Top Ten Performances by Individual Bands in 2011
- Origin - Peabody’s (Cleveland, OH) - July 6, 2011
Holy shit. Just, holy fucking shit. This was my third time seeing these guys - both of the previous shows were with their previous vocalist James Lee (who is very good, by the way), but this time they brought a whole new level of intensity that was just off the fucking charts. I didn't even have to think twice about making this the top performance of the year. I love all of the other bands on this list, but Origin brought the heat that night like I've never seen them do before. I banged my head so hard I was sore for days (and I work out regularly, thank you ). As I said (or at least implied) in my gig report, Jason Keyser is a fantastic addition to this already phenomenal crew. I mean, this set was so intense that I literally felt incited that night - like something inside me was welling up and making me want to run around and destroy shit. Now THAT's a fucking good metal gig.
- Kylesa - Peabody’s (Cleveland, OH) - March 26, 2011 (Metalliance Tour)
With all due respect to Wino, Kylesa's performance was the best of the night, hands down - and I'm not the only person who thought so. I saw them earlier in the year in Pittsburgh, and due to some issues beyond their control - as well as some things they could have done better - their set then was nowehere near as good as this one. They effortlessly barreled through an hour-long set of some of the finest, catchiest, head-bangiest sludge this side of Baroness, and the light show and audio effects and everything else was just icing on the cake. They were spot-on for this gig, and in my opinion, they stole the show.
- Russian Circles - Grog Shop (Cleveland, OH) - November 18, 2011
I've seen these guys four times now, and I have to say that every time I see them, their performances get better and better. They absolutely brought the fucking house down with their set this night. They use a few technical tricks to get the job done - because after all, there's only three of them - but they make it sound like there are four or five musicians up there on stage with their amazing huge wall of sound. Crushingly beautiful, these guys are. Plus, I finally got to meet one of them (Dave), and he was nowhere near the quiet hermit-type I expected, but rather a really friendly and pleasantly outgoing guy.
- Primus - Stubb’s BBQ (Austin, TX) - May 24, 2011
It was Primus. What the fuck else do you need me to say, here? Actually, there are a few things worth mentioning. First, the only thing better than a Primus show where they play a bunch of old favorites is a Primus show where they play a bunch of old favorites mixed in with a bunch of new material from the new album they just released after having been on hiatus for over a fucking decade. Second, Les's stage banter - not to mention his prowess as a musician - has never been more entertaining. Primus shows are more than just three guys on stage slapping out some tunes - they are immersive, explorative experiences which are slightly different every time, but never, ever boring.
- Yakuza - Subterranean (Chicago, IL) - November 23, 2011
The word of the night here was "intensity". This outfit can bend genres like nobody's business, launching from a relatively low-key bout of noodling psychedelia to a savagely vicious, straight-for-the-throat thrash attack, and they do it effortlessly, almost as if on a whim. One minute, Bruce is standing stark-still with eyes closed, squeezing mournful notes from the mouth of his saxophone, and the next minute he has the mic cord wrapped around his hands (and sometimes other body parts) and is doubled over, screaming his lungs out with a fury. The other musicians in the band are extremely talented, too - and together, these cats will take you on an adrenaline-fueled trip through psychedelic jungles you never knew existed.
- Pelican - The Mezzanine (San Francisco, CA) - August 16, 2011
The masters of the riff brought about ten tons of awesome to the Mezzanine on this, the second night of the Power of the Riff festival in the city by the bay. Their infectious chugging chords were as tight as ever, and they got the heads banging like no other band did that night. I think I even saw some bartenders and security staff getting into the act. Plus, they pulled out some old gems that night that I hadn't heard in the three or four other times I've seen these guys before (like "Last Day of Winter", "GW" and the legendary "Mammoth" ), so that was a real bonus as well.
- Man’s Gin - Now That’s Class (Cleveland, OH) - September 4, 2011
This was a mini-tour with Erik Wunder from Man's Gin / Cobalt and Bruce Lamont from Yakuza / Bloodiest, and it was in one of my most (and least) favorite little dive bars with a skateboard ramp in Cleveburg. I heard about this rather at the last minute, and holy shit am I glad that I was able to make it out to this show. There were probably only thirty or so people in the place that night, and the gig was essentially free (unless you made it a point to go shove some money in the bartender's hand and tell her to give it to the band), but you'd never know it if you watched a video of the band on stage that night. They played several highlights from the Smiling Dogs album, but my favorite by far was the awesomely catchy "Stone on My Head". I'm so glad I got a chance to see them play that song live (and they looked like they had a lot of fun playing it, too ). Plus, they played a fucking Cobalt song ("Dry Body" from Gin), and moobs and I got to witness that shit live, so yeah.
- Howl - Peabody’s (Cleveland, OH) - March 26, 2011 (Metalliance Tour)
Holy crap. I was really looking forward to seeing these guys play live someday, but when I got the chance to do so I had no idea they would be my second-favorite band on this incredibly well-stacked bill. Nevertheless, Howl came out that night and seized the audience by the collective throat that night for about thirty minutes or so, and even though that's not much time, people were looking at each other in bewilderment afterward saying, "who the fuck was THAT?!?" As I've said before, I love it when a band I already know about affects a crowd this way, and other than some folks who hadn't seen Kylesa before either, these guys shocked more motherfuckers in that place that night than any other band. Plus, they're even heavier live than on album.
- Red Fang - Peabody’s (Cleveland, OH) - March 26, 2011 (Metalliance Tour)
Similarly to Howl, these guys are one of the other reasons I attended the Metalliance Tour, and similarly to Howl, they knocked the ball out of the fucking park. I had a chance to meet their guitarist David Sullivan before their set, and I told him that I was loving their latest album Murder the Mountains (and that I would be writing a review to that effect ), and he seemed genuinely flattered. Really nice guy. They played hits from that album as well as their self-titled debut LP, and the entire crowd loved them. Their songs are heavy yet catchy, serious yet fun. These guys seem to have a hell of a work ethic (despite being pictured as a bunch of beer-swilling slacker stoners in their video for "Prehistoric Dog"), and added to their obvious wealth of natural talent, this makes for a hell of a couple of albums, and also one hell of a live show.
- Amon Amarth - Peabody’s (Cleveland, OH) - July 6, 2011
If ever a band who makes music that sounds like it's coming from a bunch of Vikings looked the part, then Amon Amarth does. They look exactly like what they sound like on album - five long-haired, bearded Swedish dudes named Ted, Fredrik, Olavi and not one but TWO guys named Johan. And that's before they even put on their stage gear. Yes, these guys are truly a bunch of beer-swilling Vikings, and yes, their music suits their reality (and vice cersa). But the thing that makes an Amon Amarth show special is that not only is their music infectious and well-written, but it's also, frankly, just one hell of a lot of fun. Smiles abounded that night, both on the faces of the fans as well as the faces of the band members, and a rowdy good time was had by all as these surly Swedes took us all on a journey through two full sets of Viking-ey goodness.
5/19 Ides of Gemini / Ancient VVisdom
5/23 Cobalt / Bolt Thrower / Pallbearer (MDF)
Last edited by Natrlhi; 02-16-2012 at 10:52 AM.