Halestorm // Live @ Harrah's Cherokee Center Asheville // 09.08.21
***SPOILER ALERT*** I am OBSSESSED with Lzzy Hale. So if I seem to be fan-girling… you are abso-freakin’ right I am. I’ve seen Halestorm live before, but this was my first (and hopefully not last) time being honored to photograph one of their concerts. Though it wasn’t my first shoot in Asheville, it was my first time at Harrah’s Cherokee Center, the largest premier multi-room event center in Western NC. I always research venues a bit before going for the first time and I found that the underground garage is reserved for VIP Access that is purchased at the time of your ticket. While I personally consider myself very important… my wallet tends to disagree at times. Yet I didn’t trust my patience to deal with finding street parking in the middle of the city so cue Uber! Waiting in the lobby for my ride, I thought maybe everyone thought I was looking extra hot until I realized the weird stares were because of me being strapped into my camera chest harness and all accessories latched around my waist like some sort of technological SWAT team. Oh well. Within minutes, I’m swept away in a snazzy VW by a driver with the just the right combination of road rage and potty mouth.
"...crushed the stage with the weight of their music..."
Flashing my snazzy photo credentials to security, I had to stop in my tracks…back up a few steps… and confirm that I was in the right place. I never expected to see a Storm Trooper walk past me at a Halestorm concert. Yep. Right place. What. The. Huh?
I was beginning to wonder if there was a Comic Con going on somewhere else in the venue… I kept seeing robes, face paints and costumes. It wasn’t until the opening group came on stage that I realized why. I am actually disappointed in myself for not knowing who The HU (pronounced ‘who’) were. I would have never, in a million years, think an award-winning heavy metal band would have hailed from Mongolia. The quad brought traditional Mongolian instruments out with them and they CRUSHED the stage with the weight of their music. Though I’m pretty sure not a single English word was heard, not a single soul in that building needed to actually understand the lyrics to be blown away with the guttural throat singing of these bad ass dudes. The first few chords literally had the hair standing up across my arms with the electricity of their sound. With only one studio album released so far, these guys have already carved out a lasting position in the metal world and were a welcome surprise and an amazing treat to start the evening with.
"...brings back the energy and excitement that live performances are meant to seduce fans with..."
Ohhhhh, Lzzy. How do I adore you? Let me count the ways… But I wasn’t the only one enthralled with the rock goddess as I heard a shout above the crowd screaming, “I LOVE YOU, LZZY!”
“I love you, too!” Lzzy hums back with a sassy smile of satisfaction.
This is what this woman lives for. The whole band lives for the stage, the loud speakers, the bright lights and roaring fans… The venue could have had only 12 people in the audience and Halestorm would have performed with just as much fervor and passion as they would with a sold-out coliseum. I honestly believe they would never go to a studio and do live performances only, if it were feasible. Halestorm is literally on stage for over 250 days out of a year (non-COVID shutdown year, obviously).
Though one of their slower pieces, opening with Do Not Disturb still gets your blood hot with its sultry innuendos and sex tainted lyrics. Moving from song to song, Lzzy will always amaze me with her ability to scream out for minutes at a time with her power house voice but transition to a passionate acapella without batting an eye.
It’s no wonder Lzzy recently became Gibson’s first female Brand Ambassador as she makes each of her custom guitars scream for mercy from the relentless musical assault of fingers and picks. The instrumental genius gene runs in the family with little bro Arejay Hale banging out a drum solo like no other. It’s usually the guitars that steal the stage with exciting riffs and hard-hitting chords… but Arejay brings percussion to a whole new level with his performances. He’s not just about sound either, as he creates a show on stage with his abundant flipping and twirling of drumsticks amidst the impressive pairing of bass drum and hand combinations. Let’s not forget the befuddling entrance of his infamous “big sticks” that look more at home on a baseball field than a concert stage, yet still manage to slay drums better than many high rollers.
When Lzzy took the spotlight for a piano solo of Break In for the encore, she reminded me of a hard rock Lady Gaga with a bit less of the Broadway theatrics when she settled in behind the keys. Yet, Lzzy ages backwards, I believe, looking younger and younger each performance. It’s as if she’s a Rock Vampire that feeds from the screaming of fans to remain musically immortal. I’m okay with that, as Halestorm brings back the energy and excitement that live performances are meant to seduce fans with. A single live Halestorm concert can be prescribed to any rock fan to cure all sorts of musical maladies.