Shadows Fall, 07/15/06

This show was billed a bit lower on my list of concerts to see this year because there was only one awesome band on the bill instead of many, but since Shadows Fall is one of my favorite bands, I wasn’t about to miss it. Jon made the trip up from Cincinnati for the weekend in order to see the show as well. It’s kinda sad too. Jon and his wife are moving to Arizona within the next month, so this is probably the last concert I’ll see with him for a looong time. This was also a first in that we went to a show at Harpos and arrived on time, and saw every band that played. Most of the time we show up fashionably late, miss a couple of the opening bands, and enjoy the higher quality bands later on. Well, we saw all six bands that played, for better or worse.

We also lost significant amounts of water through perspiration. It was over 90 degrees outside when we got there, and it was at least 20 degrees hotter inside. It was hotter than a snakes ass in a wagon rut. Combine 100+ degrees of heat plus a bunch of sweaty metalheads, and you get a recipie for a lot of stink. It was the only time I can think of where I can safely say that the shirtless sweaty mosh pit guys were the intelligent ones. They at least allowed their bodies to excise body heat in a more efficient fashion.

The first band was a local band tacked on before the bands on the bill, and I didn’t catch their name. I think it was something involving the word Cold, but I didn’t hear it clearly. They were solid and did what they did pretty well, although they could totally benefit from a second guitarist to lay down some leads. Their guitarist had some good rhythim chops, but their sound would have been bolstered with another guitarist. I can’t say much though – I’m not up there playing. Grade: B-

The first of the billed bands was Still Remains. Interestingly enough, they’re based out of Grand Rapids, and perhaps because of that, they seemed to have a pretty good following. It seems well earned too. They jammed. They only had 20-30 minutes of stage time, and they crammed it full… full of three songs. Totally my type of music. They sport dual guitars and a keyboardist, so they have all sorts of room for melody on top of the rhythm. I checked out their page on myspace, and I’m equally impressed with the recorded versions. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for their stuff the next time I make a CD run. Grade: B+

The next band up was Bury Your Dead. Ugh. I totally could have done without these guys. I can’t say they were totally horrible as far as bands go, but they were 100% not my style. They were serious testosterone-heads, like what you would get if you took Vinnie Paul, Dimebag, and Rex ouf of Pantera during the Far Beyond Driven years, and replaced them with three apes banging on things. All you’d have left is Phil Anselmo with some primates, and Bury Your Dead wasn’t much different than that. Their entire catalog seemed to exist on the bottom two heavily down-tuned strings of their instruments, and that’s not a good thing. You seriously could have cut the top four strings off each guitar, and the top two off the bass, and there would have been absolutely no difference. They also thought it was pretty cool to spin their guitars around their bodies in unison, hula-hoop-over-one-shoulder style, and it got really old. They did it at least three times per song. If they spent as much time writing songs as they did practicing their guitar-a-hooping, they would be much better. Grade: D+

Next up was Darkest Hour. They were also really good, and deserve a follow-up. Jon and I were both pretty down after Bury Your Dead, so it was good that Darkest Hour saved the day. I don’t know if they mandated it, but there was some seriously out-of-place music being played before their set. We heard some Billy Ocean, along with bunch of lame 80’s pop stuff that sounds like it came from the Top Gun soundtrack… at a metal show. WTF. Even though we were being inundated with lame music, we happened to see Darkest Hour’s lead guitarst warming up, and we knew they wouldn’t suck. The man was ripping off a serious solo in that warmup, and he did the same during their set, along with much more total awesomeness. I don’t know if I liked them as much as I liked Still Remains, but they’re close. Grade: B+

Poison The Well closed out the opening bands. Their set marked a first in my concert viewing experience. I’ve seen a lot of bands that I’ve never heard of before. Some I’ve liked, some I’ve hated, some I could tolerate, etc. With every other band I’ve seen, I’ve been able to key in on whether I like the band or not within a few songs. With Poison The Well, this was not the case. Starting with their first song, and ending with their last, I was completely confused. I couldn’t latch on to anything in their music, good or bad. I watched them play, and what I saw indicated that they were skilled players, and what I was hearing should have been good as well, but it wasn’t. I stood in a stupor for the whole time they played, and it didn’t break until they left the stage. Jon has a strong musical background, and he was actually somewhat angry after hearing them play. He said they were breaking most of the ‘rules’ that define what makes music good, such as sticking to key signatures, time signatures, and other things. There are ways that you can alternate between key and time signatures, but they still typically follow some standard patterns, because those patterns sound good. These guys sounded like they were just stringing random riffs and song segments together, with no musical ‘glue’ to properly string them together. What is even more mind boggling to me is that a good portion of the crowd knew the songs, and was singing along word for word. It made me feel as though I was missing something, even though I’m fairly confident I didn’t miss much of anything. Grade: F

Shadows Fall closed out the show, and they kicked ass. Their sound is huge on CD, and it’s just as huge on stage. They played a somewhat abbreviated set, which was somewhat disappointing, but every song they played was sweet, and they totally nailed them. The show further solidfied my belief that Shadows Fall is one of the most talented in the newer wave of bands in metal, and that they’ll be a driving force for a long time. There’s absolutely no weakness in their lineup. Every member is grade A, top notch. The highlight of their set for both Jon and I was “A Fire in Babylon.” That song is a total jam, and easily one of my favorite SF songs.

Another neat thing is that we got to see Brian Fair’s legendary dredlocks. I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of dreds, but those things were intense. He appears to be around six feet tall, and his dreds hang down to mid-calf at least. It must have taken years and years to grow dreds that long. What’s even crazier is that he headbangs with them when he’s not singing. There has to be some coordination with the other guys on the stage, because his dreds clear a circle with a 10-foot diameter when he headbangs. They could easily knock an instrument out of someones hands – no joke.

I can’t say that their show was top-notch because it was so short, only around 50-60 minutes, but what they did pack in there was awesome. Grade: A

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