Black Label Society at The House of Blues San Diego, CA

Black Label Society kicked off their spring 2022 tour with Nita Strauss and Jared James Nichols at the House of Blues in San Diego.

The San Diego Chapter of the Black Label Society showed up in force to support the “Doom Crew” and their openers Nita Strauss and Jared James Nichols. The House of Blues was converted into the house of metal and doom. If there was any indication of how the night might unfold, the band had requested they not serve beer in cans, only in plastic cups. Overall, as anticipated, there was plenty of flying beer, and in the mosh pits the amped-up crowd of mostly young men did get pretty rowdy. Everyone helped those that had fallen in the melee, and the evening went off without a hitch, allowing for the crowd to cut loose and have a great time. 

Jared James Nichols started the evening off. His appearance was eagerly anticipated and had quite a bit of pre-show buzz, with many of the BLS fans coming early to see him and the pick-less guitar playing technique he is known for. Jared performs as part of a blues-rock power trio, with power being the operative word to describe their set. They did not disappoint. Jared is a physically imposing specimen, and he and his band’s music project that. Despite Jared’s larger-than-life presence, the Wisconsin-native has that midwest charm in spades. He is kind and sure to always greet you with a smile. (Hint) You can always find him willing to engage with fans post-show. 

Nita Strauss followed with the middle slot in the evening. The current touring guitarist for Alice Cooper brought her guitar brigade on tour. Nita’s guitar playing set the tempo for a night that could have been called shred fest. The shredder dropped bombs, while her band pounded the crowd with fast-paced metal keeping up with her furious delivery. Nita’s band and their music style fit perfectly into the slot just before Zakk Wylde and the Doom Crew took the stage. Knowing the crowd and who and what was to come, this was no easy task. Nita and the band absolutely brought their A-game to the enthusiastic crowd’s delight.

About 9:30 pm the crowd began to anticipate the arrival of the Doom Crew. With each song played during the intermission, the crowd began singing more loudly until the Danzig song “Mother” came on. By the time the chorus rang out, the entire crowd was in full-throated song. What followed was the “Whole Lotta Love” and “War Pigs” mashup, during which the Black Label Society curtain went up and the band began their assault on the senses.

The band opened with their song “Bleed” and kept up the frantic pace to the end, just barely slowing to pay tribute to Lemmy Kilmister and Dime Bag Darryl with the song “In This River.” The San Diego chapter of the Black Label Society, as dubbed by Zakk, got two hours of Black Label Society at their best. Beer flowed, heads banged. Zakk exclusively played several of his beautiful signature Schecter Wylde guitars with his signature bullseye pattern. Torturing every guitar with the instantly recognizable Zakk sound and squeal. Crushing skulls and shredding ears. Trading solos and sharing twin-guitar parts with Dario Lorina, while bassist “J.D.” DeServio and drummer Jeff Fabb kept the train rolling. 

The Black Label Society plowed through the night like an ominous freight train on a collision path with your head, until the final notes of “Stillborn” rang out. No encore, it was as if the train had come to an immediate stop with metal sparks flying and the wheels screeching in protest. After 15 songs, with ears ringing in eerie silence, it was over in a brilliant flash with Zakk pounding his chest King Kong style, and disappearing into the night.

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About George Ortiz 67 Articles
George is Southern California and Big Sky, Montana-based photographer. He grew up in Los Angeles and began shooting professionally in the mid 80s. His words and photos have appeared in local & national publications.