My Musical Adventures

Meshuggah, Cynic, The Faceless @ Slim's, 2/4/09

I’m standing in line outside Slim’s, hearing the low roar of The Faceless inside, and I’m getting frisked hard. The will call line and the entry line span the block in opposite directions. I already have my earplugs in as I enter the doors. I walk up the stairs and….the place is packed. Like heavy metal sardines, I immediately think I’m screwed. And all those people waiting outside are definitely screwed.

Luckily, I weasel my way through the crowd to my usual spot- The ‘VIP’ section, which is decently spacious. That is after grabbing a Jack-n-Coke, cuz I know this will be a rough one.

The Faceless have left the stage now, leaving me only to have heard a grumble roar grumble from them, so not much to review there.

“They pull a lot of jazz elements into their sound.”

Cynic seems to have some fans in the crowd. This is a reunion tour of sorts for them, having thrived in the late ’80s/early ’90s. Keeping with the theme of the evening, Cynic is ‘technical metal’. They pull a lot of jazz elements into their sound. They also employ guitar synths- which to me just look like a guitar that is missing something- the pegs! I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. It was like metal elevator music.

The amount of metal geek-out occurring between these two sets was tremendous. I think every person around me must have been in a band. People were analyzing the drum setup, the tuning to F sharp- I’ve never heard so many people say F sharp in my life. I’m inching up into an area that I think will be safe, where I can see Haake and the others from an angle. Unfortunately, two curtains drop- two hands from the scary figure on the ObZen album cover- that partially obscure my view of the drums.


“They also are sporting one of the best, if not the best, drummers today, Tomas Haake.”

Meshuggah is a very interesting band. Having been around for 20 years, they are experiencing a late bloom of success- their latest album ObZen having charted and touring in support of Ministry, who they totally outshined last year. They also are sporting one of the best, if not the best, drummers today, Tomas Haake.

So, I’m not sure why they hide him back in the curtains, in the dark. It was like seeing Tool a while back- Maynard was hiding in the back of the stage. Why do they do this to me? The people in the middle in the pit aren’t even watching. It’s us on the side who wanna see. Put that shit out front and shine a big ol’ spotlight on it. End rant.

Now that I got that out of my system, how fucking bad ass are these guys? It was brutal.

Meshuggah is like:
– an episode of Dethklok
– riding on the back of a Harley
– starting up the engine of a classic car
a Maxell ad

“Slim’s is not a safe place to mosh.”

The pit was insanity. I thought I was in the clear, but I kept getting pushed around. Slim’s is not a safe place to mosh. Didn’t you read the sign? Those poles everywhere- the crowd surfers had no where to go. The security didn’t quite know how to handle it. They tried to place themselves in the middle of the pit, but that did little to squelch the fury. At times, my area turned into a fend-for-yourself zone; even the big guys I chose to stand by for protection were getting knocked around.

Oh, how I love synchronized headbanging. The metal jesus hair, how I want to run my fingers through it…but I digress. Seriously, these guys own it. I especially like the contrast between three heads of hair and Jens’ bald muscle head, veins poking out as he crouches to growl at us.

I also loved that “Bleed” was second on the setlist. Probably their most popular song, and they throw it out there early so you know everything else will be unpredictable. The setlist was mostly ObZen material, but I didn’t mind it.

Jens talked a little to the crowd, basically the usual semi-taunting San Francisco stuff. “Is this really San Francisco?” Yes, Jens, welcome to the Bay Area Metal contingency. We are loud and rambunctious. The Castro is miles away.

I call the area I normally stand in the ‘VIP’ section because over half the shows I go to at Slim’s, Jello Biafra ends up standing there, too. And tonight was no different as he and his lady friend showed up at the end, trying to escape the ever evolving pit.

It’s funny how I kept thinking, “It’s not loud enough!” the whole time, but when I left and removed my earplugs I realized it had been quite loud enough. Just another testament to the power of Meshuggah.

New Millennium Cyanide Christ
The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled
Suffer In Truth
Rational Gaze
Straws Pulled At Random

OVERALL: 8.75/10
Meshuggah performance: 9.5/10
Cynic performance: 7/10
venue (Slim’s): 8/10
crowd/scene: 6.5/10
value ($23.00/ticket): 9/10
memorable: 8.75/10

Another take on the show: Umlaut.

Check out Ray’s awesome photos.


    Talking about the poles at Slim's reminded me of seeing Slayer in 1988 at the Tacoma Dome Convention Center. The stage had been set up all of about 10 feet behind a row of support colums, and the moshpit looked like the world's biggest maypole game. Then there were the people climbing up that center column the pit revolved around, standing on the shoulders of the sods below them, about three- or four-high to get a better view of the band….

    that sounds brutal.

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