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Stage Buzz: Legions of Metal at Reggies • Chicago

| April 29, 2024

Legions of Metal Festival

Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4


Chicago, IL

By Kelley Simms (Feature photo Hirax by Anne De Pena)

A revered Chicago metal tradition continues to thrive under its new name with this year’s two-day/two-room (Reggies Rock Club and Music Joint) music festival.

Legions of Metal originally began as Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse Festival in 2012 at our beloved Reggies. Robby Glick, the owner of Reggies, Shane Merrill, a long-running promoter in Chicago, and Robert Byrne, another area promoter, renamed the festival and kicked off the inaugural event in May of 2017.

Now in its sixth year, the festival has grown into a favorite destination for bands and metal fans alike. “I could not see this at any other venue anywhere,” Byrne says through e-mail. “It is the perfect size, the best staff and two stages and an upstairs VIP area where we have a buffet. Fans don’t even need to leave the fest since they can eat and drink there. The staff and crew at Reggies make the fest run smoothly and make the magic of it all happen. Everyone works hard and is a total pro. I get a lot of fans and bands who say it is their favorite place to see shows and love the experience.”

This year’s festival begins on Friday, May 3 (which is officially sold out) at the venue (17+) with headliners Canadian power metal band Unleash The Archers, with support from Striker, Greyhawk, Tower Hill, Owlbear, and Lycanthro. On Friday night, over at the adjacent Music Joint (21+), Theandric, Dysplacer, Perennial Quest, and Olathia entertain the older crowd. On Saturday, May 4, at the Rock Club, the reunited Texas technical prog/thrash metal band Watchtower, with original singer Jason McMaster, will be headlining their first-ever Chicago performance. Saturday’s opening acts consist of Hirax, Dawnbringer, Stress Angel, Night Cobra, Mean Mistreater, Midnight Vice, and Fer De Lance. Saturday’s event at the Music Joint will feature Leather Duchess, Mourn The Light, Viperwitch, Ice Howl, and Devolution.

California thrash metal legends Hirax will be co-headlining Saturday night, performing songs from their 40-year career. Vocalist and avid record collector Katon de Pena couldn’t be happier to return to Chicago and Reggies. “Obviously, the venue is legendary worldwide; it has exceptional sound and beautiful lighting,” de Pena says through e-mail. “We have been fortunate to play there before, and the fans are dedicated. It is the perfect venue for our style of music. Our return to this venue is going to be very special. We have a lot of surprises planned for the Legions Of Metal Festival. The promoters are dedicated to bringing top-quality underground metal to Chicago, and we are honored to be participating in this year‘s event.”

After a six-year gap between albums and a brief band split, Canadian trad/classic metal band Striker is on the heels of its latest release and seventh album overall, *Ultrapower*. Since the band hasn’t gigged much within that six-year hiatus, they are equally eager to return to Reggies for a banger of a set on Friday night. “The last time we played (at Reggies) was with Unleash The Archers, and it was a sick show with a huge crowd,” explains vocalist Dan Cleary during a recent Zoom chat. “I remember that it was raining like crazy outside; we’ve always loved that venue; it’s always been a lot of fun.”

In the past, North America wasn’t able to hold a candle to its European counterpart as far as music festivals go. However, in at least the past five to ten years, the US has stepped up to the plate with quality customized festivals such as Houston’s Hell’s Heroes, Maryland Deathfest, Milwaukee Metal Fest, Decibel’s Metal & Beer Fest, and, of course, Legions of Metal. “When we started as a band, there was really not a lot of US festivals,” Cleary says. “They would be more catered towards just general rock stuff; not necessarily heavy metal festivals. We used to have Heavy MTL, but I don’t think they’re doing that anymore. Which is too bad because that was one of the bigger ones in Canada. Even in the States, there’s been a lot of these underground metal festivals that are doing stuff like they’re doing in Europe, where they’ll have special headline sets from bands who’ve been inactive for like 20 years, and they come back and do a one-off set. It’s a really kind of special moment for the fans. The US is huge for heavy metal.”

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz

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