From Dusk Till Midnight at GroundZero
Words by Jaime Terry | Photos by Gianna Haley
As we pulled up to GroundZero in Spartanburg, SC this past weekend, all I could think was how the venue reminded me of Quentin Tarantino’s film From Dusk Till Dawn. The venue is out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. It was quite the gnarly-looking venue and a great backdrop to see a thrash metal concert. With Mushroomhead as the headliner, I knew this would be an interesting night. Also playing were The Reason You Stayed, Blackwater Drowning, Madame Mayhem, Sumo Cyco and Product Of Hate. As the venue packed in, we secured a spot front row. My partner and Shutter 16 staff photographer Gianna and I pressed to the stage that was crammed with band equipment and hoped for a great show. A great show was a huge understatement. Being my first metal show and not knowing much about most of the bands playing, I had no idea what I was in for. The intensity that ensued was absolutely mind-blowing.
To my surprise, the first four opening acts were all women or woman-fronted bands.
All-female group The Reason You Stayed has been on my radar for a while. Being the first local Charlotte, NC band I found that I really thought rocked, I was elated that they were opening this night. We have tried to see them locally, but had not been successful due to timing. TRYS as they have dubbed themselves, consists of 5 women, Paolina Massaro (Vocals/Guitar), Caitlin Cassell (Bass/Vocals), Savannah Ruff (Lead Guitar), Shelby McVicker (Rhythm Guitar), and Sydney McVicker (Drums). All five dialed up their performance and were a fantastic opener for the night. The group has been working on a new album and touring all over North Carolina; you can catch them now through July. Watch out for these ladies; they are well on their way to making a name for themselves.
Female-fronted Blackwater Drowning was the biggest surprise of the night. Members include NC locals Morgan Mortality (Vocals), Jeremy Bennett (Guitar), Brady Bowles (Guitar), Aria Novi (Bass/vocals), and Chris Peavy (Drums), and they played a great set. When the screams belted out of the young lead singer, Mortality, I was in shock. I had never heard anything that intense out of a girl. I know that totally sounds sexist, but seriously, it was a first for me. She transitioned from singing and screaming throughout the set and never lost a breath or a beat. Find them playing throughout the state over the summer.
Madame Mayhem was the essence of metal with her black fishnets and spikes. Her sound was more melodic metal and reminded me of the days when Lita Ford and Doro rocked the stage but with more of a metal sound than 80s rock. As she sang her sultry songs, she was backed by band members who I had not seen listed on any of her social media; they were a great fit playing along as if they had been performing together for years. Madame Mayhem’s Left For Dead music video came out recently; check it out on her youtube or main page.
Sumo Cyco is a band who has traveled from Canada with members by the names Sever, M.D., Thor, and Wolf. Sounds of Sumo Cyco are a mix of a Gwen Stefani and Tonight Alive party that was crashed by Screamo and I freaking loved it!! Sever, the lead singer, at one point got in Gianna Haley’s face and mean mugged her as she peered at the stage, looking for her next shot. The stage left close to no room for the bands to play so band members were literally right at the edge of the stage leaning into the crowd. Sever got into the crowd several times as she performed, riling up the crowd. Touring with Butcher Babies and Mushroomhead, they have been taking the globe by storm!
I can see why TeamRock named Product Of Hate one of “12 bands to watch in 2016.” These guys are fantastic live! The band consists of Adam Gilley (Vocals), Cody Rathbone (Guitar), Gene Rathbone (Lead Guitar), Mark Campbell (Bass), and Mike McGuire (Drums). Product Of Hate made sure you felt every bit of what they played. Gilley jumped through the set shirtless and with so much force that it looked as though he could crash through the stage. His crazy, angry faces told the stories he sang while their guitarists shredded some serious riffs. Song after song, each one played was just phenomenal and made you want to throw yourself around in a fit. The level of intensity through their entire performance was unrelenting. Each one of them thrashed the entire time. Keep an eye on their website, Product Of Hate has a new music video coming out in the next week.
As Mushroomhead prepared the stage, we opted to move to the back as not to drown the camera equipment; we were positioned directly in front of one of the water drums. The lights lowered and, in the darkness, a bit of music started to play; when the lights came up, it was clear that they have some serious mastery within their shows. With the opening song QWERTY, Mushroomhead was an intense mix of scary and beautiful. Their sound and act was so different from anything else I have heard or seen; everything from their masks, lights, water drums, and sound. Though their members have changed a bit over the years, they currently list as members Jeffrey Hatrix, Jason Popson, Tommy Church, Ryan Farrell, Rick Thomas, Robbie Godsey and Steve Felton. One of the two lead vocalists has a guttural growling voice that was completely captivating. The general feel of their presence on stage was eerily entertaining. Playing old and new music from their lengthy collection of albums, fans of every age knew every lyric. This band actually puts on a full blown “show” when they perform, I would highly recommend seeing them live if you are a metal fan! Mushroomhead was an incredible finale to a very heavy show!!!
Unlike Tarantino’s movie, the seductive songstresses of the night did not rip our faces off and Mushroomhead did not turn into wretched monster. Er wait… did they?! The show that was put on by all was incredible. We were mere inches from those on the stage. Our spot ensured mass amounts of sweat, drool and hair that was head-banged at us the entire show. We got an up-close and personal experience, intimate in fact. This is the way to see your first live metal thrash show! And the lineup couldn’t have been better.
Product Of Hate, Sumo Cyco and Mushroomhead continue on tour:
May 21 Traverse City, MI -Ground Zero
May 22 Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
May 23 Ringle, WI – Q & Z Expo Centre
May 24 Bloomington, IL – The Castle Theatre
May 25 Omaha, NE – Sokol Underground
May 26 Waterloo, IA – Spicoli’s Grill/ The Reverb
May 27 Arlington Heights, IL – Home Bar
May 28 Columbus, OH – Alrosa Villa
May 29 Toldeo, OH – Realm