FORT WAYNE – There was definitely a pallet of flavors in the air at Piere’s Saturday night.
A taste of Chicago could be had throughout the night as opening band Man The Mighty and closers Fist To The Sky took the ‘Million Dollar Stage’. And even near neighbors to the west, Quad Cities’ Three Years Hollow, fired through another solid set. But the night was kissed with the sweet sounds of the Kiwis from New Zealand, Like A Storm, who headlined the event and killed it yet again.
As the Stormtroppers continue to chase their boys across the Midwest, the modest but zealous crowd began to gather two hours before the doors opened Saturday night. And the Brooks brothers, along with now permanent drummer Roye Robley, put on another show to remember.
“We are just as surprised every time we book shows, we just hope its not one of those nights where it’s just crickets out there,” stated Kent Brooks following the band’s set in the VIP room above the Piere’s stage. “We aren’t just playing lip service. We whole-heartedly believe we wouldn’t be where we are without all of those people. Our fans are incredible.”
Added Matt Brooks on the same topic, “Given we are from the other side of the world in New Zealand, we are so grateful to our fans who come from as far as a human being can drive. It started happening on our first tour.”
Chris Brooks sounded the didgeridoo to alert the Storm was coming, and into “Six Feet Under” the reign began. While most in the crowd was adorned in Storm gear – from T-Shirts to necklaces, even wristbands – those unfamiliar with the quartet soon were won over as the polished sound of the band filled the famous entertainment venue. Tracks like “Chemical Infatuation” and “Love The Way You Hate Me” fueled by the growls of Chris brought the aggressive side of the masses to attention, while Matt Brooks softened the mood with an acoustic blend as the evening progressed.
As has been part of the Like A Storm show for several years, the band took on a couple covers and impressed even some of the onlooking opening bands as AC/DC’s “TNT” struck a positive nerve. As the band closed out its hour-long set with “Enemy”, it crescendoed into Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise” which is one of the recordings from the band’s latest EP, “Chaos Theory, Part 1″.
“That was a huge milestone for us,” Matt Brooks said of releasing Chaos. “Any band’s second record, you go into it with the feeling of at least matching the first. But the other thing, after touring for the first few years, we had a vision of the sound, so we produced the record ourselves. It’s like an actor producing his own movie, it can only go one of two ways. When you produce it yourself, you take on the responsibility of making sure that what you turn out is good. It was a huge milestone for us to produce it ourselves and really saw our vision through. And when the fans heard it, they couldn’t get enough of it.
“It really represented what Like A Storm is and people just loved it. The result was amazing.”
Like A Storm, which most recently played in Syracuse last December and has made a number of local stops in northern Indiana, offered up its acoustic album, “Like A Storm – Unplugged” and a live album, “Worlds Collide: Live From The End Of The Earth”, both released in 2013. The band is also hoping to release new music in the near future, possibly at the end of 2013.
“We are in the process of doing it now,” Kent Brooks said, explaining the process of pre-production and recording while touring in 2012 and early 2013. “We jumped head-first into it this year, saying we can tour for a couple months and still be able to turn some music out, too, which is great for us to be able to focus on both.”
But the night was not merely about the headliners as three very potent Illinois bands took their turn entertaining the masses.
Man The Mighty openly acknowledged its mind was in two places at once as the Chicago-based quartet made its Chicago Blackhawks fandom known throughout. Feeding off its release, “I Am Icarus”, strong tracks such as “Ghosts”, “Over You” and the title track all have the new group headed in the right direction. As the band left the stage, the Hawks were up, 2-0, over the Bruins in Game 5.
Keeping with the Chicago theme, Fist To The Sky couldn’t hide its Windy City pride with the Indian head of Chief Blackhawk on its drum kit. A sound both melodic and in-your-face, tracks like “Another Lesson Learned”, “Fight Me” and “Down Into Hell” carry a similar wail of Avenged Sevenfold or Bullet For My Valentine, but still original enough to stand alone. The band’s stage presence, even as the night faded into the 1 a.m. hour as it closed out the evening’s card, was sharp and clever.
Three Years Hollow, which continues to tour relentlessly in support of its EP, “Remember”, gained steam and a solid backing as its set unfolded. The band unveiled one of its newest tracks, “Hungry”, which is being assisted in production by Sevendust maestro Clint Lowery. Three Year’s Hollow commanded attention as its set wound down by finishing with its hits “Chemical Ride” and the chart-topping “Remember”, which the band was proud to announce held the top spot on the Octane boards for multiple weeks.
Like A Storm will fall into the Chicago theme with a show tonight at the House of Blues (no word on if the Stanley Cup will be in the house), and then tomorrow play a free acoustic show at Uncle Joe’s Bar in Chesterton, Ind., before heading to St. Louis this weekend and onto the east coast for a handful of July dates.
Three Years Hollow will next play at the Rock The District show in Rock Island, Ill., this Saturday with headliners Theory of a Deadman and supporting acts Candlelight Red and Three Pill Morning. Fist To The Sky will look forward to a pair of Michigan dates in July and loose bookings the remainder of the summer while Man The Mighty will head back to the Windy City and work local gigs.