There is something to be said about seeing a performance in a club setting. It’s more intimate, there is that level of connection between the band/recording artist and the fanbase that is definitely personal, and it also gives a local band or two another opportunity to shine on the stage. You are starting to see more and more bands setting up and tearing down their own stage. There’s something about “the work” that goes into a show that continues to peak my curiosity, and causes me to further examine all that goes into a show. This past, Tuesday the “Hearts In Hell” tour came through Iowa with headliners Stitched Up Heart with Hell Or Highwater providing direct support for Stitched Up Heart. Two local bands, Alter Within and Switchblade Saturdays received the opportunity to open up the “Hearts In Hell” tour! Alter Within was the first band to take the stage.
Alter Within is a four-piece metal band out of Des Moines, Iowa that is composed of Robert Gaither on vocals/rhythm guitar, Andrew Fitzlaff on lead guitars, Kendra Kyser on bass, and Courtney Fitzlaff on drums. They brought a sense of spirituality and some quality musicianship to the set. Frontman Robert Gaither does a nice job of engaging the audience and I also believe that him and Andrew Fitzlaff have some great chemistry playing together on stage as Fitzlaff ripped through some nice guitar solos while Gaither packed the punch in rhythm guitar work. Their songs were primarily talking about their Christian walk and rising above through believing and praying. From a musicianship standpoint, the guitar trade-offs between Gaither and Andrew Fitzlaff were of high quality and Kyser and Courtney Fitzlaff did a solid job providing the driving rhythm. I feel as this band gains more experience, they will become more fluid in their sound. I would also like to see some overall confidence in their stage presence as well, which I’m sure will come with taking advantage of opportunities of playing in front of an audience. On August 18th, Alter Within will be playing on the free stage at the Iowa State Fair. Please check out Alter Within on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AlterWithin. Des Moines, Iowa natives Switchblade Saturdays were next to take the stage.
Switchblade Saturdays is becoming a mainstay in the midwest regional scene. They are a dark punk-rock trio that is composed of Zarrie Solum on vocals/bass, Josh Darnell on guitars/background vocals, and Ben Watson on the drums. Switchblade Saturdays have shared the stage with the likes of Motionless In White, the legendary Motorhead, Courage My Love, and they can once again add Stitched Up Heart to their ever-growing resume. I appreciated the dark moods that the punk-rock trio brought to the Wooly’s stage as they are accumulating a pretty solid underground fanbase known as “the cult” into their fray. They have a unique sound that mixes the storytelling of a band like Misfits with the punk rock chaos of a band like Social Distortion with sleek punk rock grooves of a classic band like The Damned. They have such a cool stage presence about them and what is really appreciative about them is that they support the local scene. They urged the audience to support the local scene. They also do that by supporting other bands and recording artists on their Facebook page. On Friday, July 14th, Switchblade Saturdays will be performing from 11:15 PM to Midnight at Crypticon Kansas City, which is located at the Civic Arena Downtown in St. Joseph, Missouri. Please go to www.crypticonkansascity.com for tickets and further information on all the festivities that will be happening there. In the meantime, you can check out Switchblade Saturdays at the following locations:
“Some Things Should Never Be Forgotten” by Switchblade Saturdays
Hell Or Highwater was the next to take the stage.
Hell Or Highwater, out of Vista, California, was the next band to take the stage. The vision of Hell Or Highwater is headlined by Brandon Saller of Atreyu fame. They definitely had a unique stage set up which kind of looked like a throwback design with the lights and the foilage, and the way that they arranged the stage from an overall standpoint. They delivered a performance that the Wooly’s crowd will remember for a long time to come.
They started off their energetic, blistering set with “Wear Your Colors Proud”. I immediately noticed Brandon’s impressive vocal range as the rhythm guitars intertwined with one another and I loved the backing vocals and the groove-tastic rhythm section that the band had to offer throughout their 40 minute set. They primarily played cuts off of their May 19th release entitled “Vista”, which is a wonderfully made concept record about their hometown. I provided a review of the album, in which you can read here. Brandon did memorable things such as get up on tables and sing his heart out while taking people’s phones and doing selfies during the performance. He even urged people to get out of their stools and chairs and join them up front for the party that is Hell Or Highwater. The grooves were so infectious that you couldn’t help but get out of your seat and groove along with the music! If there was a campfire with palm trees as a backdrop, it would’ve been perfect for the Hawaiian shirt wearing band. They played “Gimme Love”, and they closed out their set with their singles “Walk Out In The Rain” and “I Want It All”. The band did an especially good job of engaging the audience in crowd participation by literally bringing the show to the audience. They wrote the playbook for how to win an unsure audience over!
Here is “I Want It All” by Hell Or Highwater
Fans can check out Hell Or Highwater at the following locations:
Go pick up a copy of “Vista”, while you’re at it! Stitched Up Heart was the band to close out the evening!
Out of Los Angeles, California is five-piece metal band Stitched Up Heart. Stitched Up Heart is composed of Alecia “Mixi” Demner on vocals, Merritt Goodwin on lead guitar, Randy Mathias on bass, James Decker on drums, and Nick Bedrosian on rhythm guitar. They absolutely set the stage ablaze with their high energy, blistering performance in support of their latest record entitled “Never Alone”. Stitched Up Heart started off the set with “City Of Angels”, which really is a great way to introduce the band in case there is a newcomer in the audience. The lighting was dark, yet pulsating, which provided for awesome breakdown moments with touches of thrash metal thrown into the mix. Alecia has such a commanding stage presence about her as she can command her voice to sing and scream, and what I appreciate the most about this band is that the screams add to the song, in particular when the song builds up. Bedrosian has shown that he’s a welcome addition to Stitched Up Heart as his style of playing allows the band to continue to grow and evolve as a cohesive unit. All five members of the band have a commanding stage presence and Stitched Up Heart really knows how to interact with the audience as well in between songs.
Alecia made the show intimate as she shared a story which led the band into playing “Now That You’re Gone”, which was in the middle of the hour-long set. There were atmospheric moments in songs such as “Catch Me When I Fall” and “I Can’t Breathe”. People really connect with this band due to the honest lyrics that they write and due to the high energy that the band possesses.
Stitched Up Heart’s encore was a cover of “Bodies”, which is originally done by Drowning Pool. Pegasus got to make an appearance with Alecia riding Pegasus to help close the show. Alecia also brought the show to the floor as the fans jammed out with her to the nu-metal classic.
Stitched Up Heart and Hell Or Highwater has made it a must-see event for this summer! They both have high energy, both bands are quite passionate about their fanbases, and whether there’s 20 people in a club or 10,000 people in an arena, they both bring the energy to make the show connect with people and to make it a memorable night of music!
“Catch Me When I Fall” by Stitched Up Heart
Find Stitched Up Heart at the following locations:
Fans can still check out the “Hearts In Hell” Tour. Check out the tour dates below!
Saturday, June 24th at The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, Colorado
Monday, June 26th at Marquis Theater in Denver, Colorado
Tuesday, June 27th at Metro Music Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah
Wednesday, June 28th at Diamondz Event Center in Jerome, Idaho
Friday, June 30th at The Analog Cafe and Theater in Portland, Oregon
Saturday, July 1st at Knitting Factory in Spokane, Washington
Sunday, July 2nd at Studio Seven in Seattle, Washington
Wednesday, July 5th at Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco, California
Thursday, July 6th at Fulton 55 in Fresno, California
Friday, July 7th at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, California
Saturday, July 8th at House Of Blues in San Diego, California
Sunday, July 9th at Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, California
Stitched Up Heart will also be performing at the Rock & Rally For The Troops in Tacoma, Washington on Saturday, September 9th. Also appearing will be Adelitas Way, Alive In Barcelona, and Elephant Gun Riot. Please check here for tickets and further information!
Please pick up a copy of “Never Alone” wherever music is sold!