WJJO's Band Camp 2007 (August 2007)

Date of Performance: August 5, 2007
Venue: Alliant Center's Willow Bay, Madison, WI, US

I'm an occasional fan of metal and the bands at this event were heavier than usual. Likewise, this festival was an all-day Hardcore Metal binge. For that reason, I had to pick and choose what I would endure. Sevendust was known to me and I had never seen them live. I figured they'd be later in the day. To ensure they'd be an attainable option, I arrived several bands in. Sydonia, Kicking K8, and Diecast were bands I missed on the second stage in the morning. Reason for Leaving, Dirty Little Rabbits (featuring Clown from SlipKnot), Black Light Burns, and Kittie were the counterparts I neglected from the main stage. I was also absent for the evening acts, which included Godhead and StoneSour. Out of that entire list, Kittie and StoneSour were probably the ones I most regretted taking a pass on. On the flip side, I was relieved to find that I really liked the offerings in the afternoon and my overall favorite was a total surprise. Honestly, I hadn't even heard of them until they took the stage (read on). It seems like I picked the right time slots to attend and when I left, I felt as if I played my cards just right. In this modern-day tale, this was better than Band Camps past.

From the aces to the jokers, let's take a look at what was dealt from WJJO's deck:

Deaf by Pedestrians - If you're into metal, clean the wax out of your ears and look both ways before crossing the street. Come to think of it, they were pitch-perfect and the volume was ideal. You didn't even need to plug that fleshy appendage protruding from the sides of your head. It wasn't harmful enough to bother the sensitive fibers in those holes. Care of C.S. "Chuck" Parker, I found vocals that were seriously healthier than the average recommended daily allowance of singing in the genre. If I had to choose between sight and sound, I'd probably choose the former. My reason is that I'd need a way to stay independent and mobile. Parker's voice, on the other hand, is justification for the latter. While it was hardcore, frequently bordering on punk, this guy could belt out both the tricky and the tantalizing notes.

7.75/10 [roughly 4/5 -ed.]

Finger Eleven - While they offered diverse compositions, this band was hard to remember. Their musicianship was above-average, but somehow they didn't click 100%. I'd write more on the subject matter if it weren't so forgettable. What I do recall is that they played that cool radio ditty called "Paralyzer." With this, they had the crowd 100% under their spell. More like this, and we have a winner folks.

7/10 [3.5/5]

In This Moment - This group was probably my least favorite of the day, but they were still unique. What's surprising is that they were fronted by a chick. Not my intention to be sexist. She actually had demonic chants scarier than her male counterparts. She deserves kudos for fitting in with this masculine crowd. She bested every other singer when it came to sending out screaming dirigibles from hell. While it may have been more like holler-monkey music to my ears, every species has their own call to the wild. In This Moment filled up every inch of standing room and had a pit of ravage animals at their command. I give them credit for keeping a potential stampede in check. As a comparison, I'd say they were part Danzig and part Judas Priest. At times it seemed as if they were going for ballads based on some of the introductory synthesizers. The overriding bass and drums that always followed put a stop to this slaphappy blithe. Later when I downloaded a sample of their music, I became aware that their on-stage persona is much more callous than what their studio presence emits.

6.5/10 [roughly 3/5]

Dope - My mid-afternoon break was conveniently planned around the time this band took the stage. I didn't appreciate the mind-numbing riffs as much as the zombies they attracted. They were loud and powerful, and in some ways they could play their instruments. I just required more melody and complexity in the rhythms. They are a popular brood and if I weren't so choosy, I would have spent more time in the garden with this band and less time promenading towards the concession stand.

6.75/10 [roughly 3.5/5]

Skillet - Hands down, this act was my favorite of the day. Ironically, they are from my hometown: Milwaukee. That's awesome when the local crew outdoes the national acts. When they arrived on the scene, the singer, John Cooper, had on preppy dress. Coincidently, his clothes matched the band's instrumental digs. While they are named after a frying pan, their music cooks astoundingly well on the grill. Being this good live, you'd suspect they'd do great in the studio, and if that were your hypothesis or guess, you'd be right on the money. If given a chance to watch them at a different venue, I'd be more than happy to poke them with a skewer and throw the resultant shish-kabob on the barbie. Speaking of which, two dames participated in this outfit. When Korey Cooper wasn't massaging her bass, she assisted hands-on with keys as well as backing vocals. Lori Peters, however, had a number of amazing fills on the drums. Alternatively, her style varied between the delicate acupressure of Tui Na and routines so firm they pinched the tissue like Shiatsu. The most rewarding songs in this session were "The Older I Get" and "The Last Night." These were easy to remember as they were sinuous and soothing. Not to mention, the band only has one album: That would be Comatose. Since they hit a glut of homeruns in their set, it appears this single release has plenty to offer. By the way, the guitarist, Ben Kasica, was extremely good. He might have been the best shredder of this long and eventually "Burden" - someday.

8.5/10 [roughly 4.5/5]

Nonpoint - Many people like this band. There is no debating it. Their strongest point is their compositions and it comes across in their studio output. However, they aren't nearly as sharp on a live stage. The music wasn't ideally-tuned and the notes weren't exactly struck in a precise manner. Regardless, they deserve to be among the bigger names due to what they write and how well it comes across on the radio. They're in the big leagues now playing at the later stages of events such as Band Camp. If they increase their time in the rehearsal room, they might very well be headliners in the future. Practice may not make them perfect, but it wouldn't hurt.

7/10 [3.5/5]

Burden Brothers - This was one of the better acts and they certainly did in excess of what I had expected. I didn't like the first song, "It's Time [To Meet You]," due to its repetitiveness. As the south's liveliest college newspaper states, lyrics aren't their strong suit. I agree, but don't look in my direction and advocate censure or libel, as it wasn't me who first said it. In any case, I was so bored to tears that I walked away with no intention of coming back. After they hit one stunning riff after another in the next song, I broke from the convoy of fleeing ants and bee-lined back. Without the slimmest margins of prior intent, I found myself staying for the remainder of their sketch.

Somewhere in-between their set, they played a song called "Still" and it closely resembled Soundgarden. Other than what's been mentioned, their songs were a pleasant mix of hard and mellow. While they started with telling us that they'd like to meet us, they appropriately ended with "Good Night From Chicago." It's the wrong city and it's at least two and half hours away from the venue, but it'll do. Also, as far as my state of mind goes, all I could think was "Hee-Haw" when they announced they were from Dallas, Texas. Then again, there was nothing southern in their sound. They fit in so well, I would have thought that, just like Skillet, they were also locals.

[Incidentally, Joshua notes, none of the members are actually brothers, and none are named Burden. Methinks: kinda like the Doobie Bros. in that, eh? -ed.

8.25/10 [roughly 4/5]

Sevendust - I came for this band and left the festivities a couple songs into their set. Not that it was dire; it had more to do with the fact I had my fill from the preceding parade of bands. To tell you the truth, nobody was paying attention to their diligent efforts on stage, and for that reason, it felt like the right time to exit. It wasn't entirely their fault as there were many distractions including drunkenness and a constant unofficial mud-flinging contest. Even though there was pleading, it continued. Fortunately, a large group of weekend warriors and one of their sponsors, the United States Army, was there in force in case a full-fledged war broke out. That never happened, and on the whole, it was all dirty fun. These people certainly liked the buzz of Budweiser and Miller. Equally measured, the same fans liked the undulant hum of this band. So, it's not that Sevendust was bad in a musical sense. The audience got what they wanted even if it constituted disorderly conduct and tedious anthems. From what I witnessed, they definitely played their meatier and more metallic pieces. In my opinion, their best songs went un-played. Then again, I'd consider their power ballads to be among their best-written compositions. I'm sure many fans would disagree with my personal selections of greatest hits. All I could hear from them was a billowy bass, vagrant guitar, and a set of drums that kicked up much dust and gravel. Additionally, Lajon Witherspoon is an interesting frontman - his passionate verses are a big plus to the team. Overall, I enjoyed what they did and my absence should be no dark mark or ragged tattoo on their platoon. The listen-ability or lack thereof, was not entirely their fault as the sound system was tuned for a prairie, and that's a serious statement. Nevertheless, it wasn't anywhere near clear enough to hear a bowling pin drop. So as a judge, I must deduct a point from their show if not from the band. I did recognize their one key song that has been often played on the radio, but after scouring the muddled scores of mental notes I had taken, I am at a loss for its name. It was good marching music while I left the park. In this sense, the festivities ended for me as they began; with decent vibrations in the air. Taken as a whole, Witherspoon and his pals were not too bad for a band named after a can of, if you can believe it, pesticide [in case you're wondering, that would be spelled Sevin Dust].

7.5/10 [roughly 4/5]

In summary, this event went well aside from frequently-airborne sludge and unceasing ear-splitting noises. Get your parent's waiver signed and meet me at camp next year. Just don't forget to pack your rain-slickers, waterproof boots, and of course, a fresh set of earplugs.

Overall: 7.40625/10 (Nothing wrong with being precise. :-) )

[Not-roughly 3.703125/5 ... 'course the rating system below rounds this to 3.5 -- imprecisely -ed.]

Added: August 10th 2007
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website: www.wjjo.com
Hits: 1472
Language: english

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