Artist: Between The Buried and Me
Venue: The Fillmore NY (New York, NY)
Opener: Cynic, Devon Townsend, Scale The Summit
Label: Victory Records
Damn did it get cold over these last couple of days but that was fine because the Metal shows were proving to be hotter than ever as last night the Big Apple was paid a visit by Epica, Threat Signal and Blackguard and this killer sold out show would lead us into tonight’s main event as those young masters of Progressive Death Metal Between the Buried and Me returned to NYC. The last time that I remember this band playing in the city, was when they did an opening slot on the Children Of Bodom/Testament tour and if they visited after that it was probably a show that I didn’t attend. Those kinds of shows are great for the band resume, but with their material being so involved and rather long, one had to view a twenty minute showcase of what they can do as almost pointless. Tonight we would get our fill as they prepared to attack with their interesting brand of Metal and brought along Scale The Summit, The Devin Townsend Project and Cynic to make sure this was a night that no one would soon forget.
Scale The Summit: These Prosthetic Records guys are clearly a band whose members spent many afternoons and evenings practicing their techniques as opposed to burying their brains inside video games and boy does it show. Instrumentally tight and very proficient technically when it came to their musicality I was not sure what to expect with these instrumental Proggers, but I sure was enjoying it. They recently performed on the Progressive Nation tour that found them on the same stage as Dream Theatre and Zappa Plays Zappa and while I didn’t see that particular tour when it came through town, just hearing them perform this evening made me very aware of what a perfect match this was. This was a great opener for the event this evening and one that seemed to find the audience transfixed by what they were doing. That’s the sign of a band that is effective at their delivery because the audience was nothing less than glued to their set. So hypnotized by what was happening up there, no one in the rear realized how Devin Townsend himself walked right passed them in his hoodie as he prepared to get onstage and perform in New York. Needless to say I was very excited about his return and now it was time for him to take the stage.
Devon Townsend Project: It’s been awhile since we have had Devon Townsend doing any sort of touring but he has been very active in releasing some interesting albums. Although he disbanded Strapping Young Lad, he has kept those creative juices flowing by releasing some really cool stuff on albums like “Ziltoid”, and the first two parts of his apparent four album series with “Ki” and “Addicted”. Before he came onto the stage the audience dudes in the front started chanting “skullet” over and over as the singer used to sport a hair style of this kind but when he arrived we found him in a sleek and stylish suit and a completely shaved cranium. One never knows what to expect when Devon turns his attention to you with the microphone and he began the set by discussing a very terrible meal that left him in a most unpleasant fashion. I don’t think I need to go into as much of the details as he did but needless to say it had the audience going “ugh”. It’s funny how after seeing Devon in action a number of times how I thought that he would make a great insult comic. He really keeps you on edge with this razor sharp acerbic wit and while he is also a fantastic musician, I think that he would succeed should he ever find this particular line of work boring. I had to say that he looked great from my vantage point and appeared to be a guy who was once again in command of his destiny. He had been on a hiatus from the touring and stresses it involves to deal with his demons and to also be able to spend time with his family. It was great to find him back in action though and the audience definitely seemed to miss him. The club was now packed as Townsend and his super tight band delivered their short set and he talked to the crowd at length. At one point he directed them to move with him or something like that and called out how it was like looking down on a “sea of nerds”. It was pretty funny. The set list was comprised of the following tunes “Disruptr”, “Supercrush”, Kingdom”, “Truth, “Om” and “By Your Command”. I hope it’s not another three and a half years before we see him again and now it was onto the set by Cynic.
Cynic: Despite this being a headlining show from BTBAM, I could safely say how Cynic was also one of the main attractions this evening as the re-active band has not been in NYC since around this time last year when they opened up for Meshuggah. While friends had followed them in the past I admittedly did not and really had enjoyed their “return” album of “Traced In Air”. This is a very different kind of Metal if you even want to call it that. It’s much more Progressive and Melodic and almost akin to a heavier brand of Fusion or Hard Jazz in some respects. It’s really difficult to just pigeonhole this stuff into one finite classification but these work for the most part. When singer Paul Masvidal speaks to you it’s in a very under stated fashion and he does it at almost a whisper. His personality and interests really made their set a fascinating one because he strikes me as a very spiritual guy and he was speaking about meditation during the show and even instructed us through a yoga move to release the energy. There was also a lot of positive reinforcement from the musician and I liked to hear this since it was so different from the norm. One had to think that all of this struck a chord in the audience psyche. The sound from these guys tonight was also rather hypnotic as the melodies seem to permeate through you and become a living thing, and while it sounds weird it is true. I felt the band sounded excellent and perhaps just a little bit tighter and more focused on their being back in action than I felt them being during the Meshuggah show last year. I admit that it is nice to have them back even though I was one of those new followers when it came down to it. An interesting observation was to see some groupings of the BTBAM fans wandering around and not paying an instance of attention to what was going on up there. That surprised me since they were so good but I guess these particular concert goers were only focused on the headlining act. Talk about missing the boat at a show. This was one of the most well put together shows I have been to in awhile and everyone brought something good to the musical table. Of the nine songs performed, Cynic would play seven from “Traced In Air” leaving only “Celestial Voyage” off the set list. If you don’t own this album yet and are a very Progressive kind of fan then you will greatly enjoy it.
Between The Buried and Me: The chants of “BTBAM” started up almost instantly and kept on going while the Cynic gear was still being torn down and only got much louder when the bands stage banners were put up. The kids in the front row against the barricade were super charged for this show without question and we were surprised at just how young this bands crowd appeared to be. I was impressed because it’s nice to see the next generation supporting the Metal and I guess it made sense when one considers that the guys in BTBAM were not all that old in the first place. I was also impressed with the status that BTBAM had made for themselves because it was not too long ago that we found them doing 20-25 sets as openers and now here they were commanding a New York City sold out show. The band’s been around for a few years already but it was not until “Colors” was released that I began paying attention. I was glad that I caught on when I did since the band followed this with a great live CD/DVD package entitled “Colors Live” that gave us a full live show on video and a live audio companion to the “Colors” album for our varied music players. The band pulls out all the stops in terms of what can be done in Progressive Metal and their technical skills and delivery are to be commended. The band is led by Tommy Giles Rogers and he serves a dual role as lead vocalist and keyboardist. He continually runs back and forth from the front stage to the back near the amps synthesizer rig and doesn’t lose an ounce of his energy while doing so. While he is the most animated of the lineup, one could not dismiss the guitar prowess being showcased by Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring because these guys were super good. As expected those fans right up in the front were going insane but that was the overall vibe in the venue tonight as the band pummeled us with their set.
The bands latest CD is entitled “The Great Misdirect” and unlike its predecessor “Colors” would not be presented in its entirety for this show. I admit that I was surprised at that but in the end was okay with the three selections that they chose to do as this left them with time enough to do some stuff from “Colors” and even before that release. The only downside was that the set was seven numbers and while they are lengthy tunes it left many with a sense of needing more. I had to say that they were very into their crowd as well and had to be enjoying this evening’s attendance. They surprised people by bringing up their lighting tech to help out with some vocals and said how he was going to crowd surf all the way back to the light board. I didn’t see this actually happen of course and felt it would have been amazing to witness given that the control board was another floor above us. The band would end this killer display with “White Walls” as their only encore and many people feel this is one of the bands best tunes. It hails from “Colors” and this is an album that in addition to their newest release should be added to your purchase list.
In the end I had to smile when I thought about the whole night and realized how great this particular gig was. For me it was on a par with the Epica show that I witnessed only last night over at the Gramercy Theatre in terms of great music all around and I could not believe just how powerful the Metal year of 2010 had started with the great shows that we got. For me February would be quieter than I would like but since March will be an insane display of gigs to enjoy from beginning to end I think that I can deal with it.
Cynic Set List:
1. Nunc Fluens
2. The Space For This
3. Evolutionary Sleeper
4. Celestial Voyage
5. Wheels Within Wheels
6. Adam’s Murmur
7. King Of Those Who Know
8. Nunc Stans
9. Integral Birth
BTBAM Set List:
2. Disease, Injury, Madness
3. More Of Myself To Kill
4. Ants Of The Sky
6. Swim To The Moon
7. White Walls – encore
The guys in Between The Buried and Me had this interesting and yet puzzling arrow pattern as their backdrop sections on the stage. We snapped a photo of it for good measure.
The fans up in the front were an amusing batch of youth this evening and I had to say that while the HIM shows draw a mostly female audience….this evening’s event brought in one that was primarily male.
They were sporting everything from BTBAM shirts to Dream Theatre and Death and it was a very interesting and fun spirited lot. I was pretty sure that a healthy number of them were musicians since this is the kind of show that brings that crowd together.
One of the pre-show activities was the tossing about of inflated condoms which were being handed out at the merchandise area. No, we don’t have any photos of that but we wish we had the one face that Devin Townsend made as an air-filled Trojan slowly made its way down to his feet. Priceless. Ahhh to be young again.