FORT MYERS — Though they never really left, Alice in Chains is back.
And they are coming to town.
In April, when droves of cars with out-of-state license plates hit I-75 and head north, rock music fans await big-rig trucks and tour buses with out-of-state license plates heading south. It’s time for Live X, the annual alternative rock mega-concert put on by Fort Myers radio station 99X.
The legendary Alice In Chains, pioneers of the Seattle grunge sound of the early 90s, is headliner for this year’s Live X, which is Friday at City of Palm Stadium. It is the band’s first trip ever to southwest Florida.
After soaring to the top of the music scene in the 90‘s, influencing culture and future musicians along the way, Alice in Chains (AIC) put on hold following the 2002 death of Layne Staley, the original lead singer. AIC never officially disbanded, and the remaining members — Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney and Mike Inez — got together for a 2005 benefit concert in Seattle.
Shortly after, they decided to hit the road and do a string of U.S. club dates with vocalist William DuVall, formerly of the rock band Comes With The Fall. More touring followed while DuVall established roots in the band.
By late 2008 AIC began recording material and last September, the group released the highly anticipated “Black Gives Way to Blue,” its first studio album in 14 years. Two singles, “Check My Brain” and “Your Decision,” have reached No. 1 on rock charts.
Asked about the listeners’ response to this year’s line-up, DJ Alexis, of 99X, said area rock fans “seem really excited. I think this might be the biggest concert some of them have ever been to. I even got an e-mail from an online listener in Canada that is driving down for the concert.”
While the headliner is typically the big draw to such shows, 99X tends to have a good eye for up-and-coming support acts. Last year’s opening band, Cavo, performed to a slowly gathering crowd. Their major label debut album was released soon after and its first single shot to No. 1 on the Billboard hot mainstream rock tracks chart. They’ve toured endlessly since. Word to the wise: Don’t miss the openers.
This year, the groups are Smile Empty Soul, Black Sunshine, Soil and Violent Soho. Gates open at 4:30pm and music starts by 5:00pm.
Sensitive to the economic climate, 99X strives to give a bang for the concert buck and kept ticket prices lower than ever. Tickets are $29 in advance, $40 day of show. For more information, visit 99Xonline.com, Ticketmaster, (239) 495-2100 or at the door.
Chris Bradshaw is a Bonita Springs-based concert photographer who loves to shoot the show. He’s covered local bands in tiny smoke-filled bars, U2 in a sold-out stadium and everything in between.