caught the attention of Megadeth’s bassist David Ellefson, who has since been working closely with the band. In the fall of last year, Doll Skin released their debut album, In Your Face, through EMP, an imprint of Ellefson’s label Megaforce. Additionally, the band has maintained a busy concert schedule, playing throughout the Southwest.
Doll Skin’s songs are as fierce and memorable as their stage presence. Though their music is Punk Rock, Sydney’s vocals are beautiful and strong. She sang with emotion, which ranged from excitement, aggression, and contemplation. She was also the consummate front woman. She was personable and often engaged with the audience. At one point during the set, she even got the crowd to sing along to one of their songs.
The band’s influences, which include Bikini Kill, NOFX, and Rancid, are evident in their high energy rhythms, crunchy riffs, and raw sound. Combined with Dolezal’s potent lyrics, which challenge oppression and tyranny, the band’s music is an anthem for their generation. Yet, their appeal goes beyond the teenage crowd. Youth and glitter aside, these women are talented musicians. Snowden shredded on guitar during the solos. Herring was consistent and precise on the drums, and Rich added even more dimension to the songs with her dynamic bass playing. Besides playing songs from their newly released album, Doll Skin included a couple covers as well, which included Wolfmother’s “Woman” and Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited.” While it was unclear how many people knew of Doll Skin when the night began, it was more than apparent that, by the end of the set, Dolezal, Snowden, Herring, and Rich had won the crowd over.
After two very solid performances, the fans were even more pumped up to see Hellyeah. When Paul’s drums were unveiled, people started to chant the band’s name. Finally, when it was time for their show to begin, the band immediately jumped into their first song. The audience pushed themselves against the barricades to get closer to the stage. Fans raised their horns into the air and head-banged to each and every song as the set began with “Hellyeah!,” “Sangre por Sangre (Blood for Blood),” and favorite “Demons in the Dirt.” Sporting a pink leopard Mohawk, Vocalist Chad Gray commanded the stage with his dynamic presence and that unmistakable voice, which helped propel Mudvayne’s success.
Perched on top of a riser and leaning out towards the audience, Gray poured everything he had into the performance. His vocals sounded just as raw, gritty, and powerful as on Hellyeah’s albums as they blasted into songs like the dark “Moth,” “Cross to Bier (Cradle of Bones),” as well as “Hush.” At one point, Gray jumped into the audience to shake hands and bump Metal horns with the fans. More than once, he expressed how important his fans were to him, and Gray is all about sincerity within his music and externally with those who follow it. He said that these concerts were family reunions, stating, without the fans, the shows would just be rehearsals.
All throughout the show, Guitarists Maxwell and Christian Brady added heavy grooves and crunchy guitar riffs into the mix such as on “War in Me,” “Say When,” and “Cowboy Way.” Not to go unnoticed, Bassist Kyle Sanders easily kept up with Brady and Maxwell with his charismatic stage presence and consistent precision while Paul completed Hellyeah’s signature sound with his aggressive drumming. His drum kit covered his face, and a few times during the set, Paul stood up to interact the with crowd. Naturally, when Gray introduced the band members, the audience erupted in cheers for Paul. As one of the founding members of Pantera, Paul has helped create some of the most powerful and memorable Metal riffs and songs in the Heavy Metal genre.
Hellyeah’s music is a mixture of Southern Rock, Metal, and even Country. Even though the songs are heavy, there is always a definable groove or hook that makes their music memorable and fun to listen. The band’s set list included many of their radio hits and every song they played appeared to be a favorite with those in attendance. The band concluded their show with Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades,” an appropriate tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister. It is never an easy job opening for a notable band like Hellyeah, but Doll Skin and Interfate stepped up to the task and demonstrated that the Arizona music scene is alive and well. Though it was Hellyeah’s last night on their early 2016 run, the band will be hitting the road again April 30th in Jacksonville, Florida for the full We’re All In This Together Tour which will feature Escape The Fate, New Years Day, and From Ashes To New. In addition, the band recently went back into the studio for a fifth album due out later this year. So, saddle up and get ready for a wild ride with Hellyeah.