Reviewed by: B. Cross
Photos by: Matt Lambert
The “Communion of Sirens” tour – a double bill featuring two of Sweden’s greatest heavy metal exports – makes for some strange bedfellows. Their country of origin aside, Opeth and In Flames couldn’t be more different; the former plays progressive metal, the latter a blend of alternative and metalcore. But both share some death metal roots, and they also are known for having a single record that heralded a notable shift in their sound. With In Flames, it was 2001’s Reroute to Remain that morphed their sound from melodic death metal into metalcore, while Opeth’s Heritage in 2011 brought their 1970s progressive rock influence completely to the forefront, ditching the death growls in the process. Both bands have recorded further material since then, expanding their catalog and musical horizons without ignoring their previous work. Sure, some “true” fans may have written them off, but that’s their loss, if the densely crowded venue was any indication. Thus, the two Swedish heavyweights were a surprisingly natural fit to tour together, and they descended upon the Palladium in Worcester for their last US show before heading north. Read more
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Crash Kings Rating:
December 13, 2009
Reviewed by: Sally Feller
Reviewed by: Jake Schauer
On a quiet Monday night on H Street, Nico Vega played as part of a triple-bill at DC bar The Black and The Red. In a venue the size of a studio apartment, members of the three bands helped set up and take down gear for each other in an atmosphere that seemed straight out of a hard-luck rock band diary. If I had known nothing about the band, I would have seen them for the immensely talented group that they are, and walked away hoping that they rise above the realm of tiny venues and setting up their own equipment. Knowing a little bit of their history, I was left impressed with what they had just done.
Nico Vega is a west coast band, and if you were to ask music fans in, say, LA, they’d be something of a big deal. Their fan base, however, has not extended eastward beyond Ohio, and that showed in the sparse crowd of about twenty. I arrived in time for the doors to open at 8:30, but I could have easily turned up seconds before their set and still gotten a spot in front of the stage. It felt a lot like going to see your friend’s band play at open mic night, except with talent. They are an easy comparison to the White Stripes as they feature a guitarist more than capable of carrying the instrumental burden of a song. Add to that a drummer who is absolutely ferocious and a vocalist with an unforgettable voice, and you’ve got a pretty heavy set.
Opening with what vocalist Aja Volkman dedicated as “a gift to you”, the band played “This Too Shall Pass” off of their No Child Left Behind EP, something they hadn’t played live in quite some time. And while all-out dancing was limited to one diehard fan in front of the drum set, it seemed as if everyone responded to what they were doing. It wasn’t exactly difficult. Volkman made use of the fact that the “stage” was six inches tall, and took her performance into the crowd, walking among us and dancing as she sang.
They hit a few crowd favorites in their short set, including “Gravity”, which might have been the highlight of the night. I’m still humming the tune. Yet their final song was something pretty noteworthy.
They closed with something that was new to me, and seemingly to the rest of the crowd. Over ominous cymbals and eerie guitar, Volkman recited a poem that elicited images of Jim Morrison and, to a certain extent, Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge”. As guitarist Rich Koehler took over, Aja dropped to her knees in some mystical dance, and was soon joined by the guitarist. If he weren’t busy beating the hell out of his kit, drummer Dan Epand likely would have joined them. That’s the image that stuck with me. Given the circumstances, it would have been so easy to phone it in. Was the set a little short? Yes. But what band would lay on the theatrics like that in a tiny venue, to a crowd of twenty, on a Monday night?
The next few shows are the lean portion of Nico Vega’s tour as they play Cambridge and New York before working their way back west. And while the shows may get larger, and the set lists a little more encyclopedic the further they get from the Atlantic, they’ll still bring everything they have to the stage, even if there really isn’t one.
For more info on Nico Vega visit: www.myspace.com/nicovega
Remaining Tour Dates:
12/10 Cambridge, MA TT The Bears
12/11 New York, NY The Studio at Webster Hall
12/13 Cleveland, OH Pirate’s Cove
12/18 Denver, CO Bender’s Tavern
12/20 Las Vegas Wasted Space
Reviewed by: Sally Feller
Playing to a respectably crowded House of Blues on a Thursday night, MuteMath kept the energy pulsing through the crowd. Setting the stage with an unexpected dose of incense, the band played all of the crowd favorites and a few select songs from their new album “Armistice.” After reading about some difficulties and professional differences between the members of MuteMath, I wasn’t sure what kind of show to expect—would their performance seem stilted and disjointed, or would they pull together for the love of their music and the fans. I can happily announce that the guys came together to put on a spectacular show and I wouldn’t have known about any of their problems had I not read about them in the local music magazine pre-show.
If you’ve never heard MuteMath before, picture the lovechild of Keane, Muse, and The Bravery. They have a typical indie-pop sound, amped up with piano-heavy tunes and powerful vocals. Filled with catchy beats and fun lyrics, MuteMath creates albums for those listeners seeking something just slightly different from what they hear on the radio and those who are, perhaps, not quite ready for a jump into the more disjointed, edgy indie bands.
The crowd really got into “Typical,” shouting lyrics and trying not to slosh their drinks while jumping around. Once “Spotlight” pumped through the speakers, it seemed that people were trying to pretend that they didn’t know the words, for fear of making it public knowledge that they listened to the “Twilight Soundtrack,” but they couldn’t stop themselves—MuteMath plays catchy tunes and I dare you to not sing along at their live show; I DARE YOU.
Even the mellow ballads like “You Are Mine” came off with energy and feeling, thanks to the stellar performance by MuteMath. Often in a mid-sized venue these songs can sound a little flat and dull, given the amount of people and the open space, but MuteMath were blessed with a great sized audience and Paul Meany’s heartfelt vocals. There was even some xylophone rocking out going on, in a non-ironic way, which should sell you on checking them out in your own town during the remainder of their tour.
F0r more on MuteMath visit their official website
Reviewed by: Justin
AFI is one of my favorite bands to see live. I got to the venue (Epic) around 30 minutes before the doors opened. It was a cloudy/rainy night, but the line still extended around the block, and nobody seemed to mind it that much. I was excited to not only see AFI again, but to see the new Epic since I hadn’t been there since it was the Quest Club. There were a lot of good shows and good memories there, so I was hoping to start new ones here.
It’s kind of fitting that the venue they played at was called Epic, because that’s what a lot of fans waiting in line were hoping that the show would be. Many of the fans were seeing AFI for their first time, and many of them traveled across the country to make it to the first show on the tour. Now THAT’s passionate! Traveling across the country and standing the rain hours before the doors open. Well, it’s either passionate or insanity – or both – especially when it’s general admission, so it’s not like there are better “seats” for the early birds.
The opening band was Gallows, from the United Kingdom. I’d never heard their music before, but I came away impressed. They were a great opener for a band like AFI. Maybe I’m still immature (probably), but I’m still thoroughly entertained by British accents… not pronouncing the R’s at the end of words, keeping the T’s silent, etc. I couldn’t make out some of Frank Carter’s stage banter, but he certainly had the crowd with his charisma. He’d sing the last two songs IN THE CROWD, a la Butch Walker. A couple nice little circle pits and some catchy music would be the perfect precursor for AFI.
I’ve had “Crash Love” for awhile, and I was lukewarm towards the album at first, much to my dismay. It certainly wasn’t as good as DECEMBERUNDERGROUND to me after the first few spins, at least before seeing them live. There are a handful of bands where, once I see them performing the new material in a live setting, it enhances it for me, and once I give it more listens, I get really into it. AFI’s not that type of band, but this album certainly was.
The set list was as follows:
Girl’s Not Grey
The Leaving Song Pt. II
Silver and Cold
Dancing Through Sunday
The Leaving Song
On the Arrow
Death of Seasons
Veronica Sawyer Smokes
Love Like Winter
The encore would be 6 to 8 and, of course, Miss Murder.
For all of those long-time fans seeing the band for the first time, they really put on an excellent show for them. Davey Havok has a style and charisma all his own where he’s able to connect with the crowd so easily. Botched stage dive attempt aside, the band was “on” tonight. From the new material, “Torch Song”, “Beautiful Thieves”, “Medicate”, and “Veronica Sawyer Smokes” were the best songs live, with the latter being my personal favorite.
AFI has constantly grown and evolved with every subsequent album, but they still have a rabid, passionate fan base. While I don’t know the precise capacity of Epic, the club was packed upstairs and downstairs on this rainy Minneapolis night. If you’re on the fence, for whatever reason, about going to the show, make up your mind fast before it sells out – if it’s not already. And if you’re like me where the album didn’t grab you after the first few listens, you’ll feel otherwise once you see them live.
Check out our recent interview with AFI guitarist Jade Puget here