Highly Suspect with Dead Poets Society Concert Review
February 28, 2023
The Castle Theatre
Highly Suspect returned to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois on Tuesday, February 28th. They sold out The Castle Theatre again. The band was here in 2017 and sold out that show as well. We know from research that listening to live music increases endorphins and serotonin. Tuesday is as good a night as any to get those good brain chemicals at a live show. Live music is probably as good if not better for boosting your mood. The winter is dragging on in central Illinois. Most of the locals had work the next day but are old pros at going to bed late and getting up early.
Opening for Highly Suspect was Boston rock band, Dead Poet Society. The band formed while band members were attending Berklee College. The band consists of vocalist, Jack Underkofler, guitarist, Jack Collins, drummer Will Goodroad, and bassist Dylan Brenner. You may have heard their song “CoDA.” on Spotify’s Dirty Rock playlist. The band was unassuming with a simple, four-piece stage set up. No certain style in their clothing as they wore generic jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. The music was all over the place. Each live song sounded different from the song before it. There were punk undertones with a Deftones feel and then some math rock breakdowns. The crowd really enjoyed their set. For fans of cleopatrick, Franz Ferninand, and just creative rock. You can learn more about Dead Poet Society on their website: wearedps.com
DEAD POET SOCIETY
DEAD POET SOCIETY
DEAD POET SOCIETY
DEAD POET SOCIETY
DEAD POET SOCIETY
DEAD POET SOCIETY
DEAD POET SOCIETY
DEAD POET SOCIETY
Grammy winners, Highly Suspect, is touring in support of their fourth studio album, The Midnight Demon Club. The album was released on September 9, 2022. While some critics say the album is not as strong as their previous albums. I think that The Midnight Demon Club is one of their best albums. Some of the songs are more electronic but still rooted in great guitar riffs and poetic lyrics. The single, “Natural Born Killer”, reached number one on U.S. Mainstream Rock chart. The video is a statement on pharmaceuticals with an avant guarde harbinger of death with ice cream cones of drugs to help people cope with their life traumas.
Highly Suspect squeezed onto the stage at The Castle Theatre. Their backdrop was Highly Suspect in dripping paint and an awesome artwork to go along with The Midnight Demon Club song list. Unfortunately a lot of the artwork was covered by the light bars behind the band. Regardless, we were there to listen to the music and get our fix of Serotonin.
The band took the stage on time and wore unique t-shirts and jeans and some MCID gear. Vocalist, Johnny Stevens, was wearing a Selena t-shirt. They started the night with Bath Salts. Their setlist consisted of old and new songs. The fans knew every new song off of The Midnight Demon Club. The album is so catchy. If you listen to it, next thing you know you’re singing the lyrics,
“I-I hate myself
But I’m loving this
Yeah, I could never fix my shit
But I’m so good at judging it”
Rich Meyer took over the vocals when performing the song “Arizona” acoustically. His voice is amazing. The song sounded so sad that you wanted to hold your lighter in the air and just feel the song. During “Claudeland”, Johnny lit up a cigarette so we knew it was the final song.
The full setlist:
Natural Born Killer
Midnight Demon Club
Look Alive, Stay Alive
In many ways, Highly Suspect is one of the true bands who are pushing the envelope of rock in a place of their own. They are not doing what everyone else is or trying to get more views or go viral. They are artists lyricizing our fears, pointing out what’s f*cked up, and feeling the heartache of lost loved ones. Their live show never disappoints and you should see them if you can.
Highly Suspect Concert Review
September 23, 2017
The Castle Theatre
Highly Suspect came to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois on Saturday, an unusually hot day. The show had sold out within the first week. Blo-no’ers were ready for a rock show. They had been in the grind of back to school and work for while now. Several fans came from miles around to see the three time Grammy nominated Highly Suspect at The Castle Theatre. The Castle Theatre is one of the premiere intimate venues in the Midwest.
The backdrop for Highly Suspect was the acronym M.C.I.D. which stands for My Crew Is Dope. Which means that their friends and fans are dope. Tattoos, snapbacks and t-shirts abound with the #mcid and the MCID Nation is real. DJ Redbees started spinning tunes and acted an informal emcee for the bands. The music he played was not loud but really background music for the wait.
Openers for the show, Bones U.K., wowed the audience with their blues rock and fiery attitude. Rosie Bones comes out on stage with a flask and an instant cool attitude. Guitarist, Carmen Vandenberg, was impressive. Bones U.K. has recently co-written Jeff Beck’s album “Loud Hailer”. Their own songs are filled with fun, spunk and attitude. Most notably, their song “Girls Can’t Play Guitar” and Rosie Bones told us the story about the man that inspired that song. You can learn more about them from their Facebook page: Bones and Bones
Introduced by DJ Redbees, Highly Suspect took the darkened stage. Drummer, Ryan Meyer,came out, followed by Rich Meyer, bassist and then the vocalist, Johnny Stevens. MCID Nation was ready to see these guys live. I was impressed by the live show from the plugged in guitars to the technical guitar playing. Highly Suspect’s song writing make the listener feel as if we are part of their experience. Whether it is the melancholy “Little One” or the gritty “Bloodfeather” or the anthemic “My Name Is Human”, you feel the songs. These songs are not just for casual listening.
Their complete set list for the night:
1. Send Me An Angel (Real Life cover)
2. Bath Salts
5. Fuck Me Up
6. Round & Round
8. Viper Strike
11. ATL/Drum Solo/ATL (reprise)
12. My Name Is Human
13. Little One
15. Look Alive, Stay Alive
During the last song, the tech took over on drums and Ryan decided to do a little crowd surfing. What a fitting end to a perfect Saturday night rock show.
Spring Fling 2019 with headliners A Day To Remember and Incubus and Buckcherry
May 31 and June 1
Riverfront Festival Park
Spring Fling 2019
Spring Fling has grown from a one night small show featuring three bands to a two day large festival. Central Illinois has been plagued this spring with neverending rains. It had been so long with rain every day that the surrounding farmland sat unplanted. So going to an outdoor show is a gamble. In this day and age, no one wants to sit outside in the rain possibly getting their phone wet and being wet for hours on end. The weather could not have been more perfect. The temperature was in the seventies and it ranged from cloudy to sunny the entire festival. The music was heavy on local bands. Peoria, who is known for local artists like Dan Fogelberg and Mudvayne. There has been a market for hard rock in the area supported by one of the largest radio stations of 105.7 the X Rocks.
Friday night featured headliners A Day To Remember. The opening bands were locals 3AM Project from Peoria, Illinois are an independent band with a heavy rock sound. They had a solid set with dedicated fans from the area. Burden of The Sky is a local alt-metal band from Bloomington, Illinois. They released their debut album independently called Cinis ad Cinis (Ashes to Ashes). You can listen to it here. Burden of The Sky Website
Click to view Burden of The Sky Photo Gallery
Next up were heavy hitters, Memphis May Fire a metalcore band from Nashville, Tennessee. The band is a Warped Tour veteran and their sound has evolved over the years. Their newest album, Broken, is “both a perfect distillation of everything the band has achieved creatively, with the group’s signature passion and diversity, and a bold leap into the future”. Their singles, “The Old Me” and “Heavy Is The Weight” resonates with listeners who may be going through the same questions about being better people. While their new music has a certain radio quality, there is still a breakdown for the old fans who need to let go in the pit.
Click to view Memphis May Fire Photo Gallery
Asking Alexandria is the next huge band graced the stage of the first night of Spring Fling 2019. Asking Alexandria is now considering themselves a rock band and their sound has made a distinguishable turn to more radio hits. The band is from York, England. They parted from their original singer, Danny Worsnop in 2015 when Worsnop left to work with his rock band, We Are Harlot. The band recruited singer, Denis Stoff, who toured with them extensively. Then in 2016, Danny Worsnop, rejoined the band. They have release an eponymous album that contains more introspective songs such as “Alone In A Room” and “Into The Fire” with a theme about reflecting and becoming better people. Danny Worsnop was sporting a hat, t-shirt and sweat pants and commented about being tired from a 30 show tour they just come off of. He apologized for looking homeless but the band performed well.
Click to view Asking Alexandria Photo Gallery
A Day To Remember (ADTR) is a post-hardcore band from Ocala, Florida. Post-hardcore is screaming and melodic singing with punk roots. The band has built up success since their formation in 2003. They put on one of the best live shows of any band. A Day To Remember has interactive fan participation. They usually have crowd surfing galore, beach balls, a t-shirt cannon launching t-shirts to not just the front of the crowd but the far reaches. The first night of Spring Fling 2019 in Peoria was no exception to the amazing show that ADTR puts on but the set list was brief. One of the best moments of the show was the crowd singing along to “Sometime You’re The Hammer, Sometimes You’re The Nail” off of their album Common Courtesy. The band was embroiled in a dispute with their record label and going through a lawsuit when the album was released. The lyrics on that album relate back to their battle so it must be so rewarding to hear the lyrics back from the crowd.
“I reserve my right to feel uncomfortable reserve my right to be afraid
I make mistakes and I am humbled every step of the way
I want to be a better person I wanna know the master plan
Cast your stones, cast your judgement, you don’t make me who I am”
The encore consisted of their acoustic song “If It Means a Lot To You” and their staple song “The Downfall of Us All”
Click to view A Day To Remember Photo Gallery
Day 2 of Spring Fling started early with a pre-party stage beginning with local bands, Cole Hollow, Dark Lit Sky, and Beyond Threshold. Opening for the headliners, Buckcherry, was their tour mates, Joyous Wolf. Joyous Wolf is from Orange County, California and they are bringing back good rock n’roll. Their guitarist, Blake Allard may look very familiar as he stars in a Verizon commercial about talking with his dad before shows. The vocalist, Nick Reese, is a tireless, spirited performer who starts their set by doing forward flips and does not slow down from there. Their music is self-destribed as alternative. I am reminded of Mother Love Bone in their sound. You can see my interview with Nick Reese, here:
Joyous Wolf Interview
You should see the band live. I can describe their show to you and you can watch all the video clips you want but nothing is like seeing them live. Joyous Wolf Website
Click to view Joyous Wolf Photo Gallery
Peoria favorites, Buckcherry headlined the early show. Buckcherry has been a band for twenty years. Their hits span a lifetime that started with “Lit Up” and “Crazy Bitch”. Did you know their name is a play on Chuck Berry? The band just released their eighth studio album called Warpaint. The album contains some ballads and a cover of “Head Like A Hole”. While the band has changed their lineup over the years, the founder and vocalist Josh Todd remains. He reminded us during the show to “Live with passion. Do what you love because you only do this shit once!” There is always a good time when Buckcherry performs. Everyone loves their realness and no bullshit attitude.
You can pick up their latest album on tour or at their website: Buckcherry
Click to view Buckcherry Photo Gallery
The main stage started with local favorites, Autumn Rove. They have been gaining fans with their no-nonsense alternative rock. The band, Spirit Animal, was next. I had never even heard of them before. I must say at first I was not exactly sure what I was listening to and then as they went on. I could not help but dance along. I especially liked their songs”The Truth” and “Painkiller”. Their music was somewhere between the Eighties and Vance Joy. They sell their t-shirts and they made a point to make sure not to call one yellow because it is banana fucking cream.
Click to view Spirit Animal Photo Gallery
The Glorious Sons were the next opening band. The band comes from Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Their hit S.O.S. (Sawed Off Shotgun) is burning up the airwaves. A song about being down on your luck. Everyone can relate to the bad luck anthem.
Click to view The Glorious Sons Photo Gallery
Badflower is a rock band from Los Angeles, California. They released their debut album OK, I’M SICK on February 22, 2019. Their singles “Ghost” and “Heroin” have been met with rave reviews. Their songs are haunting and ethereal. “Ghost” is about self-harm and “Heroin” is about a relationship that is bad for you. Badflower reminds me of a medicated Highly Suspect. The physical similarities between Badflower vocalist Josh Katz and Highly Suspect vocalist Johnny Stevens further confuse the two bands. However Badflower is making their own way and their songs resonate with fans. Katz did some crowd surfing Saturday night.
Click to view Badflower Photo Gallery
The headliner, Incubus, has been around since 1991. The alternative rockers also hail from California. Best known for their hits of “Drive”, “Pardon Me”, and “Wish You Were Here”. “Drive” is the soundtrack to so many peoples lives. The band’s success is partially due to the god-like beauty of vocalist, Brandon Boyd. He had been voted as one of the ‘hottest guys in rock’. He writes and also paints lending to the sensitive art guy who captivates us all. Tonight the music captivated the fans. They had a large stage set with three L.E.D. screens with scenes from sunsets and oceans in the background. Most of the band stayed in the shadows during the show with the spotlight on Brandon. The band has had the same line up since 2003. Founding members Brandon Boyd, guitarist Mike Einziger and drummer José Pasillas II are joined by turntablist Chris Kilmore and bassist Ben Kenney. The band is working on new music this year and the fans are looking forward to hearing new music. The night could not have been more perfect. The weather was fantastic. The music sounded great.
Red Sun Rising Concert Review with Greta Van Fleet, Through Fire and Deadset Society
Limelight Eventplex, Peoria, Illinois
Nutcracker 2017 was the twentieth year for the holiday rock show from radio station 105.7 the X in Peoria, Illinois. In the age of rock radio getting shut down over the years, it is nice to see rock radio actually doing well. The powerhouse radio station has had much of the same staff over the past time and put up a slideshow of the bands that have been at Nutcracker through the years. We have to love any radio station that brings rock shows to the area. Some of the bands were Papa Roach, Linkin Park, Chevelle, Sevendust, Pop Evil, Highly Suspect and so many others through the years.
The evening started with Deadset Society. Deadset Society, formerly known as Never Say Die is a Canadian rock band that consists of members Reid Henry and Brendan McMillan of My Darkest Days. This is where they have landed when My Darkest Days vocalist Matt Walst went to front Three Days Grace. The former Three Days Grace vocalist, Adam Gontier, has formed Saint Asonia with Mike Mushok, formerly of Staind. Keeping up with the changes of bands members in the scene can something require a spreadsheet. Deadset Society’s biggest hit, “Like a Nightmare” is off their album Destroy + Rebuild has had tremendous success. Their live set was short but energy filled. They performed their songs and also snuck in “Porn Star Dancing” (My Darkest Days Cover).
Through Fire is a rock band from Omaha, Nebraska. Their biggest hits “Stronger” and “Breathe” have had active rock radio play on over the air stations and also satellite radio. Through Fire’s vocalist, Grant Joshua Kendrick, donned some Bowie Ziggy Stardust inspired makeup and came onstage in a black stocking cap but released his hair later to head bang. The crowd knew their hits and their current single, “Where You Lie” about deception.
Next up was Greta Van Fleet. The band is known for sounding a lot like Led Zeppelin. Everyone there wanted to see if these boys had the goods to go with the hype that they are the next Led Zeppelin. If you only listen to the band and do not realize it is Greta Van Fleet, you might mistake their songs for new Led Zeppelin songs. They have the blues rock sound that Led Zeppelin so successfully produced. Now to see if they reference Tolkien in their lyrics or maybe they might go with Harry Potter references. They might lose some of their coolness unless they reference something a little less popular and I have to suggest the A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin.
The band comes from Frankemuth, Michigan and is named after a woman in the town and uses the name with her permission. The band consists of three brothers, Josh (vocalist), Sam (bassist) and Jake (guitarist) Kiszka and Danny Wagner (drummer). Josh and Jake are twins, aged 21 and Sam is 18 and Danny is 18 also. Turns out the band is the real thing and seeing them is something special as they will be the next biggest artist to start selling out arenas. Everyone who was there knows they witnessed seeing the band before they were huge.
Josh Kiszka they delivered a mature performance and is a true tenor which reiterates his similarity to Robert Plant. We all wondered if the band could really deliver the same quality live as their double EP, From The Fires. Jake Kiszka, guitarist, wowed the crowd by playing behind his head. Their stage wear was exactly like something out of the seventies and eighties with Josh wearing a dashiki ensemble. Sam had the leather bomber from the eighties with flags of different countries. In their merch, they were selling the essential jersey shirt and also a velvet black light poster.
The band performed a cover and it was not Led Zeppelin. “Evil(Is Goin’ On)” by Howlin’ Wolf as a tribute to the great blues artist. Their full setlist:
Talk on the Streets
Black Smoke Rising
Edge of Darkness
When the Cold Wind Blows
You’re the One
Evil(Is Goin’ On) (Howlin’ Wolf cover)
Mountain of the Sun
Lover Leaver Taker Believer
Click to view Greta Van Fleet Photo Gallery
Red Sun Rising is another band that is the future of the resurgence of rock. The band comes from Akron, Ohio. Their singles, “The Otherside” and “Emotionless” went to No. 1 on the Billboard rock charts. Their cover of “Uninvited” by Alanis Morrissette puts vocalist Mike Protich’s vocals on display. Their style is basic hard rock such Audioslave, Pop Evil, or Shinedown. I believe their vocalist has the natural ability to be as good as Chris Cornell.
The band has been in Peoria four times in the past couple of years including Nutcracker 2016 with Pop Evil. Their set started with sound issues that caused echoing during the first two songs. They performed a new song initially but it was hard to hear it and of course the band was distracted by the sound issues. Later, the echoing sound issues were rectified but the levels were still not up to par with vocals being drowned out by the instruments during some songs.
The band members were almost unrecognizable as all their long, beautiful hair was cut short with the exception of guitarist, Ryan Williams who still had shoulder length hair. The band says their next album is written and the final touches are being put on it. Red Sun Rising performed another new song called “Veins”. It had an upbeat tempo and reminded me of Foo Fighters. Their fans are anxious to hear their sophomore album. There were no sound issues during their cover “Uninvited” by Alanis Morrissette and Mike Protich’s voice sounded amazing. Their set only lasted about an hour. The band ended the night with an encore of “Emotionless”.