Words and photos by Gina Pefley.

The inaugural run of the “Summer of Screams” tour, featuring headliner Mushroomhead, hit Seattle last Thursday evening. This tour, presented by Scream Factory and Dread Central, is scheduled for 25 shows across North America, ending on September 15. As a fan of metal and horror films, this tour was a dream (or nightmare) come true! When initially announced, the lineup in Seattle included headliner, Mushroomhead, with supporting bands Powerman 5000, The Browning, Kissing Candice, and Unsaid Fate. Unfortunately, due to medical reasons, Powerman 5000 was forced to drop off the tour. However, Mushroomhead and the remaining support bands were well worth the price of admission!
Hard rock band, Unsaid Fate played an energetic set to the earlier-arriving crowd. Lead singer Jackie LaPonza was very engaging with the crowd and her vocals had a great mix of hard and soft moments. Our Addiction and Memories from their self-released 2014 EP “Never Turning Back” were favorites of mine. LaPonza also provided vocals on Mushroomhead’s 2014 album release “The Righteous and the Butterfly” and was welcomed back to the stage later in the night to perform during Mushroomhead’s set.
Next up in the show was Kissing Candice. Visually this band is interesting to watch with members wearing a variety of macabre masks and costumes. There was a cinematic feel to their performance that I really enjoyed. Song highlights for me included Hit the Roof and (De)generation from their 2017 EP release “Safe Word”. The contrasting vocals of Joey and Dreamer are quite impressive live. I really enjoyed their set and will be sure to check Kissing Candice out when they come back to the Seattle-area.
By the time The Browning hit the stage, the majority of the crowd had made their way into the venue. The Browning got the floor moving from their first song of the night. While the visual presentation was minimal with only a few lights, the energy of the band and crowd continued through the entire performance. There was even a wall of death during the set. Be on the lookout for their new album “Geist”, set to be released in October 2018.

The headliner, Mushroomhead, took the stage around 11pm and the crowd seemed to grow even a bit more. Having never seen a Mushroomhead show I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had read some grumblings from longtime fans regarding the somewhat recent departure and addition of a couple of members of the band. However, I don’t think this had any impact on the performance or crowd turnout. The visual experience of the set was amazing. From the creepy masks to the water drums to the bold light show, the performance was a feast for the eyes and ears.

The show opened with strobe lights and an audio track that kicked into 43, from the 1995 self-titled release “Mushroomhead”. The water drums were in full display and really got the show off to a great start. The show continued with a couple of songs from the early-2000s: Kill Tomorrow and Bwomp, before launching into one of the fan favorites, Qwerty, from the 2014 album “The Righteous and the Butterfly”. The energy level of both the band and the fans on the floor was impressive.
As mentioned earlier, Jackie LaPonza of Unsaid Fate, came back to the stage to perform We Are the Truth. The vocals of Steve Rauckhorst (clean vocals), Jason “J Mann” Popson (harsh vocals), and LaPonza were really exciting to hear live, which energized the crowd. Mushroomhead kept the frenzy going with a selection of their top songs including Before I Die, Out of My Mind, Nowhere to Go, Solitaire Unraveling and One More Day.
Mushroomhead was able to include a great selection of songs from several albums over many years, all packed into a visually stunning presentation. I don’t think a single person went home disappointed at the end of the night.
There are five shows remaining on the Summer of Screams tour:
9/11 – Merriam, KS
9/12 – Waterloo, IA
9/13 – Minneapolis, MN
9/14 – Ringle, WI
9/15 – Joliet, IL

You can find tickets HERE.

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