All posts by Katie Silverman

Writer, Photographer, avid fan of Role Playing Games and Harry Potter. Dog lover and craft beer enthusiast. Occasionally wears hard hats.

REVIEW: Evanescence Uplifts the Crowd With Synthesis Live at Comerica Theater 10-17-17

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PHOENIX Evanescence brought a whole new level to their performance by teaming up with several orchestras around the US and Canada to promote their new album with the “Synthesis Live” Tour. The band’s fourth album Synthesis is set to be released in the fall of 2017, specifically November 10th. Downtown Phoenix was buzzing Tuesday, October 17th as fans eagerly anticipated the start of the show. Anyone who is familiar with this band knows that their music all has the same major trait to it: it’s intense. Whether it’s a soulful ballad or a heart pounding rock anthem, vocalist Amy Lee knows how to excite a crowd and keep them on their feet. This tour, however, was set to be a whole new experience from any other in the past.

Inside the concert area, center stage could be seen decked out with typical instruments; microphone, drum set, and a piano. The full orchestra surrounded them, warming up on a dark stage lit only by a hint of a purple hue. As the rest of the lights dimmed to signal the beginning of the show, the orchestra took it’s moment first to shine as it guided the audience through a symphony of sound. Wooden bows mixed with the sounds of brass and percussion shook the concert hall for several songs before turning the stage over to Lee. Met with rousing applause, Lee stepped up to the piano and played “Overture” off of their unreleased album.

Evanescence - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Amy Lee (Vocalist, Pianist) – Evanescence
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Transitioning into “Never Go Back” from their 2011 self-titled album, everyone remained in their seats as her velvet-like vocals spilled into the crowd, and entranced them with explosive melodies and vocals that still possessed the true Evanescence sound. And even though the audience being stationary is not the norm at her shows, Lee made it known that even without the head banging and stage dancing, this show was going to rock. “Thank you for being here tonight”, she said out into the darkness. “I just want you to know… Just because there’s an orchestra here, just because we’re sitting, doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to MAKE NOISE!!” This was met with thunderous cheers from the audience, ready to see what was in store for them next.

Evanescence - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Evanescence
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

As the sixteen song (plus three-song encore) setlist progressed, the audience was taken through every level of nostalgia imaginable. Performing songs from each of their four albums, Lee’s ever present talent was really put into the spotlight. Almost like that of a rock opera, she gave off a Sarah Brightman vibe, from her outfit to her unfaltering voice as she belted the lyrics to her most popular tunes. Not having to do the intense movements a typical Evanescence show calls for worked in her favor as well, allowing her to focus more intently on her vocals. She took to the piano for several songs, singing her soul-searching ballads under a single spotlight as she expertly ran her fingers across the ivory keys. As if that weren’t enough to completely draw the crowd in, her beautifully haunting music was accompanied by a spectacular light show that emphasized the tempo and important parts of each song.

Following “Imaginary”, and before performing “Secret Door”, Lee took a moment to express appreciation for her fellow band members for stepping outside of their comfort zones to accomplish something new. “It’s a lot of fun for me. I think we’re all having fun up here. I want to give it up for my amazing band right now who had to go all the way outside the box! Beautiful, personal, amazing musicians who trusted me. Thank you.” She also later thanked the fans for trusting them.

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As the set was nearing an end, there was one song that stood out in particular. With a sense of duality, Lee segued from the piano solo “In-Between” to the contrasting “Imperfection”; the second single from Synthesis. A pianist seamlessly replaced her at the piano bench, while she returned to center stage and unleashed the fierce song that combines the band’s current sound and channels the band’s original rock essence. It was able to fill the room with a powerful energy reminiscent of the time Evanescence came by storm with Fallen in 2003 (certified 7x Platinum); up through their time spent on the Family Values Tour in 2007 with the likes of Korn, Atreyu, Flyleaf, Trivium, and more. The light tech went all-out for this one as well, blanketing the room in a sea of color and shapes that perfectly aligned with the melody.

Before the first song of the encore, she asked the audience to indulge her before she played a solo song, “Speak to Me”, which she said they’ve only played live once, “so be nice.” Following this humble expression was a seemingly flawless performance of the song. The intensity and emotion was enough to send chills, especially as she hit the high note in the last instance of the lyrics, “Hear me call your name.

Wanting to interact more before she closed out the set, Lee took some time to get more personal, vulnerable, and authentic with the crowd. She talked about having nagging self-doubt, and that regardless of it, you have to persevere and overcome it. She related with every person in that room by telling them that she too has these feelings of doubt and uncertainty.

This is silly that I’m starting to talk now, after all of this time… You guys ever have that thing, where you don’t exactly know your place, and you’re just constantly inside, like, second-guessing yourself… ” One audience member shouted out, “Every day”. She continued, “…Here comes the punchline… wondering if you’re good enough? …You gotta fight that voice in your head. I fight that voice in my head every day. We all have to fight that voice in our head, we are good enough, you do belong here. One day at a time, ‘kay? Thanks for sticking with me.

Her sweet words of encouragement and love were met with resounding response, fans screaming her name, and a few tears. These uplifting sentiments were a tie-in the the song that followed; “Good Enough.”

Evanescence - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Amy Lee (Vocalist, Pianist) – Evanescence
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

After the closing song, “Swimming Home”, Lee expressed, “Tonight has been so special to us, thank you, we love you.” By now the audience could no longer contain themselves, and Lee was met with a standing ovation from the entire theater. As she exited the stage, she bowed with the orchestra instructor and blew a kiss to her fans.

Lee and her band not only managed to put on another incredible, unforgettable show, but they also were able to give their fans a bit of encouragement to take home with them. There is no doubt that Evanescence will only have more surprises for their fans when they tour next, and that Phoenix should be ready when they do.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Evanescence – Comerica Theater 10-17-17

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All Content © Kataklizmic Design.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No Stealing

REVIEW: Halestorm Brings the Mayhem to Rock the Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair 10-12-17

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PHOENIX The city’s weather was perfect on Thursday, October 12th as it enthusiastically welcomed Halestorm to the stage. People of all ages swarmed the Arizona State Fairgrounds for one of two reasons; fun rides and fried food, or heading to the Coliseum for a show that would allow them to experience rock at its pure essence.

Lzzy (Elizabeth) Hale is and has been the lead vocalist since the band came into existence in 1997. Anyone who has been to a Halestorm show can confirm that she posses a stage presence unlike any other female artist in the industry. From the moment she stepped up to the mic, there was a fierce connection between her and the crowd that remained throughout the entire show.

Halestorm - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Lzzy Hale, Vocalist – Halestorm
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Even as the music shifted from fast-paced, bass pumping rhythms to slower, more haunting ballads and back again, her passion for their music poured from her. Literally and figuratively in this case, as sweat dripped from every pore, whether she was dancing around the stage during “I Am the Fire” or aggressively playing her piano for her more emotional ballad “Dear Daughter.” One would think she would steal any show completely, but with this band that is simply not the case.

Joe Hottinger, Guitarist &
Lzzy Hale, Vocalist – Halestorm

Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
© All Rights Reserved

Midway through their set she did something often seen at a concert by pausing midway through one of their main hits titled “I Like it Heavy”, from their third album Into the Wild Life, to introduce Arejay Hale, who is her little brother and Halestorm’s drummer. He is also an original member of the band, asking his sister over breakfast, at 10 years old, if he could play drums for her when she was telling her parents about wanting to start a band. Without returning to the song, Arejay instead spent the next six minutes in an intense, heart-pounding drum solo that shook the Coliseum walls and drove the crowd insane. “WHAT’S UP PHOENIX?!”, he yelled into his mic as he brought the solo to an end. He then took out chopsticks and proceeded to prove his pure talent as he effortlessly played the drums with them as if used them everyday. People cheered loudly, and it was obvious this bit is a crowd favorite. Still not finished, he pulled out broomsticks next and successfully played the same beat he just had with much smaller sticks. The crowd was losing their minds with amazement at this point, so Lzzy Hale took the stage once more to finally bring the song they had started playing nearly fifteen minutes before to an end. It was truly a unique transition of focus and made for an unforgettable introduction.

Halestorm - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Arejay Hale, Drummer – Halestorm
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

One other thing Halestorm always makes clear when they perform is the love they have for their fans. After spending a good portion of the last half of the show playing upbeat, intense songs, Lzzy took a moment to toast the crowd with these words; “Thank you Phoenix for having us. Here’s to Rock and Roll, here’s to us being excellent to one another, and here’s to Arizona!”, which received thunderous applause and exuberant screams that were quickly drowned out as she launched into the beginning chords of “Here’s to Us.” This song brought out more emotion in the crowd than any song had yet. There were people pumping their fists and they sang back the lyrics they knew so well next to people hugging one another as they also sang along.

Halestorm - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Halestorm at Veterans Memorial Coliseum – AZ State Fair
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

This band really knows how to evoke emotions from a crowd. Even as they closed their set with the ever popular “I Miss the Misery” everyone was out of their seat, head-banging along to the beat and dancing with their hands in the air. The band didn’t give on their end either, wrapping up their final song with so much intensity from the music and the light show you could feel it at your core. “Thank you so much Arizona, we fucking love you!”, Lzzy said, which was met with roaring applause and a room full of metal horns.

The band bowed together as one and exited the stage. As the lights came on and everyone began to file out of the Coliseum, various chatter had already started about the show and how unforgettable it was. For never meeting a majority of their fans, they have a way of making every one of them feel like family. So it’s only natural that Phoenix will anxiously await the next time Halestorm returns to rock this city, and our hearts.

PHOTO ALBUM

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

Halestorm – AZ State Fair 10-12-17

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Photography © Mark Greenawalt. All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Sedona’s Michelle Branch Returns to AZ to Serenade Fans at Crescent Ballroom 07-26-17

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PHOENIX — Even the intense July heat could not exhaust the bubbling excitement surrounding the sold out Crescent Ballroom last Wednesday night as fans of all ages poured into the venue, ready to watch Michelle Branch take the stage. It was almost as if the city itself knew that one of it’s own had come home. Once inside, people gathered in little bundles or nestled themselves in corners and around tables in the bar, loudly chattering with excitement for Michelle’s set to begin.

In the concert area, the opener HAERTS had just begun, guiding the audience into a mellow atmosphere that would last throughout their set. As the songs continued, it was apparent that the crowd was not going to do this band justice. Side conversation and constant movement drowned out the soulful lyrics vocalist Nini Fabi sang. However, the fans closest to the stage were completely entranced by her beautiful words, and could be seen swaying back and forth.

As soon as HAERTS took their leave from the stage, everyone in the room gathered close and waited in anticipation for Michelle to come on. She was met with rousing applause and cheers as she came from backstage, and without a word strapped on her guitar, and went right into her first song, “Last Night.” Like most of her set, the first song and the two that followed came from her brand new album Hopeless Romantic, which was released back in April of this year.

Michelle Branch - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Michelle Branch
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

People who listened to her music before know Michelle Branch to have more of a pop/country vibe to her music. However, this time she has completely revamped her musical style, and it showed as she went effortlessly from one song to the next, dancing around the stage or making subtle hand movements around the mic as she sang. The crowd was loving it, especially during the third song “You Get Me” when she suddenly exclaimed “Phoenix how you guys doing tonight?! It’s so good to be home, even if it is too hot to go outside!” This was met with loud, amused cheering. Along with their excitement came a moment of uncertainty however, as to how to respond to her new style of music. There were various people moving back and forth or clapping lightly to the beat. Some were even singing along or just cheering the entire time. It took until she played “All You Wanted” for the crowd to really get into it. She took a different approach to the old crowd favorite, slowing down the tempo and singing in a lower pitch, but that didn’t stop everyone in the room from singing along joyously to the lyrics they had come to know and love.

Once the thunderous applause died down from our first moment of nostalgia that evening, she took a moment to talk about her new album and the steps that it took her to produce it. After that she took a moment to introduce us to her “family from the road”, including her drummer and now fiance Patrick Carney who also happens to be the drummer for The Black Keys. When the introductions concluded, the lights dimmed as Michelle and her female band mates gathered around a microphone and prepared to “bring a little Nashville to Phoenix” with their rendition of “Leave the Pieces” from Michelle’s 2006 album Stand Still, Look Pretty, which she produced as part of the band The Wreckers.

She then continued our trip down memory lane with a slow tempoed, almost seductive version of “Game of Love,” written and produced with Santana. She rounded out this part of her set with the ever popular “Breathe” which produced the biggest crowd response of any song so far. Everyone was up and dancing, jumping up and down to the beat, and singing loudly to the words, threatening to drown her out completely. Even the band moved around the stage as they played, giving off the exact vibe expected to come from her show.

Wanting to bring the focus back to her current album, she finished out the show playing more upbeat songs, not stopping as she effortlessly navigated through “City”, “Fault Line” and “Living in a Lie.” The energy from these songs was enough to keep the crowd fully drawn in, even when she had to pause a time or two in between songs to tune her different guitars. She brought the set to a close with one last oldie but goodie “Are You Happy Now?” Following her flow from earlier on in the show, she slowed this one down as well, singing very closely to the mic while keeping her eyes closed. The vibe around the whole room was warm and satisfied as they gently swayed in unison to the lyrics in the dim lighting. She was met with a resounding applause as she stated a simple, “Thank you Phoenix”, and left the stage with her bad in tow.

Michelle Branch - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Michelle Branch
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

She didn’t make it far before the crowd exuberantly began yelling “Encore!!”. This went on for about a minute before Michelle and her band returned to the stage. She began by thanking Haerts for playing with her that evening, explaining, “I listened to Haerts a lot while writing this new album.”. Then, she went on to remind us one more time, “It is so nice to be home! I cannot believe I’m playing here again.”, giving us all a sense of pride to share our hometown with her.

The Birthday Massacre setlist Phoenix 7-26-17
Michelle Branch setlist
Crescent Ballroom 7-26-17
(Click to Enlarge)

She finished her set by singing two more old favorites; the soulful “Goodbye to You” and an unexpected solo version of “Everywhere.” Before starting her final song, she made a promise to the crowd that. “it won’t ever be this long ever again” in terms of her producing new music. Almost as if she didn’t want the show to end, she beautifully sang the lyrics of her biggest hit in a sensual, almost haunting manner, keeping the crowd entranced up until the last note.

Thank you again Phoenix”, were her parting words as she waved at everyone as she exited the stage, hugging people along the sides as she went. As the crowd left the concert area, there was a feeling of content in the air knowing that everyone got exactly what they wanted from this show, and that it will not be another decade before we welcome Michelle home once more.

REVIEW: Bayside Co-Headlining Show Has Low Vacancy at Marquee Theatre 4-21-17

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Tempe was bursting with anticipation Friday night as fans of co-headlining Bayside and Say Anything gathered early outside Marquee Theatre, pushing their way inside to claim their spot in the front row.There was a tangible buzz in the air as people of all ages lined up to be checked by security outside the theatre.

The air was crisp in my lungs as I walked rather quickly behind Burning Hot Events concert photographer Katherine towards Will Call to claim our press passes for the evening. As we arrived for Bayside in the nick of time following some transportation chaos, the opening band, Reggie and the Full Effect, had set a fast-paced tone for Bayside to take the stage after them. As the set change became evident, audience members rushed to claim their place before the stage, rumbling with shouts and claps in a flurry of excitement; and I hurriedly followed suit to find my place in the front corner near the security barrier.

As I quickly worked to get my things in order, I could feel the deep rumbling of the bass move from beneath my converse and slowly encompass the rest of me as the band did a quick warm up. The vast, dual-level concert area makes for great acoustics, which they used to their advantage as they dove into their set with the ever-popular “Already Gone.” The breakneck tempo of this A Day to Remember-esque song sent the crowd into a frenzy of cheers and metal hands as the band members danced around the stage to the opening chords.

Bayside - Photo Credit: Kataklizmic Design
Anthony Raneri (Lead Vocalist, Guitarist), Bayside
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design

What’s up Phoenix?! We came to sing with you and dance with you!,” vocalist Anthony Raneri shouted into his mic, attempting to rouse the crowd even more. This song comes from the band’s fifth album Killing Time, which was released back in February of 2011, and it was obvious why they chose to open with it. The exuberant crowd danced and sang along in unison, receiving copious opportunities to sing back the words they’ve come to know so well. Raneri made it known immediately to everyone there that the rest of this particular set was going to be filled with high energy and vivacious songs. And they did not disappoint.

Bayside - Photo Credit: Kataklizmic Design
Nick Ghanbarian (Bassist), Bayside
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design

This being my first time seeing Bayside live, I can honestly say I didn’t know what to expect, but the next 12 songs following the opener all had one thing in common: they were meant to make you move. Wanting to keep the electricity flowing, Raneri continued to captivate the crowd with other old favorites such as “Sick, Sick, Sick”, “Masterpiece”, and “Blame it on Bad Luck.”. Guitarist Jack O’Shea and bassist Nick Ghanbarian could be seen dancing around stage the entire performance, singing passionately as they moved fluidly from one song to the next.

They even included a few songs off of their new album Vacancy, and while it “isn’t a breakup album”, the songs were written to portray a very uncertain time in vocalist Raneli’s life. That doesn’t mean they have to sound that way, however, and as “Mary” followed hastily by “I’ve Been Dead All Along” were blasted through the speakers I was standing precariously close to, the frenzied tempo was enough to keep everyone moving.

Bayside - Photo Credit: Kataklizmic Design
Jack O’Shea (Lead Guitarist), Bayside
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design

While the set was primarily focused on the music as opposed to engaging the crowd, Raneli did pause about halfway through the set to discuss their new album. “CDs are expensive to make and even more expensive to buy” he stated matter-of- factly, and went on to inform the concert goers that the band has created a $5 version of their new album that is available for purchase now. The roar in response was deafening, and all the motivation Raneli needed to jump into the next set of fiery songs that would steadily keep the energy of the room at maximum level right up to the final song “Devotion and Desire” off their very first album.

Bayside - Photo Credit: Kataklizmic Design
Bayside
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design

As I left the Marquee that evening, I couldn’t help but notice how quickly I moved, or the extra spring in my step. This band had even found a way to keep the energy flowing through me, even after their set was over. They show true passion in their music on and off the stage, and gave me the motivation to be as fluid with my writing. This was admittedly my first time writing a concert review for Burning Hot Events, but I can easily say that if every show is like Bayside, I will definitely be back for more.    

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Bayside – Marquee Theatre 4-21-17

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All Content © Kataklizmic Design.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO STEALING