I arrived to the Triple Rock about 5 minutes into Gracepoint’s set. As Cwn Annwn guitarist Neil James commented during the interview on episode 23, Gracepoint is an extremely technically talented group of musicians. They are also a very tight band. Sound-wise, Tennessee’s vocals are a cross between Second Coming’s Travis Bracht and Metallica’s James Hetfield. They had lots of nice guitar harmonies, fast drumming, and fancy bass playing.
I would have liked to see more movement on stage, however, especially out of vocalist Matt Tennesse. So while there were some very technically and sonically impressive moments out of Gracepoint, including some incredible Eddie Van Halen style tapping in harmony from both guitarists during the last song, I wasn’t really feeling Gracepoint, though I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing them again.
Rockford, Illinois band The Pimps was up next. The Pimps fuse quite a few different styles into their quirky rock. I heard everything from punk to 80s metal to country to prog rock. The Pimps also weaved in quite a bit of banter and story telling into their set, at one point even bringing up an audience member named Reed, hand selected by the audience, who’s a student studying Human Resources and appeared to be fairly unimpressed by the set. The band proceeded to crack a few jokes at Reed’s expense and then sang about his chosen profession.They closed with a cover of Charlie Daniel’s Devil Went Down to Georgia, which was the highlight of the set for me.
If you’re easily offended, it would be in your best interest to forget that The Pimps exist. There’s a shock value to some of the things said on stage and they were even selling t-shirts that said “Thank God I’m an Aethist” (I almost bought one but didn’t have enough cash for both a CD and a t-shirt). However, if you’re not easily offended and enjoy seeing a bunch of funny, witty, smart ass punks playing up tempo and musically interesting songs, then be sure to go catch The Pimps live.
Cwn Annwn closed out the night, playing their new concept album The Alpha and the Omega from start to finish. There were two highlight for me. The first was actually the instrumental track, Gaea’s Rebirth. I know the band was nervous about playing this one live because 1. it’s an instrumental 2. it’s long at almost 10 minutes and 3. it’s the 4th song on the album and thus the 4th song in the set, which could potentially send everyone outside for a smoke break or perhaps even back to the car with thoughts of warm blankets waiting at home (it was below zero degrees F out, after all). While a few people did take a smoke break, the majority of the crowd remained and remained enthusiastic throughout the song.
The band put on a phenomenal performance on a very technically difficult track. The track really showcased bass player Mike Strohkirch’s skills on the 6 string fretless bass. Yes, I said fretless. I spoke with Storkirch briefly after the set and he said he’s only been playing fretless for a few months, which is quite impressive. James said this was the only chance to see Gaea’s Rebirth live, as they will be retiring it from their live sets going forward, and I was glad I was able to see it performed this once.
The second highlight for me was the final track, Nova. This one also appeared to be the crowd favorite. Nova is about as heavy as Cwn Annwn gets with frequent growls from both Stohkirch and James complimenting vocalist Julie Schultz’s clean and powerful melodies. I’m sure this song will be a regular inclusion in future live sets.
Overall, this was a solid performance from Cwn Annwn with lots of energy. Look for their next show in early March. They’re putting on a metal show / tattoo expo and full details are coming soon.