Bad Wolves & Fire From the Gods at The Van Buren

Bad Wolves and Fire From The Gods made a stop at The Van Buren in Phoenix on a day off from touring with Five Finger Death Punch and Three Days Grace. The show on November 4, 2019 was by far a fan favorite and a perfect time to hear samples of both bands new albums. Opening the show was Fire From The Gods with “The Voiceless” from 2017 album Narrative Retold. The band’s music has a primary focus on society issues and racism and the visuals are apparent with frontman AJ Channer wearing an anti-nazi patch on his right arm and a One Love tapestry in the background near the drum kit. The songs were consistent in the sound expected of Fire From The Gods. From the new album “American Sun” (2019), “Truth To The Weak” was performed with the crowd not being disappointed. FFTG is quickly gaining a strong following, as Kimmie Tongen from Buckeye said “I heard the band once on the radio and was immediately hooked, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see them live”. And hooked describes a new fan perfectly for the rising band. Every song was executed with passion despite Channer not feeling well. Towards the end of the set Channer’s voice gave out and he apologized. The crowd was understanding and we all wished him to feel better. The band closed with strong performances of “Right Now” (American Sun, 2019) and “Excuse Me” (Narrative, 2016).

Fire From The Gods band members make their way to greet the crowd while stage equipment is set up for Bad Wolves. The set begins with a strong and heavy performance of “No Messiah” from the new album N.A.T.I.O.N. (2019). In my opinion, and I believe anyone who was at the show would agree, Bad Wolves is meant to headline a show. Frontman Tommy Vext appeared genuinely happy throughout the night. What was so beautiful was not only his singing and the bands performance, but this particular night was like hanging out with the band rather than attending a typical concert. Tommy made an effort for the crowd to get to know him on a deeper level, and he did the same by engaging the fans. He asked if anyone found the free tickets that were hidden around town, and a group of people from cheered in excitement. He congratulated them and said that is a perk for following their social media stories.

Tommy also asked if anyone planned to attend the show in Tucson held the following day, and the majority of people yelled out happy to have the chance to see the band two days in a row. Bad Wolves has fans like father and son, Moose and Carlin from New Mexico, who travel to see the band live. “We made it to the Las Vegas show, this is our 8th time seeing Bad Wolves who then stopped in Phoenix and plan to follow with the Tucson show. My son has autism and was super excited Kyle gave him the set list”, explains Moose. “I will somehow be able to use my sons flexibility in linking Bad Wolves as a life lesson sort of thing in the future.” The 1500 miles the father and son traveled also allowed them greater bonding time. Moose explains, “the thousands of miles driven and countless hours together have been amazing too. I love my kiddo and how amazingly nice the bands and crew have been to us. It’s all priceless. It’s so much more than music. It’s therapy, life lessons and parental bonding. I also love the fact Tommy has double digit sobriety.”  Tommy is open about his recovery from drugs and alcohol as he goes into the song “Sober”. Statements from the crowd were made about how Tommy Vext is raw and real. 

“Being a fan of Bad Wolves and going to and traveling for shows has not only been a coping mechanism musically/lyrically”, explains Roxanne Scheuer from Maricopa, “but it has allowed me to meet people and be a part of something bigger than myself. Live shows bring me peace even if for a little while. They help me when I am feeling alone in the world we live in. Makes me want to be better.” Tommy Vext openly speaks about being an attempted suicide survior and strongly advocates for anyone dealing with anxiety, depression, and other emotional and mental issues. Tommy explains meaning behind his songs and references his own struggles. In songs like “Remember When” we saw an emotional performance of Vext appearing to be in tears by the end of the song with the crowd in tears as well.

Guitarist Doc Coyle is tuning an acoustic guitar and Tommy talks about how music is personal. Someone yells out “all music is personal” and Tommy says “this one is personal to me, we have never done this before. We would like to play Change from Deftones”. This was a surprise performance which was not included on the set list. The cover was well done and gained crowd approval. The set continues with “I’ll Be There” and guitarists Chris Cain (rhythm guitar), Kyle Konkiel (bass) and Doc Coyle (lead guitar) put together fun choreographed moves to the song. Next, Tommy asks for a split in the center of the crowd. He set the tone referencing a Game Of Thrones battle. He chose someone to be Jon Snow which whom circled around and bowing with the crowd having fun participating in the act. Tommy continues to explain what he is setting up. He wants the crowd to mosh into each other like the battle of white-walkers (Game of Thrones).  The band is building up the music to the song “Officer Down” as Tommy says “hold…hold …are you ready…1, 2, 3 Go!” and the crowd moshes into each other like a battle. Bad Wolves continued the fun time with a cover of System Of A Down “Chop Suey”.

The set ends with Vext talking about The Cranberries cover of “Zombie”, profits of the song was donated to the children of lead singer Dolores O’Riordan. The crowd lights up the stage with their phone lights and sings along to the song. Tommy jumps off the stage towards a young girl and sings to her, then follows to shake hands of the crowd on the rail. At the center of the rail he finds Casey Jones, who performed Zombie with Bad Wolves in 2018 at Ak-Chin Pavilion. Tommy handed the mic to Casey and they reunited to sing Zombie together once again. When Vext returned to the stage he held up the mic stand in a victorious stance and the most genuine look of joy on his face. The crowd fired up cheering and applauding for perhaps one of the best performances from Bad Wolves. Performance isn’t how to describe Bad Wolves, they are just real. The appreciation and connection was felt that night in Phoenix.

Bad Wolves

Fire From the Gods

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