By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
It has been a good year and a half since I have seen my friends in Stitched Up Heart perform in my neck of the woods. Last time I saw them, they were given a stellar performance at Ozzfest Meets Knotfest. They have been touring almost non-stop since then, most recently an arena tour with Godsmack. Before taking a quick breather to head back on out with Like a Storm later this summer, they decided to give a hometown performance, of sorts. Hailing from Los Angeles, Stitched Up Heart put on a mini-tour that included a stop by the Slide Bar in Fullerton. Seeing as how Rabit and I are big fans and strong supporters of the group, we headed back to our favorite Fullerton establishment to hear some kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll. Joining them on this adventure were A Trigger Within and Disciples of Babylon, with a special unplugged performance by Rachelle Mathis, aka Darling.
I first saw Darling when she did an acoustic set during Stitched Up Heart’s show at the Chain Reaction back in 2017, and she had a very beautiful voice. With the help of Stitched Up Heart drummer James Decker and bassist Randy Mathis (who is also her husband), she showed the opening crowd why she is a darling on the microphone. It was a simple set that consisted 5 songs, 2 of which were originals. Starting with The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” she stripped down the heavy alternative sound it is known for and got intimate with. Randy nails it on the main riffs that Jack White is known for on bass. Darling’s guitar work on it was a little choppy at times, but when she went into Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge,” it was much smoother. Her 2 originals, “Misery” and yet to be released “One More Night,” went over really well with the crowd. She finished her set with an unplugged version of Bullet For My Valentine’s “Tears Don’t Fall.”
Full Darling gallery below:
Up next was Hollywood’s own Disciples of Babylon, a hard rock group that we were seeing for the first time. As soon as I heard the opener “Freedom,” I was amazed by their smooth heavy rock melody. Frontman Eric Knight has M. Shadow’s haircut, attitude, and a mid-range baritone voice that could rise Babylon from the ashes. Lead guitarist Ramon Blanco was not present due to a previous commitment, but his touring replacement Eric Himmel nails those smooth licks and raging 90s style solos. Everytime Himmel breaks into a solo, Knight would swerve his legs into a dancing frenzy. Bassist Gui Bodi and drummer Chris Toeller were a raging rhythmic storm with their thunderous beats. Disciples of Babylon were a delightful surprise for the Slide Bar to witness, with their groovy hard rock tunes “The Great Pretend,” “Idiosyncrasies,” “Lift,” “Simple Life,” “Civilized,” “We Are the Ones,” and “Karma.” After that night, a lot of fans have become disciples themselves.
Full Disciples of Babylon gallery below:
A Trigger Within has come with a brutal message: do not get in there way. A fairly new metal group out of L.A. that has the brutal nature of Rage Against the Machine, along with the righteous rhythm flow of Korn and P.O.D. Led by Jimmy Trigger, who was a cyclone of vicious showmanship with rap flow and blistering screams. The whole set, he had his dread locks hanging down and danced ferociously on stage barefoot. At the moment I heard their opening number, “Bend or Break,” the room would become a warzone for A Trigger Within. Dual guitarists TJ Morgan and David Bruno stole the show with their synchronized riffs and exchanging solos. During “Become the Ghost,” they both performed the same solo simultaneously, and it sounded almost perfect. Bassist Eric Cerda was tapping dancing around the bass all night and he sounded good. According to Morgan, who I spoke with after their set, this is only their 6th show. I headbanged like crazy to them for most of their set. From how it sounded in Fullerton, with songs like “Graves,” “The Wasted,” “Battlewounds,” “Enter Your Mom,” (a hybrid song of Danzig’s “Mother” and Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman) and “A Time to Kill,” A Trigger Within pulled the trigger and hit their targets.
Full A Trigger Within gallery below:
After a year and a half of not seeing them, Stitched Up Heart returned to the SoCal stage with a vengeance. Warming up the crowd with the Game of Thrones opening theme (Mixi’s favorite show), they hit us hard with “This Skin.” Mixi, looking beautiful and extremely intense with her silver blonde hair, slayed us with her raging vocals. Like Daenerys Targaryen, she was relentless the whole evening, going at it full charge and showing no mercy to the microphone. Guitarist Merritt Goodwin, Mixi’s husband, laid down the vicious lead riffs that make Stitched Up Heart that ferocious as well as gothic. Randy Mathis soared on his Ibanez bass, and while James Decker got down and dirty at the kit. Recently, 2nd guitarist Nick Bedrosian amicably departed from the group. His replacement, Jeremy Kohnmann, proved himself as an exceptional player for the group. Though he is only a touring member at the moment, I could see his place in Stitched Up Heart becoming permanent as he was on the same level as Goodwin. Both of them crank it up together big time.
Their performance that night was special because a major portion of their songs were stuff that was new. As they are on the verge of wrapping up their new album, we got taste of what should be on the LP, including “Warrior,” “Darkness,” “Dirty Secrets,” “Problems,” and the already popular “Lost,” which features a guest spot by Godsmack’s Sully Erna. When they performed it, Darling rushed up to the stage and killed Erna’s parts. Seeing Mixi and Darling sing is a wonderful sight. They also played 4 songs from Never Alone, which were “Catch Me When I Fall,” “I Can’t Breathe,” “Finally Free,” and “City of Angels.” After “City of Angels,” they went into the back and the fans pleaded for one more song. Mixi introduced them to a new song that was very different from what they are known, entitled “Crooked Halo.” A tune that featured elements of electronica and reggae, Mixi mentioned that this was a tune to smoke some weed to. I got lost in the song and felt surprised about how well put together it was. After a vicious set, it was nice to get lost in euphoria.
Full Stitched Up Heart gallery below:
I was thrilled to see Stitched Up Heart back home giving the hometown crowd a stellar performance after months on the road. Darling continues to be a musical darling, Disciples of Babylon waved their flag for us, and A Trigger Within cooked up a hurricane style rock show. Just like the Targaryens, they all brought fire and blood to the Slide Bar. To Stitched Up Heart, A Trigger Within, Disciples of Babylon, and Darling, I salute you. Horns up!!!