If there was one show I was sorry to have missed while in Asia, it was the Metalliance Tour at Summit Music Hall. I don’t know anyone who made that show in Denver, but Genji (and Ian Mackaye) caught the House of Blues show on 4/5 and his review is like salt in the wound…
Lately it seems more and more mini-mega tours have been rolling through town. Although this means bands play shorter sets and stand to make less money, overall it probably means more exposure for most and a lot more fun for all. I imagine it also makes sense financially for the venues and fans. So overall I would have to say this is a big win for all involved because more metal for your buck is always a good thing. Decibel magazine put together a very strong lineup for the Metalliance Tour 2011, another ‘mini-mega’ featuring Crowbar, Saint Vitus and Helmet. As if this wasn’t enough they decided to add Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl and The Atlas Moth to the bill, providing more than enough metal to get me out to the good ol’ House of Blues on the Sunset Strip on a Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for me, Chicago‘s The Atlas Moth, whom I’d been looking forward to seeing, were the openers and as since the show started at 5:30pm…I missed them. Later on I ventured to their merch table and talked to one of the band members. He told me they only ended up playing a couple songs because of the shortened sets but that they were planning on releasing a new album in September and if they didn’t end up doing a mini tour before then, they would certainly do one for the new album. As one of my favorite new bands, I can’t wait to hear their new stuff and see them when they come around again.
The band I did end up catching were Rhode Island sludge-sters, Howl. I was looking forward to seeing these guys too as last year’s Full of Hell was a very good debut album. Sounding like a cross between Baroness and Black Tusk, their sludgy/doom metal sound comes across a lot heavier and much more ferocious in a live setting. Plodding bashers like Horns of Steel, Asherah and Jezebel highlighted their bone rattling set…a real surprise of the night for me. A band with a lot of potential, I look forward to hearing what they come up with next.
Portland, Oregon rockers Red Fang were the next band up. I missed these guys as headliners on the Weedeater/Zoroaster tour that recently rolled through town so I was curious to hear them. They seem to have a fairly big following around here. Red Fang play a straightforward brand of stoner rock/metal in the Clutch/Fu Manchu vein and apparently they have a new album coming out any day now called Murder the Mountains on Relapse. Not being familiar with any of their material, I thought they looked and sounded good but they just didn’t quite convert me to full fledged fan. I took this opportunity to hit the bar. Now I’m pretty picky about who I pledge my stoner rock/metal allegiance to, so even though they didn’t quite catch my attention, they are worth checking out if you are an indiscriminate stoner rock/metal afficionado.
Finally!!! After missing out seeing Kylesa the past couple of years, I was thrilled to get my chance to see Lynn Pleasants and the proggy prowess of these Georgia legends. As the lights went out, the whole place was illuminated with the swirling Spiral Shadow cover and the band came out firing with the hard charging Hollow Severer off the Time Will Fuse it’s Worth album, the only non Static Tensions or Spiral Shadows song of the night. Normally I would’ve been disappointed with such a short set, but with so many great bands still to come and my excitement seeing Kylesa, it really didn’t matter to me. The hypnotic Running Red and atmospheric Unknown Awareness built the crowd anticipation up for album openers Scapegoat and Tired Climb, which smashed the crowd like a 10 ton hammer. Two other Static songs and the epic, anthemic Don’t Look Back closed their brief but brilliant set. If you don’t already know, Phillip Cope and Lynn Pleasants form one of the best one-two punches around and they really complement each other, bringing so many different aspects to the Kylesa sound. And while I still don’t quite get the dual drummer set up, it does bring a much more thunderous sound live and allows for some very interesting drum interplay. I definitely am looking forward to seeing a full set from these guys next time around.
video by musicmangst1
Next up, New Orleans sludge legends, Crowbar. As influential to the New Orleans sludge sound I so love and as revered as singer/guitarist Kirk Windstein is in metal, I’ve always been aware of the band but I never really listened to them at length. The one thing I do know is that Kirk certainly wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to the lyrics in his music. His now well-documented battles with addiction through alcohol gave me a deeper understanding and insight into the man. There’s a certain strength and beauty that comes through in his music and that was in serious evidence Tuesday night.
Conquering off the Broken Glass album started the show with the band looking fully energized and ready to slay the crowd. Their set was a good mix of older and newer songs including the bruising All I Had (I Gave) off their s/t debut all the way through new crushers like Sever The Wicked Hand and The Cemetary Gates off their newest album. Select songs from other albums were sprinkled in between but my personal fave came when they slowed the pace down with the soul piercing Planets Collide off the Odd Fellows Rest album. I could feel the emotion oozing out of Kirk and could sense he was just so happy to be playing, and soberly I might add. It was at that moment that my respect for him and all his contributions to the metal world soared to new heights. For me, it was a respect that I’d only granted to Crowbar superficially in the past, but would be genuine from here on out.
video by starhaad
What can I say about the godfathers of modern doom metal, Saint Vitus, and the patron saint/sinner Mr. Scott “Wino” Weinrich that hasn’t already been said? Their influence and respect not only stretches across the entire doom landscape but across the hardcore punk landscape as well. They were the first “metal” band I ever heard of to be distributed by a legendary punk label SST and Wino‘s earlier band The Obsessed was also a very well respected metal entity in the old DC hardcore scene and extremely influential in their own right. Not convinced? Before the band took the stage I got to shake the hand and have the honor of meeting one of my all time music heroes, the legendary Ian Mackaye, who was in town for the week and in attendance Tuesday night to check out Wino and Saint Vitus. How’s that for respect?! You might think the night couldn’t get any better than that, I certainly didn’t, but I was quickly proved wrong…so very wrong.
Looking like well worn bikers coming off a long hard journey, original guitarist Dave Chandler greeted the audience like long lost friends then shouted “This is St Vitus!” as the devastating riffs to V album opener Living Backwards rang out. Wino, back to the crowd, turned around to face all and with a steely-eyed glare engaged us with his sweet, whiskey-soaked, gravel-ly drawl. After the scorching opener, Wino surveyed the amped up House of Blues audience as the band launched into the plodding I Bleed Black and belted out the opening verse, ‘Open my veins, I do it everyday, I live in a dark world where death is just an LA game‘. Heavy describes this evil crawler of a song, but it’s not the word I would use to describe their performance. Punishing or obliterating would be a much more accurate description. The whole band was tight and on point, with newcomer Henry Vasquez getting special mention for providing such a brutal, pounding backbeat for each classic gem. One of the highlights was the introduction to a brand new Saint Vitus track called Blessed Night, a mid-paced banger that got everyone foaming at the mouth for a brand new record. The only pre-Wino track to make the set list was the speedy(?) Whyte Stallions, while the majority of the set was culled from the legendary Born Too Late album. The grinding title track ended up closing what was the most enjoyable set of the night. ‘In awe’ is the only way to describe how I felt afterwards. Next on my wish list is to get to see Wino strap on his geetar….
video by metalassaultLA
Unfortunately for me, I had an extremely early call for work the next morning so as much as I wanted to stick around for Helmet, who were performing their classic album Meantime in it’s entirety, I could only stay for a couple of songs. Luckily for me, I caught Helmet last year for the first time and their brilliant performance made it easier to skip out on them this time. But not before I got to hear the savage opener In the Meantime, which is all I needed to cap off what was a great night and brilliant metal package. I have to give big props to Decibel magazine for putting this show together. I’m getting quite used to these metal mega-shows and if any can even come close to matching the power and the glory of the Metalliance Tour, then this will be one hell of a year for live metal. So far, so good….
In The Meantime
He Feels Bad