San Diego Welcomes Black Label Society

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY; photo Reuben Martinez

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY; photo Reuben Martinez

Black Label Society brought guitar domination to San Diego, where Zakk Wylde proudly gave a “Big Black Label Thanks to the San Diego, CA Chapter for a Pummeling BL Quilt Craft/Sewing Festivus Miracle on Ice”. The month-long tour included metal veterans Obituary and Lord Dying.

As a longtime guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Zack created Black Label Society over 20 years ago, but reunited with Black Sabbath in 2000. In fact, he was slated to play with Ozzy on his farewell tour this year, but it was postponed due to Ozzy’s health issues. This inadvertently provided Zakk with some time to kill which resulted in this tour.

Zakk Wylde; photo Reuben Martinez

Zakk Wylde; photo Reuben Martinez

Dario Lorina/BLS; photo Reuben Martinez

Dario Lorina/BLS; photo Reuben Martinez

Zakk’s other side project Zakk Sabbath recently played a few shows in England celebrating 50 years of Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut album. The album that changed metal.

But this was a Black Label Society show, and the fans were wearing BLS shirts, vests, hats and other items proudly. During one moment of the night I heard Zakk say that the song, “In This River”, will never leave the Black Label Society playlist. It was written and dedicated to Dimebag Darrell Abbott who was shot in 2004. Zakk displayed banners of Dimebag and now Dime’s brother Vinnie Paul who passed June of 2018.

John "JD" DeServio/BLS; photo Reuben Martinez

John “JD” DeServio/BLS; photo Reuben Martinez

There were so many highlights from Zakk, John “JD” DeServio on bass, Dario Lorina on guitar and Jeff Fabb on drums. Everyone in the band were well showcased.

Zakk should be joining Ozzy on his farewell tour probably in 2021. So, check out the band when you can as well as Zakk’s Instagram. It’s a very entertaining outlet, showing off his humor, his line of guitars, amps and coffee. Total tongue in cheek humor.

Set list: San Diego:
Genocide junkies
Funeral Bell
The Rose Petalled Garden
Heart of Darkness
Suicide Messiah
Trampled Down Below
Seasons of Falter
Peddlers of Death
Spoke In The Wheel
In the River
The Blessed Hellride
A Love Unreal
Fire it Up
Concrete Jungle
Stillborn

Queensryche: A Tale From The Photo Pit

QUEENSRYCHE; photo Reuben Martinez

QUEENSRYCHE; photo Reuben Martinez

First show of the year and I am getting to cover a band I was listening to since their beginning! Over 35 years in the business this band has endured many obstacles over that time. Their recent album The Verdict was released a year ago bringing the total to 21 albums (16 studio) in their career. The tour started in Southern California with Eve to Adam and Rob Zombie’s guitar virtuoso John 5 to support. East coast band Eve to Adam took the stage and I was new to hearing them. They are a solid choice to open for the rock icons. Very energetic set.

JOHN 5; photo Reuben Martinez

JOHN 5; photo Reuben Martinez

One huge thing about this night was getting to shoot John 5 in a venue with great lighting and a photo pit. I’ve covered John 5 a few times in the smallest clubs shooting from a crowd. And tonight, John 5 stayed constant to each time I’ve seen him. Visually, John 5 can look Metal/Zombie and play hard, yet beautiful. Hard riffs to country twang. But just like shooting from a crowded floor, the photo pit was full of about 20 photographers this night. Limited space to move around. But every angle had heavy blue and green lights to set the scene. John 5 even came out with a mask of himself, ripping it off to reveal a green skull. He finished with a quick tribute to Rush (who recently lost their drummer, Neil Peart) a homage to the band, then went into very familiar riffs of White Zombie and Pantera. These were definitely fan favorites of the night.

QUEENSRYCHE: photo Reuben Martinez

QUEENSRYCHE: photo Reuben Martinez

At last it was time for headliners, Queensryche to take the stage. When the lights went out you could see the band members walk on stage and right away jump into their classic “Prophecy”. I’ve seen this band dozens of times and every time I get drawn to when I was a teenager. Singer Todd La Torre sounded amazing going through the classics and on to the new songs. The Ryche vibe is still there. Part of that sound is the guitar harmonies of Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren. Of course, when Eddie Jackson started the bass line for the intro to “Jet City Woman” the crowd went nuts. One of their biggest hits. They ended the main set with “Queen of the Reich” from the first album.

QUEENSRYCHE: photo Reuben Martinez

QUEENSRYCHE: photo Reuben Martinez

They opened up the encore with something new and then finished the night with “Eyes Of a Stranger” from the Operation: Mindcrime concept album. Even with a lot of media in the photo pit and seeing a lot of familiar faces, this show was a great way to kick off 2020. It’s great seeing bands like Queensryche still packing in venues. And sounding amazing.

Queensryche Set List:
Prophecy
Operation: Mindcrime
Walk In the Shadows
Resistance
Man The Machine
Take Hold Of the Flame
No Sanctuary
Bent
Dark Reverie
Breaking The Silence
Silent Lucidity
Jet City Woman
Screaming In Digital
Queen Of the Reich
-encore-
Light-Years
Empire
Eyes Of a Stranger

Queensryche: A Tale From The Photo Pit

QUEENSRYCHE Todd La Torre (vocals) Michael Wilton (guitar); photo Reuben Martinez

QUEENSRYCHE Todd La Torre (vocals) Michael Wilton (guitar); photo Reuben Martinez

First show of the year and I am getting to cover a band I was listening to since their beginning. Over 35 years in the business this band has endured many obstacles over that time. Their recent album The Verdict was released a year ago bringing the total to 21 albums (16 studio) in their career. The tour started in Southern California with Eve to Adam and Rob Zombie’s guitar virtuoso John 5 to support. East coast band Eve to Adam took the stage and I was new to hearing them. They are a solid choice to open for the rock icons. Very energetic set.

JOHN 5; photo Reuben Martinez

JOHN 5; photo Reuben Martinez

One huge thing about this night was getting to shoot John 5 in a venue with great lighting and a photo pit. I’ve covered John 5 a few times in the smallest clubs shooting from a crowd. And tonight, John 5 stayed constant to each time I’ve seen him. Visually, John 5 can look Metal/Zombie and play hard, yet beautiful. Hard riffs to country twang. But just like shooting from a crowded floor, the photo pit was full of about 20 photographers this night. Limited space to move around. But every angle had heavy blue and green lights to set the scene. John 5 even came out with a mask of himself, ripping it off to reveal a green skull. He finished with a quick tribute to Rush (who recently lost their drummer, Neil Peart) a homage to the band, then went into very familiar riffs of White Zombie and Pantera. These were definitely fan favorites of the night.

QUEENSRYCHE Eddie Jackson (bass); photo Reuben Martinez

QUEENSRYCHE Eddie Jackson (bass); photo Reuben Martinez

At last it was time for headliners, Queensryche to take stage. When the lights went out you could see the members walk on stage and right away jump into the classic “Prophecy”. I’ve seen this band dozens of times and every time I get drawn to when I was a teenager. Singer Todd La Torre sounded amazing going through the classics and on to the new songs. The Ryche vibe is still there. Part of that sound is the guitar harmonies of Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren. Of course, when Eddie Jackson started the bass line for the intro to “Jet City Woman” the crowd went nuts. One of their biggest hits. They ended the main set with “Queen of the Reich” from the first album.

QUEENSRYCHE Parker Lundgren (guitar); photo Reuben Martinez

QUEENSRYCHE Parker Lundgren (guitar); photo Reuben Martinez

They opened up the encore with something new and then finished the night with “Eyes Of a Stranger” from the Operation: Mindcrime concept album. Even with a lot of media in the photo pit and seeing a lot of familiar faces, this show was a great way to kick off 2020. It’s great seeing bands like Queensryche still packing in venues. And sounding amazing.

Queensryche Set List:
Prophecy
Operation: Mindcrime
Walk In the Shadows
Resistance
Man The Machine
Take Hold Of the Flame
No Sanctuary
Bent
Dark Reverie
Breaking The Silence
Silent Lucidity
Jet City Woman
Screaming In Digital
Queen Of the Reich
-encore-
Light-Years
Empire
Eyes Of a Stranger

Shinedown: A Tale From The Photo Pit

Shinedown drummer Barry Kerch; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown drummer Barry Kerch; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown, finishing up the last leg to their Attention Attention album tour, played Irvine’s FivePoint Amphitheater. They brought along the bands Broken Hands, Dinosaur Pile Up and Badfkower for support.

Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers; photo Reuben Martinez

When Shinedown’s curtain came up to prep for the band to come on the theme to “Indiana Jones” played. As the curtain came down there were multiple stage explosions then the band opened with the song “Devil”. On the third song, and one thing I appreciate by this band, is singer Brent Smith goes one by one and shakes the photographer’s hands saying thank you for what we do.

Shinedown singer Brent Smith; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown singer Brent Smith; photo Reuben Martinez

While watching the remainder of the show, the band took a break and headed to the back of the stage to play a few songs to the back seats of the venue. Most bands play one or two songs but the guys in Shinedown played four, up close to the fans in the back.

As the band headed back to the main stage the screen showed a picture of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park who died last year to suicide. The song “Numb” played with just a piano and Chester singing as different images were displayed. Singer Brent and guitarist Zach Myers walked on stage after playing “Black Hole Sun” paying tribute to Chris Cornell from Soundgarden/Audioslave who also took his life. An awesome tribute to both artists who left us too soon.

Shinedown bassist Eric Bass; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown bassist Eric Bass; photo Reuben Martinez

After the band went through hit by hit, they played the last single off Attention Attention called “Get Up” A song written for bass player Eric Bass who has battled with depression and the things he has overcome. Eric also recently came back to Shinedown’s tour after an injury to his back while on the road, but he still gave 110% to his performance.

This was another great show from this band who I’ve seen multiple times, and it was a great way to start the Summer.

Band:
Brent Smith – Vocals
Zach Myers – Guitar
Barry Kerch – Drums
Eric Bass – Bass, keyboards.

Set List:
Devil
Diamond Eyes
Enemies
Monsters
Black Soul
I’ll Follow You
Unity
45
Bully
Amaryllis
How Did You Love
Through the Ghost
Second Chance
Black Hole Sun
Simple Man
Cut the Cord
Get Up
Sound of Madness
Brilliant

Immortal Guardian: A Tale From The Photo Pit

Immortal Guardian; photo Reuben Martinez

Immortal Guardian; photo Reuben Martinez

Having never been to The Parish Room at House of Blues Anaheim or having never seen Immortal Guardian before, I did my research on the band and was very curious on how they would sound live.

This band from Texas made headways with their music exposure on ESPN’s X Games and performing at NAMM Jam in the past which brought them to open for major name bands in the business.

While NAMM 2019 was in full bloom in Anaheim, Immortal Guardian opened for guitar God Marty Friedman. Trying to get in, there was a huge line at the box office to get my credentials, since Metal Allegiance was playing next door. Finally walking into this small venue, it was hard to get up front to take photos since the place was packed.

Immortal Guardian; photo Reuben Martinez

Immortal Guardian; photo Reuben Martinez

When Immortal Guardian came on, they blew me away! Guitarist Gabriel Guardian, playing both guitar and keyboards simultaneously, played a short instrumental before singer Carlos Zema came on. As a powerhouse on vocals, he kept impressing me. Everyone in this band brings pure talent to the table, Thad Stevens on bass and Cody Gilliland on drums. You could hear in the reaction of the crowd after each song that the applause kept growing louder and louder. Immortal Guardian sounds like a six piece instead of a four piece. As a guitarist, my eye was drawn to Gabriel soloing on two instruments.

With a couple of albums under their belt the latest came out late 2018. But nothing compares to seeing Immortal Guardian live. Even after the show the band hung around the merchandise booth, shaking hands and signing autographs. As I was saying before, it was so hard to get up front to take photos with a full crowd, but I was thankful for a good zoom lens. Often as a photographer I run across a band that I’m covering and get totally impressed. Immortal Guardian is one band that made me a fan. Be on the lookout for this band to make more waves.

Alice Cooper: A Tale From The Photo Pit

Alice Cooper; photo Reuben Martinez

Alice Cooper; photo Reuben Martinez

Walking into Pechanga Resort and Casino, waiting to see if my credentials were there, I was excited to see and photograph a rock legend – Alice Cooper.

Once inside, they told me and the other photographers that we were allowed to shoot the first four songs. Normally it’s three! But as the lights went out, not having a photo pit at this venue the tricky thing is to try to fit in and not to get in the way of others watching the show.

Alice Cooper; photo Reuben Martinez

Alice Cooper; photo Reuben Martinez

As soon as Alice came out the crowd was instantly on their feet. Alice knows how to entertain, and with an elite band as well. One thing to look for at his shows is his guitarist Nita Strauss, I like to call her the Queen of the 6-Strings. A phenomenal guitar player as well as Tommy Henrikson and Ryan Roxy, and Glen Sobel on drums and Chuck (Beasto Blanco) Garric on bass. Every musician in Alice’s band is top notch.

Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper); photo Reuben Martinez

Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper); photo Reuben Martinez

As the songs play on so do his stage antics. From a fencing sword with money featuring Alice’s face being thrown to the crowd, to a monstrous “Alice” as a Frankenstein monster, to a guillotine where his stage hands throw him in and cut his head off executioner style.

Alice finished the night wearing a white tux jacket while playing hits like “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out”, accompanied by a bubble machine. Personally, this was such a treat to shoot, just seeing someone that is 70 years young still touring and putting on a great show.

If you can, check out Alice Cooper and his amazing band on the Paranormal Tour.

Set list:
Brutal Planet
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
Billion Dollar Babies
Be My Lover
Lost in America
Serious
Fallen in Love
Woman of Mass Distraction
Poison
Halo of Flies
Feed My Frankenstein
Cold Ethyl
Only Women Bleed
Paranoiac Personality
Ballad of Dwight Fry
Killer
I Love the Dead
I’m Eighteen
School’s Out

Ghost: A Tale From The Photo Pit

GHOST

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

Swedish band Ghost kicked off their “Rats on the Road” tour in Riverside, California on May 5. A SOLD OUT show. Obviously, they have a huge following and for a photographer, a dream to shoot.

But the great thing was that only Ghost performed this night, no supporting band. A full show with just them. There were only six photographers allowed to shoot this show, which made the photo pit less crowded.

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

If you follow the band, singer Papa Emeritus takes on a new persona as Cardinal Copia (with no black Pope outfit). There has been a big mystery going on with this band with the changes and direction. But as Ghost played on with some wardrobe changes, and a set list of songs that everyone was familiar with, the band did squeeze some of the new songs in between.

As the curtains opened the band of Nameless Ghouls, wearing their signature silver devil like masks, jumped into “Rats” the first single from the upcoming album Prequelle out Jun 1.

Another new song, “Miasma” featured

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

the band as an instrumental. In the middle of the song, Papa Nil (head of Ghost’s Clergy) emerged with two nuns, stood from his chair, pulled out his saxophone, and belted a solo. After playing a few more songs, the band took an intermission and then singer Cardinal Copia came back out in a typical red Cardinal robe.

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

Two full sets played over two hours was epic. During songs like “Mummy Dust” there were cannons shooting gold confetti creating a shiny flurry in the air. They also played the crowd favorite “If You Have Ghosts”, an early 80’s cover by Roky Erickson, ending the night with another new song, “Dance Macabre”.

All in all, it was a very exciting, visual show. Be sure to grab tickets for The Forum show at the end of the year because they will sell out again!

Song set list:
Ashes
Rats
Absolution
Ritual
Con Clavi Con Dio
Per Aspera ad Inferi
Devil Church
Cirice
Stand by Him
Miasma
Jigolo Har Megiddo
Pro Memoria
Deus in Absentia
Set II
Spirit
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Faith
Year Zero
Spöksonat
He Is
Prime Mover
Mummy Dust
If You Have Ghosts
Dance Macabre

Shinedown: A Tale From The Photo Pit

SHINEDOWN; photo Reuben Martinez

SHINEDOWN; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown hit Riverside Apr. 12, as part of their Attention Attention Tour and will return to SoCal Aug. 4 stopping at Fivepoint Amphitheatre with Godsmack.

SHINEDOWN; photo Reuben Martinez

SHINEDOWN; photo Reuben Martinez

As I arrived at the venue 30 minutes before the show, I noticed right away that the line to get in went around the building. Once I was inside, I noticed how crowded and packed the venue was. I’ve shot a few sold out shows here at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium and it was unusual for people to come out early and pack in the venue as the doors opened.

SHINEDOWN; photo Reuben Martinez

SHINEDOWN; photo Reuben Martinez

I ran into familiar faces in the photo pit while waiting for the headliner, Shinedown to take the stage. They opened with “Sounds of Madness” and the crowd went crazy singing word for word. After the first song ended, singer Brent Smith thanked the audience, the staff and us, the photographers, for the work we do and shook all our hands. This was such a humbling experience.

SHINEDOWN; photo Reuben Martinez

SHINEDOWN; photo Reuben Martinez

While shooting the standard first three songs, I really enjoyed the energy from the band. The sound, the lights, also. This band really puts on a great show, one to see. In fact, the audience was on their feet the entire time. They only played a couple of new songs and ended the show with their cover of Lynard Skynard’s “Simple Man”, one of my all-time favorite remakes, followed by the first single “Devil” from the upcoming album Attention Attention.

SET LIST:
Sound Of Madness
Bully
Cut the Cord
How Did You Love
I’ll Follow You
The Human Radio
State of My Head
If You Only Knew
Enemies
45
Unity
Second Chance
Diamond Eyes
Simple Man
Devil

METALLICA: A Tale From The Photo Pit

METALLICA

Kirk Hammett/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Metallica. The name says it all. Coming live to Southern California in my favorite town, San Diego. I’ve been a longtime fan of this band since 1983.

You can’t imagine the thrill it was to get the approval to shoot and cover the show. Not knowing what to expect from the venue (Petco Park) or the band, I was as ready as I could have been.

Kirk Hammett/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Driving to downtown San Diego I went early knowing there were going to be 50,000 plus fans going to the outdoor area. After I parked, I walked around the city until it was time to check in.

At the venue, I met up with a couple of friends and fellow photographers that were also covering the show. Once we had checked in and received our credentials, we waited to be escorted to the floor to shoot the opening bands Gojira and Avenged Sevenfold.

METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

James Hetfield/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Then as we waited for Metallica, the excitement was growing for all of us. When it was time to walk back down to the photo pit, my fellow photographers and I fist bumped each other as if we were going onstage.

The lights went down and we heard Metallica’s signature intro theme song starting to play, “The Ecstasy of Gold” from the movie “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

The band opened their set with “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” sending the crowd into a frenzy while towering video screens over 100 feet high showed the band playing.

The most difficult thing about photographing Metallica was working with the stage that goes into the center of the crowd, known as The Snake Pit (where Metallica fans stand in the middle of an opening of a ramp that goes into the crowd). The Snake Pit ramp was at my eyelevel, which is pretty high, but for a big stadium area it’s common.

METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Lars Ulrich/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Getting to shoot the first three songs, “Hardwired”, “Atlas, Rise!” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was challenging, but rewarding. After the shoot, I had to remove my camera from the premises before I could go back in to watch the rest of the show.

Metallica had a great mix of new and old songs. During a new song, “Now That We’re Dead”, all four band members played a Taiko drum (Japanese style drum) solo.

For the song “One” which is known for opening with battle sounds, pyrotechnics and fireworks were added to the war sounds that went around the stadium. Such a great visual for the fans.

METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Robert Trujillo/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

But playing classics such as “Master of Puppets” and “Fade to Black” it was obvious they were crowd favorites. Everyone was singing word for word. It was great watching the band play these songs, which still hold up, and watching the crowd react. It just made the experience even more enjoyable.

The band finished with “Seek & Destroy” from their first album Kill ’em All. As they left stage the crowd knew they were coming back. Obviously, a huge band in a huge venue, they had to please. And they did.

First song of the encore was a classic thrash song from the early days, “Fight Fire With Fire”, followed by two radio favorites, classics “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman” as well as a huge firework finale.

Metallica has over 30 years as a band and they still sound great and are great musicians. Solid as ever, the WorldWired Tour continues with SOLD OUT shows until May 2018. This band has made their mark on music and influenced many in the industry. And the joy of capturing it on camera is absolutely one of the highlights in my life.

Sons of Texas: A Tale From The Photo Pit

Sons of Texas

Mark Morales of Sons of Texas; photo Reuben Martinez

Sons of Texas opened for heavyweights Hellyeah at the Observatory North Park, San Diego.

When asked to cover Sons of Texas, I was excited to see Hellyeah (one of my favorites) but I did my research and listened to Sons of Texas’ CD Baptized in the Rio Grande days before the gig. Next thing you know, I’m buying the album on iTunes!

Sons of Texas

Sons of Texas; photo Reuben Martinez

I arrived at the venue to find there were minor issues with my photo pass. This happens from time to time, but everything worked out. This is why a photographer should arrive early to a venue.

Excited, but not knowing what to expect, plus this was my first time shooting at this venue, I walked around, grabbed a drink and checked out the merchandise before the show started, then headed to the photo pit. The venue had great lighting and a great ambiance.

As Sons of Texas opened playing “Never Bury the Hatchet”, these guys were top notched musicians! I noticed right away how perfect they fit on the bill with Hellyeah, and could hear the influence of Pantera and other bands.

Sons of Texas; photo Reuben Martinez

Sons of Texas; photo Reuben Martinez

Sons had great energy that got the crowd going. During one song in their set, singer Mark Morales jumped in the crowd singing as a small mosh pit went around him. They played most of their debut album and did not disappoint. Great performance also equals great compositions.

Even after the Hellyeah performance, the band was hanging around greeting fans. I definitely had to go over and say “Hi” and bought another copy of their CD to get signed.

I will be looking forward to seeing these guys again either covering their concerts or just attending as a fan. In fact, I kicked myself when I found out they had played a couple headline shows in the past week here in Southern California and I missed them.

But I’m sure they will be headlining more shows in the future. I can’t emphasize how good these guys sound live and couldn’t ask for a better end to my Father’s Day than seeing these two bands play.