Since I've been going to see Immortal in August on the world's grandest stage since last year, I don't have to go see them in New York, on a club stage and requiring driving that I hate doing even when it isn't the middle of the night. Also, that Wacken ticket implicitly carries with it about a week off from work, so taking another day off to get in at doors and see Amon Amarth (ripped up about missing, but they'll be headlining over Decapitated in the fall), The Acacia Strain (who are from around here, and will eventually do another sufficiently metal-heavy bill that I'll see them) and Goatwhore (who I would not be entirely surprised to see show up on Loudfest...or the Wolfen Ancestry gig at Ralph's...or as an emergency fill-in on the Funeral For The Skybar....you get the picture). Missing good bands sucks, but it's a fact of life for the gainfully employed; I'm probably missing Testament on Monday because it is a MONDAY show in SOUTHBRIDGE, which is practically in Connecticut. I'm sure it's a great venue, and that Testament and CSDO will slay, but I can't both do this gig and function at a high level by 8 AM Tuesday.
Nevertheless, I saw some good sets, and if GWAR on a proper stage with three decent to awesome supporting bands isn't worth 30 bucks, I don't want to share your value system.
I came in about when they were starting up, and couldn't figure out for the life of me who they were until I realized that there wasn't anything in front of their banner. They put up a decent set, and their metamorphosis from a nu-metal band (to the degree that they ever were) to a death-thrash act is now complete; they weren't terribly original or distinctive, but one man's 'pedestrian' is another's 'meat-and-potatoes', and if they're able to play decently and entertain the audience, it's rather immaterial. I'm still not terribly into this band, but they did a good job in this set and played some decent music.
Before ETID, I went and hit up the merch tables, coming up with a GWAR shirt and patch, the latter of which is going to finally, finally, balance the Sigh patch at the top of my jacket. I looked over Amon Amarth and Goatwhore's stuff, but Amon Amarth didn't have any patches that I didn't already have, and the stuff that Goatwhore had out wasn't terribly compelling. I should support this band more, but the problem is that such support is easily postponed -- "they'll be back again in three weeks, I can hit them then" -- and the excuse repeats itself ad infinitum as they circle back time and again with more compelling bands who don't come around as often.
Every Time I Die [5/7]
I saw some review of this band describing them as "death metal meets a Buffalo Bills tailgate party", and in all honesty that is the dumbest thing ever. The band, though, was fortunately pretty decent, though at the start of their set they played a couple songs as the slave butt to the soundboard's Cuttlefish of Cthulhu. (For the non-GWAR-fans out there, this means that their sound was raped by a giant alien wang.) This got straightened out fairly quickly, and they proceeded to entertain the crowd with a decent and fairly even mix of thrash metal and Northeast hardcore. They did the chug-a-beer-to-this-riff gag that they've run out at previous stops on this tour, and as observed in other places, the riff in question is slow and long enough that any proper metalhead should be able to throw back a Litermass by the end of it, let alone one of these meager 12-ounce cups. Again, not a band that I'm into, or will follow on record, but they did a pretty decent show and played some entertaining music.
Shadows Fall [6/7]
As anyone might rationally expect, the crowd was hugely up for these guys; Shadows Fall is popular among this set anyways, but this was also a homecoming set, and the response was as expected. The band put up a set worthy of it, too; solid, developed, and almost completely independent of the influences that led the band to where they are today. This was a stellar demonstration of modern thrash metal, moving beyond 'metalcore', 'NWOAHM', and whatever other trend labels get stuck on the bands that follow and imitate them. Some might chuckle at Brian Fair shouting "Death to false metal!" like he's Eric Adams or somebody, but in clawing their way out of New England's crowded underground and into the international spotlight while getting debatably more metal in the process, there's a strong case that they've earned the right to it. A kickass performance, but not quite superlative.
This is the sort of band that the word WAEOME was invented to describe (if you aren't familiar with the word, go look at Dramatica or something). GWAR are by now legendary, and their shows just as infamous, and despite the somewhat abbreviated set (see below), we got the full load -- though the floor were the only ones to get it in more than one sense, as the alien cumcannons didn't really throw more than 20 yards. The performance art part of it (making an end of Cho Seung-Hui, a whiney emo, the Ultimate GWAR Fan, and Satan, Oderus licking his dead dog's butt (but, unfortunately, no Michael Vick references), then battling the fuck out of Gor-Gor with swords, axes, and mock-up Mesa cabs) was as balls-out as expected, and the music was just as solid as their recorded performances indicate. It's probably the best-kept secret in metal that GWAR is actually a really good band and pretty sweet musicians; people are sufficiently entertained by art students from Virginia being rubber-suited space monsters from Antarctica, and may miss that they've actually got some pretty impressive chops. The music wasn't quite to this level on its own, but the total GWAR experience offered here was to top standard. Kickass.
After GWAR closed up and the lights went up, I looked at my watch with disbelief. This show was seriously closing up at 10:30 PM. WHAT THE HELL MAN. The Summer Slaughter gig closed up early too, but not this early, and though this one did draw a lot of kids, they don't have school or anything now, so there's no social responsibility incumbent on the club to get them home and in bed. If this one could have shifted itself an hour and a half down to close at midnight, I maybe could have seen Amon Amarth, and little would have changed with the setup. As it was, this was a cool show, but logistically it could have been set up a little better. As such, I got back nice and early...but I'd rather have gotten back at the normal time and seen a few more good bands.