So here's the skinny on how the night went down:
First up was The Atlas Moth from Chicago. I had heard good things about them prior to this show, so I was somewhat looking forward to their set. I had also heard some decent quality samples online, and their rather unique blend of atmospheric sludge sounded pretty cool to me. Their live set was a little unimpressive, though. Very little of the atmospheric stuff came through like it does on album, and all I heard was basically some decent sludge with a greater than average amount of screaming. I did buy their CD though, and when I took it home and listened, I liked it a lot. I recommend them on album more than I would live. Their set was:
The Atlas Moth
Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence
[New / unnamed track]
...Leads to a Lifetime on Mercury
Before the next band came on, while we were waiting for the speed demon roadies who were clearing off bands and setting up others in fifteen to twenty minutes consistently all night long (
), I heard a familiar sound on the P.A. system. It sounded something like this: "K-V-E-L-L-L-E-R-R-R-T-A-A-A-A-A-K!!!"
I threw up the horns with both hands and shouted out, "Fuck yeah!!!" at the top of my lungs. Fucking nice to hear that song between sets. (Sorry, I just had to mention that.)
Anyway, next up was one of the four bands I actually came to this show specifically to see - fucking Howl. I've been in love with them ever since I heard "Full of Hell" for the first time, and I couldn't wait to see them live (and finally buy their CD as well - I had been waiting until seeing them live, and had missed them twice last year). When they started their set, the lead guitarist / vocalist told the crowd that they had replaced their other guitarist (Andrea Black) with a guy from Cleveland. The crowd went nuts. Then they actually played. The crowd REALLY went fucking nuts. HOLY FUCKING SHIT are these guys heavy live. I had my expectations cranked up to eleven before they even started - which can be a recipe for disaster at times - and yet they still blew me away. Holy Satan's nut sack were they good. See this band. Buy their shit. They deserve your attention, and whatever you can spare out of your wallet for some bad mother fucking ass-ripping doomy riffs from hell. Their set was:
Horns of Steel
...And The Gnawing
Ashereh / Jezebel
Next was Portland, Oregon's own Red Fang, whose self-titled album was my favorite debut album from any band in any genre in 2009. They were missing their guitarist / backing vocalist Bryan Giles - who had had a death in the family just a day or two prior and was planning to rejoin the band in a few days after the funeral - so they were only a three-piece that night. It didn't matter (not meant as a slight to Bryan, but rather a testament to the rest of the band, plus the strength of their music). They were still every bit as fun and boisterous as I'd expected them to be. Later on, after their set (which guitarist David Sullivan was nice enough to confirm for me), I mentioned to them at their merch table that I was currently listening to their new release so I could write an online review for it, and I told them I was seriously digging it. Dave gave me a copy of a studio demo they had put together with three covers and one original RF song on it and told me to let him know how the review went. I told him it would be fairly glowing.
Really nice guy. Their set was:
Painted Parade (new!)
Suicide (Dust cover)
Next up was Kylesa. It was my fourth time seeing them, and the second in as many months. I had also seen them for a headlining show in Pittsburgh in January, but the show was riddled with technical problems which detracted from the otherwise awesome nature of the gig, so I was hoping they'd have a good night here in my hometown. Holy shit, did they. They were so good, they damn near upstaged the bands which came after them (in fact, if you ask me, they were better than Crowbar at least). Anyway, just to put in perspective how awesome the set was, there was this guy standing behind me and to my right who had overheard some stuff I said to my buddy about Kylesa, and he realized I was a fan of theirs and told me he was really looking forward to seeing them for the first time. Halfway through the first song, he was tapping me on the shoulder, and when I turned around, he had a shit-eating grin on his face from one ear to the other. After their set was over, he talked to me again and said, "Holy shit were they fucking awesome. That chick is no gimmick - she's the real fuckin' deal." I just laughed and said something like, "Welcome to the steadily growing Kylesa fan club". Their set was:
Distance Closing In
Don't Look Back
Said & Done
Next up was Crowbar. I didn't get their set list, because quite frankly, I needed a break from standing so long and their music generally is not that interesting to me. It's heavy and all - and their new album sounds fairly decent - but in my book they're nothing to write home about.
After Crowbar hauled their miserable carcasses off the stage (just kidding - relax, Crowbar fans), it was time for the inimitable legends St. Vitus. Now Manks has probably been crying himself to sleep every night since he heard that I wasn't really a St. Vitus fan, but what I meant when I said that was that I hadn't been a fan since day one
. I've always respected them for their influence on metal as a whole more than anything, but their albums have really never done that much for me. While this still may be the case, one thing did change for me last Saturday. I was converted - but mainly as a fan of their live performance. Between the imposing-yet-somehow-lovable onstage persona of Wino and the extreme charisma of Dave Chandler, this band had me fully hooked within minutes. In fact, speaking of Chandler and his charisma, he even jumped into the crowd late in their set (during one of the last two songs, as I recall) with his guitar and continued to play while fans slapped him on the back and pumped their fists in the air (much to the delight of everyone with a camera). Their set was:
I Bleed Black
Blessed Night (new!)
Born Too Late
...and then came Helmet. See Petrovar's review
for details on them.
Overall, it was a hell of a night. Believe it or not, I've even left out some details (grin), but it's getting late and I have to work tomorrow, so with that I'll just say that I have no idea why I was having second thoughts about going to this show just a week or two beforehand, because I had an absolute blast. The Atlas Moth was decent live, but is much better on album (IMHO). Howl will fucking tear your face off either way. Red Fang are a fun bunch of guys who make great music and are super nice to boot. Kylesa are a fucking force of nature, and St. Vitus are true legends of metal.