Sun, May 10
Doors: 7:00 pmShow: 8:00 pm
Alter Bridge (Myles Kennedy, Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips)
Balance derives from extremes.The parity of timeless songcraft, skyscraping vocals, masterfultechnicality, and sheer determination quietly established Alter Bridge as a universal force in hard rock around the world. Since emerging in 2004, the Florida quartet—Myles Kennedy [vocals, guitar], Mark Tremonti [guitar, vocals], Brian Marshall [bass], and Scott Phillips [drums]—vaulted from the gold-certified Top 5 debut, One Day Remains, to critical and fan adoration highlighted by countless sold out shows, over 1.5 million albums sold, and in excess of 100 million streams to date.Within its title track, 2007’s Blackbirdhoused what Guitarist Magazinevoted “Greatest Guitar Solo of All Time.”Three years later, the band achieved its first #1 on“Isolation” from ABIII. 2013 saw Fortressattract unparalleled acclaim with perfect scores from Total Guitarand KERRANG!and raves courtesy of Billboard, The Guardian, Loudwire, and Ultimate Guitar. The musiciansalsocovered Classic Rock Magazinewho exalted Fortressas “The best thing they’ve ever done.”Tastemaker Eddie Trunk also boldly proclaimed it, “A top 10 album of the last 10 years.” In 2016, The Last Herobowed at #8 on the BillboardTop 200 as the band went on to sell out a pair of 2017 shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall accompanied by the 52-piece Parallax Orchestra—as captured on the 2CD and DVD set, Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Not to mention, they filled the O2 Arena and set stagesablazeeverywhere from Downloadto Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Plus, they made appearances on VH1, The Tonight Show, and Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!as their catalogresounded onWWE, Major League Baseball, and NASCAR.However, the quartet perfect a sense of creative balance on their sixth full-length, Walk The Sky[Napalm Records], an album that brought the band their first career #1 on the Top Current Albums Chart as well asover a dozen charts around the globe. “Those three words Walk The Skyevoke an image,” explains Mark. “Think of a person walking on a tightrope. This individual is on the edge of life and death, yet still moving forward. In many ways, this chapterdeals with enlightenment in the sense of Zen meditation. To Walk The Sky, youuntether from rules and break out of your body.” “It feels like an uplifting record to me, especially from a lyrical standpoint,” Myles elaborates. “Musically, the songs are shorter with crystallized arrangements instead of the epic journeys we’ve embarked on in the past. Not that there is anything wrong with epics, but it was time to mix things up. In many ways, Walk The Skyis essentially the spiritual follow-up to ABIII. That record was very dark with echoes of spiritual disillusionment throughout. That time in my life was an important part of my journey—a journey that has continued for decades and ultimately brought metowhere I am now. The new musicis a sonic manifestation of someone who has a better understanding of where he fits in the universeand how to interact with it.”Adding another dimension to the creation, Mark and Myles tackled the writing process separately. For the first time, they respectively contributed fully fleshed out ideas for consideration before entering a room together. The decisionallowed their individual creativity to flourish and solidified a structure. As Myles toured with Slash and Mark fronted Tremonti, they shared demos in Dropbox. By the time everyone regrouped in early 2019, themes, concepts, and songs took shape.“Myles and I wrote songs mostly on our own, which is different from all of the other albums,” says Mark. “Usually, we meet up, sit in a room, and create. Half of this initially came from Myles; the other half came from me. We came to the studio more organized and got to choose the best of the best material. Everything was already massaged into place and polished before we got in with the band. We were able to take an extra step to polish it further.”
Reteaming with longtime producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette [Slash, Sevendust], they spent two weeks jamming on the songsas a unitand “making them better”prior toevenpushing “record.”After five weeks of recording,Walk The Skycame to life centered around a renewed spirit.“With every album, we try to make it a different animal,” adds Mark. “We want each one to have its own personality. It’s got a lot of energy. Rather than space and atmosphere, it gets straight to the point. A lot of it rocks, but it never gets melancholy. There are dynamics, energy, and a positive vibe to it.”Following theethereal introof “One Life,”the record kicks into high gear on the powerful, yet pensive.“Wouldn’t You Rather.” Propelled by a high-energy groove, punchy riffing snaps into a seismic refrainas Myles soulfully asks, “Wouldn’t you rather, live from the heart?”“It can be traced back to a famous phrase by the late Joseph Campbell, ‘Follow your bliss’,” Myles continues. “It’s my personal mantra, and it still resonates with me as much as it did when I first heard him say it in an interview thirty years ago. To me, it’s also a reminder to follow your internal passion and not be swayed by what can be an empty pursuit of material gains that ultimately won’t bring you long-term happiness.”Thick guitars coil around a thunderous beat as a hummable lead cuts through “Native Son” before a confessional chorus, “I’m just living in a world I can’t understand.”Under the influence of timeless John Carpenter scores, Alter Bridge incorporate moody synths into psychedelic rock kaleidoscope of “Pay No Mind” and gorgeous elegy “Godspeed.” The latter serves as a dedication to the memory of Mark’s lifelong friend Seth, offering a tender send-off on the wings of another sweeping refrain, “Farewell, Godspeed, goodbye, you have lived, and you have changed all our lives.”“Seth was a very dear friend of mine who passed awayrecently,” sighs Mark. “He was such a big fan and a brother to me. I always played demos for him. The lyrics reference wishing someone luck on their journey.”“Take The Crown” slips from nimble clean guitar and a whispered promise from Myles—“So sorry, so sorry, but you’re going down”—into a trudging groove and what Mark describes as his “favorite guitar part on the album.”Everything crescendos towards “Dying Light.” A patchwork of orchestral swells, tense harmonics, and lyrical guitar leads, itoffers a fitting conclusion to thetrip.“It sort of wrote itself in a lot of ways,” Myles goes on. “It was like stepping up to the canvas and painting with no clear idea of where I was going. After completing the lyrical ‘abstract painting’, I stepped back to gain perspective and realized it could be interpreted in a few different ways. With that said, there’s a key line in the chorus that tied it together for me, ‘In the Dying Light, we learn to live, when we give in, to the silent waves that crash inside.’ To me, that represents the idea of letting the ego die, detaching from the noise in your head and surrendering to the moment.” On Walk The Sky, Alter Bridge will encourage audiences to do the same, ultimately.“Hopefully, the musicmight move or inspire listeners the same way we’ve been inspired by countless albums over the years,” the frontman leaves off. “Even though this has a very specific meaning to me, I hope the listener is able to extract his or her own meaning and perhaps the songs will give them new insight into their own journey. That would be beautiful.”“I’m just very proud of Alter Bridge,” concludes Mark. “We started out as a little band facing a very uphill battle. We struggled and struggled. To get to the level we’re at now is unbelievable. It shows me all of the workwe put in wasn’t in vain and we’ve got many more battles to fight.”—Rick Florino, June 2019
Amplifiers still blare out of suburban garages everywhere. Guitars, drums, and bass still translate the emotion and energy of a generation better than anything. No matter what prevailing opinion may be, rock music still maintains its foothold just behind the pop culture curtain—as if in the wings waiting to return.
BRKN LOVE carry on this tradition, while evolving it. Toronto singer and guitarist Justin Benlolo envisions a fresh future for the genre on the band’s 2019 full-length debut for Spinefarm Records produced by Joel Hamilton [Highly Suspect, Pretty Lights].
“When I first thought about starting a band, it needed all of the elements of rock ‘n’ roll that I respond to—big guitars, big drums, and big vocals,” he explains. “I didn’t want it to be too complex. It had to be something everybody could digest in a short and sweet format. It’s alternative, but it’s also heavy. I try to get right to the point. There are so many of these kids still showing up to shows and moshing to real rock music. That’s refreshing. There’s still a place for something authentic. That’s what I want to provide.”
Born and raised in Canada, Justin cut his teeth by obsessing over the likes of Soundgarden and Led Zeppelin in his youth, while learning how to write music. With the advent of bands such as Royal Blood and Highly Suspect, he recognized the potential for a “different kind of band—that’s not too macho and slick, but edgy enough for the punks.” Justin started tracking demos for BRKN LOVE and shortly after determined that Joel Hamilton was the perfect producer. Joel responded to the tracks by inviting him to Brooklyn to record at Studio G. Together, they cut the 13 tracks that would comprise the album as the band landed a deal with Spinefarm Records after a New York showcase.
Recorded live to tape in the studio, the sound preserves “a raw, real, and alive” feeling in the riffing tempered by “relatable and emotional lyrics.”
Now, the first single “Shot Down” hinges on thick guitars before Justin’s howling takes hold. It seesaws between dirty blues verses and a skyscraping refrain as he chants, “Landslide, shaking the crowd…Shot down in the bottom of a valley!”
Written at the infamous Mate’s Studio in North Hollywood, CA, it captures all of the seedy, glorious grit of the San Fernando Valley.
“It’s got a lot of sexual innuendos,” he goes on. “On the contrary, it can be interpreted as a massive disaster song. There’s a landslide shaking the ground, and we’re in the middle of the valley. The world’s ending as we’re playing away. You could also interpret as about a girl.”
The airy harmonies and syncopated riffs of “I Can’t Lie” take dead aim at West Coast fakery and “friends who stabbed me in the back for no reason” with a hypnotic and heartfelt chorus. Everything culminates on “In Your Hands,” which slides from a clean intro towards a wall of fuzz and his most impressive vocal performance. The latter serves as “an ode to life that we’re going to ride the universe’s wave without worrying.”
In the end, BRKN LOVE represent a new era for rock music that’s as powerful as it is emotional.
“The name represents who I am,” Justin leaves off. “You can honestly be a hopeless romantic and play tough music. Most of the lyrics deal with love and loss. That’s the vibe. You can share your feelings and still rock your face off at the end of the day. It’s what I’m going to do.”