SAN FRANCISCO — Two of hard rock’s most preeminent female-fronted forces rolled into the Warfield Thursday for a night of heavy fist-pumping, empowering music. While the musical styles of Halestorm and goth metal heroes In This Moment were polar opposites, that only added to the diversity of the various directions in which the genre is heading.
Halestorm’s set was fueled by raw energy, tight musicianship and frontwoman Lzzy Hale’s magnetic stage presence and powerhouse vocals. Halestorm wasted no time accelerating to full speed, opening with newly no. 1 single “Uncomfortable,” led by drummer Arejay Hale’s rumbling backbeat and guitarist Joe Hottinger’s machine gun guitar riff. Lzzy Hale ran across the stage from side to side with her signature Gibson Explorer guitar, donning a leather jacket with leopard print pants, her short hair reminiscent of Joan Jett.
Touring in support of its latest album, Vicious, Halestorm left most of its mid-tempo material at home, instead focusing focusing on its fastest and heaviest songs. After powering through fan favorites “Mz Hyde” and “I Am The Fire,” the band left Hale center stage to sing a soaring a cappella verse from first single “I Get Off,” before launching into the equally suggestive “Do Not Disturb.” Hale has an innate skill of bringing a sense of dangerous sensuality that’s mysterious and confident without ever feeling forced or contrived.
“This is our church, where everyone is free to be what they want to be,” she yelled, before launching into a rousing version of “Amen.” The band performed an extended instrumental outro on the song.
Lzzy Hale’s vocals effortlessly hopped between sung melody to full-throated scream without a hint of strain or missed notes. Following rocker “Black Vultures,” Hale remained on stage with Hottinger for a stripped-down arrangement of “The Silence,” before continuing with upbeat, danceable rhythms of “Skulls” and “Vicious,” with a massive array of flashing strobes and laser lights. Arejay Hale pounded out an edge-of-your seat, unorthodox drum solo heavy before grabbing drum sticks roughy the size of small tree trunks to finish. The Grammy-winning quartet closed out its main set with hits “Love Bites (So Do I)” and “Freak Like Me.”
The band returned for rousing performances of “I Miss the Misery” and the metal-tinged “Killing Ourselves to Live” before leading the crowd in an extended singalong toast on “Here’s to Us.” Much like its new album, Halestorm is as confident as it has ever sounded.
Known for its wildly dramatic and intricate stage shows, In This Moment has developed its set both sonically and visually into a full-on satanic Cirque du Soleil. The band’s stage show revolves around the high-drama performance by vocalist Maria Brink. Flanked by two performers, Brink gives a thrilling, dangerous performance that feels a bit like if Lady Gaga turned into a death cult leader.
Every song had a costume change, a new set design and it’s own unique choreography. Brink took the cross-adorned stage covered from head to toe in robes and a crown as the venue turned a dark hue of red and smoke cannons shot in every imaginable direction.
Brink shed her dark robes to reveal a white dress during blues-influenced metal stomper “River of Fire.” Later in the set, New Year’s Day vocalist Ashley Costello took the stage and joined Brink to handle Rob Halford’s vocals on a phenomenal performance of the band’s “Black Wedding,” a not so subtle reference to the Billy Idol classic. The stage was entirely engulfed in smoke for “Big Bad Wolf,” with Brink and her cohorts around a burning, smoking cauldron at center stage.
The musical prowess of In This Moment shouldn’t be downplayed, as the band ripped through an instrumental medley of Metallica covers, as well as hard rock cover of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.” In This Moment closed with one of their best-known songs, “Whore.” Brink stood at a lectern, telling fans to rise up and shatter expectations and limitations placed on them by society. Brink’s vocals were raw but full and commanding. Her delivery reflected pain and vulnerability, mixed with strength, which makes her a compelling live performer.
Upstart rockers New Year’s Day opened the show with a tight set of hard rock placed as a good midpoint to the bands that would follow. The band, lead by vocalist Ashley Costello, expertly mixed the heaviness and intensity of In This Moment with the melodic sense of Halestorm for a solid energetic set.