“I’m falling away from this artificial life
Omit treason cast upon thee
Beginning a new life”
~”A New Beginning”, Threat Signal
I’m standing outside Emo’s East kind of dreading to walk in.
This would be my first time at the new Emo’s. I grew up going to 6th and Red River….I even went to the final show there. It was a pretty dilapidated space, but it had character…it had history…this is the stuff you can’t buy. The previous night I walked past the ‘For Rent’ sign that hung on it’s door and was saddened.
The new Emo’s is a legitimate venue- it’s bigger, cleaner, air conditioned, has real sound, a real stage, a real backstage…and get this- a barricade! As I was taking in this new Evel Knievel adorned stage set up, I was informed of what I had already suspected: this space used to be a venue called the Back Room (there are great stories at that link).
The Back Room was legendary, in a different way than Emo’s, which was a bit more diverse in it’s calendar. The Back Room was on the East Side…back when the East Side was kinda scary. It’s one of the first clubs I went to where I got a real thrill from the danger vibe, probably where I first saw bands with unintelligible logos, and definitely where I had one of the most drunken nights of my life, at the age of 19, when I learned that vodka takes a little while to take effect and you shouldn’t guzzle too much before going into a bar and having that big X put on your hand. I generally ended up there with my boyfriend at the time just to watch him drink and listen to whoever was playing. I wish I’d paid more attention to who I was seeing. It was a place you went when you were in the mood for a rough night…and it usually delivered. I think the last time I was there was in my grad school years and I somehow ended up onstage while dressed as a dark angel….but that’s a whole other story.
So I’m swirling in a sea of memories of original Emo’s…The Back Room…and then Threat Signal comes out to open the show. This brings up a whole different set of memories, because the last time I saw them was right before my life completely changed. And in the nearly two years that have passed since then, theirs has, too. The band has two new members and a new album, Threat Signal.
The place was filling up as Threat Signal took the stage. The band sounds heavier and thrashier than the melodic headliners it is always paired with, and this surely captured the attention of a crowd that may have been mostly unaware of who they are. Jon Howard’s vocals are some of the best you’ll hear- Chester Bennington meets Robb Flynn all in one. And he engages the audience of lackadaisical kids- with a point and a scream he has their attention. Travis Montgomery’s lightning fast finger work was so focused and perfected, and this was a stark contrast to Pat Kavanagh’s bass playing. He never stopped moving, the bass never stopped flying around dangerously. It’s great to see a band I interviewed two years ago keep getting better and better.
Next up were Revocation, who I had just seen about a week and a half before. This band is new to me- but I’m learning to love their proggy elements mixed with a pinch of Amon Amarth Viking sensibilities and then just some general speed demon guitar magic. While many focus, rightfully so, on David Davidson’s guitar work as being the exceptional, Metal Sucks endorsed highlight of the band…I think that drummer Phil Dubois is also very impressive. He provided a really strong backbone to every song. I enjoyed their set- they have some funny banter with the crowd, talking about how they want everyone to envision that it’s like Skyrim, but the demons have tits…and they will all have sex with you. Nothing captures an audience of young men’s attention like talking about videogames and chicks.
If this show were at the original Emo’s, there’s no way all of Eluveitie would fit on the stage. Last time I saw them was down the freeway in San Antonio last year. This is a band I have a growing appreciation for….they’re just so different from everyone else. I remember the first time I saw them years ago I was like “WTF is this” and the second time I was like “hmmm, this is interesting”, and this time I just stood back and watched them all do their thing in a bit of awe. There’s a lot going on on that stage. Beyond the musicianship with the different instruments they bring into their music: violin, hurdygurdy, flute, bagpipe….their music is heavy because it’s passionate, rather than angry like most other metal music. There’s something about that distinction that made me want to grab a triangle and join them onstage, headbanging furiously. No one would notice, right? Band leader Chrigel Glanzmann pointed to a specific guy in the audience and instructed him to start a circle pit, and if he did a good job, he would buy him a drink afterwards. Considering the giant X’s on nearly everyone’s hands….I bet that drink was a Coke.
Suddenly I looked around and there were nearly as many girls as boys in sight. That definitely meant that Children of Bodom were about to take the stage. I liked their simple backdrop of dilapidated curtains blowing gently towards the back of the stage. Those of you who read this site know that I’m not a huge CoB fan…though I do enjoy watching them live on occasion. This time I stuck it out for the entire set. Let’s state the obvious- Alexi is an amazing guitarist, and all the ladies go gaga for Henkka on bass. Standing back this time and watching the crowd as much as the band- I realized what a cross section of metalheads CoB appeals to. It’s heavy enough to bring in some of the more extreme metal fans, it’s melodic enough to allow you to bring your girlfriend or have your girlfriend drag you, it’s technical enough to capture those interested in the instrumentation. But the best thing is watching how people react to the songs…there’s dancing….air keyboarding…coupled with crowdsurfing and that one guy that jumped on stage and dove off it made the show a bit schizophrenic.
My first show at the new Emo’s behind me, I’m trying to stop being mad that two venues so prevalent in HRC’s upbringing are gone. Perhaps this new space will lead to a whole new beginning of musical adventures.