Beyoncé said it best, “Who runs this mother? Girls!” Friday night at Stir Cove, the ladies took over and showed that the heavily male dominated metal genre isn’t a boy’s club anymore. Starting off the night was New Year’s Day. The band has been around since 2005 and they gained popularity through word of mouth & Myspace promotions. The band has had a revolving door of members with the only constant being Ash Costello. She took the stage looking like New 52 Harley Quinn with her black & red hair and she knew her job was to hype the crowd for the remaining bands. Ash did a great job of getting the crowd warmed up despite what sounded like mic troubles for the first couple of songs. While the band definitely looks their part, the music is nothing special.
The second act of the night was In This Moment. Right before they hit the stage, the PA was blasting “Don’t Stop Believing” with the crowd singing along. It is probably the first time I’ve heard a crowd boo when a song got cut off to start the show. In preparation for the show, I talked to a friend that is more familiar with the bands than I am; when I asked about In This Moment I was told singer Maria Brink was like a cross between Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga. Looking at the stage set-up, I could see the similarities. A black tent that looked like a crypt in the middle of the stage with glowing crucifixes surrounding it looked exactly like something an early Marilyn Manson would use. The members of the band took their places on the stage and once the music started Maria Brink appears in a cloud of smoke from the crypt in a black robe and a Virgin Mary type crown. She took control of the crowd and didn’t let up until they left the stage. The entire band was entertaining to watch, and the music was a nice blend of catchy pop and the driving guitars of metal. Maria Brink spoke to the crowd often, sounding a lot like Liza Minelli, checking to make sure we were all still paying attention. The theatrics were aplenty with her grandiose gestures, choreographed moves and costume changes. The crowd was eating it up with a spoon, especially when Brink asked for any active military or veterans to raise their hands, resulting in a roar of applause and cheers from the crowd.
Halestorm were the headliners of the evening and a subdued contrast to In This Moment. Lzzy Hale looks like a combination of Joan Jett & Pat Benatar with a touch of Anne Wilson vocals. There are no elaborate sets or costume changes, which initially underwhelmed after the sensory overload of the previous set, but the music made up for it. The band moved through their set of songs playing masterfully the whole way with songs ranging from headbanging rockers to a beautiful acoustic song and everywhere in between. The highlight of the evening was the drum solo performed by Arejay Hale, Lzzy’s younger brother. He beat on the drums like he was possessed by Animal from The Muppets; not missing a beat when he lost one of his drumsticks after tossing it in the air, he continued with a giant pair of sticks. Halestorm were the headliners for a reason, showing the audience that you can put on a great rock show without the lights, costumes or pyrotechnics that most artists resort to.