BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
It was the day before Halloween in Lincoln, NE and the crowd was fresh with anticipation for an amazing show with legendary 80’s rock group L.A. Guns, especially since this was the band’s first stop back to the Royal Grove in 8 months. And while there was a little mix up in who was opening the show almost right before the doors opened, it still turned out to be a great night of rock n’ roll.
Hitting the stage first was Lincoln’s own Miss Taken – you remember that band I told you about was coming in a later review? Yeah, this is them. Formed from the ashes of a previous band, this hard-hitting, female fronted rock group set the pace for the night. Vocalist Jade Richelle produced another stunning performance, demonstrating her dominating stage presence, as well as her raw, soothing, gravel-toned vocal chords. Guitarist Will Gades shredded more notes in a half hour than Don Draper spent most of Mad Men shredding pussy – I mean…Jesus…the kid’s only 19 and plays like he’s been born into an alternate universe produced directly from the combined baby making fluid of Eddie Van Halen and whatever Viking goddess you want to insert. It was also the debut of their new rhythm guitarist Zel Michaels, who added a much needed component that Miss Taken was…well…missing. It’s difficult when a young, talented band like this gets moved to the front since they typically draw a larger crowd, but due to the flaw in the lineup that’s how the chips fell. To anyone who missed them, you’d be mistaken to overlook Miss Taken.
Next up was Omaha rock band Saints of Lust. Combining a mix of 70’s inspired tunes with elements of pop-punk and metal; they were incredibly fun to watch. Bassist Greg Turner brought the heat and stayed in motion throughout the entire set, which was refreshing to see a rock bassist not be as static as I’ve seen them be in the past. During the track Knucklebone off of their first record, vocalist Michael Gagliani called Jade Richelle to the stage to help with backup vocals, and that really added a nice element to the show. “When bands work together to help each other succeed…that’s just what we should be doing,” Greg said after the show. And he’s right – it was a really cool experience to see this happen, and I’m hoping more local bands follow suit.
Third on the bill was Venrez, a band out of Los Angeles which formed in 2009. I’d never heard of these guys before, but when vocalist Ven took the stage in a giant fur coat, I had high hopes that the show would be a good one. And to be fair, while the show wasn’t awful in the strictest sense of the word, it just seemed to lack the energy that Miss Taken and Saints of Lust spoiled the audience with for the first two sets. Musically they were incredible, especially with guitarist Jason Womack laying down some kick ass riffs. But lacking the energy of the first two bands was, admittedly, a bit of a downer.
The lights dimmed, and the entire bar rushed to the front when it was time for L.A. Guns to come out. They pounded the night away with a 90 minute set that left the crowd wanting more. Opening with “Over the Edge,” the crowd ignited with cheers and applause. The band was promoting their 12th studio album “The Devil You Know,” and in playful fashion, perhaps because it was Halloween the next day, vocalist Phil Lewis broke out a devil mask during the set which was awesome. He really got into character, sticking his tongue out and channeling what might have been his actual inner demons, but who knows for sure. The audience ate it up faster than Eve did with that stupid apple that damned us all to hell. But hey, if the road to hell is paved with tracks like “Never Enough,” and “Rip and Tear,” maybe it won’t be such a bad journey after all. And sure, the main bar was still broken down and we’ve all been waiting eagerly for the Royal Grove to fix it, but when you have movers on stage like Ace Von Johnson chomping down on entirely too much Double Bubble and Tracii Guns machine gunning his guitar into the crowd…it really did make for a well-rounded night of rock n’ roll.