05 March 2009
Slipknot/Coheed and Cambria/Trivium @ Jobing.com Arena 3/5/2009
To begin with, I missed Trivium because, for one thing, I'd seen them previously and wasn't overly impressed with the show or the music, but even more importantly, I couldn't be bothered to be out in Glendale by 7 pm. Maybe I ought to have tried though. Despite arriving at 7:20, I wasn't inside until about 8, at which point Coheed and Cambria had already started. Getting in was worse than airport security, and worse than Marquee security. I don't understand how this happened given that they had metal detectors.
Coheed and Cambria was about on par with their performance in Gammage last year, and like then, this was also free (for me) so it has been nice to catch them under such conditions several times. Chris Pennie really is a stellar drummer, so it's too bad he wasn't given time to really shine in their short 30-45 minute set. In fact, for awhile I wasn't sure Claudio was going to even shine much when they chose to end on Silent Earth rather than The Final Cut...but he made the various solos behind the head/talking into guitar pickups/etc work into the ending of Silent Earth instead, which was cool. The set list focused mostly on the latest album, which was a changeup from the last show, though understandable given the audience and the fact that it's their heaviest album. However, as I expected when seeing this tour announced, most of the audience was retarded, so when they left the stage, a number of people in the crowd were giving them the middle finger or complaining that they weren't heavy enough. I wanted to vomit a little in my mouth. Normally, at a real metal show, even a band no one likes is shown appreciation if the musicianship is good (as it undeniably is in this band) because real metalheads appreciate talented rock musicians in the same way that good classical or jazz musicians are appreciated...in part because real metalheads like all of the aforementioned genres.
Slipknot was the headliner of this tour, and generally the reason I came all the way out to Glendale, because though I'd never really listened to them (I knew Wait and Bleed from high school), I'd heard good things about the live show. Some people obviously don't get out enough. The music is depressingly pointless. As mentioned in my review of Modest Mouse, one thing I cannot stand is bands who clutter the stage with band members who aren't at all necessary. Normally, I regulate this criticism to bands that double in size from the studio to the stage, but in this case I have to apply it to Slipknot in general. I feel quite certain the band could be cut down from 9 members to four with minimal musical quality loss. They can't disagree, because about 4 of them spent more time running around on stage than playing music. Of course, "playing music" is a rather kind term, since two of them were just banging on drums in that painful way lead singers sometimes do where it sounds a little ill-placed or at best uninteresting. The fact that there are three drummers in Slipknot is appalling not because there's three drummers, but because there's three drummers playing the same beat. So, music quality aside, what about the stage show? Well, it was ok. A couple guys were energetic, a couple of guys were entirely boring (why is the entire stage right still in the band, I found myself wondering). Some of the stage presence was present in the brand new stage props carefully crafted to appear really old and beat up (as opposed to actually old and beat up)m and some of it was in the hilarious masks the band wears. This band is quite obviously metal, because they spend so much time cultivating a rough and hard image through carefully polished and prepared front. Might as well be Good Charlotte, I mean really.
Of course, it is unfair to rail on the band for this without giving due credit to the compliant and conformist audience. I take effort in this review to separate real metalheads from people who attend shows like this. People who attend shows like this have low IQs, are obese, lack confidence, have a lot of pent up aggression, drink heavily, and think they're unique, even in a crowd of people exactly like them, inexplicably. For every 100 of these sorts of people, there is maybe 1 real metalhead, maybe fewer. Real metalheads are intellectual. They like classical and jazz for the same reasons they like metal, and tend to prefer progressive, symphonic, avant garde and/or technical elements. They are usually engineering/science/math people, or music people, scholastically. But most importantly, they like more underground metal, so when you talk to someone who knows what you're talking about when you throw out names like Cynic, Candlemass, and Carcass, you're talking to a real metalhead. These people are not to be confused with the ignorant masses in attendance at these KUPD sponsored shows.