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(Live Review) LEGIONS OF METAL FESTIVAL (DAY 1) - Reggie's Rock House, Chicago (6/2/23)



By The Beard & Little Johnny



Tonight, The Beard and Little Johnny are attending one of Chicago’s premier metal festivals, the two-day two stage 25 band Legions of Metal.



This also marks stop 22, and bands number 103-108 on The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023.


On the main stage bill today:

The Rods

Riot Act

Summerlands

White Magician

Spellbook

Emerald Eye


Both The Beard and Little Johnny are excited about the variety of bands and styles of metal this weekend. Promoter Bob Byrne promises something for everyone with this festival. The only detriment to this weekend of metal is Taylor Swift is also doing three nights at Soldiers Field and, thus, 50,000 fans of hers are also here (and pretty much all the freaking parking spots are gone.) The Beard felt like he just walked here from his house. It is also 90 degrees out and that means welcome to Reggie’s sweatbox this weekend, but as Johnny says, “it’s metal dude, and hey, beer is cold”. Way to go there Johnny Philosopher.


First up tonight was power metal from Kansas City in the form of ...

EMERALD EYE

Power metal, but looked more like bikers, especially vocalist Brett Scott and his dark shades, cape, and leather. Channeling a little Halford Metal God kind of thing. As is often the case with power metal, vocals were mostly legible, and Brett Scott could indeed hit those high-pitched screams power metal loves to add in their songs.


Musically, it was the twin guitar attack, (made famous by the great Judas Priest), and a solid rhythm section (although the drums were a little off sound wise early in the set which I suspect was the room and techs rather than the drummer). Brett Scott added keys, but not to an overwhelming degree. There was also acoustic guitar on occasion, so points for this band’s versatility.


Overall, these guys were good, but I wanted them bigger. When you are power metal, you need to be EPIC. As the first band out of the gate, and to a half empty room, Emerald Eye did not hit EPIC, but as an opener, (minus that annoying bad bass drum sound early in), they were in fact deserving. Johnny liked the singer’s cape and dark shades. He said it was like one of the Sons of Anarchy was up there singing. 85/100




Second up were Pennsylvania doom rockers ...

SPELLBOOK

Forming in 2020 (out of the ashes of Witch Hazel), these Pennsylvania boys are touring behind 2022’s Deadly Charms release, (which the Beard must say had the coolest cover art he seen all weekend).


I know some overly sensitive people flip out when I mention pants, but singer Nate Tyson had some rad fucking pants. Those things were like Occult Rock Bell Bottoms. Those are not something you find in your local store.


This was some interesting music, something like Deep Purple meets Angel Witch. Occult/NWOBHM with good guitar sounds from Ryan Cooper and Angel Emerald. Lyrically it was a bit jolting initially, (with its unique starts and stops), but became catchy within a couple of songs. Points for this being their first Chicago stop ever. A nice festival to make your windy city debut, and Spellbook did not disappoint.


Johnny was not sure about the music, but he liked the energy and thought they would be a cool band to party with. We both enjoyed the set and are going with a solid 86/100.




Third on today’s bill was Detroit metal band ...

WHITE MAGICIAN

These guys were just straight up metal. The Beard felt that the singer could use a more dominant voice, but he played a damn good guitar, and the rest of the guys were solid as well. Nothing really stood out, but also nothing to complain about either.


Being from Detroit, you CAN hear some KISS influences from the Love Gun era, but I am also hearing the Blue Oyster Cult sound in their stuff. They are supporting their Dealers of Divinity release.


All in all, a decent act. They seem to just need a more dominant voice at the lead. Their guy can be Ace Frehley, now they need to find their Paul Stanley.

80/100




Fourth up tonight was the seventies and eighty’s era guitar-driven metal of Pennsylvania’s own ...

SUMMERLANDS

Fancy introduction: very ethereal. Maybe 30 seconds too long though, the peak orgasm moment was lost.


Nice clean vocals. Reminiscent of Eternal Champion meets early Queensryche. These guys as a band are the tightest so far tonight.


Extra points for making me laugh. Singer Brendan Radigan said, “Hey Chicago, you had a choice tonight. Support Taylor Swift or heavy metal. Thank you so much for making the wrong choice.” Lol good stuff.


Although Radigan does look a little like Lord Voldemort, he is the best singer so far today. There is a touch of My Dying Bride Light at the end of the World era sound that took me a while to discern, but it is there now and then on certain songs. The bands between song’s effect laden segues though are different. Spacy, but not entirely necessary in my opinion. Still, they have a thing, and they are entertaining, so I was inclined to let it be until it actually interfered with the flow. Now it costs them a point or two.


Although Summerlands flirted with the elusive 90, I am falling just a little short at 88/100 overall. Very nice though.




During Summerlands set, the Beard felt a presence looming and two strong hands settled on the Beards shoulders. Who dares?


Looking up, it was the smartest man in metal, one Randy Kastner.


You know that old adage where the veteran says to the rookie, “I’ve already forgotten more than you will ever know?” Well, the Beard is definitely no rookie when it comes to metal, but Randy Kastner could make that statement with impunity. The man never shows off though. He simply shook hands and spoke a bit about his own metal festival in September, the three day Blades of Steel mega-event in Wisconsin.


Beard and Johnny fans, if you are going to spend a hundred on only one festival this year, Blades of Steel is it. Best bands, best bargain, and with due respect to Bob Byrne, best promoter.


Now, back to the show.



Fifth up tonight were Rick Venture of original 1970’s hard rock band Riot and his new group called ...

RIOT ACT

Touring behind Closer to The Flame, this is as basic as hard rock/heavy metal gets. It is a performance and a show, and even with fifty years behind him, Venture still hammers the axe like a man much younger. Strutting like Page, hitting notes like Blackmore from the Deep Purple days. Venture was the best guitarist from night one, and probably the whole damn festival.


The songs are anthemic and brought the crowd alive, many hearing this incarnation live for the first time. This one was hot, and the Beard pushed his chips all in by song number three. As a group, they remind me of Schenker era UFO, and prime era Thin Lizzy. Every song was solid and the best set of the night, or in a while actually. Hearing that classic “Swords and Tequila” was also a blast from the past the Beard does so enjoy.


Chalk it up, the Beard says 95/100 and run to the merch table.




Johnny came up after the set and said “Damn that old guy can really play guitar. Why are old bands so good all the time?” Because Johnny, we came from a time when music was based on talent, not effects and how many social media likes you got.



Headliners for night one were 1980’s metal stalwarts ...

THE RODS

Here is a band that the Beard had never seen. Like Anvil, The Rods have spent forty plus years slipping past my notice. Tonight, that ended.


The Rods are fronted by David Feinstein, (who formed the act after he left a little band he had been playing in with his cousin Ronnie James Dio called Elf). After a few successes early in the 1980’s, though, The Rods broke up for about 22 years, reforming in 2008 and releasing a new album in 2011 called Vengeance. Currently their last release was 2019’s Brotherhood of Metal (ED: which is an amazing record BTW.)


Super clear vocals and almost power metal riffs. This three-piece group has a great drummer in Carl Canedy, and Feinstein at 76 years old can still both play and sing. He even shot the horns a few times, (which excited Little Johnny who yelled “Look he’s a fan of ours.”) Uhhh..No Johnny, trust me he was doing that LONG before us lol.


Although hits like "Let Them Eat Metal" were played well and fun, The Rods suffered from slotting because Riot Act was just so good.


I did use the crowd as my barometer, and they were warm, but not hot.


It was packed though, so people knew this was not something they could see very often, and nobody left. I guess (knowing I’m penalizing them for how good Riot Act was), I will award The Rods a very solid 87/100.



This ended a good first day of music. I will now go outside and retrieve Little Johnny (who is currently chatting up ladies coming off the Taylor Swift shuttle bus that Reggie’s ran to get people from Soldiers Field to parking.)

“Stop talking to them little dude. They aren’t impressed and we need to head back, there’s a long day two of this tomorrow.” So, from Reggie’s, Legions of Metal night one, this is The Beard, and Little Johnny reminding you to check out all the videos of today’s bands on our TIKTOK page.

Thebeard0728

Or


Until next time, stay heavy and ...

Horns Up!!!


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