(Live Review) TOP 40 LIVE ACTS OF 2023 (Little Johnny) - Part 4 (#s 10-1)
Well, here we go. It is down to the best of the best of the best here in 2023. I know Beard thanked a few people including me. (As he should, Beard can write, but I’m the money maker of this team.) Still, I will take a moment to also thank Chris Tighe (of The Mighty Decibel) who frankly allows Beard to write about all the old man bands he loves. Those of you who have preferred MY lists over Beard's, check out some of the other shows Chris has on his site. There are a lot of them, and he does a lot of stuff with cutting edge new bands. (Ed: You're making me blush!)
I guess I will also thank The Beard. He puts up with my shenanigans and always makes sure I get home safe from shows. Beard can talk your ear off with old metal history stuff, but he’s got a good heart, and when you grew up like I did, finding a loyal friend is really the best. So, hey, it was a cool year and hopefully we can drink beer and kick ass again in 2024. So now that the sappy stuff is out of the way, let’s see the best sets of 2023.
#10: Windrose (5-16-23 in Joliet, Illinois)
These guys were from somewhere in Italy. I’ve never been there, but I can find it on a map. It’s the country that looks like a boot all surrounded by water. I guess if you come from a country that looks like a boot you learn how to kick ass cause these guys did that.
They came out dressed like dwarves from those three movies about the Rings and stuff. Beard said it was a book, but I never read it. Anyway, these dudes weren’t short like dwarves, but they did look like dwarves with scraggly beards, boots and clothes. All their songs were about finding treasure and drinking ale and fighting with other people who wanted to take your treasure or steal your ale. It was a fun set and the crowd got way into it. At one point we got down on the floor and pretend-rowed a boat. It sounds stupid, but you had to be there. Trust me it was fun and Windrose made a memorable show.
#9: Vio-lence (3-23 at Hells Hero’s in Houston Texas & 9-29 at Blades of Steel in Madison, Wisconsin)
We got to see this awesome band twice and both times they tore up the place with fast heavy music and a lead singer that was kind of metalcore to go along with the thrash stuff.
I’m still not sure why they spell their name like that, but I am sure that we moshed like maniacs at both shows. It’s cool when so many people get in a pit and really get it churning up. Vio-lence was one of the best kick ass bands of the year. And they did it twice.
These thrash guys from Texas knew how to get a pit going. They played that biker show and those guys slam hard! Sometimes you get knocked down but as long as everybody’s cool it’s fun.
Beard said these guys sounded like Hallows Eve (who I’ve never heard before but usually Beard knows that stuff.) I just know that singer guy (Ernie Jaramillo) had a commanding voice and when he signaled for us to circle, we circled. Fun set.
#7: UADA (3-08-23 in Chicago, Illinois)
These guys were at our first show of the year, and when they all came out masked and in those black robes, it made for a cool spooky look. They played black metal, which can sound like a lot of different styles, but the lyrics are usually about hanging with Satan. Their CD was called Djinn (which Beard said is like a Demon but from the far east.)
UADA mixed in a bunch of ceremonial stuff with their mostly fast songs. There was a lot of fog, and in the back there were these drawings with weird stuff on them. I think Beard called them arcane glyphs, but I don’t know. I also think he just makes up fake words sometimes. Whatever, what I did remember was they did cool spooky stuff and unlike that Ghost band, UADA played all their songs faster and heavier.
Initially I just thought this was a big fat old guy with his band, but man that dude was crazy. I mean I do some crazy stuff, but that dude was REALLY nuts. He came out with a mask of armor the first song, and then after that came off, he wore a giant skull mask for a song, and one song he beat the #$%! out of some stuff with a chain. He kept yelling out “Is everybody in?” I don’t know what we were supposed to be in, but people seemed to like it because they chanted back at him every time.
The reason he is on my list was that thing with the TV. This dude just kept dropping a full-sized TV right on his own face. Eventually it busted open and his face kind of went right through it, and he started bleeding and stuff. Man, I like to get wild but I sure ain’t dropping no TV on my own face. Nasty Ronnie is one guy I don’t want to get in a fight with because if you will do that to yourself for fun, what the hell are you gonna do to somebody you don’t like?
#5: Saliva (7-8-23 Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
This was a weird festival. We went to it two weekends in a row, and there were tons of stages. Most of the bands though weren’t playing metal. Beard watched a lot of really odd bands there, so a lot of times I just wandered around and drank beer. The last day admission was free and there were SO many people it was outrageous. You could barely move around, (and that place is big.)
For me, the best act of the whole fest was this group called Saliva. After days of nothing heavy, these guys knew how to rock. Their singer tried to get a circle pit going, but the front area has bleachers that don’t move and so you couldn’t really mosh except kind of in place. Still, these guys played a great set, and I really liked it. Plus, they had a chick drummer, and you never see that unless the whole band is chicks. This girl (Sammi Bishop) could play great, and I liked watching her. I don’t think Beard was that impressed, (plus he was getting grumpy from all the people jammed into that stage area), but in my opinion Saliva played a freaking killer set even with a cover of “In the Air Tonight” from that bald dude that sings and drums for that band (Genesis). The final song “Click Click Boom” was awesome. We all got LOUD with that one.
I love it when Beard says we are going to see these guys because they are how I would be if I were in a band. They are always dressed all in black with masks on, so you never know who they are, but from start to finish, these dudes never slowed down.
They are always running, and that guitar player just beats the #*@! out of that thing. I watched one of them climb up to the light truss and start doing chin ups from it. There is just non-stop mayhem when this band is on the stage, and I love it. Songs are like punk black metal, so they are short and full of energy, and you can really pit non-stop for them. Awesome sets both times.
#3: Sanguisugabogg (4-22-23 at Chaos & Carnage Fest in Joliet, Illinois)
Okay, I can never pronounce this bands name, but Beard looked it up once and told me it meant blood sucking toilet. Right off the bat that is damn cool for a band name, Second, they are at a fest called Chaos & Carnage. Again, how is THAT not the coolest fest name ever? Finally, at one point, they had a contest to win a free shirt and it involved the crowd parting in half and the guy placed a football right in the middle of the floor and when the song started you had to grab it. Whoever had the ball at the end of the song got the shirt.
I didn’t get the shirt, but I was trying. It was like the heavy metal version of a fumble in football. People just kept diving on the pile. I hope that dude that won was okay. With all of this happening to brutal fast death metal, it was one of my favorite sets all year long.
#2: Amon Amarth (8-15-23 in Chicago, Illinois)
These guys were like if a bunch of Vikings rowed up in a galley, and then jumped on-stage and started playing metal. This show had sword fights, the Norse God Loki, a dude fighting a giant sea serpent, it was awesome. Plus, the music was heavy and get this, they had a song actually called “Raise your Horns!” Beard said it had nothing to do with us but still how cool is that?
Add in that it was an outdoor show on a great summer night and we all were moshing around and having the best time. Well, I mean not Beard, he was hanging near the back taking his notes and stuff, but I had one of the best nights all year right there. Drinking beer, moshing, and singing along with a bunch of Vikings. Best night ever.
#1: Toxic Holocaust (8-9-23 in Chicago, Illinois)
This set gets number one because it was the 2023 mosh-pit champion. This band was on fire. They looked cool as hell in those green lights, and whenever they started a new song, you were doing your darndest just to try and stay up-right. Beard was upstairs and said it looked like a washing machine filled with people just kept going on the agitate cycle. I don’t know where he gets all his metaphors, but I could see that one being true.
Song after song, the intensity and aggression never stopped. People got pummeled for almost an hour while these guys played. For a guy who loves that stuff like me, Toxic Holocaust was THE set of 2023.
So that’s it then. We made it through another year. Beard is off to look at oceans or some other weird Beard thing, and I’m going to head back to my home country and chill over the Holidays. Thanks to everyone who read or followed along on our Reviews Never Stop Tour this season. Thanks to all the cool people who bought me IPAs at our shows, or who got pictures wearing my cap. Or just with me in general. Thanks to all the hot metal chicks, (you know who you all are), that I got to meet this year at shows. This is a great gig and I love doing it.
Be sure to keep up with The Mighty Decibel in 2024 and check out our TIKTOK page (for cool videos of hundreds of bands) by searching thebeard0728 or #thebeardandlittlejohnny
Until we meet again, this is Little Johnny saying.