10 October 2008

Opeth/High On Fire/Baroness @ The Marquee 10/9/2008

Let me start by saying this was a top notch lineup. Opeth is certainly a big name, but though the others may be a bit less-known, I knew enough about all the bands coming in to expect great things. I was not disappointed.

Baroness was only disappointing in two aspects, neither that I can fault them for. The first was the set length. It was quite short. This is usually to be expected with an opener, but with only 3 bands on the lineup you can always hope even the opener will get a good share of stage time. That was not the case here, however, they made the most of the time they did have without a doubt. The band is interesting because, stylistically, it is sort of a combination of the two other bands on the tour. Very sludgy and even doomy, but at the same time extremely progressive at points and very smart music. Despite performing music I felt would appeal to audiences of either larger band on this tour, the band failed to ever really get the crowd into it, the other disappointment. As they played music primarily if not solely from the Red Album, I was familiar with it all beforehand and it came off great live. Better than on CD. I can't wait to see this band again.

High on Fire was great the last time I saw them, at The Brickhouse. I felt they were not quite as good here, and I think it was really the size difference in venues. Matt Pike is a really charismatic guy I think, but he works best with smaller audiences, and there he has this unique way of connecting with his crowd that adds even more to the already astonishing heaviness of the music. Nonetheless, the band put on a solid show, and played 100% awesome songs, though with a tendency to play primarily off of Death is this Communion. I love this band live though.

Opeth was, sadly, the biggest name on this ticket by far, but also the band whose discography I was least familiar with. To that end, I expected a mediocre show, because much as I hate to say it, shows are more fun when you know the music. But where on CD I've always felt Opeth was a little same-y and uninspired, live I felt myself eating all my preconceptions. They were amazing. The stage banter was funny in the way only nerdy humor can be (but I mean that affectionately, being a nerd myself), even hitting up a little bit of healthy self-parody (no genre is as in need of this as metal), the musicianship was amazing, they're not virtuosos, but they definitely know what they're doing, and the songs blew me away. I am now inspired to look into their catalog again and try to connect with it the way I did live. Mike is really the root of that connection. He's extremely charismatic, and just from his stage demeanor you can tell how friendly he is. You may be in a crowd of hundreds of other people, but when he talks, it feels like he's being especially friendly to you, and it's great. A healthy mix of songs from throughout their discography, closing with perhaps my new favorite Opeth song, Drapery Falls. Now I wonder why I took so long to see these legends.

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