Live Review: New Years Eve 2015 at the Metal Grill

New Years Eve is a time to get hammered and party with your friends; for the second year in a row the Metal Grill did just that. Bringing together three of the best bands in Southeast Wisconsin, a crowd of raging metal heads jammed their favorite club and rocked into the New Year.

Kicking off the end of the year was Milwaukee’s only Motley Crue tribute band, Motley Brue. Featuring Eddie Martinez (Category X), Matt Danbeck (Mr. Deagun Jones), Andy Martin (Conniption), and Pete Braun, the band is the definitive Motley Crue experience. Though only Braun gets fully dressed up in 1980’s regalia, the band’s performance is what truly counts and they knocked it out of the park.  Martinez’s vocals are strikingly similar to Vince Neil’s and the entire band was spot on with their performance. To make the show all the sweeter, the Brue jammed in just about every popular Crue tune into an hour long set including ‘Kickstart My Heart’, ‘Home Sweet Home’, ‘Red Hot’, ‘Livewire’, and many more. Unfortunately, this metal head’s favorite Crue tune, ‘Knock ‘em Dead, Kid’, was absent from the set, which was unfortunate since the Brue almost always rocks that tune with a little help from the crowd. Despite this, Motley Brue was the perfect start to the show and an excellent alternative for those of us who couldn’t make it to Los Angeles to bid the real Motley Crue farewell after three decades of hard rocking good times.

Following the stellar performance by Motley Brue was a second tribute band, Thrasher. As the name implies, this band, featuring Conniption’s demon lead guitarist, Bill House, is a tribute to thrash music as a whole. Kicking the show up a notch, Thrasher unleashed a series of thrash hits including Megadeth’s ‘Wake Up Dead’, Testament’s ‘Over the Wall,’ Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ and ‘Black Magic’, Kreator’s ‘Endless Pain’, Anthrax’s ‘Indians’ and many more songs of pure thrash metal gold. As expected of a thrash band, the band fueled their show with pure energy and aggression. While the whole band did an impeccable job performing singer, Andrew Balistreri, and lead guitarist, Bill House, stood out the most. With their long hair flying through the air with nearly every note and an aggressive presence both men kept the show burning hot until their set finished with an incredibly well-done received medley of Slayer. Of course, the Thrasher set wasn’t a cut and dry thrash tribute.  The band shook things up a bit halfway through the show by inviting Ryan Remains, lead vocalist of Milwaukee horror punk outfit Ratbatspider, to join them for a rendition of Iron Maiden’s ‘Wrathchild.” What came next was an incredible guest performance that won the praise of the entire crowd. Overall, Thrasher blew our expectations away, picking up where Motley Brue left off and setting the bar high for the night’s headliners, Conniption.

Depending on whom you’re asking, the Metal Grill saved the best for last with award winning thrash outfit, Conniption. These Midwest thrash champs came out swinging with ‘Let the Wolf Out,’ one of their most popular tunes from their sophomore record ‘Time Has Come.’ With just an hour the band unleashed the fury with just about all of their hits from their two albums including ‘Kamikaze’, ‘The Torrent’, ‘King of the Road’, ‘ Sonata Number 1 in B Minor’, ‘And the Sun Ran Away with the Moon,’ ‘Fear Itself’, ‘State of Sin’ and ‘Machine Gun Heaven.’  But before anyone could write this off as just another Conniption show, lead guitarist Bill House made a special announcement that everyone in attendance would have the esteemed pleasure of hearing a track from the new album due out in Spring. As it would turn out the band debuted two new tunes, the first being ‘Self-Destruct’, a thrashy song about coping with the end of a romance by way of the bottle, and ‘Just Give Me a Chance’, a heart-wrenching love ballad about a man hoping a lost love will come back one day. While these two songs certainly take Conniption in a different direction lyrically they were purely conniption in every way making a special night even better.

All in all, the Metal Grill was the place to be for a headbanger on New Year’s Eve. Roping in three of the area’s best acts on a major party holiday was no easy task, but there’s a reason why this bar is one of the best venues in the Milwaukee area. Drink specials, lovely bartenders, and free champagne at midnight helps too. Here’s to looking forward to what the next year will bring for everyone involved. As for you thrash and Conniption fans stay tuned in the coming weeks for big news from Wisconsin’s best heavy metal act.

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