First, the boring statistics.
This year I saw thirteen shows. That includes two two-day festivals (ProgPower USA and Milwaukee Metalfest). That’s considerably more than the seven shows I saw in 2000, but doesn’t reach my sixteen-show record in 1999.
In all those shows, I saw 39 different bands (44 performances in all). Fifteen of those bands were from foreign countries, including Sweden (5), Norway (3), Germany (2), Finland, Portugal, Italy, England, and Colombia (1 each). Also, most of these shows were in venues around Chicago, USA.
Now the short recaps. Overall, I don’t remember too many mind-blowing performances, instead, the year was characterized by a large number of “very good” sets.
ProgPower USA (2/23-2/24): Hard to believe this show was in 2001, isn’t it? It was a good show all-around, although I’m not head-over-heels in love with any of the bands I saw. Pain of Salvation was the most impressive, and it was nice to be able to see “big names” like Symphony X and Evergrey.
Amorphis/Opeth at House of Blues (4/12): Opeth was great, although their set didn’t measure up to their first American show at the Milwaukee Metalfest the year before. Amorphis is worth seeing just because they’re Amorphis, but I don’t think they’ll ever be known as a great live band.
Nevermore/Opeth/Angel Dust at Hard Rock Cafe (4/26): Second show for Opeth in downtown Chicago in two weeks, and like the first one, the audience thought they should have been the headliners. Angel Dust was a nice addition, great presence and very heavy. Nevermore was Nevermore. Very good as always, with the “as always” being the only problem.
Savatage/Fates Warning at House of Blues (5/6): An unexpected pairing. Savatage was incredible, just as good as the first time I’d seen them, three years before, with both shows ranking near the top of my all-time list. I’m not much of a FW fan, so their set has pretty much faded from my memory.
Mayhem/The Chasm/Disinter at Riley’s Rockhouse (7/1): Mayhem put on a hell of a show, and Maniac didn’t even cut himself, beyond driving barbed wire into his arm. Hellhammer is an amazing drummer, Blasphemer is very innovative guitar player, Maniac is very bizarre presence, especially up close, Necrobutcher was just having a hell of a lot of fun. Hard to believe that they were the worst thing I could imagine when seeing them three years previously at the Metalfest. The opening bands were blah, although Disinter played an At the Gates cover, I believe.
Aterciopelados (and some other bands) at Aragon Ballroom (7/6): A large “Rock en Espanol” concert, which I attended just to see Aterciopelados. They gave a very entertaining performance, but the best part was being a 6’4″ white guy standing out of a sea of Hispanic people. The crowd gets into the show just as much as a metal crowd, but in a completely different way.
G3 at Riviera Theater (7/10): My brother convinced me to go to this one with him. I guess it wasn’t too bad, but I don’t need to see another one. I liked Petrucci the most by far, Satriani was pretty good, and Vai just made me giggle.
Estradasphere/Tubring at The Note (7/27): Fourth show of the month, and Estradasphere probably put on the best performance I saw the whole year. Simply an amazing group of players, and a hell of a lot of fun too. Tubring was a great opener as well.
Milwaukee Metalfest (8/10-8/11): Overall it was a pretty good fest, I would rate three of the performances “very good” or better (Anathema, Einherjer, and Amon Amarth), which is more than most Metalfests. Other bands I watched that didn’t suck were Darkane, Helstar, Steel Prophet, Grey Skies Fallen, Jag Panzer, Maudlin of the Well, November’s Doom, Primal Fear, Rain Fell Within, and Soilwork.
Savatage/Nevermore at Riley’s Rockhouse (9/18): Very strange to see Savatage downgrading to a venue like Riley’s. I’m sure they had more guitars in there than they’d ever had at any time. However, although the performance was good, for some reason it didn’t come near the two previous times I’d seen them. It’s still quite amazing though how “Morphine Child” is 150 times heavier live than on CD. For Nevermore, see above.
Megadeth/Iced Earth at Midway Theater, Rockford (11/1): Iced Earth blew me away as always, even with their short opening set. Megadeth was pretty disappointing, especially since nearly every other review I’d seen from the tour said how great they were. I’m still not sure if it was their performance or if it’s just me.
Megadeth/Iced Earth at Kitt’s Korner, Cross Plains, WI (11/9): Iced Earth blew me away as always, even with their short opening set. I was right up at the front for their set, and I was sqeezed like I hadn’t been squeezed since I saw Iced Earth in Athens. So obviously people were really into them and hopefully they made a lot of new fans. I actually didn’t stick around to watch Megadeth this time.
Moonspell/Lacuna Coil/November’s Doom/Avidost: Rockhouse USA (12/13): An extremely well-balanced show and while none of the performances would reach the top of my all-time list, it was easily the best string of four bands I’ve ever seen playing together (ok, second best string, I forgot about Sentenced/Demons & Wizards/Dark Tranquillity/Iron Maiden). And that’s far more enjoyable than seeing one great band with three shit openers.
I believe Marduk/Amon Amarth is on the table for this month, so it looks like 2002 will be getting off to a good start soon…