Black Label Society
May 5, 2009
with Dope and Cycle of Pain
Admittedly, I decided to review this gig mainly because Sevendust was initially on the bill and my wife is a big fan of Sevendust. However, the date prior to the Salt Lake show happened to be Sevendust’s last, because the band went overseas to Iraq to play for our troops, which we didn’t find out until the day of the show. I was also interested in seeing a show at The Depot because I had yet to see a concert there. My only complaint is the billing stated the show was to start out at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7, so I got to the venue a bit before 8, and low and behold, Cycle of Pain (which includes Black Label Society’s bassist John DeServio) was already playing, and I only wound up seeing the band play about two songs. Judging by both of those tunes and excluding JD’s fun bass solo, I didn’t miss much.
Dope was next. My wife and I meandered outside for a cigarette and joked at how bad the band’s set was going to be, but neither of us were prepared for the terrible music that lie in wait. How Dope got on such a high profile tour and how they had people actually buying their merch is beyond me. They had some initial fame years ago with their first record in the heyday of nu-metal, but those days are, thankfully, long dead. Never mind the fact that the band had terrible sound – the bass guitar was weak and low in the mix with barely audible drumming, which made the flawed guitar performance sound even worse. Just before playing one of many covers that night, the band’s vocalist told the crowd it was a terrible song and he hates it. So why play it? Well, because the band knows that the crowd isn’t going to know any of their songs, so sticking with the cover gave them some musical recognition, because let’s face it, Dope’s music is just as terrible.
I guess for Black Label Society’s sake it’s pretty good to have a god-awful band play right before you, because then you’re going to sound really good. I knew what I was in store for since I caughtMr. Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society playing at Ozzfest in Denver a few years back. All my cynicism about their music aside, the band delivered what the fans wanted: some groove heavy fist pumping metal. The band did have the good-sized crowd swirling and chanting in a frenzy. It was fun to see a guy eat a fist in the mosh pit. Though, in my humble opinion, most of the tunes were interchangeable. For the majority of the first half of the band’s set, I kept thinking is this the riff from Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave.” Wylde’s vocals were a bit too low in the mix there was also plenty of guitar solo showboating which had Wylde basically holding his guitar up for all to see while he wailed away. Then Mr. Wylde set down his guitar and hit the piano for a song from his Hangover Music album, complete with a long piano solo which had me thinking “November Rain.” That bridged into the band’s tribute to the late Dimebag Darrell, which for a guy that started out his heavy metal listening journey with Pantera (me) did tug at the heart strings a bit, and while the feeling from the band playing the tune was more celebratory it is a sad song and probably was the biggest display of emotion from the band the whole night. By the end of the night I wasn’t left with a bad taste from seeing BLS but I wasn’t going to go out and buy their records. In the end it’s best to judge how the crowd enjoys the show and by that assumption, the fans had a fantastic night when all was said and done.
Black Label Society