Story and Photos: Dean Birkheimer
The first day of October brought with it July heat as the temperatures uncharacteristically soared into the 90s. Adding to the swelter of the Sunday evening was the passion and fever that Asking Alexandria, The Hu, and Zero 9:36 unfurled throughout their respective performances.
Up first was Matthew Cullen, a.k.a. Zero 9:36. I heard Zero described as a rapper, but I believe that to be a limited description of what he is. I consider him a complete vocalist, who is just as comfortable a rapid-fire rapper as he is a hard-rock screamer. His set was increasingly powerful and energetic and the more he performed, the more the crowd responded. With lyrics that resonate with the listener, Zero is more than just someone who entertains an audience, he is one of us. His song “Adrenaline” is basically an anthem to anyone who is looking to overcome obstacles, as they look to succeed in whatever it is in life they want to achieve. His newest single “The Fear”, is as good a metal song as I’ve heard this year. If you want to give it a listen , click HERE. Matter of fact, I would strongly urge you to check out as much of Zero 9:36 as you can, as often as you can. Big ups to Caleb and Coby who rocked as hard as anyone on the stage all evening.
Back in May of 2022, I was stoked beyond compare as I was approved to cover The Hu at the Bourbon Theater in Lincoln. Then, life played a cruel joke on me. My camera failed. I was heart broken. Actually, I was pissed off. They say there’s always a silver lining and I guess if there was one, it was that from that moment on, I would never let that happen again. I upgraded and purchased back up equipment. Now, here I am again standing in front of The Hu with my six-shooters (Canon R6’s) at the ready. The striking visuals and the band's unique take on rock and roll provided hundreds of opportunities for me and my camera. The stage is jam packed with traditionally-garbed musicians with instruments like the tumur khuur (jaw harp) and the tovshuur (lute). All of this adds to the spectacle that is a Hu show.
The band's colossal sound becomes even more exceptional with Gala's staggering throat singing style. Let’s be honest, the metal universe is pretty packed with bands. The Hu however, have carved out their own special area that no other band dares to occupy. They sing in their native Mongolian tongue and throughout the entire set there are warrior chants and call backs. If what’s happening on stage isn’t enough, the crowd participation just adds to the overall performance. The fist pumping, head banging, moshing and dancing was an exhibition in itself. At one point as I was walking through the crowd, I came upon a group of about 25 who were sitting on the grass, knees to backs, mimicking a rowing motion and chanting.
Don’t kid yourself, The Hu is not a novelty act. They are a serious rock band that has a large following and an even larger future.
The Stir darkens as smoke begins to fill the stage. As the lights come up, Asking Alexandria take their places and the fun begins. As a photographer it’s great when you shoot somebody stage-left one minute, then a minute later in the same spot is somebody else. Asking Asking Alexandria to be still is an exercise in futility. This band moves constantly across the stage and that’s exactly what you want. When you go to an Asking Alexandria show the crowd will be a mix of 60-year-old Motorhead fans, to the 18-to-25 year old tatted up metal heads. The band's appeal is expansive and loyal. They are a polished and confident group that is easy to like. Back in August the band released their 8th studio album, Where Do We Go From Here. The maturity of the band is clearly evident as they grow even heavier in sound. Asking Alexandria played something from all parts of their catalog, old and new alike, all with equal determination and professionalism. The show was tremendous and when it was over, I knew I had seen a rock show.
Thanks to Stir Cove for everything you do. All of you make it so easy on us photographers. Thank you to Stories From the Crowd for the opportunity to humbly add to your publication.
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Photo Galleries below copyright Dean Birkheimer: