BLACK LABEL SOCIETY / NASHVILLE PUSSY / MELDRUM / SURF THE BLACK
Ventura Theater; Ventura, CA; 03/28/03


Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Just from the line-up, you knew that this was going to be one great evening of rock'n'roll. And, by the time the last note died in your ears (which was about three days later), you realized you were right. Four bands, four great sets, and $6.50 beers. (Okay, the $6.50 beers part sucked, but the rest was awesome).

Surf The Black was up first and the band proved once again that they're as hot as hell. The band played songs from their self-titled CD (click here to see our review) and were energetic, tight and quickly captured the early-in-the-evening small crowd. What's interesting about Surf The Black is that they sound so different live than they do on their CD. The CD is almost pure punk - it's fast and hard but it's not really heavy. The live performance, however, is much heavier and the band's music takes on an entirely new dimension. As Snidermann says in his review of the CD, Surf the Black's sound is a little Motorhead-like, heavy but with punk influences. Live, they lean more toward Motorhead and their performance got the audience's blood pumping. See www.surftheblack.com for more information. 

Meldrum was the next band up and, when the three women who make up 3/4 of this band took the stage, one couldn't help but wonder how heavy they would be. That was soon proven quite clearly when the band ripped into power riffs that shook the Ventura Theater's very foundations. Meldrum, from Sweden, are reminiscent of Doro but with a little more kick. Having no knowledge of the band's music, I was impressed at how much I enjoyed the live show and, at intermission, I purchased their CD, "Loaded Mental Cannon." Meldrum's set rocked throughout and their CD is great, too. Another band to watch for more of in the future. For more information, check out www.meldrum.com

The infamous Nashville Pussy took the stage next and, despite the rave review that Snidermann gave a few months ago, I have to admit I was stunned. First, within a few minutes of taking the stage, the band played my favorite NP song, "Hitchhike Down to Cincinnati and Kick the Shit Outta Your Drunk Daddy." But they didn't stop there. They played lots of stuff from their new CD, including the great crowd pleaser "Keep on Fuckin'," the anthem-like "You Give Drugs a Bad Name" (with a great intro from frontman Blaine Cartwright) and an AC/DC cover.

In addition to the band's onstage antics (including a lengthy strip-tease by guitarist Ruyter Suys) the musicianship was stunningly good. Suys is like Angus Young with cleavage - her guitar seems to be part of her when she wails those blistering solos, blasts those chunky chords and struts across the stage like Chuck Berry possessed. Cartwright is a terrific frontman, connecting well with the audience and delivering the rough edge necessary to belt out the band's songs. Jeremy Thompson on drums and KatieLynn Campbell on bass are essential as well, rounding out the band's sound.

Nashville Pussy are incredible live, both for their performance and their onstage persona. Don't miss them if they come your way. For more information, check out http://www.nashvillepussy.com

Finally, Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society took the stage and - if you didn't recognize his furred face or signature model guitar - you could still tell it was Zakk up there because the volume got turned up about seven notches. From that point on, BLS's explosive sound rattled the walls of the Ventura Theater as Zakk and company raged through tunes from BLS's CDs. The entire band was incredible but Zakk goes beyond that, playing his guitar in ways that almost seemed supernatural. The show only slowed down once when Zakk pulled out an acoustic guitar and performed a song from (I'm guessing here) "Book of Shadows." 

One of the evening's highlights came when Zakk announced, "This is for the old man" and ripped into the opening notes of "War Pigs." Much of the crowd rushed the stage at this point (at least, those who weren't already in the pit) and sang along with Zakk as he put his touch on the old Black Sabbath standard. It was a great moment.

Black Label Society's new album, "The Blessed Hellride," is due in stores on April 22nd, and - especially after this show - we can't wait. The BLS street team handed out two-song samplers for the CD at the end of the evening and the songs thereon - "Stoned & Drunk" and "The Blessed Hellride" - bode well for things to come. For more information on Black Label Society, check out www.blacklabelsociety.net

When it all was over, the Rough Edge staff on hand all agreed it had been a great night. We'd go see any of these bands again, anytime.


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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12 Mar 2014 20:09:02 -0600.