Blacklist Regulars Opens Up for Legends in New Lenox, Illinois for the #TriplePlay Concert Series on July 20th, 2019


By:  Coren E. McLeod

Man, it was a hot one on Saturday, July 20th, in New Lenox, Illinois. It is summer festival season and many are braving the sultry heat to catch some live music in their respective hometowns. I love being outdoors singing along to my favorite bands playing their music.

Weekends are made for fun and I was cordially invited to New Lenox #TriplePlay concert series by the astounding Blacklist Regulars.  Coming straight off their new full-length album release through Pavement Entertainment, “Through the Blast” is gaining the honest respect it deserves.  Blacklist Regulars consists of 4 awe-inspiring musicians hailing from Ireland and Venezuela: Luke (Singer), Arturo (Guitar), Alejandro (Bass), and Tomas (Drums).  

This particular night was an important show for the guys of #BLR. They were granted the opportunity to open for 2 legendary acts: Blue Oyster Cult and Joan Jett and the Heartbreakers.  The heat was on and the audience was building up as Blacklist Regulars prepared themselves to wow everyone who came out.

I happened to be front and center to show my dedicated support.  I have known Blacklist Regulars for the past 2 years. I heard their song “Superhuman” and was automatically hooked from the infectious guitar riff right at the beginning.  The confidence which evokes from Blacklist Regulars shows up very well in their performance. Luke is what all frontmen should be: charming, involves the crowd, and sings his heart out.  Arturo plays the guitar with precision and grace all at the same time. It is fun to watch and listen to. Alejandro, with his long hair, maintains a solid bass line, while Tomas hits the drums very powerfully.

“Through the Blast” is a fantastic album and the guys got to play some of their new music that day.  Hearing “Let It Roll” (one of my favorite songs on the CD) live was a treat. That song in particular has a tattered feel to it, yet I catch myself singing along to it without bother.

Blacklist Regulars knows how to combine alternative rock, 90’s grunge along with some beats to make their music their way.  I hear influences from Stone Temple Pilots, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Depeche Mode. You can hear precisely that in the other two innovative songs “Enemies” and “Falling From the Sun.”

With the music industry being so tough, seeing the Blacklist Regulars rise above the scrutiny to become a leading force within the Chicagoland area is satisfying to witness. Come fall, #BLR will be on the road with Powerman 5000 and touring through the Midwest.

If you have not already, make sure you pick up, stream, and listen to the astounding new album “Through The Blast” from the Blacklist Regulars.  It will leave you wanting to relive an era in which music was unfeigned, grimy and altogether forthright. I know for a fact this album will be on my Top Albums of 2019….  #Cheers 

Tantric Shatters Expectations at BaseCamp in Lisle, Illinois on June 21 st , 2019 for #MUDDFEST

It is without a doubt that when a band is on tour, they want to exceed expectations since their last performance. On Friday, June 21st, that is what happened with Alternative Metal band Tantric from Kentucky.  Currently, they are on the road with other acts like Saving Abel, Trapt, Saliva and Puddle of Mudd. The tour made a stop at Lisle, Illinois’ own BaseCamp Pub and Eatery. The locals were ready for a festive Friday night after a grueling work week.  BaseCamp was packed and ready for a good time.  

Chicagoland is known for big names, especially in the metal/ alternative realm of music:  Smashing Pumpkins, Disturbed, and even Chevelle. Tantric slays whenever they arrive into town and that is exactly what they did to the audience at BaseCamp for #MuddFest.

With a brand new drummer, Tantric is touring in support of their latest album, “Mercury Retrograde,” which is still casting a phenomenal spell over the airwaves and their loyal fans.  BaseCamp was filled from wall-to-wall with an abundance of Truly Hard Spiked Sparkling Water on hand to keep the carbs low and the rock energy high.

The eyeliner was thick among women/men and the humidity made for a sweaty situation.  Yet, there was a sense of joy and a hard party vibe which was about to explode!

The stage was ready for Hugo (singer), Jaron (bass player), Baz (lead guitar) and Ian (drummer).  Once you hear the opening violins of “Down and Out,” you get chills!!! You know what is about to go #down….  (See what I did there???? #Iamfunny #lol)

Hugo picks up the microphone and the first words he sings, “I am coming up for air so I can check myself,” reminds you of the truth, which are behind the lyrics of all Tantric songs.  Hugo’s voice is legendary: deep, soulful and sexy. He appeals to women with his swagger and men wish they can embody that. With a career that spans over 2 decades, Hugo deserves the recognition of being a marvelous front man that I have been a fan of since 2002.

There was for sure something in the air that night.  Maybe it was because it was the first day of summer. Jaron has a very commanding presence on stage.  He is a master at his Fender Bass Guitar and this is coming from a chick who has always thought Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was the bass player that everyone should take lessons from. However, watch Jaron when he plays, “Astounded.” He is aggressive, precise, and hits every note with power.  It is mesmerizing and shows an incredible amount of energy. #Cheers to you Mr. Man!!!!!

There is no question that Baz plays his Gibson guitar with a vengeance.  You see the passion, dedication, and his beautiful hair, delightful, drifting through the wind as he drives home every Tantric song.  Many jaws drop and you feel as if your body is about to shatter, especially during the hit “Breakdown.” (#Goodtimes…)

With a new drummer hailing from LA, Ian ignites a new vigor in Tantric.  Ian is heavily tattooed and smashes his cymbals during every song. His arms fly everywhere, but he is still true to Tantric’s overall vision:  Post Grunge magic accompanied by very talented musicians. #truefanhere

The end of Tantric’s session when they play live is just awesome; their finale is a very close and personal song that I tend to get emotional over.  “Mourning” has turned into romantic yet teary song which incorporates a little bit of a jam session. This helps to keep things fresh and inviting. All of the audience is engaged and loves its different feel, a standout from the songs that  Tantric is normally known for…

Honestly, I cannot get enough of Tantric.  I tell my coworkers, clients and friends/family that if Tantric is in town, you can expect me to be at their show without question. I will be dancing, jumping up and down, plus singing every word to every song.  It is what I do and is a release for the stress that I encounter in my everyday life.

Make sure to catch Tantric on tour with #MUDDFEST.  They are coming back to Illinois on July 5th with Saliva to play Top Fuel Saloon in Braidwood.  Get your tickets NOW!!!!!

And bring Mountain Dew…  ☺  #justsaying 

Welcome to Jonestown’s ‘For Punk’s Sake’ is the Thrash we all Need

Welcome to Jonestown Delivers Classic Punk Rock with a Side of Heart with Their New Album #ForPunksSake, available through all streaming services on June 7th

They always say “the third time’s the charm,” right? Well, that seems to work for the local Chicago music scene with a ton of bands announcing new music this summer. The way it typically goes with a fresh, potentially band on the horizon of releasing their 1st album, fans group together to show their support.  

Then there is the 2nd album which is referred to as the “sophomore slump”.  A lot of musicians try to avoid this like the plague. Either your 2nd album shows growth with your music or you follow along the same path.  Whatever happens, you will have critics.

If you survived the slump, you are now on your 3rd endeavor and the world is your oyster…  Well, maybe… The #punkrockboys from the Windy City of Chicago Welcome to Jonestown are ready to kick local music in the ass in the nicest way possible.  Their new album #ForPunksSake is classic punk with a side of honestly, hurt, romance, comedy, and the thrash we all need in our lives. (Yes, we need all of this… It is called being human…)

Let’s start off with the leadoff single “100 Bullets…”  Jeremy (singer, lead guitar) seems to take a few life lessons he puts it into perspective.  “100 Bullets” sounds like one hell of a night of partying with friends and that potential special someone turns out to be yet another mistake.  With anyone, you make hundreds of memories yet when it all comes crashing down; it hits you. You think about all the time spent now it just seems wasted.  With a catchy guitar riff reminiscent of Blink 182, Welcome to Jonestown grabs you with a catchy hook and a great lyric video.

There is something seriously awesome about the song “Sunspots,” track #8 off of #ForPunksSake. Maybe it is the haunting melody of the guitar. Perhaps it’s the headstrong bass lines provided by Matt who makes you want to dance and mosh at the same time.  It could be that it’s a traditional punk rock song with some influence from Bad Religion. Burnard kicks ass as he pounds the drums with speed, unlike any other.

Ever find yourself needing to take a step back and reflect? That is “Cardiac Arrest.” Jeremy takes a chance on a stripped down, acoustic song and doesn’t disappoint.  No drums. No bass. It is just a sad and truthful song pouring out one’s heart.

Other songs to love:  

“Swell Up and Die…”  (Lovely…)

“Another Shitty Song…”  (Again…. Lovely….)

“Half of Anything…..”

So, is the third time the charm? Yes. Welcome to Jonestown shows a lot of growth while staying true to what they are about: the catchy lyrics, smooth yet playful bass lines and hard hitting drums that make them a force in the punk rock world.  Jeremy, Matt, and Burnard bring their special sauce to #ForPunksSake, Make sure you give it a listen on June 7th and come out to their LP Release Party June 14th at LiveWire Lounge with Conway, OverClocked and Social Que (details here).  

Milwaukee’s Own Amberstein Talks with our Own Coren McLeod Straight off their WAMI Award

From BandCamp:  Amberstein is an American hard rock band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, formed in 2012 and founded by members Jake Warne (Vocals, Bass), Andrew Farrar (Drums, Backing Vocals), and Ross Machurick (Guitar). The next chapter occurred with a lineup of Warne, Farrar and guitarist/singer/songwriter Jason Paulsen. Newly revitalized in 2018, the band announced the arrival of Brock Betz on lead guitar and Ivan Mallory on Rhythm Guitar and Backing Vocals. Since Amberstein’s inception, they have released a self-titled EP, and an unplugged EP titled Reflection, a few singles (all re-released in 2017 as a full-length album), and an EP titled Freedom Known, released in October of 2018. Amberstein is currently writing and recording new music their next release in late 2019. Having honed their sound, the band features an abundance of three-part harmonies, intricate and melodious guitar parts, lyrics filled with genuine emotion and thoughtfully relatable themes, and rhythmic patterns which are both technically complex and easily accessible. Since the beginning, the band has been very impressionable with their live performance. Even in the smallest of clubs, the energy and veracity on stage give the concert-goer an experience they will remember long past the performance. Having shared the stage with bands such as TRAPT, Tantric, Flaw, Devour the Day, Another Lost Year, Screaming for Silence, Puddle of Mudd, Saving Abel, and countless others, as well as having played venues such as Milwaukee’s Summerfest, Mystique Casino’s Island Fest, Milwaukee Zoo Ala Carte, Revival, and rock clubs throughout the Mid-West, the band’s list of accomplishments and depth of experience continues to grow. Amberstein recently received a 2019 WAMI Award (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) for Best Alternative Rock Band. Between touring, rehearsing, writing and recording, the band takes their music and the role their music plays in the lives of their fans very seriously. The band has a sincere appreciation for the support it receives from the people who spread the word about their music and those who support the band from showing up at venues, bringing friends, meeting with them after concerts, or purchasing merchandise. Don’t miss an opportunity to catch a show near you!

You are known in the Chicagoland/ Milwaukee area.  How would you describe your unique style of music?

We just received a WAMI award (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) for the best alternative rock band, so that may be a good place to start. We have a ton of influences which show through at times, and border on progressive rock. Our writing process is thorough and we pride ourselves on strong melodies, relatable lyrics, three-part harmonies, strong guitars, and expansive rhythmic variety while maintaining a focus on tone, texture, and feel.

4)  Who influences you in music and in life?

Our musical influences include, but are not limited to: Alter Bridge, Sevendust, Shinedown, A Perfect Circle, Switchfoot, Rise Against, Ozzy Osbourne, Foo Fighters, Metallica, Rush, Kansas, and too many others to mention. Mostly, were influenced by each other. 

In life, were influenced by the amazing teachers we had growing up, our incredibly supportive families, our loving wives and girlfriends, and our dogs. 

5)  What is your favorite venue to play at?

We have favorite venues in every region, and sadly, weve outlived many of our all time favorites (RIP The Frequency, The Metal Grill, BBC, etc.). That being said, it always feels like home when we play Hijynx in Ft. Atkinson, WI. 

6)  You just won a WAMI!  Describe that moment when you heard your name called out as the winner…

We were just so excited to be there, and in such great company with the other bands. We’ve been working very hard for a long time and it’s moments like these which keep us motivated. Anytime you can receive recognition from the scene for your efforts it feels amazing, and the feeling is really just more excitement for what’s to come. Things happened fast and we took the time to thank everyone onstage. Once we got off stage there were so many people there to congratulate us that we were on cloud nine. We all took turns holding the award. Luckily we remembered to bring it home with us!

7)   I saw you for the 3rd time at 1175 Sports Bar and Grill opening for my favorite band Tantric….  How did that all come about?

We’ve opened for both or those bands once before, separately. Trapt a few years ago at The Metal Grill in Cudahy, WI, and Tantric last year at The Back Bar in Janesville, WI. We made friends with Tantric at that show, and when we saw the two bands playing together without an opener we jumped on it. Between reaching out to the venue and Jaron from Tantric (bassist, backing vocals, and all around awesome dude) we had everyone in our corner. Best of all, a lot of our fans made it out, and we had a great night with everyone!

8)  Name some of your favorite guitars/ bass/ drums to play on….

We’ve all tried a lot of brands, but we’ve been pretty consistent with our gear for a while now. Andrew plays Tama drums with Sabian cymbals. Ivan plays PRS guitars and Brock trusts his arsenal of Ibanez guitars. Jake has been playing a Wawick bass for a long time. 

9)  Okay.   You have been a band for some time.  Name an awarkward moment that happened among all of you…

Any time we’re in the studio and Andrew has a microphone things get awkward…

10)  What’s next? Q

Writing, recording, and playing awesome shows. Stay tuned!

Tantric Walks The Plank at Tailgaters in Bolingbrook, Illinois on April 11th, 2019

On Thursday, April 11th, 2019, Tantric, who I have been a fan of for the past 20 or so years, came into town and I was ready to be free.

Tantric is coming off a great 2018 with their impeccable album Mercury Retrograde released on October 5th, 2018. The guys in #Tantric are beyond brilliant and have been touring all over the United States nonstop. With that, it gives fans every opportunity to see them live and to experience the speculator thrills which is Tantric.

The crowd that Thursday night was full of energy. Tailgaters were packed with people preparing themselves to drink, party and celebrate this thing called #rockandroll. I love the anticipation right before a band officially hits the stage. Tantric is no exception. Even though I’ve seen the group over ten times, it always fills me with enthusiasm. Looking around, I had seen many emotions from the crowd.

That moment arrived at 9:00 p.m. The chords of the smash hit “Down and Out” rang out and massive screams echoed throughout the room. Tantric stepped onto the stage with confidence and knew it was their night to dominate.

If you know Tantric, you recognize lead singer and frontman Hugo’s legendary, husky voice. The ladies seem to adore him and every move he makes. Hugo sings favorites from the past and seamlessly brings out new material. His ability to spot a Saliva hat is impeccable – it’s nice to see other bands supporting one another.

The tall and relaxed bass player Jaron is awe-inspiring to watch. He is all over the stage playing his Fender bass. Jaron gives it his all while still enjoying every aspect of the performance. His dedication is seen and very much respected by all. Plus, the new red jacket he is wearing as of late makes a great statement. #loveit

Then there is Sebastian, the quiet and reserved lead guitar player who will wail on stage. Sebastian is not one to question his ability to play guitar. He can play and will leave you wanting more! The smile that crosses his face expresses the sheer enjoyment he gets out of being a musician. And believe me when I say his dad is especially proud of his son! (Look up this band called Cinderella. You may have heard of them.)

Nick, the drummer, brings energy on a new level. He may be in the background but you know he is there. With every beat, cymbal thrash and thump, Nick adds a unique element to Tantric. He plays into the audience by singing along and standing up while playing which you do not typically see from a drummer.

The standouts for that night were “Angry,” “Lie Awake, “Astounded,” “Is This Love?” (Whitesnake Cover), and the tearjerker “Mourning” to close the set. Everyone was singing along to all the songs. At one point, Jaron and Sebastian decided to play next to each other on what seemed to be two dining room tables pushed together. I saw a look of exhilaration and also a, “what the hell are we doing?” look on their faces. It was more than clear that Jaron and Sebastian were having fun. The two walked the plank and were able to joke about it later.

Overall, Tantric is an inspiration to many, including myself. Everyone gets to that point in their lives where you know what you were meant to do and for Tantric, it is to keep performing the hell out of each show! Tantric overall is what every band out there should strive to be. There may be tough times in this crazy music industry. Just keep in mind, keep moving forward, and you will be at the level Tantric is!!!!

Congrats guys!!!!!

Catch Tantric on tour as they join Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, and Trapt for #Muddfest.

Check out, their Facebook page and Instagram for more details.

VYSE Puts it Out on the Line at Cobra Lounge for Battle for Waken Open Air

Winter 2019 in the grand city of Chicago has been a truly wicked one. In fact, it has been so freakishly cold, many would rather stay hibernating than dare to brave the weather. However, that was not the case on Saturday, February 23rd at the legendary Cobra Lounge Music Venue. Despite the frigid weather, the Battle for Wacken Open Air competition was taking place and a surge of people dressed in their torn-up best went to Cobra Lounge to throw the horns for their favorite band.

At this year’s event, local Chicago bands faced off for a chance to compete at the 30th Annual Wacken Open Air in Wacken, Germany August 1st-3rd.

Lead singer Travis fronts the band with a smooth yet fierce confidence that adds a lot to his stage presence. His vocal range and melodies bring a sense of fear to each song he belts. His eyes express emotion and you can tell he feels a connection to each word passing his lips.

Alen is an energetic and charming lead guitar player. He is not afraid to show his chops while performing a guitar solo. Undoubtedly alive in each moment, his energy forces you to pay attention to each note he plays.

The ever-serious Tyler is the silent but deadly bass player who commands the stage.  His bass playing is impeccable. Tyler understands how to balance his performance with just the right amount of assertiveness.

Nathan is a force to be reckoned with. He thrashes his drums like it’s his duty and he’s not ashamed of showing it. Judging by the huge smile across his face, being behind the drum set is Nathan in his element.  

For the guys of VYSE, The Battle of Wacken Open Air was an important milestone and one hell of an opportunity. The lineup was fierce and no one was backing down without a fight. It was time to show the city of Chicago what VYSE was all about.

As Travis got on the stage, the crowd braced itself for a true metal throw down.

I witnessed VYSE at the top of their game that night. Each member had a take-no-prisoners attitude and the crowd’s energy reflected it like a brand new mirror.  

Most pits formed for VYSE as they performed “Grievances,” “Vice,” and “Neurotic.”  

Their performance at Cobra Lounge was met with roaring applause and yells of “HELL YEAH.” The crowd seemed very optimistic that VYSE won the competition.

However, let this be a lesson to you all out there:  VYSE held their head high even though they did not take the win. They were honored to be able to play this awesome event and to display what they are all about. I am truly proud of the guys of VYSE and only see great things happening for them. Make sure to check out VYSE live if you ever have the chance, You will be astounded.

The lineup included: American Slang, Bizzard Tim, Fierce Atmospheres, Heart of Jordan, H€\/rais€ha, Terranaut, Toxic Ruin, The Untold and Vyse