Monday, July 9, 2007
Sounds of the Underground Tour: Review, Photo Gallery, Interviews
We got interviews, we got photos, we got a review. You practically didn't even need to go to the show, but you should have.
The 2007 Sounds of the Underground Tour kicked off in Dallas last Friday at the Palladium Ballroom. Boasting 15 bands (well, one’s a rapper), including names like GWAR, Shadows Fall, Chimaira, and Every Time I Die, SotU is a huge tour, and the show did not disappoint.
Before I continue on with the show review I want to point out that we have a photo gallery featuring pictures from both Laura Seewoester and Kenneth Smith, as well as interviews with Andy, guitarist from Every Time I Die, Matt from Chimaira, Paul, bassist from Shadows Fall, and Olavi, guitarist from Amon Amarth (the interview with Olavi is pretty short due to recorder difficulties that cut off the beginning of the interview. I assure you it was amazing, as we talked about topics like ending genocide, addressing climate change, restoring peace, and how Amon Amarth’s sound has evolved since beginning in 1992. The answer to that final bit: “more professional.”). In any case, check out all this media, it's practically like being at the show all over again.
One thing that struck me about SotU was the sheer number of metal and hardcore subgenres that were represented. The bands spanned from Viking and space alien metal to thrash and speed metal to keg party metal to metal for those kids in the ridiculously tight jeans and headbands. Being in interview for much of the earlier part of the day, I can’t speak much for some of the smaller bands, but of the better-known groups I did get to see, my ears got rocked the f*ck off.
The first group I saw was Amon Amarth. What can you say about these guys. They’ve been at it in one form or another for something like 15 years. They’re old school metal with that Nordic touch, which I liken to complete insanity. Hair down to there on every band member, they don’t mess around. They just rock, pure and simple.
2007 Sounds of the Underground Tour band InterviewsAndrew Williams from Every Time I Die
Paul Romanko from Shadows Fall
Matt DeVries from Chimaira
Olavi Mikkonen from Amon Amarth
Following Amon Amarth, was Job For A Cowboy. Gaining momentum in their music scene, even the bassist from Shadows Fall acknowledged them as one of the bands he’s not as familiar with, but wanted to check out. Knowing little of them myself, I came out of their set impressed. Lead singer Jonny Davy has an incredible vocal range, getting the low guttural screams in and transitioning without missing a beat to very high pitched, almost piercing, well, screams. Flanking Davy were two of his head-shaven bandmates, bassist and one of the guitarists, whose serpent-like headbanging almost gave their set this surreal, demonic quality.
Then came Necro, the lone rapper/hip-hop artist on the tour. Let me start by saying that I got off on the wrong foot with this guy, after he cancelled our interview 20 minutes before it was supposed to happen because he was in some kind of pre-set zone. Mind you the interview was more than two hours before his set. Then his tour manager wanted to reschedule it for during Shadows Fall’s set. Sorry, no dice. And it just didn’t get any better from there. Necro talked down to his audience, telling them all these things that they “don’t know” and needed to “learn about.” He even went so far as to tell all these die-hard metal fans to go learn about Sepultura. Give me a break. He lost the majority of the audience, but sales on other bands’ merchandise spiked during his set, as did the number of people filling the smoking deck. He left the stage to a small number of cheers, and mostly boos and tons of “get off the fucking stage!” He was the lone letdown for me, but a good rest for the legs.
From there the show broke into its big names, the top four bands of the tour. Starting it off was Shadows Fall. Shadows Fall has been getting a lot of attention recently for their release of Threads of Life and their set was a good indication of how amazing the latest album is. This five-person band from Massachusetts represents the type of metal that is picking up steam in New England and New Jersey: solid, heavy, and mostly intelligible. Lead singer, Brian Fair, easily shifts back and forth between singing and screaming, and is adept at both. Their set ranged from party metal to thrash metal, which inspired a rather large and frenetic circle pit, ala, the good ole’ days. Carnage ensued, and we loved it. A plus from Shadows Fall was the sickest circular hair whip ever, as Fair’s nearly floor length dreds created an orb of hair ten feet in diameter. A sight none in attendance shall soon forget.
Next on stage was Every Time I Die. A self proclaimed mix between a “Buffalo Bills tailgate party and a high school kegger,” these guys are a little different than your Chimairas and Amon Amarths. But their highly energetic show and fun-brand of metal was enough to pull in even the darkest, most demonic death metal fan at the show (well, maybe the next to darkest, most demonic…). With guitarists running back and forth across the stage, jumping on the drum platform (the mustachioed member missing his footing one time and crashing into the front of the drum kit), and the bassist continually throwing his bass over his head, and the attitude exuding from lead singer Keith Buckley, the sheer number of things to focus on made ETID’s set quite good. But their songs, which I admit, I’m biased, I loved them before the show, made their set nothing short of awesome (or rad, as Andy Williams kept saying in the interview).
They mixed it up between old favorites like “She’s My Rushmore” and “Floater” and songs from the upcoming album, The Big Dirty, such as “Immitation is the Most Sincere Form of Battery.” Their set included a “shit riff,” dedicated to Dimebag Darrell, in which an audience member had to chug his whole beer before the riff ended. He did, we cheered, even though the riff was pretty long and most anyone could have finished a beer in that time, but I digress. Plain and simple ETID is a fun band to watch, and were the highlight of the night for me (I guess I’m only so metal).
The penultimate band was Chimaira. Chimaira’s brand of classic, balls out, no unnecessary, extra crap, type of metal was perfect for this crowd. They no doubt inspired probably the most carnage in the mosh pit. They are straight-forward, angry, dark, nightmare-inducing, pounding metal and they’re damn good at it. That’s it.
Finally, the band to end all bands, or all of humankind at that: GWAR. Having never seen them before, I can’t compare this show to their thousands of others, but I can say this: GWAR fucking rocks. Maybe they’re not your type of metal. Maybe some of the things they make light of in their shows, like murder, rape, torture and the like, would normally make you uncomfortable. But when you are at their show, and knowing the history of this band and their influence on the culture and all the other bands opening for them, you can’t help but be amazed. You really are in the presence of greatness, even when Oderus Urungus is licking his fake dead dog’s butt. Just greatness.
For this stage show some of the characters rolled out included: the die-hard GWAR fan, whose skin they ripped off down to his bones; the “GWAR sucks” guy, who they ripped to shreds as well; the student responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre, who, Oderus decapitated and who was later shot to death with his own guns; Satan; Tyrannosaurus Rex, who bit off Satan’s head, and was then killed by Oderus Urungus; and a hole host of other characters who spewed blood and alien semen into the audience of white shirt clad concert-goers. All in all, from what I’m told, a classic GWAR set.
So, if you missed the Sounds of the Underground Tour 2007, you missed quite a lot. Better luck next time, sucka.