Words/Photos: Chris Rugowski
EPIC Event Center in Ashwaubenon was ripe with adults, and now parents with kids both young and old on Friday, May 19th for the Ugly Kid Joe who were on their first U.S. tour in 27 years. It’s as if time stood still all these years when Whitfield Crane started singing.
UGLY KID JOE
A little history lesson, I was only five or so years old when this band first started hitting commercial success in the 90s so when I asked my 40-something friends about this band they all went down memory lane. I pulled them up on YouTube and Spotify to familiarize myself to a degree and fully realized what all the hype was about. This band “back in the day” was great, and the fact is, even after 27 years they’re still great. First off, the talent the singer has, all night long just killing it. Never once was he off-key, and the whole time even with the gruffness in the songs he was singing without issue. Next the guitarists, both of them with ease just riffing away to the songs, the solos were awesome, and I loved how they played games with each other. The tones were reminiscent of the original recordings too. Their cover of “Cats in the Cradle” is hands down the best version I’ve ever heard from a band. Then you add in “Ace of Spades” – the second to last song – you can’t go wrong. The members of this band have more energy than some younger players I see. Their new stuff was also very heavy, with a somewhat proggy look and feel, I liked it. This along with their old stuff was made for a perfect mix of fun rock and serious rock, and people who were enjoying the night.
From the moment Fozzy walked on stage the energy in the room intensified by a level of 10, and guitar amps were definitely at volume 11. Their stage presence is great, all of them owned that stage like it was their home for 30 years. They knew how to rock out and do it in style. That alone made for a great set. Guitarist Rich Ward looked so happy the entire time, you couldn’t smile. I appreciated how for each song the TV changed programming, it was a unique touch to the show, and if you were paying attention enough you could tell each song related to the TV show. They did the best rock cover of “Relax” Frankie Goes to Hollywood I’ve ever heard and enjoyed. I was dancing along to this tune the whole time. I’ve never enjoyed the song more than I did at this moment, and “frankly” the song is already a fun one to just put on and get some blood flowing. It’s obvious this band was having fun the whole time. The smiles and energy were infectious.
PISTOLS AT DAWN
Kicking the show off, another brand new find, I had no real idea what to expect. Their guitarist came out and played a solo. It was wonderful. And he just kept the energy going. The singer’s voice reminded me of Ben Burnley (Breaking Benjamin) mixed with Chester Bennington’s (Linkin Park) scream. Their song “Cold” was quite enjoyable, if this wasn’t a radio single, it should’ve been. The band overall reminds me of Adema meets Breaking Benjamin, a really good mix. The vocal harmonies especially reminded me of something like you might find with Incubus, or, the band Cold. The bass tone inside EPIC was great, I hope the bassist has that tone everywhere. Their live show is definitely on par with their studio recordings, and even a little better in my opinion.
Overall it was a great night of rock n roll without the need for any fancy stage design. All of the bands were great in their own right and they didn’t need fancy theatrics for the music to be made better.
RAD WINGS OF DESTINY U.S. TOUR
3 San Diego, CA @ Brick by Brick*
4 Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent^
5 Ventura, CA @ Majestic Theater^
7 Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Cafe^
8 Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater^
11 Houston, TX @ Rise^
12 Dallas TX @ Echo^
13 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom^
15 Kansa City, MO @ The Truman^
16 Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theater*
18 St Charles, IL @ Arcada Theater^
19 Green Bay, WI @ Epic Events Center^
20 Turtle Lake, WI @ St Croix Casino^
21 Indianapolis, IN @ Hi Fi Annex^
22 Moline, IL @ Rust Belt^
24 Flint, MI @ Machine Shop*
25 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theater*
26 Mechanicsburg, PA @ Lovedrafts*
27 Pittsburgh, PA @ Jergels*
28 Leesburg, VA @ Tally Ho Theater*
30 Winston-Salem, NC @ The Ramkat*
1 Atlanta, GA @ Centerstage^
2 Cottonwood, AL @ Yellow Rose Theater^
3 FT Myers, FL @ The Ranch^
4 Tampa, FL @ Jannus Live^
5 Destin, FL @ Club LA^
7 New Orleans @ LA House Of Blues,*
9 Austin, TX @ Come and Take It Live*
10 San Antonio, TX @ Rockbox*
^ Ugly Kid Joe + Fozzy + Pistols at Dawn
* Ugly Kid Joe + Pistols at Dawn