Review by Joe Sullivan, Photos by Joy Sullivan
Few bands are as consistently awesome as Prong. Hailing from Queens, NY, Tommy Victor is still at it some 30 years and 10 albums since their inception, keeping his metal dream alive and sharp with current band members Jason Christopher (bass) and Arturo Cruz (drums). I find Prong’s blend of thrash, punk, groove, industrial, and hardcore infectious and have been a fan since I saw them open for Ozzy Osbourne in 1992. After a brief heyday in the 90s with some hits like “Snap Your Fingers / Snap Your Neck” and “Prove You Wrong”, Prong went on hiatus for 10 years before storming back in 2007 and ever since then they have been putting out killer albums every two years or so. New album X – NO ABSOLUTES continues this trend and we are trekking out to Baltimore to see them bring the house down! WHOSE FIST IS THIS ANYWAY?!? BRING IT MOTHERFUCKERS!
The Metro Gallery is this little hole in the wall venue in downtown Baltimore not too far from the popular Inner Harbor. Cool cozy place for a metal show, I dig it. You walk in and merch tables are straight ahead and on the right, stage and bar are on the left side. Stage is small and only about 3 feet off of the ground, no barrier so potential for mayhem! Sound is good and loud, no distortion issues. Pit area is sufficient and the only seats are at the bar or a couch over by the merch tables. Place holds about 350 people and sadly tonight it is only about half full. I just don’t understand why Prong doesn’t draw more people, given their past popularity and the greatness of their live performances. We had to drive 4 hours in the rain, but we didn’t care because we knew Prong would fucking deliver!
After 2 opening acts, Prong came on about 9:40 shortly after The Misfits’ “Last Caress” played over the loudspeakers, very fitting since Tommy sometimes plays in Danzig. The crowd immediately started screaming and howling as Tommy gestured to us, trying to rile us up. New song “Ultimate Authority” was first, great opener, the band just oozed energy and we responded with intense headbanging! From the get go Prong was on fire, this lineup is a tight 3 piece that is equal parts groove and shredding. Tommy’s vocal performance was intense, emotional, angry, and introspective, and his riffing and solos were superb. I’ve always felt he is an underrated riff master and shredder; he’s an expert at producing catchy riffs that stay burned in the brain. Jason thrashed around strumming his bass and providing great backing vocals. He is a great fit for the band and adds to their punk edge. Arturo sounded like a fucking thunderstorm on the drums, impressive speed and fills. Next up was old favorite “Unconditional” and the place went wild! UNWOUND! UN-CON-DI-TION-AL! The killer songs kept coming after that with “Eternal Heat”, “Lost and Found” and “Beg To Differ” and we were pretty blown away! Everything sounded much heavier than the albums; any pretense of melody had been thrown out the fucking window! THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME!
Tommy wasn’t able to run and jump around like usual due to the small stage, but he still kept the energy level high. At one point early on he commented that we seemed too sober and that we’d better hit the bar to get in the proper frame of mind! Tommy loves to mug with the crowd, looking intense and in-your-face (which fits the music!) but then when you meet him afterwards he is this laid back, humble, cool dude! His stage persona is a lot different from his real personality. Just another reminder this is entertainment folks!
Set was an excellent mix of new and old material and the band seemed to get stronger as the night went on. My favorites included “Turnover” (great pit action, first time the pit really got moving!), “Broken Peace” (a bit slower than the original but still cool – PICK UP PICK UP PICK UP THE BROKEN PEACE!), “Whose Fist Is This Anyway?” (Lots of fists flying for this one! HEY NOW IT’S ALL TURNING, WATCH YOUR WORLD BURN!), and “Another Worldly Device” (good screaming by Tommy!). Pit was good, crowd was older so no stupid karate or cheap shots, I found a few mutual combatants to bang heads with so it was cool. Set wound down with a rousing rendition of “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” (I’M NO JURY REALLY DON’T CARE HOW YOU FEEL!) and then an encore of “For Dear Life” (searing riffs!) which turned out to be the final mosh. Other cities got “Revenge – Best Served Cold” and “The Power of the Damager” but ours was cut a bit short. Tommy did seem a bit tired at the end compared to other times I’ve seen Prong. No complaints though, the set was chock full of great stuff.
When Prong comes to town, metalheads should fucking take notice! This is a killer live act like a mix of Pantera, Suicidal Tendencies, and Anthrax, with a hint of industrial in it. With their immense talent, Prong should be playing much bigger venues, I don’t understand the lack of interest. Hell, I’m an old school death metal hard ass and I love them! Check em out, you won’t be disappointed! LOOK WHAT THEY’VE FOUND! THE LOST AND FOUND!
- Ultimate Authority
- Eternal Heat
- Lost And Found
- Beg To Differ
- Rude Awakening
- Sense of Ease
- Cut and Dry
- Broken Peace
- Another Worldly Device
- Whose Fist Is This Anyway?
- Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck
- For Dear Life