After a horrible day, I was definitely looking forward to hit my weekly show at 1904 here in Jacksonville, FL and blow off some steam. Hell, even the weather sucked. Cool, pouring down rain. Sucks. Nothing like some good music for a few hours to escape the frustration, angst and exhaustion of days (weeks) like that. I find Metal a good outlet for these “bad” emotions that all too often are left to fester and become destructive in so many ways. I find music to be productive release for all of it. Head bang, fists in the air, screaming my head off. Leave it all with the music and depart in a better mood, pleasantly tired and relaxed, maybe even with a couple more friends. Ask me why I love music. This night was sure to be the catharsis of my day, my week.
Opening the show was a band I was not familiar with called sleepmakeswaves from Australia. Whoa! What an absolutely killer way to start the night off. I always love finding new music (to me, anyway) and this was an epic discovery. This four piece, instrumental group is seriously good. Members Alex Wilson on bass and keys, Otto Wicks-Green and Daniel Oreskovic on guitars and Tim Adderly on drums create a huge, heavy but beautifully celestial sound. Very fitting for songs like “The Stars are Stigmata, “Emergent” and “Traced in Constellations”. They were all also born to be on stage. Great presence and energy equal to that of their enormous sound. Very engaged with the crowd as well. As soon as their set was over they hung around in the audience answering questions, laughing and talking to anyone wanting a fist bump, a pat on the back or a full on conversation with a smile and as much enthusiasm as their on stage persona. What you see is what you get with these guys. I have a feeling they have quite a few more fans from that show; very much including me. Watch out for sleepmakeswaves in the near future!
We were off to a great night and I was feeling much better, ready to hear one of my current favorite Modern Death Metal bands: Entheos. Being essentially a supergroup, Entheos is compiled of former members of notable bands like Animals As Leaders, Animosity, Faceless and fronted by one of the most viscous vocalists around: Chaney Crabb (lyricist and vocalist), Evan Brewer (bass guitar), Navene Koperweis (drums) and Malcolm Pugh (guitars). That’s right. Everyone that knows this band, knew it…was…on. Those that had not were about to become big fans, double-quick-time. Dropping tunes like “Primal”, “New Light” and “Neural Damage”, this band has a brutal, punch in neck sound, intermingled with Fusion and Jazz interludes, drumming that would scare the hell out of Chicken Little because I would not have been surprised if the sky DID fall; funky, slap-bass lines that are second to none and Chaney’s low, powerful, growling voice. Just an amazing, skull crushing show. On top of this musical sledge hammer lies truly gorgeous lyrics that may be dark in nature at times but always, like the music, takes ninety corners at will and end up on the positive side of the spectrum (check out their video of “Neural Damage” on YouTube for a good taste of this beast of band). As with sleepmakeswaves, the members of Entheos are just as comfortable in the crowd as they are on stage. Engaging, laughing and enjoying the wonderful atmosphere they helped to create on that Friday night. This is what the real face of Metal looks like!
The night was set aflame, and the opening acts were picking up fans faster than lightening striking a golfing priest as the groundskeeper flees, but there was one more act to follow these two behemoths. I can think of few bands that could follow these two without being intimidated. Not so with The Contortionist. If the first two bands burned the village, The Contortionist salted the ground so as to leave no survivors. The crowd went absolutely berserk. Pit after pit opened up that engulfed two-thirds of the audience. On slower songs, the entire venue reverberated with the crowd singing all of the lyrics, almost over the entire band. Enthusiasm reached every corner of 1904. Robby Baca’s guitar playing is very unique and full of emotion in slower tempos and furiously technique in faster songs. Simply brilliant playing that would satisfy all but the most jaded of guitar nerds. This, being the first time I have seen The Contortionist, I was dazzled and breathless. Vocalist Michael Lessard’s voice ranges from low and visceral to clean and harmonic that are studio perfect on stage. The rhythm is deftly held down by drummer Joey Baca and Jordon Eberhardt on bass. Add the guitars of Cameron Maynard and keyboards of Eric Guenther and you have the, now widely regarded band sound. Stage presence ranges from the twitchy trance of Lessard to the subdued-but-feeling-every-note stance of remarkable guitarist Robby Baca. Regardless, the audience was just as much a part of the show as the band as they played songs like: “The Parable”, “Flourish”, “Thrive” and many of their other very popular songs. Just sick! Everyone there to see The Contortionist got their A-game this fine night!
That’s right. This was a night to remember and I left the bar light at heart, relaxed, awed and happy. This kind of show is the life-giving blood of our sacred, Metal world. There was no fighting, no frowns, no angst and frustration left to give. Smiles and camaraderie were the orders of the night as is true at every top notch Metal show like sleepmakeswaves, Entheos and The Contortionist. This is what gives us breathe; a feeling of being one and belonging to something that gives our lives balance and joy. If tours of your favorite bands come through town, go down and see them. Other than the huge names, they are relatively inexpensive, support these artists and allow them the same outlet they give you. This is what will keep quality music and all of its affects rolling across your eardrums for many, many years to come. Just my two cents. Love you all!