A crowd, full of excitement and booze, gathered at The World Famous Milestone anxiously awaiting the arrival of a man that had not been on stage in over a year. Founding member and guitarist of local rockers 21st Century Goliath, Scott Roby, had been locked away in a jail cell since July 5th, 2012. He was making his highly anticipated return just one night after being set free, and other great local rock acts Beyond the Fade,The Graveyard Boulevard, as well as Texas natives Diesel & Dixie, all came out to get the family, friends, and fans in attendance pumped for the occasion. This was one of the wildest nights of rock ‘n’ roll I’ve ever experienced.
First up for the night was the only band not from the Charlotte area on the bill, Diesel & Dixie. The Southern rockers from Austin, Texas infuse a bit of metal into their music to make for a very interesting sound. The five-piece outfit took to the stage and showed no mercy from the get go. They pummelled the audience with fast-paced guitar riffs full of Southern-style licks, bass lines that could hold even the funkiest of bands down, and some of the most intense drum beats that will ever be heard from a band in the Southern rock genre. The lead vocalist, known as Boar Lord, repeatedly left the stage to venture out into the crowd to get the party going, screaming into the microphone with his piercing voice the entire way. Nearly 99 percent of those in attendance didn’t know who these guys were upon arrival. One hundred percent were left in awe of the madness they brought to the stage.
The horror rock/punk trio, The Graveyard Boulevard, were up next. These guys have been creeping out the Charlotte area for a decade now, keeping all the monsters and ghouls alive and well. The group kept the music simple for the most part, belting out songs that consisted of just a few chords, up-tempo drums, and a solid bass line. Don’t let that fool you into thinking these guys don’t bring a show to the stage though, they had enough catchy melodies to hook any non-believer in that night.
Vocalist/guitarist, Abby Normal, incorporated some nice little licks and solos into the flurry of chords that flooded out of his amp, and bassist, Scott Scurvy, kept the fans entertained with his crazy poses on stage. The huge smile that never left Scurvy’s face just shows you that these dudes really enjoy what they do. Drummer, John Doe, held everything together with his tight playing, proving that you don’t need a ton of crazy fills and tricks to be a good drummer, although he did knock every fill out of the park that night. This band definitely left with some new fans and, from the looks of it, they’ve got what it takes to make it another ten years on the scene.
Only one band left now before the main event of the night: modern hard rockers, Beyond the Fade. These guys have been on a constant rise to the top of Charlotte’s local rock scene, and they were not slowing down a bit this night. The floor in front of the stage was now full with a lot of fans awaiting the show. They kicked off their set pounding away at the ear drums of everyone in the club with their modern spin on the classic hard rock sound.
Vocalist, Neil Jackson, spent a lot of time mingling with the fans up front, making each individual feel like the show was just for him or her.
Lead guitarist, Brandon Strickland had everyone mesmerized with his shred-style solos, while rhythm guitarist, Ben Davis, kept the groove going and provided background vocals. Bassist Johnny Rochester and drummer Jesse Lee have been playing together so long that it’s almost impossible for them to get off beat; they do a great job of keeping the music tight and on time. The guys played through their set effortlessly, making it look easy as pie to put on a great show. With the combination of melodic guitar riffs overtop chunky, driving chords, metal-style drumming and a tight bass line to keep it all together. This outfit can fit in with any style of rock and win over any crowd.
Time for the moment everyone had been waiting for: the return of 21st Century Goliath in full form. As the curtain in front of the stage closed and the silhouettes of the band members appeared on stage, chants for the man of the night name came roaring through the venue. The curtain opened and there stood Scott Roby back on stage for the first time in over a year and ready to kick some ass with his bandmates. Roby had this to say about the feeling he had right before taking the stage, “Oh man, so nervous! It was a good nervous though. Like stepping through the door into your new, better life. I was jumping up and down backstage right before we went on and I could hear the crowd chanting my name. I could hear it getting rowdy up by the stage. I got chills.”
Everyone went nuts as the guys started into their set aggressive, in-your-face, rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a known fact that this band brings every ounce of fight it has to every venue, and they brought it better than ever this night. Roby ran around the audience, guitar in hand, to greet all of his family and friends he had waited so long to see. When asked how it felt to be back on stage again, he replied, ”It was great! It hadn’t really hit me that I was a free man until I hit that stage. Then all those old familiar feelings came rushing back. It was awesome.” Knowing that this show was just one day after his release from the big house, I asked how much practice time he was able to get beforehand to shake out the cobwebs and was told they had less than a half hour to practice before their set!
They guys made sure not to let him off the hook too easily though. Having him stand with the audience, the rest of the band went into “Whole Lotta Rosie” by AC/DC, while a blowup doll was tossed around the venue. Their slogan, “If you don’t like the smell of beer and sweat, stand in the back!” had never been more true than when they brought, what I will call a beer gun, to the stage to spray the entire crowd down with the nectar of the rock gods. Now with the man who started this monster of a band back, one could only wonder what was next for them. Luckily he was able to give some insight on that question: “To go further, faster and higher. Climb new peaks. I feel like we’re primed and ready. The future of 21st Century Goliath is bright. I’ll tell you this, those guys have been working hard in the bandroom in my absence. They killed it up there, and it made my job easy.”
This night had every making of an epic rock ‘n’ roll show: Four bands all with a unique style of loud, raw, and intense music; a venue that has hosted legends in the genre; and a man that just one day prior was sitting in a jail cell waiting to be released back into the free world. Not to mention tons of alcohol, a blowup doll, a beer gun and one of the most inspiring moments the Charlotte rock community has ever seen. This was one of the best shows of the year in my opinion, I’m sorry if you missed out.