A wild night was had by all on this, the most drunk day of the year in Wisconsin, and that’s saying something.

Unlike my little hike to The Forge in Joliet, Illinois, I actually left on time for this one and, unlike Illinois, Wisconsin isn’t in a perpetual state of construction, so there was little to do on my entire journey from Milwaukee but enjoy my kickass stereo system while I was driving to see Act Of Defiance!

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Shattered Sun’s vocalist Marcos Leal as soon as I arrived. The guy is the definition of class; super nice, incredibly intelligent, and very compassionate when it comes to the underground.

Soon after I finished my interview, local boys Bury The Enemy kicked off the show. For a three piece, they did a really good job of throwing down, especially given that they didn’t have a lot of room to move around (the drummer’s kit is really big).

They’re a newish band but I could clearly tell that they have a good work ethic about them. What sucked was they got screwed with the mix (wth sound guy). The bass player’s vocals were BLASTING over everything else, while the guitar player’s mic was far better mixed, which was good, but with the other singer so loud, it made for a weird experience. still a kickass band, and they did a really good cover of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper“!

Next was Squidhammer Metal, a band whom I’ve seen play before, and who writes their set lists out on paper plates. They were weird the last time I saw them, and they were weird tonight as well. This is a band whose first song is literally called “Rock The Fuck On“. They always play a good set, though I think even they would admit that their set could have been better on this particular evening. At one point, they had a dancer on stage, painted up to look like – I’m not kidding – Fiona from the movie Shrek. Bless her heart, she did her best, but it was clear that she was nervous.

Squidhammer Metal still plowed through a high powered set and managed to make it pretty enjoyable. I AM glad they didn’t do the garbage can full of booze while the girl wrung a sock full of it out into fans’ mouths (this was REALLY something they’d planned to do, but didn’t), I think I’d have lost my lunch. Also the cops love showing up there at random and that would be bad.

Bands like Squidhammer Metal are always fun to watch, because you have no idea what’s going to happen next. It was very much like watching Nine Inch Nails waaaaaaaaay back in the day.

The next band is a band that has been around in the Wisconsin scene for a few years, they’re even nominated for a Wisconsin Area Music Award this year, for Best Rock Artist. For a band with a political message, American Zeros were pretty enjoyable, and not all that pretentious about it like bands such as System of a Down. They also sound like a cool mix between Stone Temple Pilots and Helmet.

They played really well, but half way through their set, the singer’s guitar amp BLEW UP. This was starting to sound like a pattern here, that the night would be fraught with conflict and anything that could go wrong, would go wrong.

Not to be undone, American Zeros wrench through the last half of their set, including playing title track off their album “Red White Black and Blue” with little delay. Shaun tried to fix his guitar set up but eventually just went without the guitar and just sang into his two microphones (which looks really cool).

Finally came the tour package, Shattered Sun have had a string of bad luck lately, but their set this evening would NOT reflect that, thankfully. Before they showed up to Janesville, they had actually gotten into a pretty hairy car accident. Thankfully nobody was hurt and the van suffered little, but they showed up and one thing is sure, these guys could have very easily not been there.

They must’ve been channeling those emotions, because when they started into “Blame” (they’re newest single), they were not taking any prisoners.

What struck me about these guys is that you can EASILY tell how close they are to each other. In a day and age where a touring band can have members from the four corners of the world, this band have had the same members since 2006, and all come from a small town in Texas called Alice. These guys REALLY know each other, and it shows on stage. They got up there and had A LOT of fun, and that attitude really seeped into the fans’ interaction.

One sad thing, though, was how short their set was! Like, the local openers had longer sets! By the time they finished “Die For Nothing“, Marcos announced that their next song was their last, and this  was barely 25 minutes into their set!

When it came to Act Of Defiance, there was a decent sized crowd – small for the drinking holiday of the world at a bar in Wisconsin, but still. I’ve actually played with Act Of Defiance before, a couple years ago, but as is the pattern with bands who play together, you might catch a few minutes, but you very rarely get to fully absorb the band’s set. Their set intro is-  no shit – a song about going to the potty. I was thrilled, cuz I love pooping.

They kicked into “M.I.A.” and “Disastrophe” and it was insane. The fans knew the stuff and were really rocking out. One thing I love about watching Chris Broderick play guitar is his on stage attitude. And for this, I will bring up another thrash metal god…

I toured once with Dan Spitz (of Anthrax fame) and his band Red Lamb. Danny and Chris, I think, represent two sides of the spectrum, as far as guitar players go.

As a person with functioning autism, watching Danny just do the math in his head (he BARELY looks at his guitar, and plays mostly with his eyes closed), and then watching Chris noodling and smiling, and fist bumping fans… It’s just a completely different experience. Danny is a wizard on guitar, but it’s all math to him, so it’s kickass to listen to, but not a lot of fun to watch, whereas Chris is smiling through the whole set, the whole band is engaging the fans and everyone feels like a part of the show.

Watching Act Of Defiance rage for a good hour was a lot of fun. “Legion of Lies” is just a kickass metal song. They plowed through more of their songs until they closed with “Throwback”, which was their first big single.

They really railed through it, and it was a lot of fun to watch. Though, not the best thing I’ve seen, sadly. In fact I’d have to give Shattered Sun the medal for the night. They pretty much wiped the floor with AOD, given how short their set was, is stunning to admit. For a night full of havoc, it was still a really fun show to watch and watching Shattered Sun was definitely worth the hike.

My only hope is that Shattered Sun has better luck the rest of their tour!


Check out the photos of each of the bands below:

Act of Defiance
Shattered Sun
American Zeros
Bury the Enemy


Written by Hobbes Caltous for Bloodrock Media on March 18, 2018.