Weedeater/ Today is the Day - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Weedeater / Today is the Day

Live in Grand Rapids (2016)

live show

It seems like I’ve been going to a lot of shows lately where I was mainly interested in an opening act. That was the case with Weedeater at The Pyramid Scheme in downtown Grand Rapids on Wednesday May 11th. The big draw for me was heavy, long-running cult favorite Today is the Day. Steve Austin and a revolving rhythm section have been making ugly music for nearly 25 years. I first saw them way back in 1998, and have been a rabid follower ever since. I rarely miss a chance to catch their live show, even if they’re the third band down the bill.

I headed over a little late after a couple exciting games of youth baseball, and figured to miss most of Barishi’s scheduled 25 minute set. (Lord Dying was originally slated to open. I’m not sure why they didn’t.) They ended up playing for 40 minutes, so I got to hear plenty. While the band is quite young and shows a fair amount of promise, they played at least 10 minutes too long. The highlight of Barishi’s time on stage was the singer’s impressive backflip. None of the fat white guys in the audience could have done that.

Next up was Today is the Day. They were supposed play for a half hour, but stretched their time out to 40 minutes too. TitD’s sets are always intense, and their short time on stage only seemed to increase their sense of urgency. They played a couple of songs from their most recent LP, 2014’s Animal Mother, including the title track and “Masada”. The crowd really came alive when they played “Pinnacle” from their 1997 masterpiece Temple of the Morning Star. They closed their set with two more songs from that same album. I screamed along at the top of my lungs to the title track and “The Man Who Loved to Hurt Himself”. It was very cathartic. I suspect that’s the case for Austin too. He seems to release so much rage during his performances. Today is the Day is a band that you must see live to truly appreciate their impact. This was a great set.

Author & Punisher is the stage name of Tristan Shone. He’s a one man band of sorts, and has a pretty good buzz surrounding him. I was certainly curious to see what A&P was all about. Shone builds his own weird, keyboard like contraptions. He plays them and does his singing live. After a fairly lengthy set-up, we were treated to a 45 set of dark industrial music. It reminded me a bit of early Ministry (think Twitch or The Land of Rape and Honey), before they became a speed metal band. It was surprisingly mesmerizing watching him push buttons and pull levers. The light show added to the overall eeriness, even if the music sometimes resembled a B-horror movie soundtrack. It was pretty entertaining stuff.

Weedeater is a sludgy, stoner metal (duh) trio that’s been around since 1998. I vaguely remember bassist/vocalist Dave “Dixie” Collins from his former band Buzzoven, who I saw a couple of times in the 90’s. Weedeater might remind you a little bit of the Melvins or EYEHATEGOD. It’s mostly slower and heavy, and in this case really loud. The drum kit was front and center, with the drummer facing stage left. Their hour long set was enjoyed by all, even though the crowd thinned out as it got really late. They capped off a pretty solid night of metal and a chance to hang out with some old headbanger friends that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like.

The low point of the night for me was how late the show went. Weedeater didn’t start until 40 minutes after A&P finished. They didn’t go on until 11:45pm, which is pretty brutal for an audience of mostly 30 - 40 year old guys who have to get up in the morning. The high point of the night for me, other than TitD’s set, was meeting Steve Austin and Tristan Shone in the parking lot before the show. They both seemed like nice guys and I enjoyed our brief conversation about the current state of the music business. I hope I didn’t come across as too much of a Today is the Day fanboy.