29Jun

Memphis May Fire at Union Transfer

In conjunction with the release of their seventh studio album, Memphis May Fire embarked on a 30-show, cross country tour with the help of some notable friends. Along with From Ashes to New, Rain City Drive and Wolves at the Gate, the Texas-based quartet hit the road for the SiriusXM Octane Presents The Remade In Misery Tour.

In the main event of the evening, Memphis May Fire wasted no time diving into their hourlong performance, starting with “Blood & Water,” the opening track on their seventh studio album, Remade in Misery, which dropped on June 3. Matty Mullins, Kellen McGregor, Cory Elder and Jake Garland clearly put a ton of time and energy into their latest record, which is littered with numerous singles that’ll be featured on hard rock charts in the coming weeks and months.

While Memphis May Fire will always be known for their hard rock/metalcore sound, the coolest moment of their performance was when they paused to dedicate one of their slower tracks, “Miles Away,” to the men and women who willingly serve in the military and, in Mullins’ words, truly understand what it means to pack up, leave your family behind and follow orders.

28Jun

From Ashes to New at Union Transfer

From Ashes to New were up next and, considering the band was started in Pennsylvania in 2013, it’s safe to say that they were just as excited for the opportunity to play a hometown show as the crowd was to see them live. While From Ashes to New — which is Danny Case (lead vocals), Matt Brandyberry (rap/clean vocals), Lance Dowdle (lead guitar) and Mat Madiro (drums) — have released three studio albums, they also spent much of their pandemic-induced downtime creating a series of Quarantine Chronicles EPs. In short, they have plenty of new material for fans and it showed with their lengthy setlist for the evening.

From Ashes to New’s well-polished performance included several highlights, including their newest single “Heartache” which was recently released. Before diving into “Scars That I’m Hiding,” Brandyberry earned a loud and warm ovation when he said to the crowd: “All the hard work of the last decade means something or if I’m in a popularity contest. You fuckers save me every single night.”

One of the more humorous moments of the evening came when Case exclaimed, “This one goes out to all of you” as he strummed the first notes of “Crazy” on his acoustic guitar. Anyone familiar with the reputation of Philadelphia sports fans completely understood where he was coming from.

27Jun

Rain City Drive at Union Transfer

While Rain City Drive might not necessarily be a household name just yet, it’s safe to say you’ve probably heard of them and are familiar with several of their singles over the years. That’s because, until last year, they were known as Slaves and they’ve been a mainstay on hard rock stations for years.

While Matt McAndrew (lead vocals), Colin Vieira (bass), Weston Richmond (lead guitar), Felipe Sanchez (rhythm guitar) and Zachary Baker (drums) might go by a new name these days, they smartly played a set featuring their biggest hits to remind the packed venue this isn’t their first rodeo. Their setlist for the evening included many of their most well known hits, such as “Waiting On You,” “Talk to a Friend” and “Dreams.”

That said, the standout song from Rain City Drive’s performance in Philadelphia was “Blood Runs Cold,” their upcoming single which will be hitting Octane’s airwaves in the not-too-distant future.

27Jun

Wolves at the Gate at Union Transfer

Before they were announced as part of the SiriusXM Octane Presents The Remade In Misery Tour, I wasn’t very familiar with Wolves at the Gate. After seen them live, I now consider myself a fan.

Christian metal group Wolves at the Gate, which is comprised of rhythm guitarist/clean vocalist Steve Cobucci, bass guitarist Ben Summers, unclean vocalist Nick Detty, drummer Abishai Collingsworth and lead guitarist Joey Alarcon, set the tone early with a high-energy set that raised the bar for everyone taking the stage that evening.

For any hard rock fans who were unfamiliar with Wolves at the Gate, diving into “Peace That Starts the War” and “Lights & Fire” back to back at the top of their set was a brilliant introduction to their sound. As the band took a quick breath midway through their allotted time, Cobucci won the crowd over when he shared, “My kids are 5-years-old and have never seen me play, but they’re here tonight.”

14Jun

Commanders once again plagued with dust-ups, distractions

Despite Ron Rivera’s best efforts, the Washington Commanders are simply unable to keep their heads down and let the work on the field speak for itself.

Hope springs eternal during the offseason. That holds true in our nation’s capital, as well as countless other cities with mediocre professional sports franchises. With a new name and several new faces, it’d be nice if fans of the burgundy and gold were able to focus on how quarterback Carson Wentz is settling in and/or which rookie is off to a fast start.

Alas, this fanbase can’t have nice things, so all attention is locked in on the handful of players who aren’t on the field for minicamp, including receiver Terry McLaurin (contract concerns), defensive lineman Daron Payne (in attendance, but skipping team drills over his contract) as well as tight end Logan Thomas and defensive end Chase Young (both are recovering from ACL injuries).

And then there’s defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who was fined $100,000 just days before the start of minicamp for insensitive remarks regarding the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building and protests following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. His ill-advised comments were so tone deaf, it almost made folks long for the quieter days … when ownership was being called to testify on Capitol Hill for improprieties, etc.

So once again, rather than dedicating attention to receiver Curtis Samuel or linebacker Jamin Davis as both try to bounce back from disappointing inaugural campaigns in Washington, all eyes are on the latest off-the-field distraction.

25May

Hope springs eternal during Commanders’ OTAs

It’s not controversial to suggest that, in most NFL cities, hope springs eternal during the offseason. Whatever did or didn’t go your way last season is long forgotten as renewed hope and a few new players pave the way to only the most optimistic outlook for the upcoming campaign.

In related news, the Washington Commanders, led by newly anointed franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, took to the practice field for organized-team activities this week, giving those not employed by the franchise a first look at the North Dakota State product in action. And while much of the news cycle continues to focus on the players who weren’t in attendance, such as Terry McLaurin (contract holdout), Chase Young (recovering from injury) and Montez Sweat (excused absence), there was still an abundance of storylines worthing of time and attention.

Curtis Samuel’s first season in Washington was marred by injuries, so seeing him running routes and catching passes (albeit in shorts and without pads on) was a welcome sight. Antonio Gibson somehow looks both leaner and stronger heading into his third season, which an optimist could see as a positive sign as the talented running back looks to get a grasp on a fumbling problem that marred his sophomore season. And then there is obviously the infusion of new talent that arrived via the NFL Draft, such as wideout Jahan Dotson, running back Brian Robinson Jr. and tight end Cole Turner, each of which has an opportunity to play a central role for the burgundy and gold this year.

18May

Buckcherry at Tally Ho Theater

Buckcherry could absolutely be the poster child for the quintessential rock band, experiencing the highest of highs and lowest of lows that come with living life on the road in such a volatile occupation.

The Anaheim band, led by frontman Josh Todd, was created in 1995, saw its self-titled debut album earn gold status in ’99 and then, thanks to internal issues, Buckcherry broke up in 2002. And yet, two decades later, the band is touring in support of their ninth-studio album, Hellbound, which was released last June.

With a sound that, at times, has been referred to as sleaze rock, Todd, along with Stevie D. and Billy Rowe on guitar, bassist Kelly LeMieux and drummer Francis Ruiz, are still going strong. Yes, they still roll out their smash hits, like “Crazy Bitch” and “Lit Up,” but newer tracks such as “Hellhound” are worth your time as well.

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