Photo of Brian Marshall and Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge by Erica Vining
w/ Mammoth WVH and Pistols at Dawn
The Factory was the place to be, with concertgoers turning out in droves to cheer on “mosh pit granny,” who could be found throwing her horns and screaming along to every song. Orlando-based Alter Bridge just happened to also be in the building, and once our friend of advanced age found her place securely on the rail, the applause turned to the stage for the night.
Atlanta band Pistols at Dawn opened the show with their single “Gauntlet” off their eponymous 2019 album. The band looked much different when that single dropped, since that time experiencing the tragic loss of guitarist Mike Buffa as well as a few member changes. The current lineup fronts vocalist Cris Hodges supported by Devin White and Will James on guitar, Sean Benham on bass, and drummer Adam Jaffe, who is one of the founding members of the band. The energy and sound of Pistols at Dawn was incredible, blending rock and grunge seamlessly to provide something that sets them apart in a competitive genre. James was an easy standout of the night, shredding through songs with ease despite his young appearance, a smile continuously plastered on his face. We caught up with the guys following the set and they were equally as animated off stage, sharing stories of shenanigans at Applebee’s on their off day and how much they’ve enjoyed the company of Alter Bridge, describing them as “the nicest guys ever.” The band’s latest album, Ascension, released in August.
Mammoth WVH followed Pistols at Dawn, continuing the night’s trend of technically savvy musicians. Frontman Wolfgang Van Halen sang and played multiple instruments, displaying impressive skill that supported the notion he was born with a guitar in his hands. Van Halen was supported by Frank Sidoris and Jon Jourdan on guitar, Garrett Whitlock on drums, and Ronnie Ficarro on bass. Complex, heavy riffs and chest-pounding percussion were matched by punchy bass grooves that carried the audience through the eight-song set, featuring favorites such as “Don’t Back Down” and “Epiphany.” It would be easy to overtake the vocals with three guitars playing through nearly the entire set, but Mammoth WVH used their instruments well in complementing each other and just barely avoided chaos.
Alter Bridge set up quickly following Mammoth WVH, a confident Brian Marshall taking the stage with a wave followed by a smiling Myles Kennedy. Marshall effortlessly played through hammer-on riffs with Mark Tremonti on guitar sliding down the fretboard with ease. Tremonti’s skills were on full display in the second song of the set, “Addicted to Pain,” with an impressive guitar solo that my husband described as “insane.” Scott Phillips was planted firmly in the back of the stage on drums but his near abusive smashing of cymbals and the remarkable speed at which he plays put him at the forefront of the set multiple times, with “Blackbird” being a particularly standout performance by the drummer. Tremonti and Marshall frequently met up through the night to battle with their respective instruments which provoked excitement from the crowd every time. The band played through an impressive 17 song set including “Silver Tongue” and “Dead Among the Living” from their newest album Pawns & Kings, released in October of last year. They encored to a roaring crowd with “Rise Today” and the classic “Open Your Eyes,” finishing strong for the evening. I came into the show as a casual fan familiar with a few songs from the band, and I left wanting to hear more and thoroughly impressed with the musicality I witnessed onstage. There were certainly no Pawns to be found that night at The Factory, only Kings. And one notable Queen, that of the rail, Granny. | Erica Vining