High On Fire -- Vancouver, British Columbia -- July 8th, 2010
Ahhh, this was such a great show. High On Fire, Russian Circles, Skeletonwitch, three great bands together for one awesome night. This was the last show I attended in Vancouver before moving back to Saskatoon. This is a review I wrote shortly after the show, enjoy...
This was my 5th time seeing High on Fire (3rd time in 9 months), second time seeing Skeletonwitch, and first time seeing Russian Circles. I was looking forward to this show, as I knew how good HOF and Skeletonwitch are live, and had heard nothing but good things about Russian Circles. Despite that, it totally exceeded my expectations.
I had seen them in October with The Black Dahlia Murder. At the time I wasn't familiar with their stuff but they ended up being my favorite band of the show, and I became a fan. This time around I knew a fair amount of their stuff (just off of Beyond the Permafrost and a couple others, but that made up a fair portion of their setlist).
Once again they absolutely destroyed as a live band. Surprisingly there wasn't much crowd movement at all (though people seemed to enjoy them), the "pit" consisted of the same four people running around slamming into each other. The band themselves were super tight and pounded through song after song of their short set. I thoroughly enjoyed them and hope to see them again soon.
Upon Wings of Black
Sacrifice for the Slaughtergod
Stand Fight and Die
Crushed Beyond Dust
Beyond the Permafrost
Within My Blood
And a few others that I wasn't familiar with
They were supposed to go on at 8:45 but soundcheck took a little longer for them and they didn't start until about 8:55. I had liked the stuff I'd briefly listened to on their myspace and had heard lots of good things about their live show, but nothing prepared me for just how awesome they were. The music itself was incredible, but the individual members were all super skilled too.
Their guitarist in particular had a ton of effects pedals, and had a crazy "repeat" effect where he would play a riff and then it would keep looping and he would play another riff on top of that, basically making him two guitarists in one. He also had lots of sweet tapping riffs that he did.
There's really not much I can describe about this band, you have to see them live to really "get" them. They were absolutely mind blowing, and easily one of the best live bands I've ever seen, I could've gotten kicked out after their set and the show still would've been worth my time and money. I highly recommend checking them out if you haven't, though again, you have to see them live to truly appreciate them.
They also won over a lot of people, I think. At the start of their set there was just a small, minimal amount of clapping and cheering (the same type of response you'd expect for some local opener nobody's really there to see), but when they finished their set the crowd was literally chanting "one more song". Musically, they weren't as fast or brutal as the other two bands, but by the time they finished playing I don't think there was a single person in the room that could say they didn't belong on this tour.
A whole bunch of awesome songs that I wasn't familiar with at the time of the show... sorry, wish I had a full setlist for them
High on Fire
Russian Circles had finished around 9:35, so things were slightly behind schedule. High on Fire started around 10:00 rather than 9:45. One of the tech guys had put the setlist within view on the stage before they started. I didn't have my glasses so I couldn't tell what any of it was, but a few of the guys next to me were discussing it so I knew a few of the songs and when they would be played.
Right around 10:00 they finally started. They had a cool intro with some flanging guitar and then some prerecorded stuff played - I think it was from the intro to Bastard Samurai, which made me think that would be their opening song. But they came out and burst into Frost Hammer.
I started off in second row but shortly enough (in the first song or two) ended up getting into the front row, pretty much right in front of Matt Pike once again (as has been the case 4 of the 5 times I've seen HOF). As awesome as it is, the only downside is that Matt Pike's stack of amps tend to drown out everything else when you're right in front of them, so all I could really hear was the loud droning guitar, everything else was extremely faint. And those amps are LOUD, despite wearing damn good earplugs I had slightly, but noticeably ringing ears the rest of the night after the show.
After Frost Hammer, they burst into one of my favorites, Devilution, which they hadn't played the last two times I saw them (I had heard the guys next to me saying it was the 2nd song though, so I knew it was coming). Throughout their set they played through some more new stuff, but also threw in some older stuff too. They played Hung, Drawn, and Quartered which was awesome to hear, the first time I'd heard anything from Surrounded by Thieves other than Eyes & Teeth.
Overall I was actually really pleased with the setlist, much more variety than I had expected. Last couple times I saw them (particularly last time they were headlining) I was disappointed by the setlist being the same as always and kind of predictable, but this time they finally switched it up a fair amount. They played more new stuff including Fire Flood and Plague, and did a fair mix of songs from their other albums.
Finally Matt Pike said this was gonna be their last song, and they burst into Fury Whip. Again, I'd heard that it was gonna be the last song, so I knew it was coming. After it was done they put their stuff away and left, but everybody was chanting for more and they came back and finished with Bastard Samurai. I don't know if that was planned or not, because I've never seen them do an encore before, and it wasn't on the setlist, and they looked like they were genuinely done after Fury Whip, but either way it was sweet.
Hung, Drawn, and Quartered
How Dark We Pray
Rumors of War
Blood From Zion
Fire Flood and Plague
Cometh Down Hessian
Snakes for the Divine
Overall an incredible show, easily the best show of the year so far for me, the best show I've seen in Vancouver, and I think one of the best shows I've seen in general. Truly awesome, every band was stellar and worth the price of admission alone. I got a sweet new HOF shirt and bought a Russian Circles double LP. My only regret is not meeting/talking to Matt Pike, but hopefully I'll manage to do that at some point in the future.