Thing just never seem to slow down. I feel like I’m still recovering from my birthday over the weekend, am prepping to leave for Iowa today, and had family in town from Colorado last night. Things have been a little insane to say the least and I was definitely a bit stressed as I sped over to The Varsity Theater last night and ran from the parking lot to the venue. I was late, later than usual, and because of that, things just felt a little off but that familiar feeling of calm came over me as I passed through security and entered the sweaty crowd. Cheesy? Absolutely but I can not stress enough the power of live music and that power was exactly what I needed last night.

Sadly I missed local opener- Sleep Signals. My apologies to the band but having seen them just a couple of months, I can tell you that they killed it. A powerhouse in the local scene, I love the fact that these guys were the sole local on Wednesday night’s show. They are a great representation of the local hard rock scene and are definitely making the Twin Cities proud with every show they play.

A quick moving show with only three bands, Nonpoint was just kicking off as I finally got inside. Nonpoint is one of those bands that I never really think to listen to but always love seeing live. They are one of those bands that is such a stellar live band that their recorded music can never (and probably will never) do them justice. They proved that that is still true last night. Vocalist Elias Soriano has this uncanny way of commanding an audience with just the flick of his dreadlocks. Add the fact this his voice is flawless and he has this positive aura about him and the rest of the band and everything else this band has to offer and you are left with a truly stunning show.

As mentioned, I really don’t know much about Nonpoint other than the fact that they have an irresistible live show. I was the only one in that boat. This band has an impressive twelve albums out and somehow knocked it down to a nine song set that left the entire audience screaming along to every word. One of the nine songs was an enjoyable cover of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” that had every the most crabby and intense metalhead in the audience smiling from ear to ear.

HELLYEAH closed out the night by keeping the level of energy that Nonpoint (and inevitably Sleep Signals) had put in place soaring beyond expectations. A bit of a super group, HELLYEAH is probably best known for the tragedy surrounding the band and one of their iconic members. Drummer and co-founder of Pantera, Vinnie Paul, was the original drummer for HELLYEAH but sadly passed away suddenly just two years ago. A tragedy like this has the power to stop bands from going on with their music and shows but not this band. HELLYEAH has taken the heartbreak of loosing their brother and turned it into a show of true support, community, and love.

Vocalist Chad Gray (of Mudvayne fame) had a lot in common with Elias of Nonpoint when it came to his impressive way of commanding the crowd. His bright red (or pink?) dreads flew around as the man stalked the stage and bridged the gap between stage and audience by leaning against the barricade separating the two and screaming his iconic songs. Although definitely “a thing” in the hard rock (I’m not going to go as far as to say metal), I loved the way that Chad wasn’t afraid to jump into the audience and do his thing. It truly brought a sense of personality and “real life-ness” to this band that, as a supergroup, doesn’t really need to be there.

The names and faces that join Chad in this group are familiar to those in the scene. From Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour) behind the drumset to bassist Kyle Sanders (brother of Troy Sanders from Mastodon and the resemblance is clear) to Tom Maxwell (Nothingface) and Christian Brady (just an all around amazing guitarist), there is definitely some talent in this band and that was heard loud and clear. From sweeping guitar solos to intense drum patterns, there was constantly something to be heard and seen which kept HELLYEAH’s fourteen song set moving quicker than some would have liked.

The entire night was a celebration of life for Vinnie Paul. Instead of being sad and depressed about it, the band tributed the man with a couple of Pantera covers and a whole lot of passion in every note played and every word sung. How do bands get over a tragic event like the loss of a member? Take a note from HELLYEAH because they definitely nailed the balance of remembrance and tribute and made it clear that although Vinnie isn’t with us in this life, he is still with all of us through the iconic music he played.

I busted into The Varisty on Wednesday night very stressed out, late, and just in a bit of a funk but, as soon as that music hit me, it all changed and I found myself in my happy place. Don’t underestimate the power of a live concert.

Line Up:

Sleep Signals

Nonpoint

HELLYEAH

Venue: Varsity Theater

Sausage Fest Meter- 9 out of 10

Average Age of the Crowd- 35

Crowd Surfers- 9 counted but there were surely more

Mosh-Ability- 7.1 out of 10

Stage Divers-  None

Broken Bones- 0

Spotted Flying Through The Air- Bodies

Fights- 0

Pukers- 0

Drunkards Taken Out By Security- 0

Celebrity Sightings- None

Overall Score- 7.1 out of 10

Show on Deck- SLIPKNOT!!!

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