By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: Crowbar, Ybor City/Tampa, Florida–December 18, 2018
Okay, I have to just put it out there: Those of you who show up late or leave early are really cheating yourselves! I know people have to work, traffic’s a bitch, etc., but Tuesday night’s show had some of the very best moments in the beginning and at the very end, and there were quite a few who came and left for Nita’s set alone. And missed three great opening sets, plus Angel Vivaldi and the finale (above) that featured four awesome guitarists!
Starting things out, The Prosecution returned to again lay a solid metal foundation for the night. I last saw them a few months ago, and they’re tighter than ever, with Michael Giorgi (Guitar/ Vocals), Duncan Miller (Guitar/ Vocals), Alex Pillai (Bass), and Cade Langston (Drums) keeping the promise of “melodious but crushing metal” to the delight of their fans – there were quite a few of their T-shirts in evidence among the crowd, and one fan in particular loudly exclaiming “Represent! Represent!” [Tampa] between songs and at the end of their set. They seem on track to be headliners themselves soon!
Next up was Aurorae, a band that’s gone through a few changes of late. First, they added a vocalist, Mikel Johnston, who also drums for another band – but has that heavy metal growl down pat, as well as other vocal talents.
Also, longtime drummer Troy J. Metz has been succeeded by Loren Whitaker, who plays bass in another band as well, and we were lucky enough to see both drummers; Loren played the first half, then brought Troy up for a last hurrah/rousing sendoff! Of course, Justin and Jordan Medlen are still handling guitar and bass, respectively, and they fit right into this string-slinging session dedicated to shredding, slamming, stretching, and downright torturing guitars to get them to produce just the desired sounds! However, Aurorae provided the last vocals of the night, other than audience participation!
Next up came the first of the guitar virtuosos, and not to throw shade at the other bands, but each of the four guitarists participating in the finale was just a cut above the rest.
Jacky Vincent is a great example: Literally born to be a guitarist (His dad is a luthier and player, his older brother also plays guitar), he started playing at age 5 but didn’t get serious until he was 14 or so. By age 19 he helped found Falling in Reverse, and remained with them from 2008-2015. He then formed his own band, Cry Venom, along with focusing on his solo career. And he’s a true solo act, using backing tracks to support his guitar mastery as he manically stalks from one end of the stage to the other.
Obviously, he recognizes that, as a solo performer on a stage designed to accommodate as many as six or seven players across, he has to fill the stage with himself, and he did, managing to seem like four guitar players playing at once! He is known for his incredibly accurate picking, both live and in the studio. He is a bit unique in the fact that he strictly economy picks almost all of his fast runs, rather than alternate picking them. He has said the reason for doing this is to eliminate any extra hand and wrist movements, essentially making his playing much more efficient. I can personally vouch for the fact that, despite the extreme speed of his playing, he remained fully in sync with the backing drums, etc. and to my knowledge never missed a note!
After Jacky came the treat most were there for: Nita Strauss.
The former Alice Cooper and Iron Maidens guitarist puts on a great show. Support was provided by Josh Villalta on drums, Christopher Dean on bass, and Jason Tarantino – being pointed at in the .gif above, and also playing with Angel Vivaldi! Rather than reinventing the wheel, I’ll let you read the detailed review done two days before by my fellow RAN Orlando correspondent, Mark Horan: Hurricane Nita. I can only echo what he said, she drew the bulk of the crowd in Ybor as well.
And in a way, that’s a shame. Those who left before Angel Vivaldi hit the stage missed more awesome shredding, both by Angel and Jason Tarantino, who played in his second band that night, along with Bill Fore on drums. Vivaldi is known as a former member of Black Market Hero, but his real ascension to superstar status came from the release of his album Universal Language with producer Will Putney, which became a viral success following the release of two music videos for “A Mercurian Summer” and “A Martian Winter.” He has released two EPs, a single, and a full album since, along with playing on Vext’s Impermanence album.
Vivaldi is also known for his philanthropic work, and as one of the few openly gay metal guitarists, who has spoken out in support of the LGBT community, especially after 2016’s Orlando nightclub shootings.
Although a longtime user of Ibanez 7-string guitars, he recently converted to Charvel, and now has a signature line of guitars he has helped develop!
A key moment in his life has made a world of difference: “I los[t] my best friend, Rich Forcellati to ALS in December of 2014. Losing him was such a wake up call; I realized that the only thing wors[e] than living with regret was to die with it. So 5 months later…I quit my day job, put all of my trust in my fans and headline my first full US + Canada tour. ”
And all of these artists are very appreciative of their fans! Rather than disappear into a green room or tour bus after the show, they all stuck around the merch table afterward to take selfies with fans, sign stuff, and in general hang out. Keep that attitude, and the fans will stick around as well!
If you want to see true mastery of the guitar, make sure you find a nearby stop when the Guitar Collective’s 2019 tour is announced!
When not in custody, I've been involved with music, photography, and writing my entire life. Ever since I was a young boy and played those silver tunes, I've had the beat, but being a drummer didn't suit me so I became a lead singer, which lasted a few years. Settling down, sort of, I translated my knowledge of audio and glib tongue into mobile emcee work, and my training as a photographer and videographer into a living in the wedding, party, bar/bat mitzvah, and entertainment industry. During this time I also managed to bamboozle my way into a master's degree in writing, worked for a couple of magazines (yes, I took photos for a nudist magazine!), have photographed hotels, done commercial work (shot the cover of Tablet and Capsule magazine), published a few articles, hosted some public access shows (a couple times in drag, but that's another story), and generally made a nuisance of myself until I landed here.