Billy Howerdel at A&R Music Bar on June 29th.
Most people have heard of A Perfect Circle (APC) and know that Maynard James Keenan (of Tool and Puscifer) is the band’s frontman, but not too many know that the man actually behind APC is Billy Howerdel. Billy, the former Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Smashing Pumpkins guitar technician, played some of his songs for Maynard while on tour in the 90’s. Maynard loved it so much that he offered his vocals should Billy create a band. Fast forward to 1999 and Howerdel founded APC, with Maynard on vocals. Four albums later and millions of records sold, APC has been a huge commercial success. But due to Maynard’s very demanding schedule with Tool and Puscifer, Billy formed another band, Ashes Divide, which released its first album, Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright, in 2008. Billy’s most recent album, What Normal Was, was released just in June 2022 under his own name rather than the moniker Ashes Divide. Basically, if you like the APC sound, then you’ll most likely enjoy all of Billy’s work. It was pretty awesome seeing him perform in an intimate setting like the A&R Music Bar.

Starset with Red at Kemba Live on July 9th.
Starset is an electronic/alt/progressive rock band that was formed right here in Columbus, Ohio by Dustin Bates in 2013. Thy have released four studio albums, with the most recent being Horizons (released October 2021). Amazingly, I had never heard of Starset until they scheduled a hometown show at Kemba Live on their 2022 tour. Oh boy! Starset is right up my alley when it comes to live rock shows. The music was pristine and both the visuals and stage performance were stunning. Bates describes Starset as a ‘cinematic rock’ band. I totally agree. The show felt very much like a musical sci-fi experience. Most people think of twenty one pilots when they think of modern day Columbus bands. Rightfully so. Twenty one pilots does put on one of the best arena shows out there, but Starset should be in the same conversation.

Red is a Christian Rock/Alternative Metal band formed in 2002 by identical twin brothers Anthony (guitar) and Randy Armstrong (bassist), and lead vocalist Michael Barnes. The band has released seven studio albums and received numerous GMA Dove awards throughout their career. Their stage show is very high energy, and fun to watch. It’s not just Michael Barnes owning the stage. The Armstrong brothers bring the intensity, romping about, head banging, and throwing their guitar over their shoulders. At times, Red’s sound reminds me a lot of Chevelle. And I love me some Chevelle! I highly recommend checking Red on their next stop in town. They ‘religiously’ rock and kick ass!

Sheryl Crow with Keb Mo at Columbus Commons on July 10th.
Sheryl Crow is a seasoned rock-pop-country all-star that needs no introduction. You’d have to be living under a rock not to know any of her of mega-hits. She put on a powerhouse outdoor performance at the beautiful Columbus Commons. Unfortunately, or fortunately, she played all the songs that you’d expect to hear.

Kevin Roosevelt Moore, better known under the moniker ‘Keb Mo’, is a 70-year old American blues musician with four Grammy Awards for his various blues albums. He has a post-modern blues sound influenced by folk, rock, jazz, pop and country. Keb Mo is considered to be a living link to the Delta Blues. Any fan of the blues would find Keb Mo’s live show astounding. I knew Sheryl would put on a great show, but I was really there to see Keb Mo. He did not disappoint! We need to keep the blues alive!