GIG REVIEW: DEVILDRIVER, HOLY GRAIL, INCITE & HEMLOCK Live at The Machine Shop, Flint, MI
Metalheads rejoiced on this night of May 7th 2016 at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan; a night full of hard and heavy music by American metal giants DevilDriver – and some great supporting bands – was in store for all. The show got started earlier than usual, since most shows at The Machine Shop tend to not start until after 8pm. But just before 7:30 pm, Hemlock hit the stage and ripped through a set of heavy groove metal full of dreaded hair flying around. Lead singer and bass guitarist Chad Smith tried to get the crowd to mosh, but the audience wasn’t ready for that. The fans up front did headbang along with the band while Brian Smith on drums, Jezy Ward and James Gelber on guitars kept the beat going. From Las Vegas, Nevada, Hemlock has been rocking venues since 1993, and they showed no signs of stopping now. Their merchandise was quite catchy as I bought a couple of their shirts. One shirt had zombies with cell phones on the front and the word “dehumization” on the back, while the other had the band members in the likeness of the Garbage Pail Kids, which was a nice throwback to my childhood days.
Incite was on next, and with a bigger crowd in front of them, they had fans headbanging and moshing to their hearts’ content. Based out of Phoenix, Arizona, Incite is off the heels of a new album titled ‘Oppression’. Playing a set of new and old groovy thrash songs, singer Richie Cavalera, Lennon Lopez on drums, Christopher “EL” on bass and “Dru Tang” Rome on guitar had enough hair flinging around to keep the temperature of the room regulated.
While I contemplated whether the crowd needed a break or if it was just the style of music, Holy Grail played next. Their music was a throwback to the style you’d find with the likes of Judas Priest. So I guess the crowd naturally wouldn’t mosh as much, but they did headbang and sing along. Seeing lead singer James-Paul Luna decked out with metal spiked leather forearm covers, you knew what was in store: a set of hard-rocking, guitar-riffing, power-metal singing, with Eli Santana and Alex Lee on guitars, Tyler Meahl on drums and Blake Mount on bass. Holy Grail brought a fresh take on old-school metal that night.
Headlining the night to a packed venue was DevilDriver. Hailing from Santa Barbara, California, DevilDriver brought the house to attention as lead singer Dez Fafara had the crowd at his whim. “Mosh”, Fafara would say, and the crowd would mosh. “Run a circle” Fafara would command, and a circle would be run. Not that Fafara had to urge the crowd to mosh and head-bang, as they were already doing so on their own, but to see his presence and authority at work was awesome. With Mike Spreitzer and Neal Tiemann on guitars, Austin D’Amond on drums and Diego Ibarra on bass, the music was melodicgroove metal at its finest.
We only got a small sampling of the latest material from their new album ‘Trust No One’ as just two songs – ” Daybreak” and “My Night Sky” – were played. With several full albums by DevilDriver in their 14 years of existence, we got a dose of songs from each of them: the setlist included “End Of The Line”, “Dead To Rights”, “These Fighting Words”, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”, “Pure Sincerity”, “I Could Care Less”, “Nothing’s Wrong”, “Sail”, “Before The Hangman’s Noose”, “Clouds Over California”, “Ruthless” and “Meet The Wretched”.
DevilDriver’s heavy groove metal sound was like a well-marinated steak, which the fans devoured with every bit of with enjoyment. A night full of neck-snapping, headbanging, hair-twirling rock n’ roll was relished by Michigan’s metalheads that night.