New Zealand’s own Like A Storm have been making waves in the U.S. for a few years due to nonstop touring all while gaining a rabid fan base along the way. Taking it to the next level, they are touring across the U.S. on their first ever headline run, aptly titled the Didgeridoo Destruction Tour. The third stop of the tour was at H.O.M.E. Bar Chicago in Arlington Heights, IL.
Starting off that night were Stitched Up Heart from Los Angeles, CA. This five piece band’s set included songs from their EP, Skeleton Key, and newest single Finally Free, among others. With a two guitar attack, their 30-minute set had no down time and blasted pure rock into the ears of everyone in attendance. Although, they did more than just get the audience warmed up for the night. They left an impression.
Not only with their music, but with their performance. Each band member played with intensity and drive. Front woman Mixi, with striking blonde hair and piercing eyes, expressed sincere emotion that left a lasting impact on the crowd. She made a point to make eye contact, especially with those down front. At one point she twirled the microphone around in a circle by the cord, hair flying, while the band around her drove the beat. There was no lack of confidence or determination to win over the crowd. Mixi also announced that a percentage of their merchandise sales were being donated to a kitten rescue. Keep your eye on them as they will be releasing their full length album during the Spring of 2016.
After a 30-minute break, Pennsylvania rap/rock band, From Ashes to New, stormed the stage. Their set included songs from both their EPs, along with current single Through It All and a couple more from their forthcoming new album Day One available February 26, 2016.
With two lead vocalists (one singing, one rapping) sharing the stage, I often found myself focusing on a particular vocal before quickly switching my attention to the other. Matt Brandyberry and Chris Musser did a great job of covering the stage. They constantly moved around and overall engaged the crowd pretty well. Actually, each band member played their role well and gave everyone in attendance a reason to watch.
Having two guitar players in the band added a rock and roll element that made their songs come across even more powerful in the live setting. Matt even played guitar at one point and didn’t let that stop him from jumping off the riser, which he did pretty often in general all night. Vocally the band was very determined and almost in your face. Which is not a bad thing. From Ashes To New were very confident and totally in control of their stage presence. The energy brought on by all musicians on stage flowed freely onto the crowd and as a result, made for a very energetic set. Definitely keep these guys on your radar.
Like A Storm have been playing the Midwest for quite a few years now and as a result, there was quite a turn out for a Sunday night Rock ‘n Roll show. On more than one occasion the band expressed how amazing it was to see everyone and how surprised they were at the turn out. With it being their very first U.S. headline tour, I think it was even more special for them.
The night started off with a mostly dark stage, with illumination coming from electric candles and fire like lighting which showed the stage’s voodoo theme, which I’m guessing, was inspired by the video for Give You Hell. Eventually the band took the stage and lead singer, Chris Brooks, walked on stage and played a didgeridoo. The low rumbling sound added an eerie element to the night. Still heavily supporting their early 2015 release, the set was full of songs from Awaken the Fire including opening song, Chaos. This also included a surprising effect of fog plumes that shot straight up from box risers on either side of Chris. Most of the time, bassist Kent Brooks happened to be leaning into the fog as it went off which provided a cool effect when red lights happened to be shining in the right place. They continued with Six Feet Under, another heavy song with an aggressive sounding chorus. The band were on fire and the crowd was loving every minute of it.
During Never Surrender I noticed more than a few people singing along, which was no surprise as this song appeared on a previous release. Some joking between the Brooks’ brothers came before the next song. I recall guitarist Matt Brooks mentioning on more than one occasion at previous shows about New Zealand’s national anthem. Of course, Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise isn’t really, but they do an outstanding job covering the song. They slowed it down a bit with Break Free, with Matt on lead vocals and there was another segment where Chris played the didgeridoo again. In fact, he played it three times that night and after every time he threw it from the middle of the stage to someone standing side stage. Each and every time I hoped the person caught it. After the roaring notes of Become the Enemy ended, Kent and Zach left the stage and Chris and Matt both played acoustic guitar, again with Matt on lead vocals, for Ordinary.
For the beginning of Wish You Hell, Chris stood towards the back of the stage and proceeded to play slide on a steel guitar. If you’re aren’t familiar with this song, stop what you’re doing and go listen to it. This is another heavy song with a damn catchy chorus you can’t help but sing along to. An unexpected time during the night came when Matt put down his guitar and stood next to drummer Zach Wood. There were electronic drums set up and Matt and Zach proceeded to play an instrumental piece pretty much in sync with each other. Having seen Like A Storm a few times in the past, this was a first for me. I hope they keep it in the set.
Another popular cover came with AC/DC’s T.N.T. Not only did they have a guest play along on the electronic drums, at one point Chris jumped of the stage and sang from the middle of the crowd. The band briefly left the stage before ending the night with a two-song encore. The first was Chemical Infatuation, from their 2009 release, The End of the Beginning. Having thanked the crowd many times during the night, they did so one more time and ended their set with Love the Way You Hate Me. Another song with a very catchy chorus. Overall, their almost hour and a half set was a perfect headline time frame full of killer songs, some lighthearted joking, as brothers do best, and a sincere appreciation for their fans.
If this review is your first introduction to Like A Storm, get out there and find these songs and have a listen. If the music made by these three brothers appeals to you, well, by all means, get out there and see a show. To everyone in general, there are plenty of dates in November and December that also include From Ashes To New and Stitched Up Heart. Find those here.