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Ten Random Thoughts About Last Night’s Alice in Chains Show

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1. Alice in Chains are one of the absolute heaviest bands in existence. I’ve tried before to explain in writing what makes them so heavy — obviously they’re not playing blast beats or doing gutturals — and I’ve consistently failed, and I’m not about to try again now. But fuck, SO HEAVY… if you know, you know.

2. I’m digging the fuck out Jerry Cantrell’s current look. Thank god he grew his hair back — short-haired Jerry just wasn’t doing it for me — and he’s got a grizzly white beard to boot. Lookin’ good!

3. Speaking of Jerry, is he not both one of the chunkiest riff writers and tastiest lead players of all time? Should get more credit for being one of the best ever.

4. I love Mike Inez’s patented side-to-side head-bob. Related: I wonder what kind of hair product he uses?

5. Alice in Chains should consider doing an Unplugged tour. Sure, their live sets always contain an acoustic segment, but I’m envisioning a full set of acoustic renditions in intimate, reserved seating venues. This might seem anathema to early Chains fans, but for an entire generation of kids Unplugged was THE Alice in Chains album. How cool would it be to see them trot out some of those songs in that form again? They could (and should), of course, mix in some new jams, too.

6. William DuVall has got to be the most gracious frontman in the history of ever. He knew well whose shoes he was stepping in to fill and he acts appropriately respectful. He knows when it’s his time to step up and when to (literally) step back. He’s a hell of a vocalist, too.

7. Sean Kinney’s drum work in “No Excuses” is delightful. A positively mesmerizing performance, and one of his best on record.

7. The audience was old. At a ripe 36, I was on the low end of the age demographic.

8. In spite of #7, I have a tremendous amount of respect for AIC for continuing to push new music and not settling into their legacy. In addition to their brand new single “The One You Know” — which is great, btw, and features one of Cantrell’s chunkiest riffs yet (see #3 above) — the band played several cuts from both post-reunion albums, Black Gives Way to Blue and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. None of those tracks were received as well by the audience as the band’s “classics,” but a good chunk of the room knew them.

9. Very much digging the one-two encore-closing punch of “Would?” and “Rooster.” Absolutely perfect way to end the show.

10. The band has yet to announce a title or release date for their new album, but I have every reason to believe it’s going to be very good. Perhaps not on par with Black Gives Way to Blue, but stronger than The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, which was fine but didn’t have the same zing to it as its predecessor. The new album may even have some surprises. I have faith.

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