The 69 Eyes Tour made a stop at Vamp'd Vegas, and put on a helluva gothic rock show! They brought along as support MXMS, The Nocturnal Affair, and Hidden Scars.
First to take the stage was Hidden Scars, a local industrial metal band fronted by its creator, Joel Floyd West. Joel first began this project in October of 2017 and their debut performance was last August as one of the headliners for the KOMP Homegrown Concert series at the House Of Blues Las Vegas. Shortly after that they released their self-titled debut EP. Taking a page from Dave Grohl's recording style, Joel performed all the instruments as well as programming the backing tracks and synths for the EP. He is basically a one man band! In order to put his product on a live stage he has enlisted the help of other local musicians, but the band has endured some lineup changes over its short tenure in the local scene. One thing that has not changed is the band's energetic vibe, and Joel's theatrical performance during each show. From videos playing on-screen, specialized lighting setups, colored contac lenses, almost floor length dreadlocks, wildly gothic costuming, and latex body paint (that looks like skin) which he tears away giving the impression that he is peeling off his own flesh, Joel puts a lot of thought into how his musical creation is presented to the public. In this day and age presentation plays a huge part in how a new band is received, and Joel obviously understands this. Musical talent notwithstanding, Joel is a performer, and his music is best enjoyed live.
Next was another local Las Vegas band, The Nocturnal Affair. TNA is a dark metal band with a sound that is a mash-up of H.I.M., Type O Negative, and Nine Inch Nails. Singer/songwriter Brendan Shane fronts the band and has the perfect voice for this style of music. His deep vocal tones are very reminiscent of the late Peter Steele, and really lends itself to the gothic feel of their music. They start off their set with the song "Exoskeletal" and you can immediately hear the Type O/Peter Steele influence. Brendan's voice dropping down into almost a whisper, then rolling up and gaining momentum and volume before he belts out the chorus hitting highs while maintaining resonance. His range is impressive and his tone is powerfully unique. While Brendan may be the face of the band, and an extreme talent in his own right, he has also surrounded himself with some of the best local musicians around. Andy Ingraham and Andrew Lappin handle guitar duties and are both serious craftsman, while Michael James (bass) and RJ Hamman (drums) handle the rhythm section with authority. TNA has a huge local following and is considered one of the best unsigned bands from our area. In fact, they are currently competing for a $50K prize and a contract with BMG entertainment on Top Golf's second season of Who Will Rock You? Check them out on Top Golf's website and TNA YouTube channel. These guys rock!
Following up TNA was MXMS (aka Me And My Shadow), a band that has labeled their style as "Funeral Pop." Ariel Levitan fronts the band while Jeremy Dawson handles most of the instrumentals, operating a keyboard/synth, and they did have a drummer with them for this tour. For their stage setup they completely killed the house lights and had four LED light strips at intervals across the stage. Ariel was lit by a single spot light to the right of her microphone, aimed up at her face. Jeremy and the drummer were behind the light strips so you could only see them when the lights flashed, keeping the whole theme very dark and somber. Ariel has a soft and low voice, with a hint of a rasp, and she hardly moves from her center stage position at all, keeping the vibe very somber. The "Funeral Pop" description fits them very well! They do a brilliant cover of Nirvana's "Something In The Way", and their original songs "Gravedigger" and "Timebomb" were both memorable and catchy. While I really enjoyed their performance and was pleasantly surprised by their musical style I felt that their position in the lineup really mellowed out the overall vibe of the show. They would have been better suited to start off this one.
The headliner of the show was The 69 Eyes, also known as The Helsinki Vampires! The 69 Eyes are Jyrki69 (lead vocals), Jussi69 (drums), Timo-Timo (guitar), Bazie (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Archzie (bass guitar, backing vocals). They kick off their set with the song "Devils" and the crowd is instantly revived. Jyrki and Brendan (The Nocturnal Affair) have very complimentary vocal styles and it's easy to see why The 69 Eyes invited them along on their US tour. While The 69 Eyes are also a gothic metal band, their sound is bit more upbeat and faster paced than TNA's. The band originally formed in 1989 and the lineup has remained the same since 1992 , and their continuity shows in their outstanding live execution of hits such as "Perfect Skin", "Dance D'Amour", and their homage to the cult classic film "The Lost Boys." They have released 11 studio albums in their 30 year existence, and have enjoyed very consistent commercial success, with the platinum album Paris Kills being the peak of that success. The venue was packed full on this night which was not one bit surprising. The 69 Eyes put on a stellar, almost 90 minute performance of their greatest hits, and sounded every bit as good as they did more than a decade ago when they last toured the US. They are promoting an upcoming new album release which is scheduled for September, and there should be a new single out from it by the end of this month. There are still plenty of dates left on this tour and, if they hit a location near you, I recommend checking it out.
The 69 Eyes photos from Randy Udell / R U Rockin' Photos
The Nocturnal Affair photos from Randy Udell / R U Rockin' Photos
Hidden Scars photos from Randy Udell / R U Rockin' Photos
MXMS photos from Randy Udell / R U Rockin' Photos