Hellyeah – Varsity Theater – August 7th 2019

Sometimes a concert is more than a concert. Most often, shows are marketing tools to promote a new album or to keep the revenue coming in when album sales start to slide. This show was none of that. This wasn’t a show to promote the band, to promote the new album or to stay relevant. This was a show to promote the lives and legacy of those who’ve contributed so much to the craft of making music, shaping music, performing and entertaining. Unfortunately, those lives have been lost recently and Hellyeah wasn’t going to sit idle and let those contributions be recognized only be coincidence. It would have been very easy for the supergroup Hellyeah to take the loss of their drummer, bandmate and friend, Vinnie Paul as a good enough reason to disband and put an end to a 5 album, 9 year run. They didn’t and honestly they’re better for it. The strength that it takes to move on is a message delivered by example that gets a lot of people through the day and challenges in life. That strength, the resolve it takes to put your boots back on and get back to work was something felt not just through this band, but from the entire lineup.

Sleep Signals took the stage first. It was great to see the guys on a homecoming show. They tend to put everything they’ve got into not just performing their songs but entertaining the growing crowds they open up for. It would be very easy to attempt to compare Sleep Signals to other bands as they have a fairly common sound if you’re not actually listening. I caught their show earlier this year opening up for All That Remains where I’d never heard of them before. Typically familiarity breeds contempt, or that’s how the old saying goes. Not the case with Sleep Signals, the more I hear them through shuffling playlists and live shows, the more they’re growing on me. This band will eventually come into their own and solidify the sound that is easily recognizable as distinctively Sleep Signals and I’ll be there to cover them when they’re out headlining their own shows.

Nonpoint is not a new band to the adrenaline based power metal scene, but I can’t say that I’ve been terribly familiar with them before last night. I now feel like I’ve deprived myself of a whole mess of awesome music. After last night, I’ll be changing that immediately. They took the stage and commanded the attention of the huge crowd that had already assembled for the show. Nonpoint brings a unique sound with them. The lyrical flow that runs like an unimpeded river, the crunchy riffs, butter smooth transitions, stellar solos, what’s not to love about this band? It is clear that they are fans of their own music, which gives them the ability to remain a unique and desired band, filling various audio needs handily, song after song. If you know their songs, you can’t help but sing along, if you don’t know their songs, you do your best to fake it. Everyone was participating in the show during their set. I couldn’t find a single person in the crowd that was just standing their looking lost. Their powerful moving sound just grabs a hold of your body and if you’re not flailing around like a lunatic, at least three body parts are moving in time to the driving basslines and solid beats. Then they hit a breakdown or a solo and you might as well have never had any self-control to begin with. Nonpoint earned at least one new fan last night. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys again whenever I get the chance.

“Some people don’t know the difference between rich and wealthy. Rich is this (money), wealth is this (gathering/community)” – Chad Gray

It isn’t often that I grab a verbatim quote from a lead-singer’s monologue and use it to open up a review. Usually, by the end of the night it has gone from something deep and meaningful to blah blah blah (or worse). This quote went right through the skull and punched me straight in my brain. I felt the words way down in my soul and I won’t soon forget them. That was really the overall theme of the whole night. Celebrate. Celebrate the life and legacy of those who are no longer with us, but more than that, celebrate what is right in front of you. Take one thing that you love everyday and fully embrace it, treasure its existence.

Hellyeah came out from the start and delivered an epic performance. Certain expectations are set for an energetic, punch you in the chest, go nuts type of environment from videos and just the general feel of the nusic. They sustained it and crushed those expectations in their delivery. The show was obviously not spur of the moment, they knew what they wanted to deliver and they certainly did. Right from the start of the show, lead singer Chad Gray found himself standing on the front row security rail within the first 5 minutes of the show. This set the stage for both the band and the crowd to be part of the show. You really could feel that the band wanted to do this show to help the fans heal from the loss as much as they needed it themselves. For many fans, this was much more than just a kick ass concert on a Wednesday night in the dead middle of summer. For many fans, this was their way to pay respects to Vinnie and bring themselves to closure over his death. There were a lot of healing moments that could be heard and seen during the 5 minute tribute video that played near the end of the show. At the end of the show as the theater was emptying, there was a very clear feeling of “We’re ready to move on, but not without you, buddy. You’ll be here with us always”

Review and photos by Paul Allen