Rebel Reviewer Photo Essay: Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains
Sound Academy
Toronto, Ontario
March 17, 2010

What does one say about a band who’s been there, done that, lived, died, been to hell and back and is still putting out some of the most kick ass music to be heard? Well, I guess I just said it.

Emerging in the early 90’s from the woodsy Northwest grunge community surrounding encapsulating all that Seattle had to offer, Alice in Chains proved they could hold their own with the likes of the mightiest of lumberjack grungers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

Formed in the late 80’s by the late vocalist Layne Staley and lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell, AIC had their own distinctive sound that to this day is instantly recognizable. Having sold over 17 million albums producing a mere 4 studio albums in the last 20 years, they had a way of grabbing an audience’s ears and holding tight.

I can still remember hearing Facelift when it first came out and thought, wow that’s some cool, heavy riffage going on there. And it only got better. Dirt and the self titled 3 legged pit bull CD totally blew me away and took me to a land of new heaviness that I thoroughly lapped up and enjoyed.

Tunes like “We Die Young”, “Them Bones”, “Dam That River”, “Grind”, “Dirt”, “Would”, “Rooster”… the list goes on and on, we’re nothing more than a pleasure to plug into and lose yourself in. The low droning vocal style was easy for me to imitate and sing along with but it was really the riffing that hooked this fish and reeled it in. Jerry Cantrell comes up with some of the coolest hooks in the business and I thoroughly believe that is the biggest reason AIC is still cooking with gasoline today.

St. Paddy’s Day in Toronto proved a couple things to me. One, William Duvall is the shit. Awesome choice for a front man. Not only does he wield a deadly Les Paul, but his voice matches Cantrell’s perfectly and his confidence and stage presence commands a crowd with ease. Mr. Duvall has received many “two thumbs up” from a lot of die hard AIC fans so that says a lot. This band is still rocking in a big way, nevermind age and all that crap, these dudes will blow away any of those Screamo, Emo, Lame-O bands out there. The apparently “clean” version of Alice in Chains has confidently, yet forcefully, set up shop in many-a-venue and proven that they are back to stay.

The set list covered everything you’d expect with “Check My Brain” from the latest album, “ scoring real high with the crowd as well as “Rooster” but the real crowd pleaser that had EVERYONE rockin out and singing along was “Man In The Box”. The oldie from 1990 was firmly implanted in everyone’s craniums from 20 years of regular airplay. Toronto proved to be a worthy audience for Alice in Chains and in turn AIC proved to be a worthy recipient of our hard earned, over taxed, dough.

The other thing that got proven to me again, is that alcohol really makes some people turn into complete fucking idiots. I’ve never seen the Sound Academy packed this tight before. Not even for Black Label Society, Rob Zombie or Motorhead. That being said, the two side paths that run up the length of the bars towards the stage, were both jammed with people. With a little prodding and quick weasely moves, one could still make it through unscathed unless you run into some IDIOT who just doesn’t get it.

You know these people who don’t get out often? The ones that think that if you go to a concert twice a year, the whole planet is going to come to a screeching halt because you are trying to work your way through a crowd with a couple beers in your hands. These people expect the wall of humans to part like the red sea cuz your prissy little ass is trying to make it through the crowd to your significant other who probably told you not to bother going for beer knowing you’re a type A personality and will probably get beaten on by some bull dyke bitch on your way back. Well fucked if I didn’t run into one of these TWATS at this show.

I come up behind this girl who’s standing there with 2 beers in the air yelling at everyone around her. I asked her if she was moving forward or just standing there. She said she was moving forward but clearly in her hammered state, she had no idea what “moving forward” meant. After about 30 seconds of waiting, I started making my way around her and forward. Once I got side by side with her, she threw her arm out in front of me and told me I had to stay behind her cuz she was trying to get through. Dumb ass. If she had 2 cents worth of grey matter to rub together she would have followed ME. I looked at her and shook my head and tried to keep going. This pissed her off for some reason and she started pushing me into the crowd of people beside me.

Next thing I know she’s dumped BOTH of her beers over my head and pissed off the crowd of people beside me so the one guy threw his empty cup at the side of my head, fuckin arsehole. So instead of getting all pissed off, which I normally would do, I spiked my beer hair, gave them the devil horns, thanked them for the beers and kept on moving through the crowd. Funny, I pushed my way all the way up to where I needed to go, the big empty space at the front left of the venue, without a single problem from anyone else. Beware. Drunk bitches. Coming soon to a venue near you.

Meeting up with the gang at the front left was lotsa fun. Some people I hadn’t seen in a long time, namely Metal Queen Management’s Betty, celebrating her 29th birthday again, had a nice little group of friends (Scott, Jim, Cindy, Gus) around for the festivities and a fucking awesome soundtrack to boot. Rockpile Entertainment’s Terri was out rocking the hell outta the place and an assortment of other lovelies and dudes to round out the circus sideshow. Easy to say that everyone involved had a great time.

Leaving you with one thought, if you’re a fan of heavy music and you get the chance to see Alice in Chains, I promise you will NOT be disappointed with the “new” version of the band. In fact, you’ll be real happy cuz the new version WILL show up and rock your face off!

Mike Forbes
Rebel Reviewer Dot Com

2 Comments

  1. Wow !

    Nice Shot’s Mike….&…Awesome Write Up.

    You Know I’m A Huge Fan Of Yours…
    Always Have Been, Since My Very First Look At Your Photographs…
    I Can Only Hope That I’ll Be 10% Of What You Are…
    Ya Rock Photographer …

    ~Sharon

  2. Thanks Sharon! Just get out there and shoot shoot shoot.. you’ll be kickin ass in no time!!! If I ever make it to Florida, I’ll give you some private lessons!!!! ; )

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