Words + Photos By: Vince Sadonis
It’s been just a little over a year since the death of a brother, son, and drummer extraordinaire Vinnie Paul. To go into the depth of Vinnie’s career would be as long as a Masters’ thesis, but here is a real quick cliff notes version. Vinnie was well known in the metal scene with his band Pantera, which also featured his late brother and great guitarist, Dimebag Darrell. After the breakup of Pantera, the brothers would form Damageplan which would break up a little after Dimebag’s death and Hellyeah would be born. Hellyeah would go on for over 10 years, until the unexpected death of Vinnie Paul on June 22, 2018. With an album locked and loaded fans were unsure if Hellyeah would continue, but this year the band decided to release the album and do a tour, with Stone Sour’s Roy Mayorga on the drums, to celebrate the life of Vinnie Paul. The tour is a memorable one because it isn’t just about paying respects to Vinnie Paul but to celebrate what he left behind for us and in the words of singer Chad Gray at the Stroudsburg show, “heavy metal!”
The tour opener was Minneapolis’ DIY band Sleep Signals. Even though the band isn’t even five years old, they have accomplished a lot with multiple national tours and festival dates. The guys in Sleep Signals know their way around the industry and with no label support says something. With a 30 minute set, Sleep Signals put in all their worth to wow the audience and it worked. With the constant movement on stage, crowd participation, and melodic songs, Sleep Signals prove they aren’t just a flash in the pan, but a band that will go on to be as successful as their influencers.
Following Sleep Signals was a must-see live, Nonpoint. Nonpoint doesn’t hold back in their performances, with singer Elias Soriano being one of the most energetic frontmen around, and drummer Robb Rivera is also one of the most energetic drummers around. Robb spent either most of the time standing up while drumming or coming to the front of the stage between songs to converse with the crowd. A Nonpoint show can be described as just pure chaos. If this band played a VFW hall now, I think the place would be torn down by the band alone. With a short set, Nonpoint played a good portion of newer songs with the main focus being on their latest album X, but a few older songs were sprinkled in. Regardless of what was played, the crowd and band didn’t lose their momentum, even when they covered Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”. With their jokes aside and there were plenty, Nonpoint didn’t hesitate to acknowledge the reason we were all here tonight. It was to all join together and celebrate the great Vinnie Paul and the impact he made on the band and everyone individually.
Hellyeah didn’t waste time getting the crowd wound up. Within the first minute of the song “X” singer, Chad Gray was in the crowd snarling the words to the fans. Usually, that kind of momentum happens towards the end of a bands’ set, but Chad wasted no time, so much that he would continue to greet the crowd from this position throughout their set. Their set was uphill momentum which featured many new songs off their soon to be released album, Welcome Home, which comes out September 27th, until it cooled down with the song “Love Falls”. However, throughout the beginning of the set, Chad thanked the fans for being there to share this night with them. Not only was did it provide comfort for them, but it also celebrated everything he gave us and continues to do with his music. With crackling in his voice, Chad would address the crowd to present everyone with a tribute video of Vinnie featuring a new song “Sky and Water”. He said they didn’t want the video to be a tearjerker, but it was hard not to when it was a touching tribute. As the video finished Hellyeah came back on stage to greet the crowd with two Pantera covers, “I’m Broken” and “Walk”. The crowd went into a frenzy and it didn’t stop until they finished with their self-titled song “Hellyeah!”. Even though Vinnie wasn’t there, the amount of noise the crowd made in Stroudsburg, PA was enough for him and Dimebag to hear from above, and the music they left us will never be forgotten.