Volbeat, All That Remains, and Eye Empire at the Rapids Theatre (2013)


Was it pure coincidence that on a luminous spring evening in Western New York both Volbeat and Limp Bizkit found themselves competing for the same pool of metal-starved maniacs?

Probably, but choosing which to attend should’ve been a much more deliberate endeavor.

While Limp Bizkit whittled its way to success by embracing every nu-metal cliché in the book and turning vulgarity into an Olympic sport, Danish powerhouse Volbeat has taken the genre back to its roots with an aggressive intermingling of metal, hard rock, and rockabilly inspiration.

They’ve taken an old-school musician’s work ethic and harnessed it into a vibe that represents what heavy music is, was, and what it’s going to be from this point forward.

After nearly four years, Metallica’s decision to put Volbeat in the opening slot for their show at what was then referred to as HSBC Arena appears to be a no-brainer.

With singer/guitarist Michael Poulsen at the helm, their set inside The Rapids Theatre last night upped the ante of 2011’s Town Ballroom stop in everything from crowd connection to the canny addition of former Anthrax shredder Rob Caggiano to round out the group’s strapping sound.

“Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood” marked the moment when one could feel the room beginning to unite in ecstasy, because the band strove to deliver stadium-level intensity to each one of the theatre’s intimate crannies.

Drummer Jon Larsen’s devastating double bass had the entire floor rattling as the band uncorked “Lola Montez,” “The Human Instrument,” and “16 Dollars” in sweet succession, the latter of which featured an eruption of audience participation that never dissipated.

The fact that Volbeat arrived on stage to the tune of Motorhead’s “Born to Raise Hell” says it all.

They honor the legacy of the artists who came before them, and, in true Lemmy fashion, have zero intention of wasting time on posers of any kind.

Massachusetts-bred howlers All That Remains served up a healthy set in the time they were given, which clearly wasn’t enough if the reaction of the fans was any indication.  Vocalist Philip Labonte and lead guitarist Oli Herbert have laid the groundwork a stirring metal attack, so it will be interesting to see how they progress in the future.

Eye Empire kicked the evening off with an inspired collection of tunes that suggests they’ll be elevated to the festival circuit soon, so hopefully they’ve taken notes from Volbeat along the way.






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