A few weeks ago, Elipzis bassist Ryan Harrison offered me some complimentary tickets to a show they'd be playing on December 18th, which was the WRIF Jingle Ball in Warren, Michigan, just outside of Detroit. Because I was going down there that weekend anyway, and because I'm overdue to see this rising local hard rock band in action, I agreed! However, after an issue involving a hacked Facebook account, there wasn't any follow-up on Ryan's offer. Then, Elipzis announced last week that they were holding a contest for three prize packages from the band and GHS Strings, the guitar company who sponsor guitarist Chris Webster, including lots of GHS swag and two tickets to the WRIF Jingle Ball. Fans could enter by e-mailing their MySpace page to suggest what song they should open their set with. Still hoping to go, I entered and suggested they open with "Six Shots". Not long after, I was informed I won, so it was off to The Ritz in Warren for me! Before I discuss their set, I want to add that all four members of Elipzis (and their manager) are complete class acts who were all welcoming, kind, and completely lacking any rock star egos! I couldn't say enough nice things about them, and I want to thank them for the hospitality, the copy of their demo, and for everything else they've said, done, and offered before and since!
Elipzis were fourth on the bill, smack dab in the middle of the show, following three other female fronted Michigan rock bands: Anderson Valley from Oakland County, and Detroit's own Mound Road Engine and Fillmore Slim. I missed half of Anderson Valley's set (I didn't figure they'd start so early), but they got in the Christmas spirit and sounded alright, though nothing about their sound or set really stuck with me. Mound Road Engine were heavier and I loved their frontwoman's stage presence, but her voice had an odd nasal tone. Her range was very nice though, and the band were energetic and had some good sounds! Fillmore Slim were more original, especially from their look, though not as heavy. More of a glam rock sound, with decent aggression and some catchy songs, but the singing wasn't as rangy as I'd have hoped. When Elipzis hit the stage, the audience was sadly pretty sparse up front, but the band sounded really good! I hate sounding locally biased, but I'm 100% honest: They were the best band to that point! I have praised frontwoman Rachel "Fizz" Kiger's singing before on the SMS, but live, she sounds pretty close to the studio tracks, so theres little to complain about there! I like the operatic quality her singing can take on certain songs, and she honestly had the best vocal range of the singers from the bands on Saturday night!
Chris Webster shown off some nice riffing and solos during Elipzis' set, and though he seemed a bit tucked away in the corner of the stage, he shown a high energy level and seemed into each song! Ryan Harrison, who I previously was most familiar with as a singer in the now-defunct Riot! By Night, proved to be a more than capable bassist as well! His lines and notes sounded good when they were audible, though some solo sections would be nice to hear once in a while! Drummer Bob Helsten (a.k.a. Orb Hearthstone of I.S.O.M. and End of Existence fame) was very much into into each song on drums, never faltering, while offering some brutal backing vocals on "Take Me On"! That's something I'd like to hear more of, as you can never be too heavy! What struck me about these guys (and girl) especially was their chemistry. It was evident on every song, be it the originals on their demo or their covers of songs by Evanescence and Halestorm! After their set, the band members expressed disappointment (or worse) concerning the sound at The Ritz and the audio feedback they heard throughout the set, but I honestly couldn't tell, they sounded just fine to me!
It was really nice to see Elipzis after months of covering them here, and I never would have guessed that my first time seeing them live would be somewhere other than Sault Michigan! I honestly would rank them very high, if not #1, of the bands that played at the WRIF Jingle Ball, as they had the best mix of hard rock, top level singing, and visible chemistry of the bands on the bill! Radio hard rock fans will be sure to enjoy Elipzis, so the next time they're back home, make sure to check them out! And because of the fact that a "review on the run" for the SMS is a new thing (and it's the Christmas season), I took two videos, so check them out below, Elipzis playing their originals "Take Me On" and "Forensic Truth"!
The rest of the concert featured three more bands, including Detroit hard rockers 60 Second Crush, California solo artist The Fabulous Miss Wendy, and Detroit rock quintet Sponge. It's interesting to note that all seven bands on Saturday except Sponge had a female member, and of those, all but 60 Second Crush had a female singer. Women were definitely in control on Saturday in two different respects: on stage and on stripper poles, where a raunchy Santa Claus' "naughty pole dancing elves" provided entertainment of their own. No I didn't get pictures, in case someone asks, I don't want to invoke any negative responses in case someone finds that stuff offensive. Of the top three bands, 60 Second Crush had a solid sound but the frontman's singing was pretty standard and didn't stack up to the female singers of earlier. The Fabulous Miss Wendy really impressed me with her guitar skills and energy, and the fans responded well to her! Former Kid Rock guitarist Kenny Olson also joined in during her set, which was cool to see, especially from a guy who enjoyed Kenny's work with Kid Rock before he went country on us. Sponge though, I have to admit, didn't grab my attention at all. They weren't all that heavy, the songs seemed to just lie there, and nothing seemed glaringly original. They had awesome crowd support, but I can't say I really enjoyed them.
The atmosphere was also really nice, with holiday wreath raffles (I won one from No Fun Records), merchandise from Chiller Drive-In and Fourtwenty Clothing, and live broadcasting for Detroit rock station 101 WRIF! This was a fun concert, and different from what I usually see locally, which isn't a bad thing! I made out with lots of prizes, a great first impression of Elipzis, and some good music to boot! Maybe down the road, I'll review more sets from local bands if they play a concert out of town when I'm in the same area!
Finally for today, here's some big news from local doom metal band Woods of Ypres! Remember last August when I mentioned the interview that frontman David Gold conducted with the Canadian comedy metal podcast The Governor's Ball? Well, a new interview with David is featured in the newest "blackened holiday" episode of The Governor's Ball that was posted online on Friday! Conducted while David was still in Kuwait (he's back home in Canada now), The Governor asked David about why he went to Kuwait, what it's like for him out there musically, Woods of Ypres' signing with Earache Records, why they finally signed a label deal, their upcoming new album "Woods V: You Were The Light", Earache's reissue plans for "Woods IV: The Green Album" (how does a vinyl release sound?), plans for some unreleased newer material, and the things he'll take back from his Kuwait experience. The absence of talk of Woods of Ypres' fake breakup is odd, but it's a nice long interview that covers a lot of ground about the band's past and future! The Governor lets David talk about anything and everything without interruption, which is nice, and he also injects some humour into the proceedings! His "horror villain" voice is especially unique, it always has been! I don't listen to The Governor's Ball as often as I really should, but I have got to amend that!
The interview starts about 1:30 into part 2 of the current episode, and runs until about 20 minutes into the file. We can't leave it there though, as pretty much as soon as the interview wraps up, music plays underneath The Governor's speaking, evolving into...A NEW WOODS OF YPRES SONG! It's their new album's title track, "You Were The Light", and it's a very solid number that feels like a more upbeat (but still doomy) version of a "Woods IV" song! I won't pass detailed judgment until we review "Woods V", but it won't get a negative review! It runs from around 20 minutes in until roughly 26 minutes in, and after a short commercial for The Governor's Ball, it's time for ANOTHER new Woods of Ypres song! Entitled "Falling Apart", it's much heavier than the first track, and also a really cool song, but again, I won't give a detailed critique until "Woods V" is in our hands! This song runs until around 33 ½ minutes into the file. So, how can you listen to the interview with David and both of the new Woods of Ypres songs? Just click here! It opens as a QuickTime file on my browser, but it works on other media players if you download it. Check out the rest of the podcast at this location, including Part 1 and the latter half of Part 2, featuring guest co-hosts Silenoz from Dimmu Borgir and Ivar Bjornson from Enslaved talking about metal and their bands with The Governor! This is well worth your time, give The Governor's Ball a listen TODAY, and I'll have more from Woods of Ypres as it comes in!
I'd normally say that this is all for today, but I just remembered: I have a Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile to post tonight! It is on S.C.A.R., featuring local solo artist Mike Haggith, so watch out for that in the next few hours! Stay tuned!