This is the inaugural Metal Showcase from last night; this could have been a little better, but for a first gig it was pretty damn cool, and the bands definitely kicked ass.
I took off from work right around five, and managed to battle my way down through Boston to the venue in a little under two hours. The roads weren't too rough once I got out the south side of the city, and it was more or less fair sailing once I got off the Southeast Parkinglot. With a less awesome lineup, there would be all manner of reasons for northerners to beg off slogging through the traffic morass to get down.
This is too bad, because Club Aurora is a really good venue with a lot to recommend it, even if it's buried in back roads and at the other end of the populated part of the state. The room is huge, with an easy safe capacity of two or three hundred, clean and witha good stage and PA setup that for the most part treated the bands really well. The parking lot's all gravel, but there's on-site parking, which is all but a mythical beast in the underground, and if there's no alcohol being served, they do have a full-service grill in the building, and South Shore bands who practice there don't have very far to lug their kit. As Anthony (Revocation) mentioned later, this place could play host to some serious gigs if they can build it up. This show will hopefully go a ways in influencing that.
Do I Exist [4/7]
I hadn't seen this band before, but in some ways I had; they played what probably might best be called "modern death metal", especially since it's a lot shorter than "less inspired late Carcass with a lot more breakdowns". The crowd for them was a lot more active than for the later bands, and more or less distinct from those who'd be in later; this is probably because the other bands were a lot more death metal and less moshable, but also potentially because the other bands, without exception, played them off the stage. As demonstrated, with the right crowd these guys get a good reaction, but they didn't match well with the rest of the bands on this lineup.
The next time you see a band like this in a large room, watch the toughguys carefully. I'm not saying that solo hardcore dancing looks just like aerobics, just that you need to watch closely and draw your conclusions from such observations. ;)
There was a bit of down time here, which is coincidentally when Mortis Deveia was supposed to play. Henry showed up a little later, while Revocation was setting up, but I'm not sure I recall seeing anyone else. They ended up not playing, and while most of that is on the band for not getting down in time, there's a share to be handed back to the organizers as well. I can understand Jeremy wanting to put the bands who draw in this area on later, and Mortis Dev earlier, but there's also a practical consideration to be made in that on a weekday, it is next to impossible to get off work at a normal time and drive from the New Hampshire border (in Lawrence) to the Rhode Island border (here) in the two hours that they would have needed to do so in order to get set up on time. There was probably a lack of communication involved, and the band may not have been aware of how time-intensive it can be to get to this place, not having played down in this area much; hopefully, they'll be back for one of these in the future, and everyone involved will have a better idea of the logistics necessary.
I hadn't seen these guys in a while -- they were on tour for most of August and I was in Germany for their kickoff -- but they were just as tight as ever, demonstrating some new stuff as well as new hooks on their old material. They even made Death's "Symbolic" their own, which is no mean feat, but even something as comparatively small as trem-picking doublets out of single notes, if applied in the right places, can have a drastic effect. There were a few rough spots, but others where the effect was as good as any set I've seen from them. It remains to be seen if I'll get down to O'Brien's on Wednesday, but the Advancement of Dudes combine is a virtual cert.
The Accursed [5/7]
They got off to a rough start but improved as the set went on; most of the improvement, though, was not on the band's part, but in the sound. Jon's vocals started off way too far forward, and it seemed like George's bass was buzzing or cutting out or something in parts. Nevertheless, they continued to press on, and eventually the mix got balanced right; the last half of the set ruled, and unlike the first half, it was a lot easier to tell.
It should be noted that the band doesn't pick up any extra points for Tim wearing a DFB Nationaltrikot. People should support good soccer federations, of course, but music does need to be judged as music. ;)
It took a while for me to finally get around to seeing a full set from this band, but the wait, to a certain degree, was worth it. "To a certain degree" because, while this was a killer set, I'm not sure of the logic of that construction as applied to local bands. Despite not having a bass player (if I was still playing regularly, I'd, likel, file a union complaint or something (:roll:)), there isn't really anything lacking in Abnormality's brutal death sound, the guitars laying down a thorough barrage of crushing riffs. Unfortunately, there were several long pauses between songs, which did cut down the energy some; at a dry show, things have to keep moving quickly, as there isn't a bar for the crowd to default to, or beers to be concentrated on while the band's tuning or working on monitor balance. When the band was playing, at least, the effect was pretty damn awesome; they may need to work on their stagecraft a little, but the music is definitely there, which is the actually important part.
In sharp contrast to the drive down, the return trip was over largely empty roads and took less than an hour. It was a little tricky getting out of Taunton and back onto the highway, but not every local show can be at the Haverhill Elks or equivalent. In conclusion, more people from north of Boston need to come down to these things, but this will be aided greatly if their travel needs can be more taken into account. Of course, there's no reason to actually do this unless more northerners show up; either the chicken or the egg will have to step up and get it started, and if Jeremy can consistently assemble lineups of this quality, it'll be worth making the trip down regardless of weekday or weekend, whether more northern bands are on the bill or not.
Next show is either on Wednesday in Allston, or the clot at the end of the week after with two in Haverhill or one in Worcester. Midweek shows in Boston are a tough sell, but missing Revocation and Bane of Existence isn't something you like to think about.