Sunday, December 01 2013 20:02

Grownups Night Out: BROKEN HOPE Live at The Metro in Chicago...

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As I approached the iconic marquee in front of The Metro in Chicago last night, I realized something: I hadn't been to a show there in a very long time. During the mid-late 90s (and even into the early 00s), The Metro was a regular haunt for me - a place to check a host of metal, industrial, punk, hardcore and alternative shows. I saw bands like ACUMEN NATION and SMASHING PUMPKINS on that stage, took my wife to see MR. BUNGLE there, and saw countless, no-name local thrashers who would eventually disappear back into the shadows from which they came.

metrobhIn recent years, The venue has really veered toward what I can only think of as "hipster shit" for the most part - what passes as "alternative" these days, bands that populate the SiriusXM airwaves on a block of channels that I usually skip in-between First Wave and Lithium, and the rock block that runs Octane through Faction. Honestly, I don't recall the last show I attended at The Metro, but it's sort of fitting that the band that brought me back there was a band that's heyday was in the 90s - Chicago death metal crew, BROKEN HOPE.

In my years long prior to becoming THE ROCK FATHER, I spent more than my fair share of time slamming through pits that swirled with angst-filled males, kicking and swinging to gore-filled soundtracks peppered with words like "flesh," "cannibal," "guts" and more (and a lot worse). BROKEN HOPE were a band that I missed the first time around, but in their current regeneration found me front-and-center last night. Through metallic fate, bassist Shaun Glass and I live minutes from each other, and I've done some work for him in the not-so-distant past. With BROKEN HOPE performing their first hometown headline show in over a decade, I had to be there.

Watch: BROKEN HOPE takes the stage - "Septic Premonitions (Intro)" & "Womb of Horrors"

Omen of DiseaseA couple of weeks back, I joked that I would bring my four-year-old daughter, Addie, and do a feature entitled "My First Death Metal Show." While I wasn't serious, as I got ready to leave for the show last night, I asked her if she'd like to come see some metal. She promptly threw up both horns (double-metal, as she's been known to say) and turned to my wife: "I'm gonna go with Daddy to see some metal," she said. My wife wasn't amused, and proceeded to ask if I was nuts. Yes, I am, but I wasn't seriously considering taking Addie to hear such modern classics as "The Flesh Mechanic" and "Predacious Poltergeist" live and in-concert, but the thought amused me.

Broken Hope

The current line-up of BROKEN HOPE - Damian Leski (vocals), Jeremy Wagner (guitars), Shaun Glass (bass), Chuck Wepfer (lead guitars), and Mike Miczek (drums) - puts on a hell of a show, if not one that seems bigger than it should, given the surroundings. The production begs for a bigger venue and a wider audience, which is were the real trick lies: new-school performance for an old-school crowd, and no matter how many cool visuals you can place alongside death metal at it's tightest, I'm not really sure how to attract new listeners - new blood - into a niche genre that feels smaller today, than it did decades ago. But that's the reviewer in me - the "business" part that's kicked around on several sides of the industry die over the years and has a tendency to over-analyze things.

bhwristbandLast night, I got to enjoy a few hours of "me" time - a real rarity these days - while checking out a band that I dig in a venue that I've missed. And, when my wife saw that I'd purchased a BROKEN HOPE wristband, she shook her head for a second and reminded me that "Wristbands are fine for 15-year-olds." There's that number again... 15.

BROKEN HOPE's new album, OMEN OF DISEASE is available now on Century Media Records, and can be ordered via my affiliates:

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James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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