‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving…
I had anxiously been waiting for Vader- the other Polish metal band- to come to town after becoming obsessed with Behemoth this summer. However, when the show was downsized last week from the Regency Ballroom to DNA Lounge, I began to expect a drive by performance- a small crowd, a group of unenthusiastic musicians, and a bad time. Boy was I wrong.
DNA has quickly become one of my most favorite places for shows, mainly because I can perch myself in the balcony above the stage and have an unobstructed but still close view. After entering the venue (no guest list drama- yay!) I saw the rear venue curtain (sign one of an undersold show) and a mostly roped off balcony (sign number two). The one stretch of balcony that was accessible was full already- so I grabbed a drink and decided to stay downstairs.
Augury is on stage, and I don’t know if it was just that I hadn’t settled in yet or what, but they weren’t really doing it for me. Except when they spoke in their French-Canadian accents, it made me think of Gojira, which slightly improved my mood. I noticed the drummer- who didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the band- and I would find out why very soon.
At this point a woman standing near me asked if I was HRC- which always trips me out- especially when I can tell that they’ve actually read my stuff. We had a great conversation between sets, until the next band hit the stage, and I went into ‘the zone’
One song into The Amenta’s set, and I turned to this woman and said, “wow.” Then I took a step or two closer. I had noticed a member up in the balcony during the last set in black and silver face paint, wondering what that was all about. But it was the singer, a tall, cat-like growler that hooked me. Black-lipped and pale-eyed, he moved as if in slow-mo, growling and squealing with a kind of graceful fury that stole my heart. His demented eyes would seek out targets in the room, hypnotizing them with his stare. He actually reminded me of young Marilyn Manson. I took another step forward. When I go into a set cold like this- I didn’t even know their name at this point- I go through a cycle of thought: “wow, I think this could be really good”->”hmm…singer is pretty attractive”->”wow- this actually might be amazing!”->”am I giving them too much credit because I think the singer is hot and I’ve had a drink or two?”->”no, they are really REALLY amazing!”. As I’m thinking this, I focus on the crowd, and realize that the people around me have changed. Suddenly, all the girls in the room have surrounded the stage….like the singer is a death metal tomcat screeching for a mate, and here is the interested female contingency! It was actually kind of hilarious. But seriously, I loved it. In fact, I wish that I had been up in the balcony to film it because very little exists of them with this vocalist (they replaced the vocalist recently- good move on the band’s part). And- it wasn’t until more than halfway through the set that the singer spoke and informed us that they are from Australia. AUSTRALIAN DEATH METAL! Wow. Also, the drummer from the previous band is actually from The Amenta- doing double duty.
I was so compelled by this set that I did a rare thing- I found the singer behind the merch booth, tapped him on the shoulder, and told him “nice set”.
After that, I was so extremely giddy from finding a new band to love that I feared for the rest of the night. But it speaks volumes for the next band that I was equally as pleased.
Up next was Warbringer, a band I had missed the last few times they were in the area, and had been eagerly awaiting. I’d heard really good things, and they blew away all my expectations. I’d have to say the show is really about the singer and the lead guitarist, who pull off that delicate happy-yet-hardcore energy in the face of the crowd beneath them. Their enthusiasm is contagious- the crowd got going into a nice circle pit after being fairly docile for the previous bands. By the time they hit their song ‘Total War’, I had decided that I would walk away in love with two new bands this evening. There’s something very old school cool about them. If the night had ended after Warbringer, I would have been just fine.
(from another show- but you get a taste of it):
After the set, the singer, John, stopped and talked to me for a bit- super nice guy. They are from Ventura, and get to spend Thanksgiving as a day off with their families. Then they finish up this tour and head out with Megadeth. Can’t wait to see what comes next from these guys.
Decrepit Birth is another band I’ve heard good things about, and they are practically local, from Santa Cruz. And they were pretty good- I think I was just spent at this point from being so excited about the previous two sets that they barely stood a chance. The singer dove into the crowd once- which was pretty ballsy considering how sparse it was.
Vader’s set seemed so mature and serious compared to the ones before it- indicative of the 20 year gap in birthdays for the other bands. I was very afraid that the smallish crowd would offend the Polish since, I mean, they had come all the way from Poland and all. But they played a strong set regardless, and everyone seemed pleased about it. I’d have to say they were exactly what I expected from listening to them- powerful, yet lacking in the over the top wow factor that Behemoth has down.
And as the clock struck midnight, I walked back to my car thinking to myself, ‘I’m thankful for nights like this’.