The scene of the crime was the Hard Rock Café, and on a rainy night, following an opening set from hometown act God Hates Unicorns, the instrumental headliners slayed.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY TIFFINI TAYLOR
Hard Rock Café Pittsburgh welcomed John5 and the Creatures on a rainy February night. Anyone that enjoys great guitar playing would have completely enjoyed this show. John5 is a guitar virtuoso for the ages. He can switch from an electric guitar to an electric mandolin to a banjo and keep rocking. This is a tour not to be missed.
Since I was young, I can remember listening to the sounds of guitars. To me they were magnificent. (I can play some, but not superb, far from it.) I enjoy guitar solos, the longer the better. When I first heard John5 play, I was awestruck. This is what I wanted to listen to. This is someone who I enjoyed watching play. He and genuinely enjoys playing, one can see it in his emotions and face. It is a wonderful sight.
Rain was coming down as I arrived at Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Once inside, I knew that it would be a good show. The opening band, God Hates Unicorns, took to the stage. An interesting name for a band, the name reminded me of Deadpool for some reason. Anyway, God Hates Unicorns hail from Pittsburgh. They were playing to hometown crowd, that is always nice for a band. The audience kept growing and growing. This was a sold-out show. A very fun opening band. Now for the main event.
John5 took to the stage from the Hard Rock Café kitchen. That is correct, John5 came running up the ramp to the stage from the kitchen. This is very cool. The band itself, known as the Creatures, is Rodger Carter on drums and Ian Ross on bass. John5 joins the band already on stage who are surrounded by blow up creatures. There is Frankenstein and a couple of Grim Reaper style blowups. A simple stage, that is all. This is nice to see because the music is why I came—an all instrumental show was performed, and performed well.
Some may not be into instrumental shows, but this is the type that would change their minds quickly. The uniqueness of this band along with adding country to rock to metal to pop to blues to bluegrass is incredible to see. The guitars themselves can be very entertaining; an illuminated Fender at the end of the show is beautiful and sounds fantastic. Then there is the electric mandolin—a surprise, and one which John5 plays fantastically. And also a banjo— who plays banjo in a metal band?!?
Seriously, the guitars, mandolin and banjo brought out the diverse talents John5 really has. To bring in the banjo was unexpected by most in attendance but it was well received by the crowd. The mandolin is not often thought of as an instrument in metal but he uses it incredibly. All the instruments were played well by talented musicians, showing what hard work and dedication and a little love can achieve. Music can be a beautiful thing.
It was nice that the crowd sang along too. Yes, this is instrumental but a couple of songs that were played were covers and it was fantastic. I will never forget this line and I quote John5: “Guitars, tits, and monsters” (the title of a song on the recently released Live album). “Beat It” was played and the medley is something that one does not want to leave early and miss. The show was extremely entertaining, from the light on the guitars to the quick change to masks, as well as the glow mouth that John5 does so well. Altogether, a beautiful and well thought out show. You’ll be thrilled you saw it.