February 14th, 2020
What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, than with an intimate winter evening in Chicago with Lamb of God at House of Vans? Oh yeah, I should mention this show was free, the beer was free, and the venue was giving out free shirts and shoes as well… This was not the first concert I have been to at this badass venue that was entirely free, with free drinks to go around. I don’t fully understand the logistics of how a venue can pull off opening their doors to the public at no cost while managing to pay the staff and band as well, but I am not going to complain. I would definitely suggest keeping tabs on this venue for future shows like this.
Opening with “Laid to Rest” Lamb of God gave the fans absolutely no chance to warm up. After waiting in line in zero degree weather, going full throttle right off the bat seemed like an excellent idea. Last time I saw Lamb of God was at Open Air Chicago with a crowd and a stage that was ten times the size of House of Vans. That being said, I was surprised this building didn’t crumble to the ground by the third track. (That third track was “Ruin” so that would have actually been fitting.) I was genuinely amazed by how much energy and aggression this band managed to condense into such a small space without setting anything on fire or blowing anything up.
Lead singer Randy Blythe continued to thank the fans for the support over the years. As a gift to Chicago, they played their new single “Checkmate” live for the first time. The opening riff for this track live was absolutely ridiculous. Some of the riffs this band puts together are of the same caliber as Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom, and In Flames. Every member of this group was air-tight throughout the entire set. If there is any doubt in your mind that new drummer Art Cruz might not be able to fill the shoes of the legendary Chris Adler, I would suggest checking out the live recording of this show online. He is not the same drummer by any means, but he certainly has all the tools and skills necessary to keep the foundation of the band intact. It will be interesting to see how the sound of Lamb of God evolves over the next few albums.
Closing out a romantic evening with and encore of “Omerta” and “Redneck” the mosh pit decided to end all the violence and embrace in a group hug in honor of Valentine’s Day. Okay, aside from those two tracks, none of that actually happened… There were no chocolates exchanged, no flowers gifted, and no teddy bears on this night. There was only phenomenally talented musicians, a whole hell of a lot of loud metal music, and a hilarious amount of beer consumed. Randy Blythe also had some of his stellar photography on display, as a bonus treat! Thank you House of Vans for offering Chicago a free show with free beer and gifts, impeccable sound, and a very friendly staff.