(Live Review) TOP 40 LIVE BANDS OF 2023 (Little Johnny) - Part 1 (40-31)
What’s Up Metal dudes? Oh, and dudessas, (I know there’s lots of chick metal fans out there too.) This is Little Johnny, partner of The Beard and frankly the star of the team. Some of you probably saw me this year in the pits moshing, banging, surfing and pounding my IPAs to great metal tunes.
I thought we did a lot last year when we went to 49 live shows and saw 219 bands. This year we hit 69 shows and 296 bands. Sometimes it was like we were checking out bands every week. It was fun and all, but Beard & I have learned we kind of dig different stuff.
Beard’s getting a little long in the tooth and he likes to remember his glory days which were long before I was born. Sometimes bands from that era still tear it up pretty well, but, honestly, I like a little heavier and faster stuff. So, this year Beard tells me I need to write my own top 40 list of my favorite live sets. He gave me all his criteria for judging bands, but I just looked at all that paperwork and thought “Dude, I’m out of school now and I ain’t doing homework for this thing.” So, I tossed them, and I’m just gonna fly by the seat of my pants like at a gig. So, if you’re like me and dig the stuff that gets you moving, you’re gonna love this. Here is part one of my favorite live sets of 2023.
#40: TOOL (11-01-23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
It was hard to really see these guys, they kind of kept in the shadows. I mean except for the drummer, man that dude was rocking. These guys had awesome lights and effects. Tons of weird Aliens and stuff were always on the back screen. I didn’t know any of the tunes and they were always kind of long, but they did make me feel stuff as they built up sometimes. Beard was freaked out by the no pictures and video rule, (until they okayed it on the very last song), but I didn’t care, I just rocked out anyway and not having a million phones out all the time was a cool change from most shows.
#39: Early Moods (11-23-23 in Chicago, Illinois)
So, these dudes were openers, but they were the best band of the night. Doom metal isn’t really my thing, but the singer was so infectious he made it fun. Dude had the biggest wildest afro hair I’ve ever seen. Looked like he stuck his wiener in an electric socket or something. Beard said he had “Messiah Marcolin” hair. Whatever that means. Short set, cause they were the first band up, but it was great. Beard bought a CD after so we could listen to them in the metal bus on the way home.
#38: Wraith: (3-17 & 8-16 both in Chicago, Illinois)
Got to see these Indiana dudes twice this year. During the show in March, I was moshing really hard and crashed right over a table. It was cool though; I didn’t get hurt or nothing. Wraith has got elements of speed metal and thrash metal and they really get you going. I moshed at their August show too, but they played earlier that night and there wasn’t as big a crowd that time. Beard let me buy a sleeveless t-shirt of them though. It was August, and when the sun’s out I got to have my guns out, right?
#37: Spiter: (5-18-23 in Chicago, Illinois)
Beard hated these dudes. They were the opening band for Midnight (more on them later.) So, Spiter are this sloppy punk vampire metal band. They were crazy man. The singer was always yelling sick stuff out and the guitar player, I think he was named Piss, was going all crazy and stuff. I thought the whole thing was pretty funny and entertaining, but Beard wasn’t having none of it. He dug the second band that night whereas I used that time to drink beer and talk to babes. Vampire punk tunes are cool.
#36: Ghost Bath: (5-14-23 in Chicago, Illinois)
Okay, right off these guys had a cool name. Beard says it’s a metaphor for committing suicide in your tub though, so that was a bummer. I was just picturing a ghost taking a bath. They were from North Dakota. I’ve never been there but Beard says it’s mostly just open space and meth-heads that aren’t allowed into Canada. (Ed: Keep the boarders closed says the Canadian editor!)
Ghost Bath were weird musically. Not super-fast or nothing. Their music seemed like it was off a half beat but on purpose. Beard said they were black metal mixed with shoegazing. Man, I don’t know what the %^&@ looking at my sneakers had to do with it, but he’s the one who actually researches this stuff, I just thought they were a cool act.
#35: Revocation: (4-5-23 in Joliet, Illinois)
These guys were from Boston and played what Beard called technical death metal. I think that is because the singer went to some fancy Music School College or something. Anyway, I just liked their look and sound. It was heavy and musical and there were good pits to crash around in.
#34: Urine Hell: (5-5-23 in Chicago, Illinois)
Another opening band, and again my favorite of that night. This punk rock kind of dude starts up and like 30 seconds into the first number he has already jumped off the stage and is moshing with me in the front. Nailed me pretty good too. Now, I don’t actually know what any of the songs were about. He was screaming and grunting something about something, but the drummer was pounding away, and we were all having a blast marching around in our circles and slamming off each other. I don’t know what Beard thought, but I had a pretty good time.
#33: Vixen (9-8-23 in Saint Charles, Illinois)
These were some old chicks, like Beard's-age-old who I guess have been playing metal for like a hundred years or something. Whenever we go to that Arcada place it tends to be somebody old.
Normally too, there’s no room to pit or do anything but sit and watch the show. Beard digs that but I get antsy. This time though, I ended up having a great time. I think the bass player kind of dug me. She kept smiling at me when I was rocking out to their songs. I think she was actually the youngest one, (still old cause I think she was like in her 30’s), but kind of hot too. Anyway, they sang songs about doing it and fast cars and other stuff I like, so see, occasionally I do dig Beards old people bands.
#32: Kernugia (9-30-23 Blades of Steel Festival Night Three Madison Wisconsin)
This three-day fest was put on by a buddy of Beard's. I think his name was Randy. I just remember the dude always looked like he’s about to punch you in the face or something, but Beard says he’s a super cool guy and really smart about music. When Beard says somebody’s smart about music they must be REALLY smart cause Beard is always talking my ear off about bands and historical musical stuff.
Anyway, this band Kernugia really went to town. I remember I was moshing and slamming when all of a sudden there was this chick wearing a Nun’s outfit in the pit thrashing with us. She was cool. I mean she kind of had resting bitch face I thought, but then I remembered in the orphanage nuns always looked like they were pissed at you, so maybe she was just in character. Anyway, it was still really cool to see her slamming around in there. Pits are fun.
#31: Sorcery (4-14-23 Metal Threat Fest Day One Lombard Illinois)
Now, when a bands album is called The Necessary Excess of Violence, you just know they are going to be killing it live. They had that mix of death metal and Viking sound, and the songs were a little longer so you could get into your rhythm better. I think both Beard & I liked these guys a bunch.
Okay, so that does it for part one. I’ll be back next week with part II #30-21 where I tell you more about cool bands you can drink beer and party with and have a great time.
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