The line is long, but there’s something different about this show; something special. I take note of all the faces in single file with me. Among my friends and I it seems every age group is represented, from young kids you could typically stereotype as “show rats” to adults well into their 40’s. Not the typical type you’d see at a progressive metal show, but it’s a welcome sight. After having our tickets scanned, I enter the venue and position myself directly in the middle as close as I can get to the barricade. I want to see and hear every detail of all the performances, and also, I’m really short, so I pretty much HAVE to stand there. After several minutes of waiting, the music and lights started to dim into nothing; honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but what came from each act after that moment was definitely something to run home and brag to all of your friends about.
A quirky bunch of men grace the stage and take up their positions. The standard vocalist, bassist, guitarist, and drummer line up is there. No surprises, but the addition of an electric violin player, a trumpet player, and a saxophone player were something far out of left field. They immediately erupted into a full force mix of jazz, metalcore-esque rhythm, and soaring high vocals. Being that I had never heard this band before, I could only stand in awe. They were absolutely on point, and each performer’s actions complimented the whole band in some way.
The vocalist’s very odd dance movements, strange twitches, and ridiculously precise vocals, the bassist’s flawless and SOLID bass lines, and energetic performance, the guitarist’s ability to absolutely shred his fingers into oblivion, and the violin/trumpet/saxophone accompaniment all added up to one of the most unique performances I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. THANK YOU SCIENTIST is an act I will certainly want to watch again, which made the next act a bit of a letdown, for me anyway.
I’m a huge fan of any band that’s out there, and putting the work in to tour and make their dreams a reality. That being said, WOVENWAR really wasn’t my cup of tea. While the band was precise, and they did their best to bring as much energy as they could, they just seemed so out of place compared to the other acts.
I will say, the bassist was definitely a shining exception to the rest of the performance. While they’re all certainly talented musicians, it just seemed like the songs weren’t even theirs, and they were just going through the motions with a little headbanging, however the bassist definitely brought his full potential with powerful movements, a crushing bass tone, and a brilliant vocal performance to boot.
After that bump in the road, I was a little worried about NOTHING MORE’S set, but I decided not to pass any judgments until I witnessed it with my own eyes. The stage hands and techs starting setting up, and out from behind the curtain, they brought out two large raw steel props to the front of the stage. One was just a stand, and the other was a very large drum encased in raw bits of metal with gears and chains all over. Things were getting interesting. Once the house music died down, and everyone quietly awaited the start of the set, an audio clip started to play. Their drummer came out and took a seat on his stool, and proceeded to pound along in time. After a few measures of this, and a dramatic buildup in the background music, the full band violently exploded on to the stage, and they began to bludgeon their way into everyone’s ears and eyes.
Their vocalist, a rather large and shirtless Jonny Hawkins, was an anomaly of a human being. While rushing rampantly across the stage, jumping on things and NEVER slowing down, he also managed to carry the huge vocal reprise that NOTHING MORE is known for. I cannot stress how absolutely electrifying, and in control of the moment they were. The first few songs were incredible.
Then came something I have never seen done in a musical performance in my entire life. The playing died down, and they added another hinge-like piece to the large steel drum prop. The bassist ran over, sealed his bass into this contraption, and positioned it to where it was strings-up, and angled slightly away from the crowd. He then leapt up onto the drum prop, and proceeded to tap out notes alongside the drummer. This continued until the entire band was tapping out notes on the instrument, until they reached the end of their ‘song’. As soon as that finished, RIGHT back into the fire we all went. There were more powerfully driven melodies and cataclysmic breakdowns than I could shake a stick at. It was an absolute joy to experience. I would watch NOTHING MORE again and again after an addicting performance like that, and they deserve every ounce of attention and playing time they can get.
A set like that is something that comes once in a lifetime, so I had very high hopes for PERIPHERY at this point. To hell with my ‘No pre-judgment’ state of mind, if they have NOTHING MORE playing before them, there must be something VERY special going on with whatever they would be playing. I forced my way up until my chest was pressing on the barricade, and patiently awaited their songs to wash over me.
The first thing I noticed about PERIPHERY: Even with three guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, and a vocalist, they had the cleanest stage set up that I have ever seen. Nothing frivolous, and nothing extra; one of the most barebones things I’ve ever seen a professional band utilize. Once the music started, I understood exactly why it was set up that way. They entered with arguably their most well-known song “Icarus Lives” which I am quite familiar with, it was at this point that the entire venue proceeded to jump in perfect unison. I have never, in all my days, heard a band sound THAT DAMN GOOD. Not only was the playing absolutely precise, but the tonality of all their instruments was something to behold in its own right. While they didn’t move as crazily, or as spastically as some of the other bands, they had this unique relaxed and confident aura about them.
From the guitarists making silly faces at each other, to one guitarist taking huge gulps of Maker’s Mark whiskey mid-song, they had everything under control, and they knew it. From start to finish, you could hear every subtle nuance of every note they played, and their vocalist owned his parts like a true professional, despite coming back from a recent ailment. They may not have been as wild as the other bands, but they certainly made up for it in one of the most eclectic and jaw dropping displays of musicianship that I have ever seen.
This tour has one of the most diverse packages of musicians I’ve ever come across, and a melting pot fan base that consisted of everyone from pre-teen children, to 50 year old adults, which is really awesome. With a line-up that fans of all types of metal can get into, the night was incredible, and definitely something everyone should witness in their life. I’m certainly glad I did.
LIVE REVIEW: ZALEN CIGAINERO
LIVE PHOTOS: CRYSTAL FAYE PHOTOGRAPHY