For my first post under this thread, I thought I would start by making a list of the performances this year which made it one of the best years in metal for me. I decided to keep it all-metal, so that I could give exposure to as many metal bands as possible (U2 and Depeche Mode don't need the fucking press...
). Here goes nothing:
Top 20 Live Metal Performances of 2009
20. Decrepit Birth - Peabody's - Cleveland, OH - 11/12/09
Awesome band on album. Even more awesome live. Their vocalist Bill Robinson is a really chill, down-to-earth guy.
19. Vader - Peabody's - Cleveland, OH - 11/12/09
My first time seeing these legendary Polish death metalers. Behemoth is perhaps a little higher on the theatrics scale, but Vader is way heavy and way fun to watch live as well.
18. Origin - Summer Slaughter Tour - The Phantasy Theatre - Lakewood, OH - 7/12/09
My second time seeing these guys. They are staggeringly accurate on album, and to tell you the truth, they sound almost the same live. The only other band that tops Origin in this regard is, well...read on.
17. Pig Destroyer - Maryland Death Fest - Sonar - Baltimore, MD - 5/23/09
No, it's not Pig Destroyer (see above). What Pig Destroyer is, though, is incredibly brutal (notice...not spelled br00tal - I'm using the word as it was actually meant to be used...in English). They are loud, they are fast, and they are animated as hell on stage. Great show.
16. Necrophagist - Summer Slaughter Tour - The Phantasy Theatre - Lakewood, OH - 7/12/09
Not only is Muhammed SuiÁmez one of the best extreme metal guitar players on this planet today, but the rest of this band is mind-blowingly good as well. They are the single most technically accurate band I have ever seen live. Unreal.
15. IntrOnaut - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH - 5/2/09
This highly under-rated band brought the heat to one of the best shows of 2009 (they opened for Kylesa and Mastodon). Their bass player is the focal point of the band, and he is disgustingly good at his "job". Their sound is eclectic, but it's HEAVY - and the crowd seemed to love it that night.
14. High on Fire - Grog Shop - Cleveland, OH - 10/19/09
Matt Pike and crew never fail to please. As Mankvill said, these guys are perhaps one of the best pure metal bands out there. Sabbath meets Motorhead, and is reborn as High on Fire. Hell, Pike is almost as ugly as Lemmy, too.
13. Grayceon - White Star - Chicago, IL - 8/8/09
Jackie Perez Gratz takes a fucking electric cello and turns it into a heavy metal instrument right before your eyes. Plus, the guitar and drums in this band are awesome as well. There is nothing quite like Grayceon out there - they are unique (and uniquely good).
12. Meshuggah - House of Blues - Chicago, IL - 2/15/09
Meshuggah came to Chicago, took over the stage at the House of Blues, and was Meshuggah for just over an hour. What else do you need to know? Fucking crushing show - great set. These guys absolutely slay live.
11. Kylesa - Beachland Ballrom - Cleveland, OH - 5/2/09
This band haven't yet gotten the praise that they deserve, but this is starting to change. Their live show is fucking sweet. The dual drummers are used to better effect than any other band I've seen do this - their combined sound is thick and crunchy and just plain awesome. Plus, they have dual lead guitarists / vocalists in Laura Pleasants and Phillip Cope, and they also combine very well. Fantastic performance.
10. Pelican - Dark Lord Day - Three Floyds Brewery - Munster, IN - 4/25/09
The audience at this show was a bunch of drunken beer-lovers who had gathered at this brewery to buy a beer that is only available one day a year - and hence, nobody had to pay a thing to get into this show. I'm sure Pelican may have been paid something (or maybe not), but I'm sure it wasn't much if they did get paid. You never would have known it, though. They played for well over an hour, including a fifteen-minute plus version of perennial crusher "The Woods", which absolutely brought the fucking house down.
9. Russian Circles - Grog Shop - Cleveland, OH - 12/10/09
I fucking love the Grog Shop. I stood / sat at the edge of the stage, ten feet from this phenomenal band, and taped their entire set so I could take it home and relive the experience again. This Chicago post-metal trio is known for reproducing their album sound almost perfectly live, and all I can say is (1) it's true, and (2) if you've ever heard one of their albums (which you should - NOW!), you'll know why this show was so damned good.
8. Bolt Thrower - Maryland Death Fest - Sonar - Baltimore, MD - 5/23/09
The mighty Bolt Thrower made the trip across the big pond last summer for one show - Maryland Death Fest - and a throng of metalheads who clogged the street / parking lot outside the Sonar that Saturday night were blessed to see one of the greatest grindcore bands of all time play a totally crushing set. What a fucking experience!
7. Mastodon - Beachland Ballrom - Cleveland, OH - 5/2/09
After the unexpected (by folks other than myself, who was already a fan) awesomeness that was IntrOnaut, and the crushing heaviness that was Kylesa, only a band as good as Mastodon could follow and improve the quality of this show even further. They played their new album front to back, and then launched into a bunch of old favorites. With all band members sober and present and in the moment (which they were), this band is one of the best there is live.
6. Burst - Blondies - Detroit, MI - 10/8/09
For those that don't know, Burst is basically Sweden's answer to Mastodon - or at least they were. This was the second-to-last night of this tour, which was their first in the U.S., as well as their last tour ever. This band is playing a farewell show in their home town this month, and then will be no more. What a pity that is, because they are one of the best bands I have heard in a while. This show was definitely bittersweet, but it was one for the record books for me.
5. Metallica - Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, OH - 10/15/09
This was my fifth time or so seeing these legends - first time with Rob Trujillo on bass (who is an excellent addition to the band, BTW). This was my favorite performance of theirs, hands down. These guys may have some wrinkles and gray hairs (especially James!), but got DAMMIT they sure didn't show their age that night. The sheer spectacle of it all was enough to blow anyone away, but the set list, personality, and overall awesome vibe that was felt all around this sold-out NBA arena made this one of the best performances of the year.
4. Baroness - The Magic Stick - Detroit, MI - 11/24/09
From a huge show (Metallica), to a much smaller one (Baroness), the level of awesome actually did increase here. Baroness did not play their usual encore "Tower Falls" at this show, but somehow I still felt so jacked up at the end of this show just because of the pure awesomeness of what I had just witnessed, that it really didn't matter. They basically played the entire set non-stop, jamming on all eight cylinders for just over an hour. Most of the phenomenal Blue Record was played, aong with some old favorites. I got a chance to meet John Baizley after the show, and he might be one of the coolest dudes in metal. What a great time this show was - worth the road trip and then some!
3. Giant Squid - White Star - Chicago, IL - 8/8/09
Speaking of road trips, this show was the real reason I went to Chicago on this particular weekend back in August. My wife still thinks it was for Depeche Mode at Lollapalooza (and maybe it was, a little
), but this tiny show in this tiny bar on the north side of Chicago was the third hugest show I've seen this year. Maybe it was because I got to meet the whole band and talk to them, or maybe it was because I was so jazzed to actually see these guys this close to the Atlantic Ocean, but whatever the reason, I still remember this performance as being one of the most crushing things I've ever seen.
2. Isis - Grog Shop - Cleveland, OH - 6/9/09
Isis is perhaps my favorite post-metal band of all time. I had had a chance to see them on tour with Tool back in 2007, and that got f-ed up by...circumstances beyond my knowledge and control.
This time, I got to see them play as a headliner, and they thundered out basically the entire "Wavering Radiant" album, plus a couple of older favorites, in just over an hour. This was one of the tightest shows I have ever seen - the sound was perfect, and the playing was flawless. The signature Isis wall of sound was in full effect that night, and it blew us all away.
1. Carcass - Peabody's - Cleveland, OH - 3/14/09
It was Carcass. They got back together, and played in front of me, live. The crowd thrashed like it was the fucking late 80's / early 90's again. I heard "Exhume to Consume" live, for fuck's sake! What part of FUCKING AWESOME do you not understand?!? Seriously, though - these founding fathers of grindcore put on a truly legendary show last March, and it was truly a blessing to get to see them at all, not to mention in a nice, intimate little venue like Peabody's. We were crammed in there like sardines, and we paid for the privilege. Many other crowd favorites made us yell / growl ourselves hoarse. Best show of 2009.
What a phenomenal year this was for metal! I was truly blessed to get to see all these shows - and more - live this year. My cup truly runneth over. Nice.