Tuesday, March 09, 2010

travel notes and updates

Regarding the hinterlands festivals piece: Icelandic is slowly de-dickbutting their website, and even if trying to do Boston-Berlin connections makes the thing crash, booking now will probably get you a roundtrip fare in the vicinity of $1000 including tax and associated bullshit, even if you're thinking about doing something stupid like inbound to Oslo and back via Frankfurt over 2 weeks to do two festivals.

History passes away: a longfucking time ago I got sent to China on no notice and was able to do so by getting a zero-day visa in Hong Kong. Sadly, I found out last night through some bored Wikipedia random-surfing that this is no longer possible. ;_; Another bit of the wild old world is crushed beneath the wheels of uniformity and modernity. It's still possible, of course, to get a visa done up (for other countries, somewher out there) in a walk-up office with dimming fluorescent lights, Spanish moss creeping in the windows, and other expats sitting around sweaty and apprehensive, but the areas in which this is done tend to be a little tougher on the gwailo walking around without valid identification for six hours than Kowloon.

The net upshot of this is that the time to do something dangerous and ill-advised towards the edge of the map is not tomorrow, but today, and yesterday if at all possible. The trend, historically, is for travel to become merely transit, and actual adventure to be dumbed down and boxed in to prepackaged "adventure tourism"; go out there and try to see the world on hard mode before that gets nerfed too.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Kreator with Voivod, Nachtmystium, Evile, and Lazarus AD [Worcester Palladium, 3/5/2010]

As noted last time, there was no way in hell that I was missing this, especially given the trend at the Palladium of booking shows into the downstairs, then moving them to the upstairs. I've bitched about this in the past, but anyone who bitches about Kreator and Voivod, especially when they were as on as they were this night, at contact range for a mere $23 is well overdue for an elbow in the face.

So I split straight from work, cursed the traffic, and ended up getting in and through doors exactly on time, because Lazarus AD was starting early, at least relative to the announced 7:00 doors, 8:00 bands. No complaints here; I was in, and an earlier start now means more Kreator and Voivod before the staff starts throwing people out the venue.

Lazarus AD [5/7]
Since I missed Testament's gig here last year, I hadn't seen these guys before; it's not so often that a band out of Kenosha gets to the east coast. They put up a decent set mixing late thrash and NWOSDM; good overall, if a little pedestrian in places, and well-matched to the bill. Those familiar with the criticisms people have of Kreator's stuff this decade, though, will see the issue; fortunately, this band is still coming up, still defining themselves, and there was enough different about this set that it's not set in stone that they're always going to be modern-Kreator-Jr-without-the-back-catalog. They'll probably be back again; interesting to see how they develop by then.

Evile [6/7]
This was Evile's debut US tour, though not, obviously, the first show, and they seemed to be genuinely impressed at the crowd reaction. Like a lot of thrash revival bands, there are probably questions about how original they are, and to what degree they're able to step away from being a heavier early Kreator, but what's more important in the context of shows like this is that they are fucking good at this shit, and the crowd response was completely predictable in the light of what the band delivered. Good stuff, and an extra reason to go to Overkill's tour next month.

Nachtmystium [6/7]
Between one thing and another, I hadn't seen this band since I think like 2007, a year that I saw them like three times. This being the case, I'm not sure how more or less psychedelic this outing was relative to the last time, but despite coming off kind of short, it definitely retained the rawness and a large measure of the mysticism that I remember from the band. I was about midway back, stuck after going nearly broke on merch, so I'm not sure what the reaction was like down front, but at least where I was standing, people appreciated both the dirty black metal and the weirdness, for their own sakes and in setting up the headliners still to come.

Voivod [7/7]
I hadn't actually seen Voivod before, but I'm pretty sure that I've seen Away on several occasions, just hanging out at Metalfest and the like. Maybe not, maybe so; doesn't matter, and what does matter is that several graying Canadians got onstage and played some amazing, brain-wrecking, heavy, complex, and generally bizarre music, and got people flying around through bizarre signatures and time changes, being, exactly as advertised, completely and utterly unique. In some ways I wish that I was ten years older, and had gotten the opportunity to see more of this from the band when they were younger, and the world younger as well, but what this set argues is that it's not necessary. Voivod still have it, still bring it, and all you need to do is show up and bring your head; the band will take care of twisting it into knots.

Voivod would have stolen the show, with this performance, from about 90 to 95 percent of other headliners. Maybe it Kreator had had an off night, they might have stolen it from them as well.

Kreator [7/7]
Kreator, though, decidedly did not have an off night, and delivered a headlining set of explosive intensity that is on the short list for the best performance I've seen indoors. It came close to, but did not top, the end of that Carcass-ATG-Kreator night on the rail at Wacken '08, and comes out beter than either of the other times I've seen them so far. This was rumored to be an "old-school" set in advance, and while there was a lot of older material, this was not strictly accurate; we got "Hordes of Chaos" and "Demon Prince" from the new one, and a surprising amount of Enemy of God material, including "Servant in Heaven, King in Hell", which they didn't do either of the two times I saw them touring on that record. Still, anyone who was there for the old-school material was going to be well satisfied -- "Endless Pain", which they do not bring out as often as you might think, and not only "Coma of Souls" but "When the Sun Burns Red" in the encore.

This is not a setlist because it's in no particular order (I was kind of thrashing till death and defending myself from dudes flying about, and not disposed to keeping track of such things), but Kreator did play at least the following songs on this gig:
Extreme Aggression
Endless Pain
Pleasure to Kill
Hordes of Chaos
Demon Prince
Servant in Heaven, King in Hell
Coma of Souls
Terrible Certainty
Enemy of God
Impossible Brutality
(The Patriarch) -- playback
Violent Revolution
When the Sun Burns Red (encore)
Flag of Hate (encore)
Tormentor (encore)

No sooner had the last scream died than the security put the lights on and started shoving people out the door. By volume, we got about as much from two legendary bands putting out top performances as we were going to get, and anyone who left dissatisfied should really check why they listen to metal in the first place, not to mention why they bother going to shows.

Next up is probably not HammerFall tonight; I'm skint after supporting these bands and paying the Palladium's ticket prices. More likely, it'll be Darkwor's release show with Woe at Ralph's next weekend. In other news, I indeed got that long-ago-ordered Wacken ticket, so I start in the north this summer rather than the east, and finish in the east rather than in the south. The itinerary is still not set for this, but it'll be announced when it is.