In Concert: King Diamond (and others, at the Housecore Fest) 2015-11-13

This past Friday night (Friday the 13th) I was able to realize something I’ve wanted to do since I was in high school: see King Diamond live.

For the past few years, Phil Anselmo (best known for being the lead singer of Pantera) has run a festival called the Housecore Horror Festival. It’s a 3-day music and horror movie fest. Now I don’t care much for horror movies, but the music lineup is always pretty awesome. They held the festival in Austin the past couple years but I wasn’t able to attend. This year they moved it to San Antonio (a much more metal town than Austin), and announced King Diamond would be playing. And not just playing, but playing the full “Abigail” album. I had to go.

It was a long night with 6 bands on the bill. Held at the Aztec Theater in San Antonio (interesting venue, with it’s Aztec theming and tiered “floor”, which gave pretty much everyone in the venue a good view of the stage).

Child Bite

Never heard of them before. But they weren’t bad. I’m not sure I’m totally sold on them, but I will check out their albums. They had a lot of energy and were really into their music, which is always good. There are some bands that get up on stage and come off like they just don’t care about their own music, but these guys weren’t like that.

Warbeast

I’ve heard about these guys, mostly because of their strong affiliation with Anselmo. I listened to their albums a bit, and it didn’t move me much. But I know that in recent years live performance has gotten me into bands that the albums didn’t. So I was really looking forward to seeing them.

I dug it! I want to go back and check these guys out more for sure.

That said, I also aspire to be as metal as their guitar player, Scott Shelby.

Eyehategod

Heard about this guys forever. Every time I try to listen to them I just can’t get into them. It’s the vocals for one, but it’s also the whole vibe of the band; just not my thing.

That said, I really dug them last night. The riffage is awesome. Bower-power indeed. I’ll probably give them another try, but it doesn’t change the fact their vibe doesn’t jive with me. Still, I have a newfound respect for the band.

Exodus

What can you say? It’s Exodus.

They were much better than the last time I saw them; but that was plagued with crappy sound. I also to like Zetro more than Dukes, but Dukes-era I’ve come to appreciate. Still, for me Exodus is Baloff and Zetro, and Zetro was in great form last night. Holt wasn’t with the band, due to Slayer, but really… with Zetro singing you just were happy to hear it. The Toxic Waltz was in full effect.

The set had to be short with so many bands, but they came out and just pummeled the crowd. Boom boom boom. Murder in the front row. Some old, some new, just a great set. I was not disappointed. Metal takes its price, bonded by blood.

Waltz it up!

Superjoint

Meh. I wish this was more of a Superjoint set, but well… when it’s Phil’s festival, and when it’s Phil on stage, there’s going to be a lot of Phil. I swear he talked longer between songs than the songs were themselves. But that’s Phil, and generally it’s always amusing.

For sure the whole evening had a fun vibe. It wasn’t just a straight show, but because it was the festival, because it was a lot of one-offs for the bands involved, and because it’s just a Phil sort of weekend, there was a lot of fun to be had. Lots of people came out from backstage and just hung on the side for the Superjoint set because Phil.

That said, Phil’s voice was shot and didn’t sound too good. The band was tight and the songs were intense, like Superjoint is. But there weren’t too many songs played as Phil was…. Phil.

Still, it was enjoyable, and within the greater scope of the whole festival weekend, it was good to let Phil have his emcee and “proud papa” moment.

The Superjoint party

King Diamond

This is what the crowd was there for.

An elaborate stage set was unfolded. I appreciated the nice touches that they put into it, such as King didn’t have water bottles but wine glasses (goblets); it’s a small thing, but when you think about it, having King drinking bottled water would shatter the illusion and vibe being created.

The set was focused around performing the entire “Abigail” album. But it started out with classics from that era as well. Actually I dug that the warm-up for the show was Uriah Heep’s “The Wizard”. Then it kicked in officially with “Out of the Asylum” and “Welcome Home”. An actress playing “Grandma” wheeled onto the stage, and having the first thing you hear King sing is “GRANDMA!!!!” was just about the perfect way to start the show.

“Sleepless Nights” was next, and that satisfied me. “Conspiracy” is my favorite King Diamond album, so that scratched my itch. “Eye of the Witch” came next, and that was the latest song played the whole night; certainly an old-school evening. “Halloween” followed, and then two Mercyful Fate songs, “Evil” and “Melissa”.

What got me? King’s voice was excellent. A lot of singers at this point in their career can’t hit the notes, have to tune the instruments down, but there was no evidence of that. The band was in excellent form; I think Andy LaRocque is an underappreciated guitar hero.

Then, into “Abigail”, including a good amount of stage-show to act out the album and really bring it to life…. so to speak, given the storyline of “Abigail”. This did not disappoint. Just a polished, well-performed show.

I dug how at the end of the show, King slowly walked the front row shaking hands and pretty much giving some thank yous to just about everyone in the audience. He comes off as a very gracious and genuine man.

King Diamond

So…

Apart from it being a long night of standing, my feet and back killing me, it was a great time. I’m glad to have finally seen King Diamond (and on Friday the 13th at that). The other bands were great to see too, and I’m going to check some of the new (to me) ones out a little more.

Now to go have a nice cup of tea…

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