By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
There is no doubt in my mind, that when it comes to putting together a concert that kicks ass, no one does a better job, than José Mangin. The Metal Ambassador, as he is affectionately known, is the king of promoting hard rock and heavy metal. He knows how to give the fans a grand show, that they can enjoy and appreciate at the same time. The radio DJ known for his “Devil’s Dozen” on Sirius XM, puts together a monthly concert, in the Constellation Room, at the Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif. Matt Martinez and I love attending, and supporting all the acts he has booked, which includes local talents and big name headliners. It has been a few months since the last show with Powerflo, but now Mangin is back at it, by giving us Huntress and Prong. It was time, once again, to get my headbanging on with Lord Mangin.
First to the take the stage, was Thunder Gut. This three piece group from Huntington Beach, has an amazing melodic, stoner rock sound, mixed with heavy metal. They start off with this kick-ass instrumental intro, before hitting the fans with “Hollow Floors.” Frontman Wyatt Fullmer has an incredibly melodious stoner voice, and he plays a real sassy guitar. His riffs are smoking hot, especially on the solo to “Dream Catcher.” It has a 1970s hard rock vibe, like it was created by Joe Perry. Bassist Ray Tully, gets down with a funky bass groove, while Daniel Moreno hammers away, with grungy drum beats. They showed off their musical prowess, that contains infectious overtones. Their best song was “Fundungus” because it had this booming beat, that is sluggish but heavy. They released their album, Silver Tongue Devil, last year and I cannot get enough of it. Thunder Gut is one trio that is going places.
Full Thunder Gut slideshow below:
Following Thunder Gut, was Los Angeles’ own Mendenhall Experiment. This is a unique band, because its founding member, Brandon Mendenhall, was born with Cerebral Palsy and overcame it to become a rock ‘n’ roll guitar player. Because of his disability, he mainly plays either open or barred chords, but he plays like a badass. The Mendenhall Experiment was created to prove the doctors wrong, who told Mendenhall he would not play guitar again. After watching him riff away, it is safe to say he has proven them wrong. Combine his rhythm playing with the wailing solos of lead guitarist Michael Lira; they both gave the fans a jolt of excitement. Vocalist Mario Valadez charmed the crowd, with his melodic voice, when he belted out their songs, from “Fully Loaded” to “The Answer,” and “Seize the Day.” During the performance of “Prosthetic,” Suicide Silence guitarist Chris Garza, joined in on the fun, and went into a finger-picking frenzy. The Mendenhall Experiment has a smooth, hard rock sound, with heavy guitar riffs thrown in there. This is a great band to watch. Their self-titled EP is available now, and I will be getting myself a copy.
Full The Mendenhall Experiment slideshow below:
Up next, the witch queen made her presence known in Santa Ana. Of course, I am talking about Jill Janus, the frontwoman of Huntress. Matt and I got to see them at the Viper Room a few months back, and we were thrilled to see them in our hometown. They got things started with “Sorrow,” and I was quickly taken in under Janus’ spell. She has one of the best voices in metal today. Like at the Viper Room, she made a couple of costume changes, and was on a mission to please and terrify her followers. Lead guitarist Blake Meahl, hammers away and still kills it, with each lick. Add in Eli Santana’s awesome rhythmic grooves, and Huntress gives a star studded concert, from “Eight of Swords” to “Zenith,” and “I Want to Fuck You to Death.” For a special treat, Huntress played for us, a brand new song, that will be featured on the upcoming new album, that they are currently working on, called “Oh I Know It’s Bad.” I loved it from beginning to end, and I am sure the album is going to kick ass. With her blowing it up on stage, Janus gave her coven a stellar show. I will see them again soon.
Full Huntress slideshow below:
The mighty Prong graced us with an awesome 2 hour headlining performance, that was electrified with 1000 gigawatts of awesomeness. We first caught them at the House of Blues, in Anaheim when they opened up for Testament, so it was cool to see them headline that night. They recently put out their newest effort, Zero Days, and I was ready to hear them live. The trio from New York City, played an array of songs, that had the elements of hardcore punk and heavy metal. Vocalist/guitarist Tommy Victor commands a strong vocal range to back up his blistering guitar riffs. With songs like “Lost and Found,” “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Necks,” and “Whose Fist Is This Anyway,” the room was filled with fanatics, who were ever pleased to be there on a Wednesday night. Bassist Mike Longworth and drummer Art Cruz drove each tune home, with contagious beats and grooves. They played two songs from their album, with my favorite being “Off the Grid.” Prong is another 3 piece group, that has helped give urban metal its signature sound, and they are fun to watch live.
Full Prong slideshow below:
Mangin once again put together a meritorious concert, that showcased great talents. Huntress casted their spell on us, and Prong whipped up some good old fashion crossover thrash metal. Thunder Gut and the Mendenhall Experiment churned our guts out, with awesome stoner hard rock. Every time Mangin hosts another one of these shows, he does some giveaways as a thank you to the fans, for just being fans of hard rock and heavy metal. One of those giveaways is a guitar that is signed by every member of each band that night. Low and behold, Matt won the guitar, lucky bastard!! I cannot wait to see who Mangin books next, and I suggest, that if you are in the area, go check it out. You will not be disappointed. To Prong, Huntress, Mendenhall Experiment, and Thunder Gut, I salute you. Horns up!!!