Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pelican with Clouds and Priestbird [Middle East, Cambridge, 7/23/2007]

I'm already on record against weekday shows. However, let the record also show that there have been times in the past when it's been worth it to go out on a Monday or Tuesday night and catch a band that couldn't schedule a better date. This was another one of them.

It's, of course, not at all normal for July in Massachusetts to come gray, rainy, and socked in with fog, but it was a definite plus for atmosphere with regard to seeing this particular band, and it also kept most of the people off the roads, so the drive wasn't too bad, despite all the wet. I got down right around nominal doors (not the same as real doors, but it wasn't raining that bad), and fortunately managed to get in despite not having an advance ticket. Given that they brought in about 400 people on a Monday night, it may not be real advisable to try this stunt the next time Pelican comes around, especially if it's on a weekend.

While the rest of the line was stragging in and Priestbird was setting up, I got a beer and took stock of my dismal cash situation before hitting the merch tables. I got Pelican's new disc (which I, like a dumbass, didn't realize was out) as well as Lair of the Minotaur's first (which the drummer from Pelican played on, and had gotten good reviews from what I noticed back at the time, in addition to being the precursor to the very awesome The Ultimate Destroyer), but at that point was effectively broke, modulo another beer and parking fees. However, I didn't realize exactly how bad this sucked for about another 45 minutes.

Priestbird [6/7]
This is why I was bummed not to have the spare ten-spot or so to put down on another CD; this band was just as talented and expansive as you might expect a post-metal band from NYC (see also Dysrhythmia, Behold...the Arctopus) to be, and the spots of sheer genius in their performance made me really want to see how they'd show up on record. With a fluid instrumental cloud of guitar, cello, bass, drums, and mouth organ, they put up a solid 45 minutes that contained a lot of stuff so completely original that you'd expect it from the headliners on this bill...but also a fair share of largely normal doom cribbed almost note for note and tone for tone from classic Sabbath. They also fell into their own springes in a few spots; the line between the thoughts "damn, this is extremely great" and "damn, this is extremely pretentious" is razor thin, and Priestbird didn't always stay completely on the right side of it. Sure, this wasn't a perfect set, and there's room for improvement, but this shouldn't obscure the fact that this was also a great set, and the music involved was pretty damn special.

In the short time between sets, I had enough time to get over and get another 'beer', even though in actuality it was just a PBR. Because doors were pretty late and you kind of have to give post-metal bands longer sets so they can play more than just three or four songs, the set changes kept going right snappy to keep the headliners from getting cut off by curfew.

Clouds [5/7]
I'm still trying to puzzle out exactly why this band was on this tour. They did a decent job and played an entertaining set, but it didn't really mesh with the other bands on the bill. Admittedly, Cave In did a lot for post-hardcore (Clouds is Cave In guitarist Adam McGrath's current project), but Clouds is not Cave In, and by the end Cave In had gotten away even from post-hardcore. What Clouds is, at least from this set, is a decent thrashpunk band with major grunge elements that would really do better playing a show where people moved around. The crowd for Clouds was so still I thought I was back in Europe early, which is a real shame for a band playing energy-first music. Though I'm not especially interested in this style, this was still a good, entertaining set, and people into hardcore as it used to be, before the toughguys took over, ought to check them out...though maybe not when opening for a post-metal band on a Monday night.

Pelican [7/7]
They came, we saw, they steamrolled. There are few bands that can match the combination of the heavy and the lyrical that Pelican brings to the table, and both sides were in eminent display at this gig. The whole of post-metal as a separate genre from post rock depends on having that ultimate firepower to back up the post-rock leads and melodic explorations, and Pelican's resolute willingness to stand up and blast the hell out of the audience after drawing them in with stellar melodic songwriting is a significant factor in setting them apart from the rest of this scene. Staying true while being accessible is always a holy grail in metal, no matter what the variety, and Pelican have a firm grip on it here, just as firm a grip as they had on the entire audience. They did do an encore, whether completely planned or not (indications went both ways), but unfortunately had to close up at about quarter to twelve; a great set and a great night, and while it wasn't as long as the audience might have liked (still 75 minutes or so), as the guitarist said, they will be back....and hopefully, on a weekend (so more people can come) and in a bigger hall (so my lazy ass doesn't have to prebuy a ticket).

Next show is Zircon at the end of the week in Worcester, then I unfortunately have to miss a good Metal Thursday and Revocation's two tour-kickoff shows; if this was for any other reason than spending the better part of a week back in Germany for the world's greatest open air, I'd be mighty pissed.

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