If you go
99X-mas Ball ’11
What: Concert featuring Avenged Sevenfold, Hollywood Undead, Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23
Where: Germain Arena, 1000 Everblades Parkway, Estero
Information: 99X at 239-495-2100
On the night before Thanksgiving, local alt-rock station 99X will host the ultimate hard rock party at Germain Arena, headlined by multi-platinum metal ambassadors, Avenged Sevenfold.
Avenged is wrapping up a tumultuous two years that began when the band's drummer and founding member, Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, died unexpectedly. The remaining members considered disbanding, but instead persevered and went about writing and recording their fifth, and critically acclaimed, studio album, "Nightmare," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Boosted by an exhaustive touring schedule and heavy radio airplay, the California-based group arguably stands atop the hard rock world.
Touring drummer Arin Ilejay won DRUM! Magazine's 2011 "Rising Star" award. I've caught Avenged twice in the last six months and I can vouch: Perched behind an enormous drum kit, Ilejay's slender frame emits thunder.
And this would not be a party without the seemingly maniacal rap-rock boys of Hollywood Undead. In just a couple of years (two shows to be exact), Undead has established an indelible history in our area. On the group's first tour, it packed and tore up the Fort Myers country bar Ricochet. Was it the only country bar they've performed in?
"Fort Myers is the only place and for that reason it'll always stick out. We'll never forget that," guitarist and vocalist J-Dog recalls with a chuckle. "I had the crowd crowd-surf me around the pillar in the middle of the floor and all I can remember is looking at the wall with the cowboys painted on it and feeling like I was at a rodeo."
Seven months ago, just days before its latest album "American Tragedy" was released, the rowdy group put on a scorcher of a set at Live X '11 at City of Palms Park. And I mean that literally: During its set, a stack of speakers burst into flames and the kinetic band never flinched. J-Dog remembers it well.
"The banners came loose and were whipping around. It was complete chaos. It looked like World War III. We've had a few fires during our shows. I don't know if that happens to other bands or (if) it's more prone to us. I think it's funny, but production people don't really like it."
Rounding out the X-mas Ball line-up are British metalcore band Asking Alexandria and Hollywood-based glam-metal rockers Black Veil Brides.
99X's afternoon voice, who gives only the name "DC," boasts, "It's the biggest party night of the year and we're throwing the biggest party around. Period."
He continues, "Four hours of entertainment with four national rock bands in the cozy confines of Germain Arena. What else is there to do — go to a local bar and tap your toe to a cover band playing Springsteen's 'Glory Days?' That's fine, but go do that afterwards. Come hang with us!"
Asked what he and the Undead give thanks for at this special time of year, J-Dog gushed with sincerity.
"We give thanks for the beautiful state of Florida and all the beautiful women it harbors. Especially Fort Myers. Always look forward to going there." He adds:
"And thanks for everyone that supports our band and all other music out there, that makes it possible for us to travel. Shout out to everyone who's having a hard time right now. Like Tupac said, 'Keep ya head up!'"
Chris Bradshaw is a Southwest Florida-based concert photographer who loves to shoot the show. He's covered local bands in tiny smoke-filled bars, U2 in a sold-out stadium and everything in between.