Have to post this thread in pieces due to connectivity problems (still on the road, and struggling with a bad wireless connection...)
Once a Shadow (working title - new song!)
Song for You
(by request of yours truly!...maybe)
We Can (working title - new song!)
This Grand Show Is Eternal
Panthalassa (with "Eating Machine" intro)
La Brea Tar Pits
Dead Man Slough
Throwing a Donner Party at Sea
Ampullae of Lorenzini
This is quite simply one of the best shows I have seen this year (and this is in comparison to such awesome gigs as Isis/Pelican/Keelhaul, and Mastodon/Kylesa/IntrOnaut). Giant Squid might possibly be one of my favorite bands of all time. They are just so damn good it makes me sick. Grayceon kicks major ass as well. Their latest album, "This Grand Show", was #6 on my "Best of 2008" list, and was also highly praised on many other more esteemed lists as well. Speaking of which, I am certain that my personal list for this year will include Giant Squid's "The Ichthyologist" in the top five, but I'm getting off track and ahead of myself here...
Back to the beginning of the evening...we missed the first two acts, which were both from Chicago, I believe, and which we overheard people saying were quite good. Oh well - Chicago traffic is a bitch. Anyway, we did arrive in time to see NYC's Bloody Panda, who were truly bizarre. They were a drone act who wore black executioner's masks for the entire set. The primary vocalist, a female, blasted out some of the most blood-curdling shrieks I have ever heard coming from a human being. Shortly thereafter, someone started off one of their songs with some really interesting throat singing - you know, that incredibly deep monk-chanting stuff that sounds like a water buffalo singing the bass line to a Statler Brothers song - and I'm pretty sure it was the chick. Absolutely insane.
Then came Grayceon. I forgot to mention earlier that I had gotten a chance to chat up both Jackie Gratz and Zack Farwell at the bar, and they were absolutely great - down to earth, intelligent, funny, and just plain nice people (not that I expected anything less). I asked what they had been playing lately in an attempt to get an idea of what we might be about to hear, and after rattling off a few familiar titles, Jackie asked me "what do you want to hear?". I was caught by surprise, but quickly mentioned "Song for You", one of my favorites. As you can see above, they played it - which was great - maybe due to my request and maybe not. Either way, their set was fantastic. I love how Jackie's unique method of playing, coupled with Zack's excellent drum work, make an instrument as "non-metal" as the electric cello sound so damned thrashy. This trio is really an excellent band, and I highly recommend anyone who has a chance to see them live, to do so without hesitation. If not, at least log on to The Omega Order or the band's web site or wherever and buy one (or both) of their CD's.
Finally came the mighty Giant Squid. As with Grayceon, I had also had a chance to meet several of the band members before their set. For example, we met the drummer Chris Lyman outside the venue when we first got there, and he talked to us for several minutes before we even entered the venue. He was a really nice guy, and seemed genuinely stoked that the Squid had some real fans in Chicago (even though I'm actually from Cleveland
). I also met their bass player Bryan Beeson before their set, and he was the same way. Speaking of their set, it absolutely killed. These guys (and girls) are so damned heavy. What a colossal band. They played nearly everything I could have wanted to hear, given their 45-minute time constraint (although this turned out not to be the case - they thought another band was coming on after them).
Of course it goes without saying that everything I said about Grayceon (i.e., go see them and / or buy their stuff, unless you are crazy or just don't like good sludge / doom post-metal), goes for Giant Squid times three. They are fantastic live (read: heavy as fuck), and even better on their albums because they use all kinds of additional instrumentation such as trumpet, oboe, flute, banjo, guest vocalists, etc. A couple of other things before I stop fanboying about with regard to these guys
...I also had a chance to meet their touring guitarist Cory Christina Tozer (who was sweet as pie, despite being in one of the most badass bands ever...
), as well as co-founder, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Gregory, who was just as gracious as the rest of the Squid crew. The entire band signed my newly-purchased copy of “The Ichthyologist” (which I had to buy because I absent-mindedly left my #22 of 1,000 original copy at home), and Aaron and Jackie took a picture with me. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that with any band, but these guys were just approachable enough that I felt totally comfortable asking.
What an excellent show by an excellent group of folks – both Grayceon and Giant Squid. Should any of you guys ever do a Google search and come across this post – thanks! You really made this experience one for the record books for me. To all the other readers…go see these guys and / or buy their stuff – they will fucking knock your socks off.