The day has finally come for Masquerade Madness. An event that has been in the making for two years, under 3 brandings, and had been scheduled at 3 different venues. Hosted by Brad Lee Entertainment, this 3-day festival hosts local and up and coming artists on Thursday’s Artist Showcase and a mix of the same along with several artists out of the 80’s such as Autograph, Stephen Adler, Killer Dwarfs, Pretty Boy Floyd, Every Mothers Nightmare, Dirty Looks, and more on Friday and Saturday. The event’s ultimate destination was the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This venue is a 1500-person capacity, multi-purpose arena, that hosts wrestling, boxing, concerts, weddings, and conventions.
Upon arriving at the venue, the weather was around 90 degrees and humid and the crowd was light waiting to get in. Although I had been warned that Philly was a rough city, our hotel was in a quiet area by the airport, and the venue was in an industrial area that seemed safe to me. Parking was a breeze as we got a spot right in front of the front door. Thursday boasted an eclectic mix of bands, from a self-claimed rap-fronted indie-rock band, to a Christian rock band, to hard hitting rock and heavy metal bands. Emceeing the event was “Psycho” Steve Prestup and Jay Oakley from The Metal Summit, with special guest appearances by Keith Roth and Tommy London from SiriusXm’s Hair Nation.
The doors opened slightly late, and Shotgun Superstars was playing as the fans filed in. They’re a cover band from Atlanta, Georgia. The band has a saying, “We are not just a cover band – we are really a tribute to the rock show itself!”. With Annie Clark fronting this high energy band, they played cover songs from the likes of Hardcore Superstar, Crashdiet, H.E.A.T., Crazy Lixx, Kix, and Shotgun Messiah. They made mention of a new song coming out on August 12. With Victor Adriel of Native Sons and Erikk Marz on guitars and Scott Clark on bass, these guys put on a solid rockin’ performance. Stephen Polson, rounding out the band on the drums, kept a steady beat while having a blast, as could be seen in his facial expressions.
Shotgun Superstars is:
Annie Clark – Vocals
Victor Adriel – Guitar
Erikk Marz – Guitar
Scott Clark – Bass
Stephen Polson – Drums
Zenora is a newer rock band out of Philadelphia, and the tri-state area. Comprised of charismatic singer and excellent front man Dylan Graff, John Kelly-Keifer on Drums, and brothers Nick and Daniel Shute on lead guitar and bass, this quartet has released 2 ep’s of straight forward, heavy hitting rock and roll. I’ve seen them two times in the last year and a half, and this time they were even more polished. Dylan utilized the whole stage, running from side to side and even jumping into the pit and VIP area to greet fans as he was singing. According to my wife, “He was sporting sideburns and John Travolta moves”. The brothers could be seen head-banging throughout the performance. Zenora is releasing a new video on August 12. What a treat it is to see the younger generation keeping the music alive.
Dylan Graff – Lead vocals, guitar
John Kelly-Keifer – Drums
Nick Shute – Lead Guitar
Daniel Shute – Bass
The third band to take the stage tonight was John’s Crossing, a Christian Rock band on In-Site Records. This six-piece Christian rock band has a 70’s vibe with a heavy edge. They feature 3 guitarists, a keyboardist, bassist and drummer. Mike Cavalero played an acoustic-electric guitar throughout the performance giving them a unique sound. For a few songs, Mike Dunleavy broke out a really cool double neck guitar and had a really 70’s rocker look with his top hat and long beard. The last song they played was a song they originally wrote for someone else, but they decided to keep, called “Kindred Soul”. This song will be coming out as a single soon. John’s Crossing put on a great performance while carrying a positive message.
John’s Crossing is:
John Albino – Lead vocals, Rhythm and lead guitar
Glenn Kahn – Keyboards, backing vocals
Mike Cavalero – Acoustic guitar
Jacki Lombardo – Bass guitar, backing vocals
Danny Pagan – Drums, backing vocals
Mike Dunleavy – Rhythm and lead guitars, backing vocals
MonteCarlo is a hard rock band from Philadelphia. Damian MonteCarlo is the brainchild of this band and used to be in the band Mach 22. These guys have a heavier edgy sound that commands attention. Former Cyanide Saints vocalist Albert Lepore does a killer job as the bands front man. Even though they were short one guitarist this evening, they still had a full sound and kept the fans on their feet. The sixth song of their eight-song set was “Words”, which will be coming out as a single. The last song of the night was “Animal”, which was released as a video about a year ago.
Damian MonteCarlo – Drums, vocals
Albert Lepore – Vocals
Dan Parsels – Guitar, vocals (not present tonight)
Ahmed Smith – Guitar, vocals
Joe Mal – Bass
Love in Chains
Tonight was the first time Love in Chains played together live and what a treat it was! With Mike Floros wearing an old-school Van Halen shirt with the sleeves cut off, and a Superman Necklace on guitar and Rob Kane on vocals, these guys bring a hard rock sound of the 80’s back and in front of a newer fan base. Bassist Jason Cornwell, the only one to sporting long hair, was a showman, utilizing the whole stage and drum riser in his performance. Their first video is out, off their debut album of the same namesake Everyday Heroes. The album itself is set to be released on September 30 on Idora Entertainment. These guys have great potential!!
Love in Chains is:
Mike Floros – Guitar
Rob Kane – Lead Vocals
Jason Cornwell – Bass
Brian Karl – Drums
Green Knuckle Material
Green Knuckle Material (GKM) was a big surprise for me. In researching this band before the show, I found that they were an indie based 4-piece rap-rock band. I didn’t think, based on what I read, that I’d like them as they have rapped vocals. However, once seeing them play, my take on the band was different. Whether this was because they played a different set than normal or if they changed their sound, I’m not sure. This younger band has a unique sound, with a mix of rock and grunge that fit in nicely in the artist showcase of bands. These guys have a lot of energy on stage and are fun to watch. Based in Bergan County, new Jersey, they have been around since 2016 when they released their debut album, Back to Your Roots.
Green Knuckle Material is:
YDK – Rhythm guitar, lead vocals
The Cuban Missile – Lead guitar
D-String – Bass, vocals
Tony Baja – Drums
Powerhouse trio Whiskey Grin is one of NJ’s best original rock n’ roll bands. With longtime friends and former band mates Jim Mayberry on guitar and John Tidwell on bass topped off with “Dreem” on drums, these guys have what it takes. With their bluesy harmonies, this band drew the biggest crowd of the evening so far. This was my third time seeing Whiskey Grin, and they just keep getting better and better. If you haven’t seen them yet, you’re missing out!
Whiskey Grin is:
Jim Mayberry – Guitars
John Tidwell – Bass, lead vocals
Dreem Cannon – Drums
Nitro Nitra is an alternative rock singer from Wilmington, Delaware. She started to get noticed after performing on the show American Song Contest. I have to say this was another big surprise for me. I was expecting a pop sensation, as she bills herself as Astral-Pop, however Nitro belted out some hard rock tunes with a such a powerful voice and exciting performance that she had the fans talking. She sang a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. After the show, I heard many people say that she was the best artist of the day.
Nitro Nitra is:
Nitro Nitra – Vocals
Ryder is a hard rock band hailing from Queens, NY. In 2021 they got signed by UK based record label, Bad Monkey Records. They have played at many iconic venues such as The Whiskey A Gogo, and in 2018 and 2019 at Rocklahoma Festival. Their unique sound pays tribute to the late 70’s and 80’s hard rock bands but bringing it into the 2020’s. This year they released an EP titled Don’t Think Twice and the video for their most recent single, “Lilan’s Lullaby“, has 329,000 views on YouTube.
James Ryder – Lead Vocals, guitar
Erik Unkrich – Bass
Billy Smith – Drums
Andrew Bloch – Guitar
All or Nothing
In my opinion, All or Nothing stole the show for the night. With their high energy performance of originals and hit cover songs, this young band has what it takes to succeed. Recently AON has been playing with XYZ and last weekend they were playing with George Lynch too. Playing covers from the likes of Motley Crue, Skid Row, and Tesla they had the crowd on their feet. The original songs they played were “Freak Show” and my favorite, “Benjamin Franklin”. Brett Carlisle blows the roof off with his high screams, and the rest of the band keeps the fans going with their energetic performance.
All or Nothing is:
Brett Carlisle – Lead Vocals
Jacob Mann – Lead guitar
Skylar McCain – Drums
Ian Smith – Bass guitar
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