Review: Alice In Chains unleashes golden grunge in Reno

Nick McCabe / Tahoe Onstage
Seattle grunge pioneers Alice In Chains tear up Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort on Oct. 8, 2016.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Nick McCabe

Alice In Chains descended on the Grand Sierra Resort in waves of distortion and overdrive on Saturday night. One of the grunge genre’s most successful bands, it filled the house and then tore it up.

Originally considered a metal band, Alice In Chains rode the success of local peers Nirvana and became swept up in the Seattle grunge movement that ruled in the early to mid-1990s. Good timing never hurts.

In Reno, it started off strong with a sonic avalanche of mammoth proportions with “Hollow,” from the band’s 2012 album “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here,” along with “Them Bones” and “Damn That River” from 1992’s “Dirtand one of its biggest hits, “Check My Brain,” from the 2009 album “Black Gives Way To Blue.” Sometimes volume seems like it’s a fix for faltering skills. Not the case with Alice In Chains. It is one of those bands that need to be turned up. Volume is an essential ingredient.

Nick McCabe
William DuVall, left, and Jerry Cantrell swing their axes for the fans.

Fans packed the Grand Theatre. The orchestra pit was open with standing room only (there is tiered seating that can be rolled out of the way under the stage, depending on the show), and it was filled with middle-aged fans sweating together, jumping up and down, and thrusting the required hand gestures high into the air.

There are four sets of steps that lead into the orchestra pit. For some reason (attributed to the fire marshal) two of them were limited to entering and the other two were limited to exiting the pit area. All evening long, there were unhappy concertgoers turned away as they attempted to traverse in the wrong direction. Multiple disruptions in viewing pleasure ensued as debates took place between security and guests in front of the seated audience.

The musicianship was top notch. The vocals of original member Jerry Cantrell and William DuVall (member since 2006) were fantastic. Both of them played amazing guitar solos throughout the show. Original drummer Sean Kinney brings a powerful and tight style to the band. Power is the key word here. It’s no wonder he’s been the one and only drummer for Alice In Chains. Bassist Mike Inez (member since 1993) is the band’s second bass player. He is a perfect matchup for this heavy handed grunge style of music.

Late in the set, Cantrell took time to introduce and thank the entire stage crew, bringing each onstage to take a bow explaining that this was the last show of the tour. For the encore , the musicians played “Rooster,” “No Excuses” and “Would?” The audience was spent by the time the show ended at 11:40 p.m.

I decided to cover this show at the last minute. I wasn’t sure I would like Alice In Chains, but I was won over instantly. I am now an Alice In Chains fan. Not only did the band members deliver musically, they were having fun, smiling and interacting with the crowd. I expected a much darker demeanor on stage than they presented. I would go again, but with earplugs to protect my old, tattered ears.

-Nick McCabe

  • Alice and Chains
    Oct. 8, 2016
    Grand Sierra Resort
  • Hollow
    Them Bones
    Dam That River
    Again
    Check My Brain
    Nutshell
    Angry Chair
    Man In A Box
    Your Decision
    Down In A Hole
    Stone
    Last Of My Kind
    We Die Young
    Got Me Wrong
    It Ain’t Like That
  • Encore
    Rooster
    No Excuses
    Would?
  • Alice In Chains
    Jerry Cantrell – Guitar, Vocals
    Sean Kinney – Drums
    Mike Inez – Bass
    William DuVall – Vocals

    Tahoe Onstage
    William DuVall and drummer Sean Kinney.

    Nick McCabe
    Sean Kinney has always been the drummer for Alice In Chains.

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Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.

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