Black Label Society/Children of Bodom/Clutch – Hard Rock Orlando

This was definitely a memorable show in terms of how weird of a package it was.  Individually each of the bands put on a good show, but as a whole it had an indescribable, albeit not bad, feel to it.  Mixing the stoner rockers of Clutch with Children of Bodom’s melodic death metal and then the straight forward metal attack of Black Label Society makes for a night with as many mood swings as a pregnant woman at one in the morning without pickles and cheesecake.  Then you have to imagine mixing the ten or twenty jam band kids who came to see Clutch meshed with the Hot Topic Bodom fans and the middle aged Ozzy fans with a drinking problem and a lack of hygiene who came to see Zakk Wylde.  Also, Hard Rock has thankfully loosened up on their no moshing, no crowd surfing, no camera rules that kept them as just a little bit more Nazi-ish than House of Blues for years.  It definitely makes for a better place to see a metal show these days at least if you can stomach paying between 15 and 17 dollars to park on Universal property.

Opening the night was 2 Cents.  They bring a good energy to the stage and lots of catchy choruses as if they were little brothers of Five Finger Death Punch.  Adam O’Rourke, the lead singer takes his homage of Phil Anslemo and Pantera a bit too far to take seriously though from his facial expressions, to his hair, to his strutting on stage, down to stopping the song mid-chorus for more fan participation.  They blew through 25 minutes of their set while occassionally rambling about their love for metal, weed and pussy before finishing the set with a cover of – you guessed it – Pantera.  Thankfully they covered ‘Strength Beyond Strength’ which is a wonderful song that I’ve only seen Smile Empty Soul cover live aside from them and not ‘Walk’ or ‘Cowboys From Hell’ in typical poser fashion.

Clutch took the stage to a mixed reaction from the crowd because they lean towards the bluesy jam style too much for the hardcore metalheads to appreciate.  I am personally a huge fan of the band and I was one of the handful who really enjoyed their set but some songs felt very out of place for the tour.  Songs like ‘Pure Rock Fury’, ‘Politician’ and ‘Immortal’ all are very good songs and quite the treat on a Clutch headlining show, but they don’t provide the same crowd pleasing energy a tour lineup like this requires as songs like ‘The Mob Goes Wild’, their seemingly retooled version of ‘Gravel Road’ and ‘Electric Worry/One Eyed Dollar’ did.  Hopefully they gained some new fans from it, but if they did, odds are it came from the older Black Label Society crowd.  One thing I love about the band that could possibly sway fans into seeing them again is that each night they are great about totally changing their setlist up.  There are too many bands that will play the same songs for two and three tours in a row apparently on good faith that people only go see them once in the same city but Clutch is a rare breed there and it’s always a surprise to see what they play from night to night.

Children of Bodom is always a treat to see live, especially when they actually come to Florida for us.  The band went through eight songs in what seemed like entirely too short of a set, which is a normal feeling after watching Alexi Laiho put on a clinic with his signature ESP.  The band made sure to both include newer songs like ‘Blooddrunk’ and ‘Living Dead Beat’ and older songs like ‘Angels Don’t Kill’, ‘Hate Me’ and ‘Silent Night, Bodom Night’ to appeal to both new and old Bodom fans.  Most of the younger audience was there for Children of Bodom, and I think that for all of us Bodom fans 45 minutes made most of us feel like it was only foreplay for another 45 minutes or a band like Lamb of God was coming up next.

Black Label Society were no slouches though – or at least not after the first few songs passed.  The set opened with ‘The Beginning… At Last’ and then ‘Crazy Horse’ and it had the feel of a band just getting warmed up since nobody was really in any hurry to move around or anything and Zakk Wylde was still stationary enough to maintain his hat.  As the set continued however, the train picked up a head of steam and every song seemed to have a little bit more intensity to the one prior.  By the time the band reached ‘Overlord’ and ‘Parade of the Dead’ they were at full throttle until the piano was rolled out for the obligatory Dimebag tribute ‘In This River’.  ‘Fire It Up’ was a perfect way to pick the intensity right back up afterward though and then it became a ten minute audition of Zakk Wylde’s guitar skills being demonstrated in plenty of picture capturing moments.  It was also apparent that the set was also a exhibit for Zakk to show off just how many sexy custom Gibsons he owns (with the exception of the coffin shaped Epiphone’s because those are just plain ugly).  It was obvious that he was also in a better place with his newfound sobriety since his rants about Ozzy, assless chaps and gay jokes were notably absent for the first time.  The band closed the set with their four biggest singles in a row by playing ‘The Blessed Hellride’, ‘Suicide Messiah’, ‘Concrete Jungle’ and ‘Stillborn’ before leaving with a bow.

This is definitely a tour worth catching if you’re as diverse with your music taste as I am.  However, if you’re just there to see one band on the bill and don’t remotely care about the other three, it might be worth holding off on depending on your funds.  I was happy that I went and would go see the same tour again gladly if it rolled back through, but it was definitely quite a variation of styles, which might be just the reason that it’ll be quite memorable for many years to come.

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