Concert Review: Uniform, Drab Majesty, Deafheaven 8-4-18

I’ve done a bad job of keeping up with concert reviews as of late, but I wanted to definitely post a bit about the one I attended this past weekend in order to get everything back on track. I wanted to first mention that I saw this in Lawrence, Kansas at a theater called The Granada, and for small shows around this area there is literally no better venue. I’ve been to my fair share of shows at tiny bars where it’s 300 degrees and you leave the show completely deaf because you are basically laying on the monitors and there are 5 sets of back-filled gear resulting on each band having a postage stamp sized spot to stand on.

The Granada has none of this, the sound is solid, there’s plenty of room for the bands, and I’ve never left with serious issues do to my ears wanting to die nor do I usually have to wear earplugs and I’ve seen some LOUUUUD stuff there. I jumped at the chance to see this show since I am a big fan of Deafheaven, but the rest of the show was a mystery to me. This was largely due to the fact that I was unfamiliar with the supporting acts, I knew they are from three very different genres, and I wasn’t sure what sort of crowd would be in attendance. What I will say in short is that weird shows like this are awesome, and I hope to see more like this.


Uniform

Uniform, a New York Based band that mixes trappings from industrial and hardcore into a relentless sonic attack, were first up. The band recently gained a bit of notoriety for having two tracks included into an episode of the re-launched Twin Peaks show on Showtime, hot off of this, they have a new album coming out and I will likely be getting it after this show. While I’m not usually a big fan of 80’s hardcore, somehow mixing the vocal trappings of that with industrial somehow helps make that style of music, which can sometimes be very harsh, even harsher, bleaker, and more relentless. Michael Berdan’s vocals hit like some sort of angry slam poetry, ranting about the ills of society, touching on inequality, the media and even religion. If any of that seems up your alley, I’d recommend checking them out (posting a video below) and if you get to see them, Berdan is a really nice dude and took time out to talk to fans at the merch table.


Drab Majesty

Next up was a Goth / Darkwave band called Drab Majesty – I absolutely love this type of music but have never really had a chance to see any of it live since it’s relatively underground, and cool concerts always happen on days of the week where I have to work. Donned in all white with make-up and large sunglasses on, this California-based two piece is a deliberate throwback to the 80’s both in sound and look. The band seemed to have a huge following at the show which is easily to understand considering that they ooze a mysterious vibe that I can only assume gets them legions of female fans that enjoy dark mysterious alien dudes.

The highlight of their set is a song where the lead singer, Deb Demure, strapped a bright light to his chest and performed basically blinding whomever he was directly facing. While this sounds annoying, it was actually a cool effect with the fog machines going, and made them seem even more mysterious than they already are. Perhaps the one way that I knew this band had something special was that one of my good friends, that normally only likes metal, actually enjoyed the set quite a bit due to it’s quirky nature and being something different.

Once again, here is an example of the band’s music.


Deafheaven

When I got “back into music” a handful of years ago, I mostly got really into going over to Bandcamp’s “atmospheric Black Metal” subgenre section and simply scouring over endless pages of crazy bands that I haven’t heard of. Many bands from this period have become some of my favorite current bands – groups like Ghost Bath, Panopticon, Drudkh, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Deafheaven are always on my rotation. I’m drawn to many of these bands because they are usually a lot more melodic than standard black metal (which I also like) and are more willing to experiment much to the derision of gatekeepers of the metal scene.

Deafheaven, in particular, seem to always get jabbed at by metal elitests since “they aren’t metal enough”. After this concert I will say that those guys are all buffoons. I have seen a lot of shows, and I have literally never seen a crowd mosh as hard as what happened during Deafheaven. It was a weird thing since the band is known for long-form songs with trippy interludes that absolutely glow with optimism and possibly weariness. Suddenly this would break and all hell would break lose – people were doing windmills, ninja kicks, the whole gamut.

I was also VERY impressed with the stage presence of George Clarke, the band’s lead singer. In the music videos, even the one I will post below, you don’t see much of the band performing – some of the newer ones show the guys recording an album and driving classic cars around. But, good lord does this guy have it. Jumping around like some sort of black metal Mick Jagger, Clarke was absolutely crazy to watch. Much like when I was able to see Wolves in the Throne Room earlier this year, I was blown away by these guys.

Here’s a video

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Concert Review: Overkill w/ Nile and Whoracle 2/19/17

 

These past few weeks have been super busy for me, so I have been unable to get this typed up until now – I sat there with a page open on here and saved a draft with the title and that was about it. Before my memories slip away, I figure it might be a good idea to finish this. A few weeks ago, a friend and I made the trek over the state line to see a packed show at the Granada theater in Lawrence, Kansas. The headliner was Overkill – legendary New York / New Jersey thrash band, followed up by Nile – prominent death metal pioneers, and Whoracle, a local band. So far, I’ve really enjoyed seeing acts at The Granada in the past, Behemoth was easily one of my favorite shows I’ve ever attended, and that was there last year. Overkill was easily the act I was most excited to see, while I haven’t heard their entire discography, I always enjoy what I’ve heard by them, and I’m always confused that they don’t get the same props that other contemporary thrash bands, such as Anthrax, seem to get.

NOTE: As always, get ready for terrible pictures I took with my camera, I actually just got a new one, so lets hope future posts like this will be better!


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Opener: Whoracle

Here is the band’s Facebook page

Named after an In Flames song of the same name, Whoracle is a thrashy Melodic death metal band from Topeka, Kansas. The line-up is Matt Gibbs-Lead Vocals and Guitars, Alex Measmer-Drums, Toby Sanders-Bass, and Tyler Shuford-Guitars. The thing that really stood to me in regards to this band was the lead singer doing double duty as lead guitarist and singer, you really don’t see this a lot because both things are super challenging alone, much less at the same time. There are weirdos like Geddy Lee that tries to somehow sing, play the guitar, and keyboards at the same time, but that’s just showing off. Despite a few distortion pedal related incidents (neither of which were that bad), the band played a very solid set, and impressed the crowd.

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The highlight for pretty much every song was Gibbs ripping out some crazy shred guitar riffs. While the band lacks stage presence that most bands end up getting after years of years of touring, they make for it with their playing. I have seen a LOT of opening acts at various concerts that were either so bad that I have blocked them out, or so bland that I don’t even remember seeing them at a show, Whoracle was not like this. This is one of those bands that I plan to keep an eye on just in case they come rolling in again as an opener for another band.

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Supporting act – Nile

I will confess here that prior to this concert I wasn’t really the biggest fan of South Carolina based, Technical Death metal band, Nile. I recall buying one of their first albums back when I was in high school, and while loving the music, I was not a fan of the vocals. This may seem hypocritical of me, considering my love for black metal’s shrieking vocals, but I am not a huge fan of the style of vocals that most death metal bands employ. Another worrying fact going into this show was that the longtime lead singer of Nile, Dallas Toler-Wade, quit the band literally one week prior to the show!  Replacing Toler-Wade was Brian Kingsland who was the vocalist and guitarist in a band called Enthean. How did he stack up?

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Well, the vocals were pretty good – and it was interesting that it wasn’t just Kingsland singing. Karl Sanders and Brad Parris also did parts of various songs, so the new guy didn’t stand out a ton on his own. One song in particular, Sarcophogus, got an extended live version that had a crazy guitar solo and other enhancements that I wish was in the recorded song on the actual album. This was easily the highlight of the set, and I was glad they saved it for near the end. While I won’t say that I’m a Nile fan now, I will check out their next album, and at the very least I know that they are a GREAT live band – no matter how the albums sound to me.

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Headliner: Overkill

Highlight of the night for me was getting to see Overkill, especially since Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, lead singer, has not lost a step whatsoever in the past thirty some years. His age even became a joke at one point when two rowdy fans started a fight in the pit, and he exclaimed “come up here and let me kick your ass! who wants to get their ass kicked by grandpa!” best banter of the year so far. I have yet to listen to Overkill’s new album in full, but if his concert was any indication, it’s a solid release. Songs like “Mean, Green, Killing Machine” and “Goddamn Trouble” had the crowd really going. People were moshing just as hard, and if not harder, than a lot of heavier shows I’ve attended that made it a point to get folks to mosh.

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This concert didn’t have any gimmicks or theatrics to get everyone excited, it was pure simple, face obliterating thrash goodness. Everyone in the band was awesome, but Derek “The Skull” Tailer and D.D. Blaze really impressed me considering, in Blaze’s case, that a lot of metal drowns the bass guitar out so much you honestly can’t tell it’s there sometimes. Instead everyone had time to really shine and you could tell the band was having a blast.

Honestly, the only quibble I had with the entire show was the merch stand. For some unknown reason, like 85% of their stuff was out of stock, leaving shirts in sizing ranging from small to small in many cases. Since about the only use a small shirt would have on my body would be a headband, I was annoyed that I couldn’t get a tour shirt. Hopefully they end up putting this on their website,  or nuclear blasts website soon, so I can attempt to get one again. Instead I went for my standard patches that I have been collecting, so aat least there was that.

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All in all, solid show – if you are in any town that these guys will be appearing in, Overkill is well worth ticket price alone. And while I’m not a huge Nile fan, they really impressed me live, and I’ll have to give them another chance at some point. Stay tuned for more terrible cellphone pictures and other fun oddities, as I plan to do another concert review very soon.


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