Halestorm rocks hometown crowd

Pennsylvania melodic rockers Halestorm toured two full years in support of their latest album The Strange Case Of. The album has yielded four top ten singles and has finally elevated them past the point of support act to headliner. They just finished up a small tour, playing a full hour and a half set consisting of 20 songs, with openers Redlight King and Stars In Stereo. If you are a fan, then you know, this is a must see event you won’t want to miss.

Los Angeles based newcomers Stars In Stereo kicked off the evening’s festivities with an intense, high energy eight song set of adrenaline fueled melodic rock, delivered with unwavering conviction and authority. Watching the chemistry and stage presence that oozes from every pore of each and every band member, it is hard to believe that they have only been together for two years.

Lead singer and sometimes guitar player, Bec Hollcraft, is a natural born frontwoman who gives a command performance and holds the crowd in the palm of her hand. Guitarist Jordan McGraw and Bassist Frogs McCormack are a raw bundle of energy, spinning out of control like the Tasmanian Devil, who own every inch of the stage, even jumping into the crowd at the conclusion of their set to do a little surfing.

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Knowing what Arejay Hale brings to the table, drummer Drew Lagan poured his heart and soul into the performance of his young life. The fact that closer “Every Last Thing” isn’t a monster hit is a travesty, a fact that judging from the amount of traffic they had at their merch table, will soon be remedied. Keep your eye on this band, as they are headed for big things in the very near future.

Up next, all the way from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was Redlight King. Led by charismatic frontman and mastermind behind the band, Mark “Kaz” Kasprzyk, they proceeded to pound out a steamroller heavy set of turbo charged, melodic hard rock, with a cocksure swagger rarely seen in such a young band.

Driven by propulsive rhythms and sandblasted emotions, tracks like “Comeback,” “Redemption” and “Built To Last” saw the crowd of impassioned onlookers entrenched in a glorious cacophony of sound that had one song blurring into the next, only stopping long enough for Kaz to say he was from a small steel town in Canada, so he felt an even deeper connection to the fans in Pittsburgh and dedicated “City Life” all of them.

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He stopped again before “Born To Rise” to say that everything he had, he worked his ass off for and to tell the undulating crowd to “Make some Goddamn noise.” Closer “Bullet in My Hand” brought the house down and the crowd ate up every pulsating moment. At its conclusion, Kaz thanked the now euphoric crowd for spending their hard earned cash, to come see a fucking rock show.

At last, the moment everyone had been waiting for had arrived and Pennsylvania natives Halestorm took the stage to a bittersweet, life affirming welcome home. They wasted no time and tore mercilessly into Halestorm classics “Love Bites (So Do I),” “Mz. Hyde” and “It’s Not You,” before pausing briefly for master of ceremonies Lzzy Hale to address the now frenzied crowd, to say it was good to be home and that she saw a lot of familiar faces in the crowd.

“Freak Like Me,” began with Lzzy asking “Where are all my Pennsylvania freaks” and ended with her saying “Pennsylvania, you made me a very proud bitch tonight!” Guitarist Joe Hottinger and bassist Josh Smith did an impeccable job, but it was hard to take your eyes of the Hale family.

Her brother Arejay is an absolute madman behind the drum kit, who spent the night playing while standing and sitting, all the while twirling drum sticks and tossing them as high as the ceiling would permit, never missing a beat and sister Lzzy is as dynamic a singer as she is versatile on guitar and may very well be the best female frontwoman in modern hard rock today.

Lzzy took a moment to inform the manic crowd that after the tour, they will be heading into the studio to record their third album, which garnered a huge reaction and prompted the one and only new track in the set, “Don’t Know How to Stop.” If it is any indicator of what the new album will sound like, brace yourself for the greatness this band so richly deserves.

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She paused again to say “You know, I’m asked almost every day what it is like to be a woman in the world of Rock N Roll and my answer is always…its awesome!” She went on to say, “Let me tell all the girls here, you can do anything you want to,” and asked “Where are my “Daughters of Darkness,” which triggers the song of the same namesake.

From there, they launched into a spine-tingling version of the Guns N Roses classic “Out To Get Me,” that was prefaced by Lzzy telling the ravenous crowd, that “Certain people don’t want us to play this one, but fuck em’, we’re gonna play it anyway.” Lzzy took time to thank all the cool parents, who brought their kids out on a school night to see a “Rock Show,” before ripping into the song that bears the same name.

Their show stopping rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman,” was one of the true highlights of the night. While the stripped down, raw emotion, piano only version of “Break In,” saw the entire venue illuminated by lighters and cell phones.

After Arejay blew the crowd away with what is always one of the best drum solos you’ll ever see, the band returned to a thunderous audience response for a few encores. Miss Hale thanked the hometown crowd for coming and launched into a cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” that buries the original. “I Miss the Misery” and “Here’s To Us,” followed, the latter of which found the crowd swaying back and forth and singing at the top of their lungs.

The only thing that could have possibly made the evening any better would have been for Halestorm to include something from the Breaking the Silence EP on a night that will surely live in the memories of all who attended for years to come.

-Eric Hunker