A Fozzy Good Time

By on December 19, 2014
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FOZZY (Photo-Will Ogburn)

 

Fozzy, Texas Hippie Coalition, and Shaman’s Harvest At The Orlando House Of Blues.

Through the first few shows that I have covered at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, the crowds have been very different Looking around before the Fozzy, Texas Hippie Coalition, and Shaman’s Harvest show, I observed early on that this one would take the cake. With a lineup so diverse – nearly everyone had a story to tell.

The crowd was unusually sparse, and most seemed to have an entirely different reason for being there. “Oh man, I love Chris Jericho, man. Been following him since the WCW! (World Championship Wrestling)” said one bearded fellow up front. “Uhh, I got some free tickets and the bands looked pretty good, so I decided to come out,” said a middle-aged man in the back. “I. LOVE. FOZZY.” Said a young kid sitting off to the side with his dad.

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Shaman’s Harvest (Photo-Will Ogburn)

The first band on the docket was Shaman’s Harvest: a grungy, bluesy act that’s been on my playlist since high school. Their lead singer, Nathan Hunt, kind of reminds you of a real version of Jack Black’s character from School of Rock. As they started their set with their new single “Dangerous,” his curly hair flew in every direction.

Shaman’s Harvest moved through their setlist with songs like the high-energy “Shine,” and the softer “Here it Comes,” until they got to one of my favorites. With a rockabilly style, the guitar riff cut through the night air as Nathan belted out the opening to “Country as F—“. The WWE-tinted crowd went crazy for the ballad to fried chicken, gasoline, and wild nights.

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Nathan Hunt Shaman’s Harvest (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Following “Country,” Hunt and his team of guitarist (Derrick Shipp playing lead, Josh Hamler supporting, and Matt Fisher on bass) began humming the melodious intro to “Blood In the Water.”  Joe Harrington’s smooth drumbeat picked up and the House began to rock again.

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Shaman’s Harvest (Photo-Will Ogburn)

To close out their set, Shaman’s Harvest did something very few expected: a cover of the King of Pop. Their lead-in was as graceful as you would imagine – something along the lines of “You guys wanna hear a Michael Jackson song?” But as soon as they got rolling with their rendition of “Dirty Diana,” the crowd started eating it up. They followed up with a classic of their own, Shaman’s Harvest’s most known song, “Dragonfly.”  Playing an encore of sorts with the crowd already warmed up, they had the House rocking by the end of the song. I’ve wanted to see Shaman’s Harvest live for some time now, and I can gladly say they didn’t disappoint. Their setlist was well thought out, and Nathan even hung out in the back and chatted with fans after they left the stage.

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Big Dad Ritch (Photo-Will Ogburn)

I probably shouldn’t be amazed any more when I go to concerts. Every band tries to put on a show – and some are better at it than others, but every time I start to think I’ve seen it all, I see something like Texas Hippie Coalition that really just leaves me shocked. I would describe Texas Hippie Coalition, or THC, as a fusion between Waylon Jennings and Godsmack They’re a crew of badasses with a Texas twang, headlined by hefty front man, Big Dad Ritch.

When the outlaws took the stage, Ritch sauntered up to the mic. With a deep voice and old school swagger, the words “Howdy, y’all” drawled out of his mouth. They opened with “El Diablo Rojo” from their October album Ride On. Guitarist Cord Pool, who has been with the band for nearly a year now, can flat-out shred. His arena-rock style power chords lit up the House of Blues as THC moved through their setlist.

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Cord Pool (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Between songs, Ritch often joked with the crowd. To the whooping of the crowd, he confessed that as a kid, he’d wanted to be a professional wrestler. After saying he tried and failed to have a PG show for the kids, he dedicated his next song “To the Titty Bar.” That song, of course, was their hit “Turn It Up.” Ritch’s voice turned monotone as he began the ballad to working girls. The Hippies’ head honcho let his voice and the rhythmic drumbeats of Timmy Braun tell the story of some Texas sweethearts gone bad.

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Big Dad Ritch (Photo-Will Ogburn)

THC looked like they were really having fun on stage. With a fan blowing Ritch’s hair in the wind, he stuck out his tongue and began riding an invisible Harley to their song “Ride On.” Clad in leather, a black cowboy hat on his head, Big Dad looked the part of the rider in the song. After the song, he encouraged fans to check out their merchandise in the “paraphernalia station” in the back.

At the end of their set, THC packaged two head-banging songs. They started with “Troublesome Times,” and had the crowd rocking with Pool’s face-melting solos. As the song ended, Ritch started talking about getting rowdy. He said when it comes to fighting “I’ll fight all of y’all at once! I’d never run from a fight, but I’m not scared of takin’ an asswhoopin’!” That message led perfectly into their final song “Pissed Off and Mad About It.” The track made great use of Pool on the guitar and John Exall’s supreme bass slapping. As they transitioned into Pool’s solo, Ritch held his shotgun-shaped microphone stand above his head like one of the Tusken Raiders from Star Wars, directing the chaos. The Texans came to town to party and they did just that – making some new fans in Orlando, I’m sure.

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Chris Jericho Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

 

The buildup for Fozzy seemed longer than the others. The crowd milled around, talking amongst themselves and waiting in line at the paraphernalia station. The silent darkness on stage was suddenly broken – Ozzy’s “War Pigs,” began blasting through the speakers. This may be homage to the band’s roots as Fozzy Osbourne, a cover band for the Prince of Darkness started by vocalist/WWE superstar Chris Jericho and guitarist Rich Ward over fifteen years ago.

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Rich Ward Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

I’ve never been a WWE fan, much to the chagrin of my classmates at Full Sail, but I would soon learn that it wasn’t a requirement to “get” Fozzy. After all, only one of the band mates is also a pro wrestler – the rest are musicians that have been at it for nearly their whole lives. There was, however, an aspect of showmanship to the band that probably rubbed off from Jericho’s years in the ring.

As “War Pigs” died down, Fozzy took the stage in pure darkness. A bright, almost blinding light came from a figure that would turn out to be Jericho. He was wearing a silver jacket that lit up like a Christmas tree with flashing red, white, and blue lights. They opened with the title track from their most recent album Do You Wanna Start a War. The performers seemed to feed off of the crowd’s energy, fawning and posing for nearly every fan. Corazón de Léon, as he was once known, stood atop a metal box that looked like a truck toolbox and waved his hands at the adoring crowd.

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Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

The next part of the setlist was full of powerful guitar solos and intense stage dancing. The tracks “Stranger,” “Anarchist,” and “Sin and Bones,” melted together in one intense session of metallic fury.

In no time, it seemed, Fozzy was halfway through its setlist. Jericho jigged around the stage, and Ward’s long blond hair swung in circles. Rhythm guitarist Billy Grey stuck his tongue out and bobbed his head, his spikey hair cutting through the air. Bassist Paul Di Leo also showed some attitude, holding his guitar above his head while he played.

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Chris Jericho Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Fozzy pulled a wildcard similar to Shaman’s Harvest earlier in the night when they played a metal rendition of ABBA’s S.O.S. Y2J, (another name for Jericho), started off the song by saying “Here’s one that a bunch of your parents know, I’m sure.” Fozzy’s rendition of the song was surprisingly tame, with Ward playing a keyboard in the far corner of the stage.

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Paul Di Leo Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

It was clear that Fozzy loaded their set down at the end, with “Enemy,” directly followed by my personal favorite, “Tattoo.” By this point, Jericho was dripping with sweat. He took turns jamming alternately with Paul, Billy, and Rich as the song came to its chorus. The guitarists seemed to spend as much time planning their stage routine as the songs themselves, and the fans became reminiscent of a rowdy Monday NightRaw crowd by the end of the show.

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Billy Grey Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Once they finished “Tattoo,” Jericho took a comical approach to the encore. Pointing, he looked out from the stage and said, “Alright now, at this point in the setlist, there’s a line which means that we’re supposed to do an encore. That means that we’re supposed to act like we leave even though we all know we’re not gonna leave. You’re supposed to cheer and we’re supposed to come back and play more songs. Well, we’d rather just stay here and play more songs. That sound good?” Instead of leaving, Y2J and the band covered their heads with white towels and lifted them slowly to the applause of the crowd.

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Chris Jericho Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Continuing their set, they came out swinging with another Fozzy hit: “Sandpaper.” Jericho paraded around the stage with his towel in his hand, eventually throwing it sideways. The song has a truly 80’s feel, much like the bands that Fozzy used to cover when they were first starting off. Jericho’s vocals are solid on the track and easy to sing along to.

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Frank Fontsere Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Speaking of covers, Fozzy turned the clock all the way back to 2000 with their next track: a cover of Krokus’ “Eat the Rich.” With Jericho and Billy Grey’s energy and Krokus’ writing skills, this song really brought the House down. Fozzy ended on a high note, bridging the gap from their days of cover-based infancy to their most recent album. Overall, the night was full of hair slinging, headbanging, and a healthy dose of beer chugging. Even though many weren’t diehard fans of any band in particular, it seemed that a good time was had by all – and the three bands made the night a memorable show.

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Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

More Photos By Will Ogburn

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Chris Jericho Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Paul Di Leo Fozzy

Paul Di Leo Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

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Shaman’s Harvest (Photo-Will Ogburn)

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Paul Di Leo Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

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Chris Jericho Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

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Shaman’s Harvest (Photo-Will Ogburn)

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Chris Jericho Fozzy (Photo-Will Ogburn)

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