On Friday, February 28th, The Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock according to Revolver Magazine soared into Columbus via Columbus Events Group, the Alrosa Staff, 99.7 The Blitz, Revolver staff and The Shrunken Heads co-owner and Azoic singer Kristy Venrick with a parking lot full of people following them in. Cilver, Eyes Set to Kill, Lacuna Coil, Sick Puppies and the winner of the Facebook fan voted local opener Able Danger all played for an appreciative loud crowd. Long ago and gone are the days of women being the sexy background or provocative eye candy of the show. Despite the tours descriptive adjective, the talent, history, musicianship and stage presence that brought the ‘chicks’ here got the spotlight.
Dayton’s Able Danger bested 74 other bands with female members in a state wide contest with six finalists in a vote based contest on Facebook to earn the opening spot in Columbus that evening. They’re a very young group, together for only four months, but they make up for their hatchling status with a collective four year history in the Dayton scene in other bands. With former moniker Hereafter, guitarist Chris Stewart joined Jason Winner and Ben Willis with blonde mouthpiece Nikki Luttrell to form the progressive rock sound of AD. Look for their debut in April.
They start with Chaos, a dark, ambiance tune with cranky, growling monster in the closet guitars adding Luttrell’s classic keyboard notes and emotional, melancholy and somewhat creepy vocals sporting the inherited talents of mom and dad. Think the dark side of Roxette and a classical gothic Sheryl Crow. Stewart, a guitarist since age five, comes from a musical family. There’s a certain amount of pain and sorrow in Luttrell’s voice which she blends beautifully with power and emotional confidence.
New York’s Cilver, formally Me Talk Pretty, starts the tour with songs from their just released debut EP featuring In My Head with an appearance by GNR guitarist Bumblefoot. Lyrically it’s a sarcastic, hard-driving satirical look at fame and fortune and feeling the pressure for success. Loud voiced leather clad and tasseled singer, Romanian born Uliana Preotu took over the stage with rasp and attitude. Shimmying out of her jacket into blacker attire, she’s reminiscent of Flo with a more ‘progressive’ harder edge. The crowd claps along feeling the bass thump in their hearts. They have some of the glitter, dirt and grime that Guns n Roses made shine in their early years, and they’re taking their gutter dreams to the penthouse.
Started in Phoenix in 2003 by the Rodriguez sisters (Alexia on vocals, guitar and Anissa on bass), Eyes Set to Kill have been on the cover of USA Today as one of Alternative Press Magazine’s “100 Bands You Need To Know.” Through numerous member changes, their debut EP sold 11,000 units. Their first full length, Reach in 2008, hit No. 29 on Billboards Heatseakers chart and No. 77 on Billboards Independent Music charts. The World Outside came in 2009 along with an acoustic EP by Alexia, then Broken Frames in 2010. Alexia also released her first solo record Underground Sounds. They released White Lotus in 2011 in a joint venture with Maphia Entertainment on their own label Forsee Records; then signed with Century Media Records in 2012 currently supporting Masks.
They blast open the metal doors pounding the stage with feminine aggression and sound opening with the creepy baby-doll coo of Masks into the thud pummeler Killing in Your Name. Playing the Alrosa a few years back, Anissa plays chug bass bouncer Where I Want to Be. Alexia’s vocals are powerful, soulful with a nice amount of aggression and high peaks, an addictive mix of Crucified Barbara, Drain STH and Lita Ford.
Masks’ title comes from the number they had to wear to impress different people and after so many changes they’ve finally found their face, without the masks. Haze and another new tune Little Liar deals with doing bad shit and karma, it always comes back around. Alexia’s delivery and performance shows there’s some bubblegum in the bad girl. They end, infecting us all with the horror of Silent Hill.
Milan’s Lacuna Coil come to us with some Dark Adrenaline and Trip the Darkness with the crowd eager to oblige Cristina’s singing, come to me and follow me, follow me. Our second helping of dark energy comes to Kill the Light inside of us. Cristina Scabbia, dressed in bad fairly-tale stepmother black, twirled, dancing the stage, engaging the masses acting out each song with an enticing grim smile and her own touch of evil evanescence. She seduced all with her enticing aura and piercing gilded glance. Lacuna’s male voice, Andrea Ferro, equally plays the mysterious warlock spellbinder.
Scabbia, a professional singer since 1991, is a lyricist and the feminine voice of reason and advice in Revolver Magazine. She’s been featured on Megadeth’s A Tout le Monde and Apocalyptica’s S.O.S. (Anything But Love) and an alternate version of Alter Bridge’s Watch Over You. Known for her dark haunting image and range, her highest note ever hit is said to be an A7. Scabbia performed a duet with Linea 77’s former singer Emiliano Audisio on the track “Beautiful Lie” for the soundtrack of the 2013 Italian film Passione Sinistra. She’s recorded seven records and two EP’s with LC.
We’re intoxicated in their presence. Whatever the Karmacode might be, we’re happy with our Fragments of Faith. Scabbia continues her interaction as our beloved wicked queen offers the musical poisoned apple to devour. The first new track from Broken Crown Halo, Die & Rise tells us to do so with no regrets. Shiny gothic power continues to flow into tomorrow if it comes. We’re Spellbound with a taste of the Shallow Life. They’re living the dark side Upside Down and laughing at their disaster. We get hallo’ed again with Nothing Stands in our Way, a message to go after your dreams no matter what. They end giving everyone good karma from theirs to Our Truth.
Not all Aussies are sick puppies but fortunately for us, we get three that are. The Sick Puppies open with Die to Save You off the new CD. Half-way through we’re introduced to the angelic vocals of bassist/co-founder Emma Anzai. “You ready for this rock n roll show?” yells Shimon Moore. We’re all just walking Cancer, dressed up as life, searching for disaster, says their sophomore chapter of tunes. There’s no Going Back cause the past is in the past and it doesn’t last. Leave the memories behind like a desert illusion. The devil’s up to his old tricks already, and we’re only four songs in. He’s definitely an Odd One and Tri-Polar at that, adding a bit of rage to his pocket full of shells. Everyone’s got their own personal Riptide to ride and the water’s turbulent but fine. The next song went out to all the people back home from the teachers to the other kids that disrespected them and said they couldn’t do it. Now they send those people pics and texts of them rocking around the world. Welcome to My World, my beautiful nightmare and personal hell, they’re always Dressed Up as Life.
From the devil, to a darkened life we get an uplifting tale of the road to a new life on Maybe. Your Pitiful life’s worth more than an overdose because you think Nothing Really Matters. Welcome to the Real World as Anzai the ‘Female Flea’ slaps and chisels the bass out of her onstage dance partner both in performance and her funky solo. Drummer Mark Goodwin also gets to shine on the sticks. It’s time for War as Moore instructed the crowd to put hands on the person in front of you, friend or stranger and start the biggest bounce pit in Columbus history. Jump up and down like you just got electrocuted by Blanka. From the mean streets of the fighting pits to the dusty old west, you never bring a knife to a Gunfight, you’ll lose! When they’re not shooting off or standing in front of tanks, they’re fighting or playing with Foo. ‘You have exactly 3 ½ minutes to go absolutely crazy in the pit.’ They end with their battle cry and You’re Going Down!
Images courtesy of Samantha Stewart Photography