I'm never late to shows. I'm generally one of the first people in line. Call me nerdy, but when I pay to see a band, I want to actually see them. So when my previously canceled date, who lives 45 miles out of the city, called me an hour before doors opened to tell she could make it after all but needed a ride, I was conflicted. Being the nice fellow that I am, I drove in rush-hour traffic to pick her up and ending up missing the first five bands of the Metalliance Tour. So, apologies to Atlas Moth, Red Fang, Howl, Intronaut and, especially, Kylesa. I'm sure you were all great.
We showed up just as Louisiana sludge powerhouse Crowbar were preparing to take the stage. I've had the pleasure of seeing Kirk Windstein perform with Down a couple times before, but this was my first time seeing Crowbar, and I thought he was a great frontman. So intense during their songs, yet so friendly and likable between them. The highlight of their set was without a doubt "Planets Collide" from unarguably their best album, 1998's Odd Fellows Rest. It seems Windstein's time in Kingdom of Sorrow has influenced Crowbar's newer material a bit, as the few tracks they played from their latest album, Sever the Wicked Hand, had a lot more hardcore influence than what we've heard from them in the past. The band put on a great show, and a great way to kick off the night for me, although the night was more than halfway over for most of the crowd.
Saint Vitus were up next, and if there's a better sludge/doom metal band out there, I've yet to see them. They were fantastic. Let's get one thing out of the way: This band IS Black Sabbath. I've seen black Sabbath a few times, and Saint Vitus felt more like Sabbath than the real thing. Frontman Scott "Wino" Weinrich has a stage presence and voice that brings to mind Ozzy Osbourne back when he was scaring parents and not making a bumbling fool of himself on reality TV. The majority of their set came from their Born Too Late and V albums, although they did play one new song towards the end. They had projections playing on the wall and utilized psychedelic lighting that added to the whole experience, rather than coming off gimmicky. If Saint Vitus comes to your town, see them, period.
As soon as they walked off stage, the average age of the audience decreased by about 10 years, with most of the aging stoner rockers in the crowd heading home, and the wait began for the reason I'd come to the Metalliance Tour in the first place: Helmet. I saw the band roughly five years ago on Warped Tour. They only played 30 minutes, and they were the first band of the day, Not the optimum environment for a Helmet show, so I was extremely excited to finally see them in their element. The most enticing part of the show for me was that they were playing their classic 1992 album, Meantime, front to back, or at least I thought. After opening with an absolutely crushing "Milquetoast" and a couple tracks from last year's Seeing Eye Dog, guitarist/vocalist Page Hamilton announced that they would be playing Meantime, but they'd be playing it in reverse, "Just to switch it up."
I've had Meantime on cassette since I was in probably first grade, and as such have grown accustomed to the track listing the way it is, but I have to admit, playing it in reverse worked very well in a live setting. Most of the hits came at the tail end of the set, instead of getting them over with right away. "Turned Out" and "Unsung" elicited the biggest crowd response of the night, and honestly some of the biggest mosh pits I've ever seen. After closing with the title track, they thanked the crowd and walked off before coming back for an all-request encore that ended up being entirely composed of tracks from their debut, 1990's Strap It On. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
- So Long
- In Person
- Role Model
- FBLA II
- You Borrowed
- He Feels Bad
- Turned Out
- Give It
- Iron Head
- In the Meantime
Before the Metalliance tour, the last metal show I attended was the Dethklok/Mastodon/Converge/High on Fire Tour of late 2009, so it's been a good 18 months. When you go to to punk shows in the same city, you see a lot of the same faces after a while. Going to a metal show is a different vibe, but it still has its own sense of community. In their own way, the metal community are just as friendly as the punk community. It was great to see people helping fallen mosh pit patrons up, and not witnessing any fights all night was a very pleasant surprise as well. Even though I missed a few of the bands, I still very much enjoyed my experience at the Metalliance tour, and plan on paying to see any of the bands I saw again next time they roll through town.