George Meyer III, Contributing Writer
A dense fog and blue light filled the Oneonta Theatre’s auditorium on Friday — the place was packed. The crowd had come for the Blue Öyster Cult concert. They were accompanied by the two battle of the bands winners, Nasty Midnight and Autumn Fire.
Nasty Midnight hit the stage first. They’re a five piece hard rock band from here in Oneonta, NY. It was a slow start for Nasty Midnight. The crowd was still settling in and the vocals were a little pitchy, but as the show went on the vocals improved. About halfway through their set, they finally got the crowd going with their rendition of Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend.” They even got an employee of the theater and a member of the crowd to sing parts of their songs. After a 30 minute set they left the stage for Autumn Fire.
Autumn Fire is a five member rock band from Utica, NY. They have a strong following, which helped get the rest of the crowd into them. They were very well-rehearsed, without a flaw in the show. Powerful, dynamic vocals and heavy instrumental parts were put together for a headbangingly good time. They have one self-titled album and another one currently being mastered; the new album is due within a month or so.
The lights dimmed back to a gloomy blue, and the crowd erupted in applause as Blue Öyster Cult took the stage. They opened up with “The Red & The Black.” If there’s one thing Oneonta likes, it’s their drinks — the Cult’s second song, “Golden Age of Leather” involved the crowd lifting up their beers in salute. The house lights came up and hundreds of beers could be seen being raised. The crowd went crazy when the fourth song of their set, “Burnin’ for You,” was played. A bunch of people left their seats to come to the front of the auditorium and start dancing. Improvisational jamming was a common theme among most of their songs. The guitarists would pass solos back and forth and a typical four minute rock song turned into a seven minute jam, eventually returning to the main theme of the song. The solos were very technical, with changing keys, tempos and meters. They played these solos nonchalantly which was slightly offputting — the intense build-ups left you wanting more. Then the lights went green as their arguably most famous song, “Godzilla,” started. The crowd went crazy again and a kid with a blow-up Godzilla toy pumped it in the air as they played. The band has a few new members, and halfway through “Godzilla,” they introduced their new bass player, then they broke down into songs of the bands he used to play for: Dio, Whitesnake, Quite Riot and Ozzy. This led to an intense bass slapping solo which literally shook my clothes as the low frequency vibrations coursed through the air. That developed into an impressive drum solo, then back into the ending of “Godzilla.”
Finally it was that time of the night — the last song — and all I could think about was the popular “more cowbell” SNL skit with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken: when they started playing “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” the crowd took out their air cowbells. They received a standing ovation and chants of “B-Ö-C” poured though the theater as the crowd demanded more. They came out and played two more songs before they were finally done. After the sold out show they had a meet and greet where I got to ask a few questions. I asked them about this tour, and they responded “We’re not on tour, we just go out and play.” Oneonta was truly a city aflame with rock and roll.