16 January 2010

Between the Buried and Me/Cynic/Devin Townsend Project/Scale the Summit @ The Clubhouse 1/15/2009

Scale the Summit opened the show but despite the fact that I showed up before doors, I was unprepared for the monstrosity of a line that filled the entire mini-mall where the venue is located. As such, I made it in for approximately the last minute of the set. But it sounded good, I wish I'd been able to get inside faster.

Devin Townsend is one of the men in metal who I just seem not to get. His stage presence is decidedly crazy and evil feeling (not in a bad way) and his vocals are absolutely fantastic, of the level where they're worth listening to no matter how the rest of the music sounds. Unfortunately, I just tend not to dig any of the music he writes or performs. Like Mike Patton, he's great to listen to just for the sheer talent, and live he's a real treat to watch; he puts a ton of character into his performance. But unlike Mike, I find I don't ever sit down and think "I want to listen to a Devin Townsend album." That being said, I would love to see him live again some time.

Cynic was the band I was most excited to see, without question. Though they've been touring since the release of Traced in Air on and off, in general it's not too far askew to suggest this is the first opportunity I've had to see this band in about 15 years. Couple that fact with the fact that I rank Traced in Air as the best metal release of 2008, and you have a general idea how excited I was to see this band. The technicality comes out well live and the execution is solid (essential for a band like Cynic), and though I was disappointed they did not play Traced in Air straight through, as it seemed they might do when opening the set with the first couple tracks, as a whole I found the set list to be excellent. The spoken word/poetry openings to several tracks were interesting, but didn't really add anything as a live introduction; it would have been nice to see other attempts to change up the songs live than just those introductions.

Between the Buried and Me is a band which I love to listen to on CD, and in particular I will sit down and listen to Colors straight through on a semi-regular basis still (it was my pick for 2007's metal album of the year). The associated musical journey has never let me down, and as such I never understood the criticisms I read from time to time about the unnecessary length of many of their tracks until I saw them live. As much as I love the same tracks on CD, live I found some a bit tedious and lengthy. As a fan of live Jazz and Progressive music, I cannot explain the disconnect there, but I certainly found it to exist for this band. The set list was a nice mix of old and new songs (though perhaps short on old songs for those fans who hated the shift in sound found on Colors). I was a little bit thrown by a few song choices, but with a band that writes albums with odd track transitions, I suppose choosing tracks to play live is a non-trivial task and they seemed to manage it alright. Like most progressive bands, the focus was on the music more than the live show, but it was well executed and I didn't find anyone complaining about it in the audience.

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