Back to back nights at the Palladium -- not so kind to the wallet or the gas tank, but this one was a little easier on the ears (as regards mixing; overall quality is debatable) and definitely fun enough to justify the exercise.
I started out again directly from work, saving, over the two days involved, about a quarter-tank, but into a misting rainstorm that slowed up traffic, making an already tiresome drive longer but not especially more stressful. I got to the venue a little later than I anticipated; I was in by 7:45, but that was already late enough to miss Arsis on the second stage. Hence, merch and beer and trying to figure how many bands until Motorhead. Three bands to go, and even for Motorhead and even for the quality involved, $30 for a t-shirt and $10 for a patch (screened and gluebacked, but pretty good, considering) is a little rich. Good thing that I wasn't under any pressure to support any of this "(alleged) Thrash and Burn" tour.
Parkway Drive [4/7]
These guys started up to massive floor acclaim as I came down the stairs, and I couldn't figure why. My ears were working correctly again, so I knew that there wasn't anything I was missing out of the sound, and that the watered-down, pedestrian, second-rate In Flames tunes I was experiencing were also being heard with no extra flourishes by everyone else in the hall. Maybe you have to be below driving age to get this band or something. Regardless, they were kinda boring, playing moderately catchy riffs, but then not building anything particularly interesting on top of them, not driving hard on them or, really, being distinctive in any respect. And yet people still buy their stuff. What the hell.
During their set, I saw some dude walking around in a polo shirt with a popped fucking collar. Fortunately for him, the Palladium does some decent security, so my knife was back in the car. It's hard enough to keep from stabbing collar-poppers in normal life, but at a show headlined by Motorhead, it's particularly egregious. Funnier shirt antics were provided by some sxe kid with a crucifix on his front, and HE DESERVED TO DIE FOR TURNING WATER INTO WINE on the back....who for some reason was not starting fights with the many drinking and drunk people around him. Ah, youth, and its purity of purpose.
I ended up sitting over by the wall when these guys started, and was struck by how oddly similar they sounded to Korn. That was a good chuckle, and then I got up, moved a little right to clear the stairwell, and picked up the other half of the guitar tone that I hadn't been hearing. It's still in there, but you have to play a littl with the mix to bring it out. Moving changed Emmure's sound, but unfortunately didn't materially improve their music; boring metalcore tends to stay boring metalcore no matter where you stand, whether there's architectural features in the way making it sound like Korn or not. I sat down for the last couple songs of their set; I normally don't like doing so, out of respect for the bands, but I was really losing patience with how lame these openers were being.
In order to distract from the parts that I didn't like of Darkest Hour (basically, everything that meshes with the bulk of this tour) and enhance those I do (the ones where they successfully rip off In Flames and At The Gates), I set up to finish my drinking; two Jaeger shots in rapid succession from different bartenders to get around the lame one-drink-per-person, no-doubles policy, and a bottle of water to rehydrate. Darkest Hour would be a hell of a lot more fun than without the chemical stimulation, and I'd be sober in time to drive home.
Darkest Hour [5/7]
The great thing about seeing a band like this on a pure Jaeger buzz is that everything good that they do feels like it's being done better, and you tend to ignore their lame parts in favor of, say, throwing elbows into inoffending railings. I wasn't completely gone and snorting fire, though, so I still had the detachment to realize that this was a good, competent set; not great, but limited more by the material than by the band's performance. I'm still not too into what these guys have done since ...Sadist Nation, but it's good enough, and to pass the time before Motorhead, it was certainly better than this slot might have been considering the rest of the tour.
As Darkest Hour finished, I moved forward, down onto the floor. Since a lot of people had been saying previously that they'd only show up for Motorhead, ignoring the Thrash and Burn bands entirely, I figured that there wouldn't be a lot of floor campers, and the kids who'd been down for Darkest Hour would want to refuel before heading into the pit again, and I was pretty sure that I'd be able to get onto the rail. This impression was correct, and I ended up at about the same place that I'd seen Testament from the night before. I was a little nervous about the wall of cabs in front of me, but the mix had been good all night, and a properly balanced sound setup won't cause ear damage unless you basically shove your head into the speaker cabinet. Even if things went sideways, though, I figured that I'd be able to last for at least song, and get even just a sample of Motorhead from contact range.
Fortunately, it wasn't one song, but a whole set's worth of them, that I got to see from the rail. And it was a pretty killer set at that; I'd last seen Motorhead from the beer garden at Wacken, which would be more of not seeing them, given the distance and how much beer was in play at that point, and this outing was not only longer, but benefitted from a better song selection. I was on the rail, in the thick of things, but even those back at the bar should have enjoyed the hell out of this one. The band's lineup has been stable for a decade or so, and they were all old pros even before that; Lemmy et al knocked this one out like a well-oiled machine, and showed no signs that eventually they might slow down, let alone stop. The sound was also pretty much perfect, letting every note cut through from the first to the last. It was 90 minutes, including the encore ("Ace of Spades" ad obligato, and "Overkill"), but when they closed up at last and the chanting only brought stagehands out to start packing up, it felt like they'd barely begun. Hell of a time; the folks at Mohegan Sun really did their customers out of a good one when they pushed Motorhead north, no matter how good Priest and Heaven & Hell were.
Coming home, the rain had stopped, and the traffic was light; low stress on the return commute, which made for a nice conclusion to a stand of three shows in three days, all at significant distance. If I lived a little closer to these past three, it might have been four with Devourment in Fall River Saturday night; unfortunately, even I have limits on gas and merch money, and that would have been just one bridge too far. Next show's Metal Thursday and finally seeing Rampant Decay; after that, Finntroll again with Warbringer in a mosh-friendly setting -- now that's going to be some fun.