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(Live Review) TOP 40 LIVE ACTS OF 2023 (Little Johnny) - Part 2 (#s 30-21)

Top 40 Live Sets of 2023

Part II #30-21


Little Johnny

What’s happening metal fans? Welcome to part two of the Little Johnny countdown of most rocking sets of 2023. Today I’m gonna cover bands #30-21. Let’s get started.

#30:Dragonforce (11-10-23 in Chicago, Illinois)

These guys were what metal shows are supposed to be about. Running around, playing blazing solos, giant dragons coming out of the ceiling, confetti dropping, and throwing chickens around in the crowd. They were stuffed chickens, not live ones, we weren’t at an Alice Cooper show from the 1970’s. (Beard told me that story.) This was a fun set with lots of stuff going on all the time. Like I said, what metal shows should be like.

#29: Jungle Rot (8-5-23 NYDM Festival Night #2 Cudahy Wisconsin)

This was a two day/night festival that we went to that was run by a bunch of bikers. The bands were WAY too intense for Beard, but since he kind of looks like a biker he passed (as one of theirs) for the weekend. I pass everywhere. People love me.

I thought this festival was pretty awesome, and the headliners on night two were these Jungle Rot dudes. Cool name for a band, although Jungle Rot sounds kind of like something you want to avoid. I mostly remember their guitarist being even crazier than me. That guy drank a bunch of shots before he even went on stage and then still had more energy than everybody in the place. Cool band, cool show.

#28: Suicide Silence (4-22-23 Chaos & Carnage Tour Joliet Illinois)

This fest was one of the top three all year for intense, maybe even the most intense. It seemed like EVERY band made the room explode. Suicide Silence though were the headliners and there was this guy in the crowd that looked and dressed like Jesus. (They taught me about him in the orphanage). So, the singer is talking to him from the stage and gets the crowd to part on either side, you know like what Moses did to the Red Sea back in the Bible days. Anyway, now there’s these two walls of people with the Jesus guy in the middle, and then the song starts up, and the singer drops his hand, (like at a Car Race), and both sides of the crowd just flew at each other. Man, Jesus ended up at the bottom of a serious dogpile that night. I’ve never seen anything quite like that before. Super memorable moment.

#27: Rotting Christ (3-3-23 in Chicago, Illinois)

This was our first show of 2023, and it made it all the way to the year-end list. These guys were from Greece (according to Beard anyway), and they played black metal, but not super intense stuff. It was more musical.

We still pitted up as best we could. That room was packed like sardines and even when we wanted to circle there just wasn’t much room to do it. For the first show of the season, it was great, and I guess that’s why I’m still talking about it nine months later.

#26: Momentum (8-02-23 in Chicago, Illinois)

This was a mid-week show of five hardcore bands. The room was one of the smallest we had been in all year and there were no seats. Beard looked panicked, and when the first band started I saw him get slammed into the wall by one of the moshers. I lost track after that, but he said he was mostly hiding. Hardcore moshers use their feet more than traditional guys and you got to watch out or you might get kicked in the head. That room was intense. I came out of there bruised and battered. Beard came out looking like he had just left a war zone. I remember it as an awesome show. Beard probably remembers it as a trauma trigger. Afterwards, he asked his boss at The Mighty Decibel for hazard pay. That dude just laughed at him. Sometimes you got to man up to stand up. (Ed: No wimps are allowed to write for The Mighty Decibel!)

#25: Solicitor (9-22-23 in Chicago, Illinois & 9-29-23 at Blades of Steel Festival Night Two in Madison Wisconsin)

We got to see this awesome Seattle band twice in one week. In Chicago, they were headliners, but the crowd was kind of light. In Madison, they played in the middle of the bill but there were a lot more people, so I think that was the better set cause of all the energy.

The lead vocalist chick looked like she could whip your ass pretty quickly, but Beard said off-stage she was really nice and posed for a picture with him. I just know when she was singing you listened. The rest of the band was good too though. They were memorable in looks and sound.

#24: Morbid Angel: (4-5-23 in Joliet, Illinois)

This was a freaky thing cause initially we were going to cover their show a few nights earlier in a little town called Belvidere (that was closer to where Beard lives), but Beard said he had to go to a wake that evening for a buddy of his who had died, so we would just have to travel further and catch the Joliet show.

Turns out a tornado hit the place we were supposed to originally be (on the night of the show while it was going on). It collapsed the roof and a bunch of people got hurt and one died. Like I said, really freaky that we weren’t there. I normally am right at the front of the stage, and I would have been right where the ceiling came down at. I think that is why I remember the Joliet show with them. It’s got to be tough going right back on stage a couple nights after something like that happens. They are a long known, famous, and intense black metal band with a deep gruff voiced singer, but mostly I remember the set because of the event. (Ed: Er, Johnny - they're a death metal band. Black metal vocalists sound like cats being strangled, while death metal vocals sound like an agitated Cookie Monster.)

#23: Shadow Witch (6-24-23 Maryland Doomfest Night #3 in Frederick Maryland)

This story is a lot more fun. So, this New York band was headlining night three of Doomfest, and their singer is like this guru Monk dude who performs in a robe and barefoot. The first time I ever seen them (the year before), I got hypnotized by his moving around on stage. Beard says I gave the guy my shoes and my wallet after the set. I don’t remember really, but I think I had been drinking that day. So, anyway, before these guys took the stage this time, Beard made me give him my wallet and promise to leave my shoes on.

Shadow Witch is like stoner metal, but also like old 70’s metal that Beard likes. They sound like something, but you can never pin down what. It’s catchy though and you just can’t stop watching that singer Monk dude once he’s on stage. Beard got a picture with him, and they look like two Wizards at an Irish Pub. Cool set, and I did keep my shoes on.

#22: Rob Zombie (9-1-23 in Tinley Park, Illinois)

A whole bunch of us went to this big arena show. Beard, his big security buddy and a few others. Every band was good, (although I really didn’t know the first couple), but Rob Zombie was the headliner.

First off, he has energy like me. Always running around and climbing on stuff and spinning around. Plus, the special effects on this set were awesome. In one number a UFO was in the back sucking up cows in a tractor beam. Plus, there were super giant monsters and stuff roaming around the stage and there was never any end to all the videos being shown on the giant screens. Not one boring second during that set. Awesome excellent set.

#21: The Moody Blues (7-18-23 Rockford, Illinois)

This is my shocker selection because I didn’t even want to go to this show. The Moody Blues were already an old band back when Beard was a kid. I was the youngest person in that crowd by like 75 years or something, AND it was one of those places where you got to just sit and listen. Man, the whole first set I wanted to punch Beard in the head for making me go to this. But then during the second set, I started to pay attention because they were doing a whole album from front to back. Right before one song started Beard looked at me and said, “Pay attention to this one.” It wasn’t like I could do much else stuck in that seat, but then those old dudes started a song called “Knights in White Satin.”

There was something about that song that grabbed me right away, and then there was this section in the middle with a cello solo by another old dude sitting in a chair. Beard always told me certain music reaches right through you and grabs a part of you that you weren’t even aware you had. I always thought that was just some of his old man nonsense but something about that piece hit me and I just watched the rest of the song without moving a muscle. Somehow those old guys made something magical happen on that stage for a few minutes. I am not sure how to really explain it, but even with all the cool pitting and moshing and surfing I’ve done, THAT moment stuck with me, and I got to hand it to Beard. Sometimes that old man actually knows what he’s talking about.

Okay, that’s it for part two of my countdown. Be sure to keep reading both my list (and Beard's), on your home for metal The Mighty Decibel, then catch the videos on our TIKTOK page by searching thebeard0728 or #thebeardandlittlejohnny.

Until next time this is Little Johnny saying

Stay Heavy


Horns Up!!


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