Whether it was the later start or mini-festival mode, I was up and ready for another day of Bobfest well in time, getting in early to a nearly empty O'B's. The crowds were down on the day; no big headliner, and it was a Sunday show, but still, these were good bands, and those who missed it or didn't stick around for the duration missed out. This is a festival; you pay the same at 2pm as at two minutes to midnight, so you might as well come down early and get value for money.
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:"
It's long been a contention of mine that a performance is a performance, whatever venue it's in, and that such performances are directly comparable across the whole spectrum from arenas to DIY basements. The corollary to that is that bands need to approach every set that way, whether they're headlining the True Stage or opening up for the proverbial puppet show. On this evidence, Seax at least have the latter half of that covered. They were playing to me, Wren, the sound guy, the doorman, the bar staff, and whichever half of Dry Heave happened to be inside at any point in time, but you could have transplanted the band's actual performance out to any stage in the world without it feeling out of place. The self-conscious may wince at this kind of acrobatic, ceaselessly old-school heavy metal being delivered with such passion in such an empty room, but you cannot do this kind of music without that passion, even in this setting, and be able to deliver it with the necessary fire on the open-air stages of the continent. Maybe Wacken isn't waiting for these guys, but if they can keep it up, Headbangers Open Air is definitely a possibility...and probably more what they're aiming at anyways.
It was still a little early, but I took the time now to get dinner rather than waiting around till when the bands would get thicker and more personally interesting. If you're ever at an all-day event at O'Brien's where there's no barbecue (which Born of Fire and the TDB guys like to do when they do longer events), I highly recommend Asia Wok. They do a decent likely-vegan but still carnivore-palatable mapo tofu, and the bar staff will let you chow down inside with your beer as long as you aren't spilling shit everywhere.
Dry Heave [5/7]
I'm not really sure that I can immediately rate hardcore, but this was a decent set to eat dinner to, and pretty good even with that filter. The music was mostly brutal and punchy in the vein of Hatebreed, but still good enough in that frame -- and let's face it, Boston hxc likes brutality and heaviness, so it's not like this is a barrier or anything -- that I was quite bummed that I wasn't able to get ahold of their demo. Maybe I'll see them on a mixed grind bill sometime, maybe I'll actually bestir myself and pick it up off the internet. So geht's.
Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan [5.5/7]
If you've been ignoring this band because of their somewhat silly name, you're wrong. Fix it immediately. (And if this is the same band that's now billing themselves as Lo Pan, you have even less of an excuse.) JBvDLP was easily the best of the local bands I hadn't heard before on this festival, mixing killer, vicious grindcore with doom and Motorhead touches to awesome and devastating effect. You need to know about this band, and get ahold of their material if/when possible.
Das handelt nix um Schweinshaxe, das ist black metal. (Naja, Schweinshaxe sind ein bisschen Krieg, aber seit Nargaroth ist alles Krieg.) This was a good set that is not worth idiotic German old-man-jokes, in the most part a near-perfect read-down of early Burzum and Emperor that leveraged the slightly messy room sound to good effect. They've got some room to grow, but they've already established their place as one of the cooler black metal bands in eastern New England.
Because I have a general southward limit of about the Pike, or at least the lower 128 belt, as regards going to shows, I'm late to the party on this, but to the extent that anyone outside the region actually reads this, any black metal band from Rhode Island is getting to be categorically worth a second look. Between Haxen, Bog of the Infidel, WIWC, and yes, even Graveside Service (did you know Scott from Xasthur once recorded some bass tracks for them? NO WAY THAT IS A REVELATION THE BAND DOESN'T CEASELESSLY NAMEDROP HIM EVERY TIME THEY'RE MENTIONED ON THE INTERNET), RIBM is much better than any such geographically-limited subscene really has a right to be, and these and other bands from the state deserve the attention they're getting.
Continuing in the line of good sets from good bands I hadn't seen before, Finisher set out a strong performance of grinding, occasionally manic doom metal. They might have blended in a little better the day before, with Elder and Phantom Glue on the program, but appearing here pumped up the diversity on the day for Sunday, which ranging from Seax to Composted and JBvDLP was already pretty wide.
As alluded a while back, I did successfully pass the "dino metal" idea on to Mark. No idea if they'll actually do anything with it, but it's out there.
As should have been expected from a festival performance on this date, Composted stepped it up with their gimmicks, FOR FREEDUMS. This was killer outing of slams, even if the soundboard didn't fully deliver their Hulk Hogan, TA:WP, and Lee Greenwood samples, and the balance of props was just enough to get the band's essence across without impeding the delivery of the music under the time constraints involved. Though they've been playing out less lately, Composted still has it, and will be making weird noises for the foreseeable future.
Witch Tomb [6/7]
Nae Strep Cunt, nae Witch Tomb. Regardless of juvenile bitching about lineup changes, this was a kickass set of Witch Tomb's characteristic alienating black metal, but the distance between this band and other Beckwith Bros. projects (see also Hirudinea) is kind of decreasing. Still, good, and we'll see what develops.
I and probably most other people in the Boston metal scene would rather that these bands all continued on their separate axes, but if what happens instead is a convergence and an eventual resolidification, under that name or something else, of something approaching the Completely Dehumanized-era December Wolves lineup, we would probably be ok with that.
Back from seventeen years off, without any sign of missing a beat. (Of course, I don't have direct points of comparison, because the last previous show this band played, I was probably standing on a parking lot holding up a trumpet as a shortarse Sicilian DI yelled at me, because that was what I was doing for most nights in the last half of 1994.) Nearly everyone in the band is still active in the scene, of course, but not playing music this remorselessly fast, brutal, and technical, really recapturing that essence of 90's death metal from this region; some grooves foreshadowing slam that probably filtered up from Long Island, and a light blackening in places reminiscent of how Vital was evolving next door in Rhode Island. Absolutely straight-up killer.
Fires of Old [6/7]
I hadn't seen this band in a while, but the differences and changes are all for the positive, much like the metastasis of spikes and barbed-wire on their now nearly-unhandleable main mic stand. Cutting down to a three-piece (and, incidentally, a functional subset of Engorged) has definitely sharpened the sound, and the more Primordial-esque elements are both new and to good strong effect, improving the music and setting them apart from others in New England. The only debit was the set length; festivals do that, but I really need another headlining outing from this band. Kickass.
At this point, it was getting late, I had work in the morning, and a two-mile hike in front of me; I stepped out, giving KYOTY a pass. That hurt, even of itself because this is a good band we're talking about here, but more so because I ended up getting back home shortly after midnight, even with that hike and pounding across the highways. I probably could have stuck, and failing to fails it. Regardless, I got turned around, and back into the swing of work without killing myself. Festival successfully negotiated; onsite accommodations and Thur-Sat might have made it go better, but as noted, that's not the way fests work on this continent....yet.