From the time the doors opened -- finally -- to downtown San Antonio's Vibes Event Center, Friday the 13th was destined to be a night of business, nonsense and pleasure meshed on stage courtesy of Stone Sour with Steel Panther and all-female cirque metal dance troupe Cherry Bombs.
Hosting its first metal concert since Mastodon in May 2016, the Vibes Event Center inside of The Rock Box chose one of heavy metal's most renowned frontmen to rechristen the live metal scene at a time when recent national catastrophes at festivals and nightclubs beckoned for something positive. Leave it to Stone Sour (and Slipknot) vocalist Corey Taylor to deliver the goods, with his hand-picked '80s glam metal gimmick band Steel Panther providing support, all warmed up by an eye-catching acrobatic dance team for 1,200-1,400 fans.
Making its first appearance since ending its previous U.S. tour with a sold-out performance next door in February 2014 at Alamo City Music Hall, Stone Sour brought a new package of songs courtesy of sixth album Hydrograd. And it didn't take long to get things cooking.
Following the intro strains of "YSIF," drummer Roy Mayorga began pounding the skins, joined by guitarists Josh Rand and Christian Martucci and bassist Johny Chow before Taylor stormed the stage with whipper-snapping intensity on opener "Taipei Person/Allah Tea." Full bore into second song "Knievel Has Landed," Taylor spotted a fan that wasn't to his liking in the center of the first few rows of people, flipping him off and motioning members of his road crew and security to show the man out of the venue without missing a beat. "We're gonna move on from this," Taylor declared after the song, "but if you start s--- with us, you're out."
Stone Sour then showed what it's made of when Taylor is not touring the world with Slipknot, as 2007's "Made of Scars" had the crowd jumping. A jazzy intro to "Say You'll Haunt Me" gave way to intense classic "30/30-150" and one for the ladies in "Hesitate" (AXS footage of both below). The surprise of the night saw Stone Sour ditching one of its most popular tracks "Bother" in favor of another first-album tune that called for maximum headbanging in "Cold Reader," with Taylor bellowing "Why, do I, always have to suffer, the consequences?"
Personal favorite "Hell and Consequences" would've been an apropos follow-up, but was left off the table entirely. Still, Stone Sour represented all six of its records in fine fashion.
Mayorga, who also drummed for Ministry during last year's Houston Open Air festival that was mostly rained out (coverage here), was an unstoppable force while taking the time to acknowledge fans and photographers in the photo pit. Mayorga performed his ode to KISS drummer Peter Criss, doing part of the iconic drum solo from the 1975 Alive album. It was just one of Stone Sour's tributes to KISS, which also included photo and VIP passes of the band wearing KISS makeup to the backdrop of the Creatures of the Night and Destroyer albums. Rand also wore a T-shirt of his KISS likeness.
"Song #3," "Reborn" and neckbrace inducing "Get Inside" didn't allow fans to let up inside a music hall notorious for a non-working air conditioning unit during May 2015 concerts by Saxon, Queensryche and Breaking Benjamin in an eight-day span. This time, unbeknownst to most, Taylor requested of The Rock Box staff to turn off the cool air following Steel Panther's set, as some vocalists are prone to do to aid their voice. Bar owner Steve Rodriguez and his staff, with promoter Alfred Mejia, were quick to usher in several oversized fans to complement the large ceiling fan, and all went off without a hitch.
Though doors were meant to open at 6 p.m., 90 minutes before Cherry Bombs' performance, Steel Panther reportedly was still conducting its meet-and-greet after 7 p.m., forcing lines to wrap around the front and back of the venue. The gig was not oversold, but just in case, a big screen view of the stage was provided in front of the customary Rock Box stage that hosts 90 percent of the venue's shows.
It remains odd not seeing Jim Root, Taylor's still-current mate in Slipknot, on stage with Rand on guitar. Nevertheless, Stone Sour continued its track record of intensely entertaining and rocking shows, ending with plenty of humor as wacky inflatables accompanied the band on new song and finale "Fabuless."
Taylor and Steel Panther, meanwhile, have had a long history. The singer has guested on Steel Panther songs, while guitarist Satchel teamed with Taylor on their 2014 version of Ronnie James Dio's "Rainbow in the Dark" on the Dio tribute CD This is Your Life, something Taylor addressed with AXS prior to that album's release (listen here).
Steel Panther, which headlined the Aztec Theatre earlier this year, brought its brand of vulgar jokes and song titles and '80s glam metal gimmickry to the Vibes while showcasing its original tunes and stellar musicianship. Vocalist Michael Starr, Satchel, bassist Lexxi Foxx and drummer Stix Zadinia performed a slew of tracks that would make your mother cringe (setlist below). But among the lewd humor, literal guitar licks and dashes of makeup touch-ups by Foxx were other notable moments. Satchel pointed out that "the loudest noise in the room is coming from that kid on top of his dad's shoulders right back there" (who was later warned by the band to cover his ears from the jokes). Starr also preceded Satchel's partial performance of "Eruption" by saying, "He's faster than Eddie Van Halen, but not as good."
While many fans waited to enter the venue, the seven-woman troupe Cherry Bombs took the stage with various acrobatics and provocative poses. The group, formed by former Atlanta Falcons cheerleader Alicia Dove, featured aerial pole dancing, power-drill sparks flying from suggestive places, and even "Minnie Dynamite" singing Danzig's "Twist of Cain." That is, when she wasn't laying on top of one of her colleagues. Cherry Bombs sometimes includes fire breathing as part of its act, but venue restrictions prevented the audience from witnessing that on this night.
The trifecta of all-out metal, a nonsensical act poking fun at one of music's most fun eras in its own humorous way, and eye candy entertainers was just what San Antonio ordered. Adding up to a Friday the 13th full of good vibes, indeed.
STONE SOUR SETLIST: See slideshow
STEEL PANTHER SETLIST: "Eyes of a Panther," "Goin in the Backdoor," "Asian Hooker," "Let Me Cum In," "Wasted Too Much Time," "Girl From Oklahoma," "17 Girls in a Row," "Gloryhole," "Community Property." Encore: "Death to All But Metal"