The turn of a trio of American bands to hit the main stage at Rock City.
First up are duo LOCAL H formed in 1987 in Zion Illinois as a four-piece band consisting of
Scott Lucas, Matt Garcia, Joe Daniels and John Sparkman. In 1994, they signed a record deal with Island records after Sparkman and Garcia left the band. The band’s name comes from the amalgamation of two of R.E.M’s songs, ‘ODDFELLOWS LOCAL 151’ and ‘SWAN SWAN H’.
Playing a short but highly energetic powerhouse of a set which included, ‘THE LAST PICTURE SHOW IN ZION’, ‘FRITZ’S CORNER’, ‘EDDIE VEDDER’, ‘BOUND FOR THE CORNER’, ‘THE MISANTHROPE’, ‘HIGH FLYING MF’ and ‘HEAVY METAL BAKESALE’.
LOCAL H got the night off to a flying start. Drum and Guitar may not be every one’s cup of tea but there was no mistaking the band’s intent once they hit the stage.
As is always the case at Rock City, the support acts kit always comes off stage via the pit, and tonight was no exception, however with just two band members it was soon sorted by the many hands of the stage crew, and soon we’re greeted with the sounds of the next band SOiL.
SOiL are a more orthodox band in that they have a bass player. Formed in 1997 and hailing from Chicago, in the colonies, they were the first band to be signed to the J Records label, owned and operated by Sony Records. The band was made up initially of 3 members of Death Metal Band OPRESSOR and a further guitarist from BROKEN HOPE. Ryan McCombs was called in to do the vocals at a later date.
Their seemed to be a lot of SOiL fans in tonight as the chanting for ‘HALO’, the band’s first song to garner major radio attention and helped secure the recording deal, started almost as soon as they walked on stage. This song also ensured the band would get exposure on the then very popular MTV channel.
They played an all too short a set, consisting of only 9 songs excluding the obligatory taped intro. ‘BREAKING ME DOWN’, ‘NEED TO FEEL’, ‘THE HATE SONG’, ‘REDEFINE’, ‘PRIDE’, ‘BLACK 7’, ‘BLACK BETTY’, the Lead Belly tune covered by RAM JAM, and ‘UNREAL’.
What followed next was a truly great moment. Ryan McCombs decided it was time he joined the fans. He does nothing more than leaps the barrier into the crowd, with microphone soon following, he proceeds to sing the crowd favourite, ‘HALO’ whilst stood among them. Security are in the crowd but respectful of the fans, as are the fans themselves. McCombs is allowed to perform this classic SOiL track without anyone being stupid. Fans joining him in song as the atmosphere is euphoric. When he finishes, McCombs casually walks through the crowd as if he’s heading to the bar for a beer. Wow! Not something you see every day that’s for sure and a great way to finish the set.
ALIEN ANT FARM are up next this four piece from Riverside, California. Formed in the mid 90’s by Dryden Mitchell, Terry Corso, Mike Cosgrove and Tye Zamora, they released a couple of EP’s in ’96 called ‘$100 EP’ of 5 songs and in ’98 another entitled ‘LOVE SONGS’, containing 4 songs. In ’99 they released their debut album called ‘GREATEST HITS’. This featured the now infamous Michael Jackson cover ‘SMOOTH CRIMINAL’. Some would argue that it’s this song that has catapulted the band into the limelight.
The cover went on to be No1, down under and reached No3 in the UK and No1 in America.
Terry Corso the bands guitarist said in an interview “We want to pay homage to Michael Jackson, but on our level”.
Playing ‘ANTHOLOGY’ in its entirety was the idea behind the 2016 tour, this time we’d get a good cross section of their back catalogue. Featuring songs off of all the albums.
Starting the set off with ‘BAD MORNING’ and ‘FORGIVE AND FORGET’, both from the 2006 album ‘UP IN THE ATTIC’, Mitchell strutted around the stage with his usual ‘bad MF’ swagger, he stopped briefly to shut a heckler up for giving him the ‘bird’, was it going to kick off? No. Giving the crowd what they came for is the order of the day so it was back to the show.
‘MOVIES’ followed next from their 1999 debut album ‘GREATEST HITS’. This included a brief jump across onto the ‘Bouncer Steps’ and a hugging session with the crowd, much to their delight, and the angst of the security.
Mitchell dropped in the odd MTV plug during the evening often referring to the fact it had sold out and wasn’t the Music Video channel it once was but more about nobodies claiming to be somebody, a reference to the increased reality TV shows blocking the airwaves. This being put across in a lot more colourful way obviously.
The show continues with Mitchell dedication the 8th song in the set to the late Chester Bennington, this was Benningtons favourite track, and one that Mitchell also dedicates to his dear Mom who had to put up with a lot over the years. This dedication to his mom is one that has been done at live shows over the years.
The set finishes with yet another crowd favourite ‘WISH’ from the 2001 album ‘ANTHOLOGY’. This again goes down really well and has the crowd bouncing and singing along. Mitchell stops to listen to Nottingham sing to him, then it’s over and off he struts.
He’s not getting away that lightly as the whole of Rock City start chanting for that song.
Back on the stage for a two-song encore nobody seems too surprised by his choice here, ‘STICKS AND STONES’, again from 2001’s ‘ANTHOLOGY’. This goes down well and then all is quiet. and then it starts. No ALIEN ANT FARM gig is ever finished until ‘Annie is ok”
Peugh strikes up the by now familiar riff on his multi-colour stringed Bass. Striking the pose, he digs in deep as he hits the strings, the whole of Rock City is bouncing in time, Corso’s heavy distorted guitar the perfect foil to this classic Jackson Cover, introduced as a child molester’s song by Mitchell, they give it the treatment and the crowd answer back by singing along. ‘SMOOTH CRIMINAL’ without doubt is the stand out song of any ALIEN ANT FARM gig and tonight was no exception. A brilliant cover of Jackson’s masterpiece and an excellent end to a great gig.
ALIEN ANT FARM may be nearly 20yrs old but none of the songs have lost their punch. Transporting you back to the days of, Linkin Park and Papa Roach, the great music video channels of MTV and VH1, ALIEN ANT FARM have proved they have staying power.
Words and photo’s: Manny Manson