Rock Allegiance Tour Midwest Review and Photos!

The Rock Allegiance Tour has left the builiding! The tour featuring VOLBEAT, HIM, All That Remains and Airborne held a tour de force across America since late August starting in St. Paul, Minnesota, winding around the USA and into Canada then ending in Brooklyn, New York on September 28th.

It’s not often that I get to tour alongside bands of this caliber let alone to four cities in my region in the Great Midwest. Working on the HIM side of things for their Official World Wide Street Team, Heartagram Team, I started with the kick off gig in St. Paul Minnesota, then Twin Lakes Wisconsin, Sterling Heights Michigan and then ending in Bloomington Illinois. Things started out a bit rocky with fans clashing over different styles of music and rallying for their preferred band and not always in a polite way. With the heavy hitting sounds of All That Remains, Airborne and VOLBEAT, HIM seemed to be the underdog with their more sentimental, goth rock love metal sound although they were billed as co-headliners with VOLBEAT. Fans of other bands were vocal and sometimes fighting on the floor with HIM fans and Facebook blew up about rivalries at some of the shows. There’s a lot more to HIM than meets the eye or previous known reputation. Even rowdy VOLBEAT fans took notice and on several occasions I was asked “Who are these guys? I like it.” HIM are veteran musicians with a solid twenty year career and have played with countless bands in the past. The whole point is to play for their fans and to pick up some new ones on the way whenever they tour abroad. Mission accomplished!

Tensions seemed to ease as the tour progressed with HIM fans rallying around their band, waving banners and packing signing lines with die hard dedication they are known for. Native to Finland, HIM is used to selling out club dates in minutes in Europe and packing summer festivals when they tour. They were poised to do a five city CD release tour back in May to support their new album Tears On Tape (Razor and Tie) but due to singer Ville Valo’s sudden illness, the mini tour was canceled leaving fans wanting. Rock Allegiance gave fans new hope that they would get to see their favorite band live again and from all accounts and stellar reviews, HIM is in top form. The band is sounding better than ever while acknowledging fans in intimate way with each gig having an organic feel with the boys having fun onstage against the backdrop of a killer light show. HIM will be embarking on a European tour in October.

Vocalist Ville Valo of HIM and an awesome audience taken onstage at the Bloomington gig.
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HIM Rock Allegiance general set list.
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Denmark’s VOLBEAT closed out each show with powerhouse performances they are known for since they hit it big on the rock radio circuit with songs like A Warrior’s Call and Still Counting. Touring to support their fifth studio release Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies (Universal), VOLBEAT has amassed huge audiences in America due to their relentless touring over the past few years and the easy digestion of their signature sound. If they haven’t hit a town near you yet, they will. Known for whisky drinkin’ rowdy audiences, VOLBEAT delivers a unique blend of Johnny Cash meets Metallica with catchy hooks and heavy hitting guitars. Rob Caggiano, formerly of Anthrax recently joined the band bringing more of a metal sound versus the old school rockabilly sound VOLBEAT was known for on earlier albums. It’s clear that the signature VOLBEAT sound is still there but now in more of a mainstream, radio friendly way which has some fans hearkening back to the earlier days in their career. With the success of Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies, fans who want the early VOLBEAT may have to accept their growth and assimilate to their growing success or stick with VOLBEAT’s earlier catalog. All in all, VOLBEAT has something for everyone who loves good ol’ rock ‘n roll.

From left to right, Bassist, Anders Kjolholm, Guitarist Rob Caggiano and Lead Vocalist Michael Poulsen of VOLBEAT.
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VOLBEAT Rock Allegiance general set list.
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I can’t say that I was all that familiar with Airborne or All That Remains before this tour but it seemed to me that they had their own fan bases pretty much intact and with heavy hitting styles of their own, both bands rounded out the tour’s lineup.

All That Remains joined the tour to promote their seventh full length effort A War You Cannot Win (Razor And Tie). Having been around since the late 90’s, All That Remains is a name most people seem to know. Going into it not knowing much, they had a sort of Five Finger Death Punch presence on stage and their fan base was on point and totally there for them. I will say that watching guitarist Oli Herbert was some better word than fantastic and it always makes me happy to see a chick like Jeanne Sagan own a bass onstage. I had the pleasure of hanging out with them on a day off shooting the breeze about music and dueling iPods with the HIM crew. I’ll definitely be checking out more of their music and look forward to when they come around my way again.

Guitarist Oli Herbert of All That Remains.
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Bassist Jeanne Saban of All That Remains.
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Australia’s Airborne gave audiences a blast from the past touring in support of their new album Black Dog Barking (Roadrunner), they came out and hit you with their 80’s metal presence on stage and AC/DC reminiscent riffs and style. Unfortunately, they had to cut their participation with the tour short and head back home due to personal family issues. I got a chance to hang out with a couple of guys from the band and they were relaxed, fun to be around and very appreciative for the opportunity to play for the USA.

Lead Vocalist Joel O’Keefe of Airborne.
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Bassist Justin Street of Airborne.
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I’d have to say the best thing about this tour was the fans. Early on, I created a Facebook page called Rock Allegiance Rebels. It was a source for fans to connect with one another, to post their photos, videos and experiences during the tour. We became a tight group of fans coming together for a common reason all in the name of rock and roll. You could see how the early tensions in the tour gave way to people just trying to have a good time regardless of personal preferences as the tour rolled on and ended. It’s awesome to see people treat each other kindly and promote the music they love with all the passion they are given by the musicians themselves.

At the Bloomington show, I was given permission to shoot onstage for HIM. For those and all my other photos as well as the documentation of many others for the Rock Allegiance Tour, go HERE.

Very special thanks to: Jeff Good, Janne Tamminen, Seppo, VV, SM, Alison, HIM, VOLBEAT, Lina, Kelly Hitt, Sean McCarthy, Antti, Viltsu, Brad, Timo, Oli, Jeanne, Jason, Streety, Jim Somers and the inimitable Blackcraft Cult.

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Alex Savage