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I’ve never been a huge Hellyeah fan, but walked away from Tuesday’s show at the House of Blues loving this band more than ever.  Chad Gray and company crushed their 14-song set in celebration of the late great Vinnie Paul and failed to disappoint even the pickiest of fans.  Cover to cover, this show kicked some serious ass!

With Christmas quickly approaching, I took it upon myself to take a drive down to San Diego to see a rock and roll show.  It was not just ANY show, but a Celebration of Life Tour featuring Hellyeah, Nonpoint, and Deepfall.  On the surface one might expect this to be like any other metal gig including crazed fans, headbanging, and super loud music.   However, it was different in the sense that it truly was a celebration celebrating the life and legacy of drummer Vinnie Paul.  Friends and family from all over Southern California made their way down to the gas lamp district in San Diego for what turned out to be a show to end all shows.

First up were Michigan natives, Deepfall.  I’m definitely NOT a Wolverine fan but can unequivocally tell you that I am a fan of this band and will be following much more closely down the road.  This 6-piece juggernaut fronted by Rich Hopkins killed and set the tone for the remainder of the celebration that followed.  My favorite of the evening was “Wasted” off of their recent release, Broken. This song is wicked in the truest sense of the word and one I have already added to my workout playlist going forward.  I can’t get those insane guitar riffs out of my head!

Next up was Nonpoint.  I first tripped into this band when the opened for Disturbed back in 2016 and have been a diehard fan ever since.  Pound for pound this band just continues to get better and their live shows are like no other.  Frontman Elias Soriano took control of the madness on Tuesday night with a brilliant 13-song set that had fans running for cover at the House of Blues.  Fans were treated to a full set of classics including “Breaking Skin” and “That Day” along with their famous cover of Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight”.  Best song of the night for me was “Chaos and Earthquakes” off of their 2018 album X.  Dreads were spinning, fans were screaming, and mosh pits were in full effect as these Florida natives killed it from start to finish.  One of the best live bands I have ever seen and even greater guys.  Incredible.

And now for the grand finale of the evening’s celebration, Hellyeah!  I’d never seen this band live and was not the biggest fan of their work going in (just wasn’t my cup of tea so it seemed).  But live music has the tendency to bring out differing opinions and this was just such a case. As lights dimmed into a ghoulish red haze, front man Chad Grey took center stage and immediately launched himself into the crowd during opening song, “X”.  My first thought was, ‘WTF?”  It’s like he was using the crowd’s energy to build upon his own and the show literally erupted from that point forward. Bad-fucking ass.

Highlights of Hellyeah’ s set included “Moth” and “Cross to Bier (Cradle of Bones)” along with Pantera classics “Broken” and “Walk” (with Elias Soriano of Nonpoint).  The show came crashing to a close with “Waging War” and “HELLYEAH” off of their 2007 self-titled album and their renditions were straight FIRE.  Holy shit this set was tight!  Again, I wasn’t the biggest fan going in but walking away I was definitely hooked.  Better yet, I appreciated the energy and love that the band had for Vinnie Paul and it poured out throughout their entire set and into the fans who came out in droves.  Music is life, life is music, and this band epitomized what that meant on Tuesday night at the House of Blues.  Definitely a fan for life!

Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

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