Alice in Chains Live at the Wiltern
Alice in Chains is a band I’ve always liked, but never “loved.” (Please don’t hurt me, fanboys!) However, I was very excited to see them perform live, and I recently had the chance.
The show was at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, which I’ve visited twice before to watch Faith No More and Coheed and Cambria. This time, however, the only tickets I could secure for myself and my friend Dave were up on the balcony. (I had been on the floor both times previous. This tidbit of information will factor into my review.)
As usual, I wore one of my own designs to promote my art/website. However, instead of my normal Lebowsi tee, I tried wearing my Jimi Hendrix caricature tee, pictured below. I got one or two compliments on it, but nothing like the typical response to my Lebowski tee. Accepting my promotional failure, Dave and I grabbed a couple beers and took our seats upstairs.
The New Regime
The opening band was called The New Regime. I later found out that this is the solo project of Ilan Rubin. I’d never heard of him, but I’d heard his music without knowing it. He’s the studio drummer for Nine Inch Nails, and he’s also worked with acts such as Paramore and Angels & Airwaves. In the studio, he’s a one man band, but he’s got a three-piece band with him for his tour dates.
I enjoyed The New Regime, for the most part. The first song was spectacular. People were making their ways to their seats, and several stopped in the aisles to watch. The stuff in the middle was a mixed bag… some I liked, some I didn’t. He definitely saved the best for last. The song was called Tap Dancing in a Minefield (I think), and he played an epic guitar solo in the middle. Enough so that it made me want to check out what he can do in the studio with it. I’ve embedded a video of the song for your enjoyment.
The band kept the energy high, and did a fine job of warming up the crowd for the main event. I don’t know if The New Regime will ever make it past being an opening act, but if he’s already working with big names, it probably doesn’t matter.
The New Regime Setlist: Mannequin | Say What You Will | Don’t Chase It | Touch of Reality | We Rise, We Fall | Tap Dancing in a Minefield
(This was the setlist from two dates prior… I’m assuming it remained the same.)
Sound: ★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★★ out of 5
Overall: ★★★½ out of 5
Alice in Chains
The lights dimmed, the crowd cheered, the band took the stage. The usual; you know the drill. The stage was very sparse; nothing other than a drum riser and about five or six towers of stacked lights. The seemingly simple light set up was put to very good use. At different points during the evening, the band was bathed in a red, green, or even a checkered glow.
Throughout the show, chatting was kept to a minimum; the band preferred to let the music do the talking. Jerry quipped with the crowd a bit, but kept it to a minimum. William Duvall, who joined the band in 2006, was the most energetic on stage and really was the only band member to move around. His voice sounded great, and his harmonies with Cantrell were almost as good as Staley’s… but not quite.
This where I’m going to get the hate mail. While I enjoyed Alice in Chains’ performance, I think my expectations were a bit too high. I liked it, but didn’t love it. And I wanted to love it. I think my personal problem was two-fold: First, I’m a fan but not a HUGE fan. Second, from the balcony view, you can see everything. When the stage is sparse and there’s not a lot of movement, you really pick up on it and it detracts from the overall energy. I watched a couple of videos from the floor level and the experience was totally different. Don’t get me wrong, the band sounded fantastic. If I were to judge the concert by sound and setlist alone, it would get five stars. However, the performance and visuals also count in a live setting, and I felt they were lacking.
As mentioned, they sounded fantastic. The highlight for me was Angry Chair transitioning to Man in the Box. Man in the Box is my favorite Alice in Chains song, and the accompanying light show was the most creative. I’ve included a video from the performance; please enjoy!
If Alice in Chains ever comes to town again, I wouldn’t hesitate to go see them. I’ll just try harder to get floor tickets.
Alice in Chains Setlist: Hollow | Them Bones | Dam That River | Again | Check My Brain | Nutshell | Angry Chair | Man in the Box | Your Decision | Down in a Hole | Stone | Last of My Kind | We Die Young | Got Me Wrong | Junkhead
Encore: Rooster | No Excuses | Would?
Setlist: ★★★★ out of 5
Sound: ★★★★½ out of 5
Energy: ★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★½ out of 5
Overall: ★★★½ out of 5
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