Live Gig Review: Riffs Upon Riffs from Soulfly at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on 2/18/23

Posted by on February 21, 2023


When I became aware that Soulfly was performing in Brooklyn at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, I became very excited about seeing them.

February 18th arrived. I had enough time to mess around with for a pre-show dinner at the Mole Mexican Bar & Grill. Also loving burgers, their Mole burger lives up to the esteemed reputation of the restaurant. The guacamole fresco was also good.

I walked back to the venue and hung out with my friends Karen and Luke as we waited for the doors to open at six. We mostly talked about what gigs we are looking forward to attending. The three of us also agreed that it’s almost that time when concert mania itself races all across America, guaranteed to be action-packed even more than last year.

At 6:00 PM, we finally walked into the venue to shake off the chilly and cloudy late February weather.

After what seemed like an eternity for the event to begin at 7:30 PM, first up was Botswana’s Skinflint delivering a half-hour of Southern African-style heavy metal.

Between Skinflint and Bodybox, Skinflint was my favorite of the two new and upcoming bands supporting Soulfly for this first of two U.S. circuits in 2023. Vocalist Giuseppe “Juice” Sbrana expressed his appreciation a few times to the crowd for the warm welcome and support for their first-ever performance in New York.

Last up was Soulfly. Max Cavalera hasn’t aged a day vocally in almost twenty-five years. Playing an eighteen-song set, it was well worth the time waiting around. Soulfly’s set was a career retrospective of smashes, hits, and new cuts of Soulfly material (especially Scouring the Vile from Totem) with two throwback tracks from Max’s time in Nailbomb (Wasting Away) and Sepultura (Refuse/Resist).

Max Cavalera’s voice has aged like a fine scotch, and his backing band kept everything under control. Mike DeLeon’s kick-ass guitar work, especially on Ritual, had the crowd thinking, “Hell yeah!”. On the drums, both bassist Mike Leon and Max’s son, Zyon Cavalera, brought brutality and heaviness to keep the floor moving all night long.

Two other highlights of the most note for Soulfly were Bodybox vocalist Harry Brown appearing on stage to vocally jam along with Max on Bleed and Max himself in all of his ultra heavy metal glory to conjure and command everyone on the floor to charge up a spring jump moments before Jumpdafuckup, the only encore of the evening to literally jump the fuck up. Not a dull moment went by during Soulfly’s gnarly performance in Brooklyn. Defiantly one of the best times I have seen them in a while.

Now that I told you what I thought of Soulfly’s performance, how about what I thought about the lack of any Sepultura representation aside from their cover of Refuse/Resist? Admirable. Max is a revered metal icon. I was not surprised that he decided to craft a headlining set list of songs from a band that he has spent building since the late nineties.

A lesson I also learned attending shows at mostly a club level is if you notice a crowdfunding box or a tip jar on the merch table, tip a dollar or two so that your favorite band(s) might have a little more cash for food, gas, or whatever basic needs are required to live on the road.


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