By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
When I started listening to rock ‘n’ roll, the kind that intrigued me the most was grunge. The fusion of alternative rock, punk rock and heavy metal music absorbed my ears, as well as the social conscious messages presented in the lyrics. There were 4 bands from Seattle who helped make grunge a part of pop culture. Unfortunately, 2 of those acts I will never get to see live, Nirvana and Soundgarden. Both of the group’s leaders, Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) and Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), sadly passed away. So, with only Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains still around, I am determined more than ever to see them perform. On August 28th, Alice in Chains made a stop at the famous Hollywood Palladium. Originally, Matt and I did not make the press list, but then we received an email telling us 2 spots had opened up. Without hesitation, we took our shot. The Pink Slips and Starbenders were the opening acts, but we missed Starbenders due to misinformation on when they go on. I am sure they nailed their performance though.
The Pink Slips is one of the newest rock bands to hit the music scene. As soon as they started to play, I was charmed by their mix of punk rock and new wave. That is a combination I do not hear very often today. If the Police and Hole got together, then you would get the Pink Slips. They are fronted by Graves, the potent alter-ego of Grace McKagan, daughter of Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan. She is a spunky little vixen on stage, with the flair and voice that is very similar to Courtney Love. Her spark is what the fans needed to get pumped up for Alice in Chains later on. Keyboardist Trent Peltz electrified the music with his skills on the ivory, dancing and playing around. I was really impressed with their guitarist, Desi Scaglione, whose heavy chops are similar to Jimmy Page and Fred “Sonic” Smith of MC5. They summoned a tremendous amount of love and respect from the audience with their chaotic yet beautiful performance. If rock was in desperate need of new blood, then the Pink Slips are what the doctor ordered.
Full The Pink Slips slide show below:
After a short set change, the venue goes dark, and then all of a sudden, BAM! Alice in Chains revs up the metal engines with “Check My Brain.” Right from the get-go, the swirling heavy metal sound fused with grunge and sludge filled the air. Jerry Cantrell and William DuVall conquered the Palladium with their harmonious vocals. They both sound great separately, but when they team up, they do give the songs a lot of extra supremacy. Cantrell is arguably one of the best lead guitarists to come out of the grunge era, with his signature off-time style of playing making him an effective weapon for Alice in Chains. DuVall is not that bad on guitar either, sneaking in some amazing solos. Bassist Mike Inez roared on stage with his mighty bass beats, while drummer Sean Kinney was a simple yet forceful hurricane behind the kit, best seat in the house.
Throughout the evening, Alice in Chains gave the fans of Hollywood a good array of songs old and new. Fresh off their latest effort, Rainier Fog, the performed 4 songs of the new masterpiece, while 5 came from 1992 classic, Dirt, which just celebrated 25 years last year. The crowd went nuts for the new songs like “Red Giant,” “So Far Under,” and “Never Fade.” It was great to hear the classics as well like “Again,” “Dam the River,” “No Excuses,” “Stone,” “Them Bones,” “We Die Young,” and “Man in the Box.” When Alice in Chains performed “Nutshell,” Cantrell dedicated the song to his fallen comrades, singer Layne Staley and bassist Mike Starr, which was really moving. Then they got off the stage for a quick break before hitting the audience with a 4 song encore, which included the lead single “The One You Know” and my all-time favorite song, “Would?” They ended things with the iconic “Rooster,” where we got a surprise appearance by guitarist Robby Krieger of The Doors. Just seeing Krieger rock out with Alice made the encore more special.
Full Alice in Chains slide show below:
I have wanted to see Alice in Chains for a while now, and after finally witnessing their genius, I left the Palladium satisfied. The Pink Slips won me over with their personality and charisma. It was a bummer to miss Starbenders, but I will see them one day. I was too young to enjoy grunge’s glory days during the early 90s, but it is still effective even today as long as groups like Alice keep coming back stronger. To Alice in Chains and the Pink Slips, I salute you. Horns up!!!