Red Lamb and Candy Machine Guns
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Station 4, St. Paul, MN
Former Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz has been largely quiet since his last stint with Anthrax in 2007, but he returned with Red Lamb, unleashing their debut album last year (reviewed here, 7/10). This, the band’s first tour, billed Anarchy for Autism, is a benefit for autism. Thankfully the light rail construction right outside Station 4 appears to be completed, and the venue now sports a cool new sign.
Milwaukee’s Candy Machine Guns has been on tour with Red Lamb for a couple weeks, and they were already underway when I got there. The 30 minutes of their set I saw was quite impressive. Candy Machine Guns play a very heavy style of modern-sounding metal that is a full-on assault of the senses. Singer Hobbes Caltous is at his best when screaming, and the band charged through many of the songs off their debut album Here We Come. They have a two other area shows coming up, and they’re well worth checking out.
It was highly disappointing that only about 50 people turned out for Red Lamb, but if it bothered the band they didn’t show it. A tape of “It’s A Small World” served as the introduction before the band took over with “Watchman”. It was immediately apparent that the band was playing tight, and seemed out to prove that Red Lamb isn’t simply a fun side project. Following “Runaway Train”, “Be All, End All” was the first Anthrax classic broken out. This, along with the other Anthrax songs played, actually sounded great with only one guitarist and allowed Dan’s solos to figure more prominently.
Back to Red Lamb material, the band stormed through “One Shell (In The Chamber)”, “Keep Pushing Me”, and “Standby Passenger”. An awesome version of “Only” came next, and vocalist Don Chaffin really proved his versatility and incredible voice with this one. This seemed to bring new energy to the crowd, and the band responded with a firey version of “Angels Of War”. Red Lamb’s version of “Caught In A Mosh” simply has to be heard to believed – drummer Kevan Roy juiced up the chorus with some intense double-bass that brought new life to the Anthrax standard. I’d love to have a studio recording of this version from Red Lamb. “The Cage” was another highlight before “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)” brought another outsized response from the sparse crowd.
Dan had been a bit reserved on stage up to this point, but he gave a heartfelt introduction to “Puzzle Box”, talking about the challenges he and his wife have in raising twin boys with autism and explaining his hope that the metal community can be supportive of raising awareness and support for the disease. “Puzzle Box” was clearly a crowd favorite, followed up with “Don’t Threaten To Love Me” and “Temptation”. “I Am The Law” closed the show, unfortunately halted mid-song when Dan’s guitar malfunctioned. The band handled it gracefully and with humor, and Dan had a smile on his face and took it in stride as his showed the band where to pick it up again at the fast guitar break before the solos.
In all, Red Lamb delivered an inspired, nearly 90 minute set where they ran through nearly the entire debut album (only “Warpaint” and, disappointingly, “Get Up” were missing) and five Anthrax classics. Vocalist Don Chaffin is an amazing front man, and his range and talents were impressive in the live setting. The whole band is incredibly talented and their show gave me new admiration for the album. Hopefully this tour is only the beginning of more tours and recorded output from Red Lamb.Candy Machine Guns return to perform two other area shows: Sunday, March 31 at the What’s Up Lounge in Mankato with Screaming Mechanical Brain and Evasive Maneuver, and Tuesday, April 2 at G.B. Leighton’s Pickle Park in Fridley.
RELATED CONTENT: Check out my review of the debut album from Red Lamb. There's also an audio download of Anthrax in 1991 on the Clash Of The Titans tour. In my From The Vault series, you can read about past experiences and view of photos of former Anthrax vocalist John Bush in Armored Saint, with more to come from the legendary Anthrax side project S.O.D.