Nearly 2,500 people crowded to downtown Syracuse to witness the arrival of Alice In Chains, who made their first appearance Central New York in over a decade. The grunge gods are still releasing great music with the critically acclaimed rock album The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here which was released last year and have been touring the world in support of that album.
This was my first time ever seeing a rock show at The Landmark Theatre. The place still has an eerie yet beautiful feeling to it due to the historic structure. The entire place is seated and crammed; however, I don’t think anyone cared.
Canadian hard rockers Monster Truck had the pleasure of opening for Alice In Chains. They graced the stage at 7:30PM, played a very stellar 40 minute set and were well received by the fans. If Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd had a love-child in the modern era of rock music, it would most certainly be Monster Truck. Most of the songs they played were very jazzy with a flare of southern rock. While a very entertaining band, Monster Truck really shined during their slow and bluesy song “Through The Sun.” Their use of drums, guitar, and keyboards along with vocals and bass from Jeremy Widerman makes them a force to be reckoned with. I would expect this band to break out shortly.
Alice In Chains started their 18-song set shortly after, with massive production, killer and crystal clear sound, massive stage lights, the whole nine yards. They started off with “Them Bones, ” doing a great job mixing it up between their well known hits, as well as their album cuts and new material. Keeping the tone heavy, they went into “Damn That River” and “Again”, before they went into their new material such as “Check My Brain” and “Hollow.” Also let me point out that this was the first time during what I call the “Duvall-Era” of Alice In Chains where William Duvall is front and center of the entire band. Duvall has done a sensational job of filling in the shows of arguably one of the greatest singers that ever lived, the late Layne Stanley.
The highlight of the entire show was “Rain When I Die.” The duel harmonizing vocals of Duvall and Jerry Cantrell is nothing short of amazing. And another highlight was “Nutshell.” Cantrell displayed some of his best lead guitar skills during “Stone” and actually stopped midway through the song to fire up the crowd. They wrapped their set with their super heavy “We Die Young” before closing with their Vietnam War themed “Rooster.” The band came back out for a three song encore of “No Excuses,” “Got Me Wrong,” and their dark hit “Would.”
Overall, it was a fantastic show. Easily one of the best hard rock tours of this year. Cantrell addressed the crowd and said they hope to return to Syracuse real soon.