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Alice in Chains rock Milwaukee with ‘90s nostalgia and current hits

Break out your flannel shirts and hold your lighters high

Writer: Stacy L. Steele | Photographer: Lee Ann Flynn 

Few bands from the peak of the Seattle “grunge rock” era of the 1990s have endured quite like Alice in Chains. Through the death of their original lead singer (Layne Staley, d. 2002), through an eight-year hiatus (1996-2004), through various side-projects, then with a reformation/reunion, Alice in Chains have proven that the band has both staying power and raw star power. Their 2018 album Rainier Fog debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 chart, at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums, Alternative Albums and Hard Rock Albums charts, and at No. 3 on the Vinyl Albums chart. The album was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.


So it should come as no surprise that AIC played to a sold-out crowd at the Rave/Eagles Club Ballroom in Milwaukee on April 20th and damn near blew the roof off.

City and Colour opener for AIC @ Eagles Ballroom, MKE 042019 (6)

But first, let’s back up a bit and talk about the opener. Canada’s Dallas Green, who records under the alias City and Colour, is hardly the kind of act you’d expect to open for a heavy rock band like Alice in Chains. A solo singer/guitarist, his style is more along the lines of Bon Iver, or “a real rock version of Ed Sheeran,” as the gal next to me described him. His holistic voice soared across the echoic Eagles Ballroom, giving some of the ladies (myself included) chills, drawing the crowd into a one-man show that was much more intimate than anything at a venue of such proportions had any reason to be.

City and Colour opener for AIC @ Eagles Ballroom, MKE 042019 (5)

His song “Waiting…” struck me as particularly beautiful, and the entire venue was wowed by his crooning, folk-rock version of Sade’s “Ordinary Love.” No, an act like City and Colour is the last thing you’d expect to open for Alice in Chains, but somehow it worked perfectly.


When Alice in Chains finally took to the stage opening with a no-apologies “Bleed the Freak,” it was clear that the crowd was ready. There wasn’t a single foot of open space on the standing-room-only floor, not to mention the balcony, which was just as crowded. Adrenaline running high, the band didn’t hesitate to transition into “Check My Brain,” then “Again” before finally stopping to greet the crowd.

Then come “Never Fade,” the first song played from Rainier Fog of the evening. Regardless of whether the crowd was only accustomed to the band’s older material or familiar with their newest album didn’t matter a bit — the song was well-received and left everybody wanting more.


Through a flashback to the album Dirt (1992) with “Dam That River” one thing was clear — though lead singer & guitarist William DuVall wasn’t with the band when those songs were released, there was absolutely no doubt that he has made the older material his own. His stage presence was outstanding, wielding a beautiful black and gold guitar while playing to the crowd in his own unique style.


An eerie “Your Decision” slowed the mood just a little before heading back to rocking Rainier Fog with the title track, and at that point, I noticed another star of the show that was just as impressive as the band itself — the lighting. Lighting at a concert, especially a rock show, tends to be either unremarkable or absolutely stunning — nothing in-between.


Alice in Chains’ lighting was the latter, and with every song, the lighting added more feeling and produced an even greater effect on the overall performance. In “Rainier Fog,” a strobe-light effect paired with visuals of old black-and-white TV static seemed to bring the experience to a new level.


When AIC slowed it down a little for “Down in a Hole,” it was unequivocally the favorite so far of the night, which sparked a somber singalong throughout the entire venue. Riffs of heavy distortion paired with purple and blue stage lighting, cell phone lights and even real lighters like the old days had us all yearning for the 1990s in unison, especially when they followed with “No Excuses” before returning to newer material like “Stone” and “Red Giant.”

An unexpected highlight of the night was flashing back to 1994’s Jar of Flies and engaging in a call-and-response to the song “Nutshell.” Yeah, we do all miss the 1990s, that much was evident, especially as Alice in Chains closed the main set with “Angry Chair” and “Man in the Box.”


Of course, it wouldn’t be a rock show without a resounding encore, at which time they returned to the stage with a stomping, angry anthem from Rainier Fog entitled “The One You Know.” After such an amazing show, it’s understandable that Milwaukee’s Eagles Ballroom crowd did not want this night to end. Unfortunately, all good things do, and AIC closed the night with fan-favorite “Rooster,” complete with rotating zebra-print lighting gobos and an ending that dropped like a hammer.


I will admit that while I always liked Alice in Chains, they were never a band that I went out of my way to listen to or see until this show. Aside from Jar of Flies, their CDs were never in my heavy rotation list. But after an experience like this one, even a casual fan will leave with a much greater admiration for the band. Definitely check them out if you get a chance.

See full gallery of the night here!

Alice in Chains Setlist Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee, WI, USA 2019, Rainier Fog

Catch this tour:

Tomorrow 8 PMShared to Rock music Lovers
Montreal, QC, Canada
Sun 8 PM1,296 guests
Quebec, QC, Canada
Mon 7 PM UTC+012,959 guests
Dublin, Ireland
Mon 7 PM UTC+012,239 guests
Dublin, Ireland
Belfast, United Kingdom
Tue 7 PM UTC+01890 guests
Belfast, United Kingdom
Thu 6 PM UTC+014,642 guests
intu Braehead
Fri 6 PM UTC+011,121 guests
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Sat 6 PM UTC+012,181 guests
Wembley, United Kingdom
Mon 7 PM UTC+024,497 guests
Tilburg, Netherlands
Paris, France
Sat 8 PM UTC+023,579 guests
Zürich, Switzerland
Prague, Czech Republic
Tue 7 PM UTC+021,976 guests
Hamburg, Germany
Jun 7 – Jun 971,744 guests
Nürburg, Germany
Jun 7 – Jun 953,614 guests
Nuremberg, Germany
Thu 8 PM UTC+035,413 guests
Tallinn, Estonia
Tue 8 PM UTC+03214 guests
Клуб A2 Green Concert
Thu 8 PM UTC+031,214 guests
Moscow, Russia
Thu 6 PM CDT12,026 guests
Sat 6 PM CDT8,474 guests
Sun 6 PM CDT18,360 guests
Dallas, TX
Tue 6 PM CDT5,561 guests
Thu 6 PM2 friends are going
Alpharetta, GA
Fri 6 PM CDT12,823 guests
Nashville, TN
Sun 6:30 PM12,722 guests
West Palm Beach, FL
Tue 6 PM8,845 guests
Wed 6:30 PM8,976 guests
Bristow, VA
Fri 6:30 PM8,171 guests
Sat 6 PM2 friends are going
Camden, NJ
Tue 6 PM6,423 guests
Wed 6:30 PMJohn J Smith is going
Holmdel, NJ
Fri 6:30 PM11,739 guests
Mansfield, MA
Sat 6:30 PM4,925 guests
Hartford, CT
Sun 6:30 PM6,565 guests
Saratoga Springs, NY
Tue 6 PMBrent Groh is going
Clarkston, MI
Wed 6 PM10,440 guests
Toronto, ON, Canada
Fri 6 PM14,212 guests
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Sat 6 PMMorgan Nicholson is going
Burgettstown, PA
Cincinnati, OH
Tue 6:30 PM13,608 guests
Wed 6:30 PM CDTEvan J. Thomas is going
Fri 6 PM CDTJeff Grindstopher is going
Sun 6 PM MDT12,877 guests
Denver, CO
Tue 6:30 PM MDT9,510 guests
Albuquerque, NM
Fri 6 PM PDTWyatt Kelley is going
Sat 6:30 PM MSTBrandon Kellum is going
Phoenix, AZ
Sat 6:30 PM MST1,632 guests
Phoenix, AZ
Mon 6 PM PDT7,379 guests
Wed 6:30 PM PDT13,696 guests

Stacy Lukasavitz Steele is a professional copywriter, editor, and digital producer by day who has been masquerading as a music journalist by night since Lilith Fair in the 1990s. She is a former publicist and veteran of the Detroit music scene, though today she resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she drinks too much coffee and is an obedient servant to two cats. She’s known to like “the folky shit,” but she’ll take a good rock, country, or blues show any day of the week. There is no greater rock goddess in her eyes than Janis Joplin. Learn more about Stacy's background in music journalism at her music archive subdomain, and read her professional bio at her company website, Text on Fire Communications.

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