Black Label Society photo courtesy of eOne Records
As the Fall Equinox approached two days out, eOne recording artist Black Label Society rolled into Odessa, Texas on the final Saturday of 2019’s summer for a blowout performance at the Dos Amigos Cantina that would leave west Texas in awe with plenty of aftershocks and strength.
It wasn’t just members of the Black Label Society Odessa Texas Chapter that turned out for the band’s rare west Texas appearance. There were chapter members reporting from San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort Stockton as well as other west Texas towns. Even Albuquerque was represented.
These fans were part of the 1200 advance tickets sales and were not part of the walkup crowd that often occurs in Odessa. The line that consisted of ticket holders snaked around the southern side of the venue. The line went well beyond secured parking for the touring band vehicles even reaching into the residential area prior to the doors opening.
The steady light drizzle of rain didn’t deter those anxiously awaiting entry into the venue to score that coveted spot on the barricade.
Even though Black Label Society released the revamped version of Sonic Brew titled 20th Anniversary Blend 5:09 – 5:19 in April 2019, the band was touring to promote their 2018 Grimmest Hits release.
The young Alien Weaponry who incorporate elements of the New Zealand culture into their music primed the BLS immediately. It didn’t take long for the band to win over the tightly packed and rain-soaked crowd. Their appreciation for the moderate sea of people was evident and sincere. Alien Weaponry extended an open invitation to join the band at their merchandise table following their set. Fans new and old met the band for pictures, autographs, merchandise purchases and whatever else.
The Black Dahlia Murder from Michigan continued the priming of the slowly growing BLS crowd throughout their intense and aggressive set. The band delivered a tight sounding performance that impressed many of those who may have not been familiar with the death metal act.
Just a little after ten, the lights below the tin roof of the cantina went black. Vocals from Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and the riffs from Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” were mashed up in perfect synchronized rhythm. The opposite would then occur with Zeppelin vocals and Sabbath riffs. It was a great intro that keeps fans on the toes as the anticipation for Black Label Society arrival neared.
With the dropping of the huge Black Label Society stage curtain, Zakk Wylde and fellow Society vest-wearing members Dario Lorina (guitar), bassist John JD Deservio and drummer Jeff Fabb stormed the stage to “Genocide Junkies.” High-velocity fog cannons aimed upward saturated the air.
Red stage lights intensified the fog as Wylde took to his steel riser sporting a plaid kilt and the first of many Wylde Audio guitars. Doing so only made his presence larger than life.
Black Label continued their domination as the band plowed through fan favorites such as “Funeral Bell,” “The Beginning… At Last,” and “Trampled Down Below” to name a few.”
Two specific points during the band’s set received an unbelievable crowd response. The first occurred during “Suicide Messiah” as the audience countered to the crew member on stage with the bullhorn. The voices cutting through the air. The low hanging metal shell roofing only amplified the crowd’s voices.
The second instance occurred during the fourth of four songs that had Wylde sitting at the electric piano located on stage left. As Wylde began “In This River,” large canvas portraits of Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul were released covering the cabinets and stacks. Darrell’s image over the cabinets behind Deservio and Paul over the stacks behind Lorina.
As the band made their way through the song, emotions were running high. At the conclusion of the song, Wylde stated “We miss you Dimebag and Vinnie.”
Following the more toned down portion of the night, Black Label proceeded with “The Blessed Hellride” and had no mercy for the rest of the 19 – song set which featured trade-off leads from Lorina and Wylde on tables in the crowd.
Numerous BLS logoed beach balls kicked from the stage remained airborne courtesy of crowd engagement during “Fire It Up.” Balls that reached back to the stage were promptly punted back into the crowd by Deservio.
Even approaching the two-hour mark on the night, Black Label never let up concluding the night with “Concrete Jungle” and “Stillborn.”
The sheer power that Black Label Society laid on Odessa was a much-needed release of energy for those in attendance. People of west Texas and beyond were in search of an all-out, full-throttle night of Black Label Society and they received it. In simple terms, Black Label Society delivered and crushed on all cylinders.
Odessa may be been Odessa Strong prior to the night but once the BLS set was done, Odessa was even stronger. They were SMDF, Strength Determination Merciless Forever. That’s the calling card of the Black Label Society.