The annual SnoCore winter tour was co-founded by the band Sublime 10 years ago, and has repeatedly featured some of the top up-and-coming alternative and nu-metal bands of the day, including Incubus, Blink-182 and System of a Down. This year’s edition, headlined by Chicago trio Chevelle, brought to the sold-out House of Blues a serviceable lineup, comprising mostly bands that have achieved their success without much exposure in L.A.
Chevelle — making their fourth local appearance in the last six months — offered an impressive hourlong effort featuring dynamic, Tool-influenced music from their two platinum-plus Epic releases. Set was highlighted by the radio hits “Send the Pain Below,” “The Red” and current single “Vitamin R.”
Comprising the three brothers Loeffler, the band delivered powerful songs of mental struggle and emotional journey that also recalled the loud-soft-loud model of Nirvana and the chunky riffage of Helmet. Singer-guitarist Pete Loeffler, who stalked the stage with his six-string often hanging below his knees, frequently sounded like a more melodic version of Tool’s Maynard Keenan.
The redeployed Helmet returned in 2004 with a new album after a number of inactive years, as well as a striking new lineup featuring former members of Anthrax (bassist Frank Bello) and White Zombie (ace drummer John Tempesta). New album “Size Matters” (Interscope) has received mixed reviews; onstage, however, the band is as good as ever.
Singer-guitarist Page Hamilton remains a detached frontman as he grinds out his pained tales from the mental dark side. But heavy metal vets Bello and Tempesta brought well-appreciated flare and showmanship otherwise missing from earlier incarnations of the group. New versions of older faves like “In the Meantime” and “Unsung” closed a 45-minute set in satisfying fashion.
The postgrunge, near-metal efforts of Crossfade found an audience in 2004, as its self-titled debut from Columbia Records boasted the year’s most-played rock radio song, “Cold.” The South Carolina-based group is a faceless live entity, however. Even the appearance of “Cold” late in the band’s 30-minute set brought little reaction from a packed house.
Buffalo, N.Y.’s Future Leaders of the World fared little better. Vocalist Phil Taylor uses his homeless past as inspiration for the songs on the band’s debut Epic release, “LVL IV,” but his screaming impression of Kurt Cobain was intolerable. Opening act Strata offered respectable midtempo heavy rock reminiscent of Trapt, with numerous Tool and Helmet references from the San Jose band as well.