Sometimes sacrifices must be made in the name of metal. I often wish this was a full-time paying job but the reality is it costs me money to go to shows. The payoff for me is writing the article, interacting with the band and being a part of the scene. While it’s true I can’t cover every show in Chicagoland, I try to cover the ones that I feel are important to the resurgence of metal. No matter what day of the week or where the concert is being held.
Wednesday May 18th was a true test of my metal lineage. I had a 7:00 interview scheduled with Prong. My plan was to leave my house no later than 6:00, make the forty minute drive to Joliet, pick up MetalRecusants cameraman Roger Schultz from his sister’s and head over to Bada Brew (802 Theodore Street) in Crest Hill.
As I was gathering my stuff to take a shower, I received a text from Prong’s tour manger confirming the interview. I looked at the clock. It was already 5:40. There was no way in hell I was going to make it to Bada Brew in time. I responded with a text asking if the interview might be pushed back to 7:30. I initially waited for a response but when I didn’t receive one, I said fuck it and jumped in the shower. Time is rarely relevant in the world of the musician. I was confident I would still somehow pull this interview off.
I was in the middle of washing my hair when I got the first text message. I dismissed it, ‘probably just my wife saying she’s leaving’. Another text quickly followed ‘probably just my wife asking if I need anything’ I surmised. Then my cell phone started ringing, ‘just my wife letting me know she’s on her way home’ I thought. Strangely, this missed call was followed by yet another text. I quickly turned off the shower, something was definitely going on. I dried myself off and headed for the phone. The first text was Prong’s tour manager Ryan, telling me ‘earlier would be better’. That was followed by another text telling me ‘Tommy is going to be calling me.’ The missed call had been from Tommy Victor! I looked at the final text. It was Tommy sending me a bunch of question marks. I brought up my phone’s keypad and hit re-dial.
The following is my best recollection of our exchange:
David Halbe: Hey Tommy, sorry I missed your call. I thought you were my wife!
Tommy Victor: (Chuckles) Maybe I am your wife.
Dave: You couldn’t be. Your voice is much lower than hers!
Tommy: (Laughs) What’s up Dave?
Dave: Nothing man, I’m running late, can we still hook up?
Tommy: That’s why I was calling, how about 8:30?
Dave: That would be perfect. I can do that for sure. I appreciate you doing this.
Tommy: You’ve supported Prong for a long time, it’s no problem.
Dave: Awesome! I will text you around 8:30 then?
Tommy: Alright, see you in a bit.
I hung up the phone and called Roger, I told him about the exchange and unexpected turn of events. I have to admit, I was on the fence about this show. Joliet is a hike for me. Wednesday night is a difficult day of the week and I had to be at work the next day at 7:00 but a personal call from a band you respect obliterates all obstacles. I hit the road at 6:30 with a renewed vigor.
Despite this two hour head start, traffic and visiting with friends kept me from reaching Bada Brew until minutes before the scheduled interview time. For that reason I missed every other artist playing on the bill except Prong. I apologize for my tardiness and will admit I bought some kick-ass merchandise in the form of a foam hand throwing the horns from a group called Three Days From Dying.
The final act of the evening was Prong. The band drew well for a Wednesday night considering the location and the fact that Rob Zombie was also performing. (US Cellular Colliseum – Bloomington, IL)
Bada Brew has become an adequate replacement for MoJoe’s. The drinks are reasonably priced and the sound is greatly improved. I still wish the stage was elevated but the enhanced lighting system gave the concert a more professional appeal.
Prong’s set list featured at least three tracks off the new album, X-No Absolutes but I was surprised it didn’t contain more. Prong is a group not easily categorized. Their main appeal is drawn from music videos that are no longer played and I’m fearful a dated set list will label this group as a nostalgia act when they are so much more.
The future of this band is in the renewed vocal attack of Tommy Victor. Tommy isn’t a screamer, he’s one of those rare vocalists who can sing something conventional and still make it sound heavy. The longevity of what some would consider a mainstream style far outweighs the hindrance of natural progression in the name of sentimentality. That being said, Prong killed it live. The band is tight as hell, effortlessly executing fan favorites with a menace that only musical masters possess.
As I drove home that night I was glad I had gotten out and supported the music I love. Metal is growing and I believe we’re at the cusp of a breakthrough. As styles meld and influences fade, the genre becomes a single entity, a new-wave head banger is born. A supporter who isn’t hooked on a specific sound but rather a longing desire for solidarity. The underground is the missing ingredient, it’s time to fill the void and embrace this evolving scene! \m/