Montage Mountain, Scranton, PA, 7/23/2022 By: Taylor Meehan
This was the first concert I’ve attended in a long time that had that rock show energy I crave. I saw Halestorm at the York Fair last year, but between my Covid fear and the venue placing me in a weird section to accommodate my disability, it just wasn’t quite right. I had fun, but that life-renewing energy was absent. Other than that, I hadn’t seen any concerts since before Covid, in the winter of 2019. So this show was long overdue. We arrived a song or two into The Warning’s set, and goddamn. It was reminiscent of waiting for Halestorm in 2014 and being blown away by The Dead Deads. Dare I say I was even more impressed by The Warning. Even with only three members, they had a big sound and even bigger energy. They were exciting, melodically and rhythmically tight, and I was hooked. And then they introduced themselves: “We are three sisters from Monterrey, Mexico” and I heard the people behind me go, “Wow. Good for them. They’re awesome.” I looked at my partner and grinned so big. We were surrounded by people who Get It. This morning, I opened Instagram and at the top of my feed was a post from Dany Villarreal (vocals, guitar) of the Warning in which Lzzy Hale of Halestorm gave her a guitar. I’ve heard Lzzy tell the story of receiving a guitar from Jasin O’Neil in 2005 and wanting to pay it forward to an up-and-coming rockstar. I honestly could not have imagined a better recipient. Although I often resent the gender distinction, “Women in Rock” will always hold a special place in my heart. I saw Halestorm for the first time when I was twelve (in December 2012), and when Lzzy opened the show at the piano and murmured, “Good evening, Philadelphia…” my life changed forever. “Rock Show” wasn’t about me, but it could’ve been. Seeing The Warning just absolutely kill it and have so much fun up there (and gain quite a few new fans) reminded me of the way I felt watching Lzzy as a little girl. This tour was a bucket list show for me. I was supposed to see Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless together in Baltimore in 2015, but the show was rescheduled due to the riots, and The Pretty Reckless was no longer playing the rescheduled show. I’ve been a TPR stan almost as long as I’ve been obsessed with Halestorm. I’ve wanted to see them together for over 8 years now, and this show more than fulfilled my teenage rockstar dreams. My only wish would’ve been for Lzzy and Taylor to sing something together, but I knew that was a longshot. I hadn’t seen The Pretty Reckless since the MMRBQ in Camden in 2015, and I was super excited to see them play newer songs. I’ve loved seeing Taylor Momsen post more online recently; she seems to be happy, proud of her music, and loving life. I could definitely see that reflected in her stage presence, and the energy was infectious, even from 27 rows back. I was pleasantly surprised (read: delighted fangirling) to hear “Since You’re Gone” two songs into their set. I was not expecting to hear anything from Light Me Up since it’s been twelve years and they have three other albums of material to choose from. But that song is an absolute blast live, and I loved hearing it, even if I was the only one in my vicinity who knew the words. I’m also a sucker for an a capella intro, so I loved Taylor’s little “On my tombstone when I go/ Just put death by rock & roll” from backstage before opening their set. Sound-wise, I did have a bit of trouble hearing the vocals in some songs, and I found some of the feedback and guitar messing-around in between songs overwhelming and unpleasant. That could be due to any combination of the venue, where my seats were, the mix, or who knows what. I should’ve worn ear plugs, but alas, I am a somewhat irresponsible concert-goer. Regardless, I absolutely loved TPR’s portion of this show. Here’s my top three from their set
Only Love Can Save Me Now
Since You’re Gone
These were the three songs I had the most fun singing along to in the crowd, the ones I felt were the tightest musically, and the most memorable for me personally. For yet another pleasant surprise, they played “Make Me Wanna Die”, the first song they ever released as a band. It was really cool to hear Taylor sing this with her more mature voice, and those guitar riffs always hit. They ended the set with “Take Me Down” which has the perfect rock & roll summer vibe to leave everyone feeling good— I know I was. And then— after what always feels like years of waiting— it was time for Halestorm. I didn’t realize how badly I’d missed them until they came out onstage. To be honest, some of the songs on their latest album Back from the Dead fell a little flat for me. But hearing them live really brought them to life (ha). “Back from the Dead” is such a badass set opener, and Lzzy slayed the vocals as always. They were musically on-point from start to finish; they somehow get better and better every tour. I always love hearing the people around me say, astonished, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. She’s amazing.” Or, “Holy shit, they’re awesome!” As far as new songs, “Bombshell”, “Raise Your Horns” and “The Steeple” were highlights of the set. Those are my favorites from the new album, and they were even more powerful live. I always love watching them jam and rock out together, and the jam after “The Steeple” was awesome. And as for the classics: I was delighted to hear a bit of “Break In”— it was an unexpected treat during Lzzy’s little piano set. It’s one of my favorites of all time. And I’m so glad they’ve never gotten rid of Arejay’s drum solo… he’s such a force of nature and the big sticks make me absolutely giddy every time. They also opened “Back from the Dead” with the little guitar duel from the beginning of “I Miss the Misery'' which made me so happy. I was also really pleased that they played “Here’s to Us” which doesn’t always make the cut… my partner hadn’t seen it live yet, and the few days leading up to the concert really had kicked my ass. The raw power and energy of this show really brought me back to the Freaksgiving (IYKYK) era of Halestorm shows. It was exactly what I needed. I’d forgotten that that is my church, and those are my people. If you’ve seen shows on this tour, let me know what you think!
Taylor Meehan @Taylstorm on Twitter, @Taylst0rm on IG Notes from the writer:
I am super bummed to have missed Lilith Czar’s set and I’m hoping to catch them some other time
I use fangirl(ing) as a gender-neutral term… anyone can fangirl :)