I don’t think it’s legal, to be perfectly honest, to have such an amazing Monday night. There’s some Constitutional or possibly even galactic law against it. But the awesome simply cannot be contained when Alice in Chains is in town. To that was added the fact they were performing at The Depot, quite possibly the best venue in town for them, and that they would be the only goddamn band playing, and you have an ideal night for a grunge lover who still wants to be home playing Mass Effect by 11 p.m.
For those who haven’t been, The Depot really is quite an experience. It’s a visually stunning venue and has a superior sound and acoustics set up, ideal for intimate concerts. The only cons are that they typically host the type of bands that bring “non-career” concert goers out of their suburban mazes, and they lack the show-crowd etiquette people like me take for granted. Alice in Chains brought out a very diverse crowd: metalheads, bikers, suburban moms, professional bros, you name it. I will say that I was shocked at the lack of flannel. Fans these days just have no dedication.
The show had reportedly been sold out for weeks, but I have to say, as someone who has seen big crowds at The Depot, I didn’t at all feel like I was standing in a “sold out” crowd. Things were definitely nastier when Down and Ponykiller came to town. It might just be perception, but it was a welcoming plus regardless, having enough room to create some personal space.
View Talyn Sherer’s full photo gallery from Alice In Chains at The Depot here.
The band came on a little late, but launched right into their set with “Sludge Factory.” In fact, there was very little banter the entire show—maybe one or two total stops where Jerry Cantrell complimented the fans, or William DuVall interacted with the crowd. It’s been said before, but I have to say again: it is mind-blowing that the band found DuVall to fill the place of Layne Staley. His vocal range and tone compared with Staley’s is uncanny, and that was already a unique-as-fuck voice to begin with. Even his energy onstage is just so in-sync with the rest of the band. Replacing a member is never an easy task or decision, but I feel like Alice In Chains is the textbook example of how to do it well.
I normally avoid commenting on band member’s “looks” during a show, but I have to say that it was nice to see these dudes look happy. It’s easy to forget how long they’ve all been doing this—DuVall has also been in the industry since the early ’80s. And sometimes when you see some of the godfather acts live, it can be disheartening because they’re understandably not at their peak anymore. I didn’t feel any of that with Alice in Chains. All of them seemed healthy and happy to be there.
The set ranged from more or less all the old fan favorites, up through their newest release from 2013, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. The entire venue was singing the words to timeless songs like “Man in the Box,” “Rooster,” and “Down In A Hole.” They even played my favorite AIC track, “Nutshell,” just like they did last time they came to Usana Amphitheater. Seriously, never thought I’d be able to hear that song twice live, let alone once. There was a definite change in the crowd’s energy when tracks from the newer record came on; for whatever reason, they just haven’t hit as hard or sunk in as deeply as the Staley-years tracks. But the crowd was really fantastic the entire set, gave them plenty of love, and from all my angles there were no problems or misbehavior. Everyone was just really fucking stoked to see Chains and the good will was spreading like a really cute virus. The Depot’s sound and acoustics really brought out the best from every song; I forgot my earplugs, but didn’t even need them, and for once didn’t go home with Archer-level ear ringing.
By 10:15 p.m., the band was closing out their set, and they surprisingly didn’t put on an encore. But, really, we had just had about two straight hours of Alice in Chains, in a very intimate setting, with zero opening acts. We were spoiled as fuck, with or without an encore.