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Live Review: John 5 at The Vogue with Xiting the Systm and American Bombshell

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I really wanted to pick apart John 5’s solo work. When he stepped on the stage at The Vogue and through various incarnations of himself, ripped through the fast and the furious of his monstrous instrumentals, I tried to find fault, at least some kind of mistake. But either John 5 is a grand illusionist—a trick of the fingers—or he is just that good; and after seeing him perform live beyond the confines of Rob Zombie and Marliyn Manson, he is just that good. We caught up with John before the show to ask him some questions about his love of being a guitarist.

It really was not any apprehension that this show was going to be anything but stellar, but what really blew my mind were the two local bands as opening acts flawlessly putting any national rockers to the test without sacrificing one ounce of quality.

As Indy’s American Bombshell came to the stage, the band had the prowess of any big name, sporting some of the best rock you can imagine. The group just came off of a trip to the Whiskey in Los Angeles, their stage persona had all the energy you hoped for in a rock band with the prowess and emotion of these guys. Supporting their latest album No Regret, the live show was a great introduction to the album. If you get a chance to see this band live, you will not regret it. This band pays as much attention to the detail of their sonics as they do the songs themselves.

How do you top that? You amplify the intensity and bring Xiting the Systm out. With a light system that puts some big names to shame, the marriage between hyper-intense proto-industrial/extreme metal music and an extremely emotional live show, the floor of the Vogue was filled with jaws dropped. This band is from south Indy? Really? The only way you can experience this band is if you see them live because nothing can do this band justice beyond the band themselves.

From the entrancing lap steel guitar effect of “Behind the Nut Love” to the edgy “This Is My Rifle,” John 5’s trio ripped through a variety of instrumentals highlighting every facet of each member’s talent. The group worked flawlessly together and even though John 5 put himself on a pedestal (he actually often stood on a pedestal so everyone could see him work), he passionately gave loving credit to his bassist and drummer.

It was such a delight to simply watch someone as well-skilled and versatile while being completely humble as John 5 was. Interspersed between random costumed monsters adding as transition between songs and allowing for equipment changed, it was like watching a live Ray Dennis Steckler film in action.

By the end of the night, John 5 amplified a cover medley into a mass explosion of hit classicism ranging from 30 second blasts of GNR, Metallica, Van Halen, Dio, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and the list goes on. It was like the grand finale at a fireworks display during the Fourth of July and put things into perspective that the past dictates the future whether you are ripping through the biggest Ace Frehley solo or cranking out bluegrass with a banjo.

[All photo by Brad Flynn]

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Andrew Duncan
Dug out from a pile of zines and hot sauce, Andrew Duncan has contributed to many publications through the years, including Chord and work with the ever so spunky Readyset...Aesthetic! He now resides deep within your membrane.

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