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Old 08-16-2011, 12:45 AM
Onioner Onioner is offline
One who onions things
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Everywhere, CA
Posts: 2,687
High On Fire -- Santa Cruz, CA -- August 11th, 2011

So thanks to a last minute offer to crash at a friend's place after the show, I was able to go to this ridiculously awesome event. I arrived at the show with my friends, Death is this Communion LP cover and sharpie in hand determined to meet the dudes. So we arrive at the Catalyst, which hilariously enough, had Snoop Dogg playing upstairs that night. We run into Jeff and Des literally as soon as we get there. Des signs my record and runs off for a smoke without a word, while Jeff stays and talks for a bit. Turns out the guy is marrying my metalhead boss' sister (long story), which made for an hilarious conversation starter. Jeff was super nice and fun to talk to, and I don't think this will be the last time I converse with him While I was finishing talking to Jeff and heading to my friends, they found Matt hanging in front of Streetlight Records. Me in my total fanboyness literally sprinted to him looking like a total fool. Dude signed my record without me even having to ask, and the four of us proceeded to just talk about Sleep, playing in the Bay Area, community college guitar courses and his 18 year old daughter of all things (who he ordered me to stay away from upon learning that I was the same age hahaha). While I felt bad about my fanboy freakout, some guy went up to him and may as well have made out with him he was that obsessed. He gave him a blank sheet of paper to sign and told him and I quote "Mr. Pike, my name is yadda yadda and you are my favorite musician ever. Will you please sign this meager sheet of paper?" Now that was whatever, fans get all startstruck right? Then the guy shook Matt's hand, but didn't let go. Never before have I seen that combination of WTF, confusion and fear in Matt Pike's face before. After he literally yanked his hand away, he quickly said he was getting dinner, then scurried away.

So we get into the venue, a side stage of the Catalyst called the Atrium, a tiny bar area with a small stage, and witness the first couple of bands. First off was Catacomb Creeps. They were dressed in masks and corpse paint, and played some kind of post-black-doom metal that didn't really click with me. Their singer progressively took off more and more articles of clothing and gave randomass rants ranging from not having free speech to children getting too much attention from the world. Yeah, I don't know either. The next band, Dusted Angel, tore the fucking roof off. Holy shit, they gave one of the best performances I have seen all year, and I went in knowing none of their stuff. Their singer sounded like a deeper, gnarlier version of John Garcia, and the songs sounded like a sludgier version of Clutch. Every song was absolutely killer, and even their "new jam, not a song yet, but a jam" ripped. I am absolutely keeping an eye on these guys for their next few shows and records.

Now for the best part, HIGH ON FUCKING FIRE. This was hands down, the best performance I have seen from them, and this was my 4th time seeing them, and my 2nd time on a headlining show. At first I thought I was getting a shuffle of the setlist they had in SF last February, but nope, they went and PULVERIZED IT. Matt looked way happier at this show than at the one in SF, talked to the audience a good deal and dude even rocked a big shiteating grin as he unleashed the riff to Fire Flood and Plague. Des propelled the band as always, and Jeff was totally locked in, giving another top notch performance as he did in SF. In what was about as unexpected as it gets, the guys busted out The Face of Oblivion! As soon as Matt announced the song, the band and the crowd were quiet for a quick second.

During which I shouted, "HOLY FUCK, WHAT THE HELL?!" (Tapers must hate me haha)

Snakes for the Divine was slowed down as expected, and the parts where Matt would sing during the verses were actually slowed down so much that they became massively heavier. Simply put, the entire performance was first rate. I don't think I've ever heard Matt give as good a vocal performance as he did that night. Every word was clear, there was no mushmouth, and he held notes for a surprisingly long time. Imagine the vocals on the Snakes For the Divine studio album, but applied to every song. It was beyond awesome to say the least. Also, the sound at this venue was surprisingly wonderful. No matter where you were, every instrument was perfectly clear, while still being loud as hell.

1. Blood From Zion
2. Frost Hammer
3. Waste of Tiamat
4. Devilution
5. Fire, Flood and Plague
6. Speedwolf
7. Hung Drawn and Quartered
8. Rumors of War
9. The Face of Oblivion
10. Fury Whip
11. Fireface
12. Snakes for the Divine

And thus I now declare myself a magic High On Fire setlist charm. Wherever I go, High On Fire play jizzworthy setlists.
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