This was a spectacular evening of shredding, headbanging, half-naked dudes and mysterious extra guitar players. Jeanne Fury accompanied me to this show on her home turf in Williamsburg, and I got to visit the new Knitting Factory for the first time.
The Knitting Factory is a small venue with fantastic sound and excellent beer. The stage is wide, set up much like the Highline Ballroom. The crowd was especially sparse when we showed up. Before Tiger Flowers took the stage, I took some time to examine the merchandise. At The Binary Code table, I chatted with Jesse Zuretti, who was extremely cool. I was psyched to pick up a physical copy of the band's latest album, Suspension of Disbelief.
Within a few minutes, Tiger Flowers took the stage, but they didn't immediately start playing. After a few moments of awkward silence, vocalist Jesse Madre explained that their bass player was taking a dump. Right on. Soon that situation was remedied, and the band ripped into a fantastic set of esoteric and entertaining hardcore. My experience of the band's music doesn't extend past their Myspace page, but I was extremely impressed.
The band combine crushing guitars, bottom-heavy bass and obtuse time signatures to produce a very cool sound. I'm surprised Tiger Flowers are unsigned. Guitarist Dean Landry sported a copious effects board and wasn't shy to bust out all manner of sonic absurdity. Jesse Madre was absolutely manic, trampling every inch of the stage, monitors and floor that he could reach. The dude was explosive. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn't particularly energetic. This was probably due to the advanced age of the audience. At the very least, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
While The Binary Code set up, I was able to try out some of the venue's organic nut brown ale. I couldn't catch the name of the brewery, but it was a righteous brew that went down smooth. Good beer and good metal are a match made in heaven.
When The Binary Code plugged in, I realized that there was an extra man onstage. Evidently, the foursome has recruited an additional axe-man for the tour. They launched straight into tracks from their new album, and the shredfest was on. The sound was great. The volume was not absurd and the guitars were crystal clear.
Suspension of Disbelief has grown on me quite a bit, and the album tracks sounded fantastic live. The Binary Code's progged out and atmospheric vision of technical death metal is exactly what I've been in the mood for lately. Jesse Zuretti is a fantastic guitar player, ripping off absurd riffs and leads with little effort. The album is tied together by distinctive clean guitar interludes, and I was pleased to hear them being performed live.
I enjoy vocalist Michael Apprich's performance on the album, and he did a good job of pulling off his Ishahn-like screams in person. The guy was quite animated while he was singing, but he seemed to droop during some of the instrumental sections. This was only really notable in relation to Jesse Madre's earlier exhibition of insanity. I guess he's a hard act to follow. The new guitar player's long hair ensures that at least half the band can windmill throughout the set. Bass player Brett Bamberger was probably the most energetic guy on the stage with a genuine swivel neck. All told, it was an excellent performance. Drummer Umar Fahim ensured that the band's rhythmic peculiarities were perfectly executed, and the band sounded marvelously tight.
The crowd had filled in quite a bit during The Binary Code's set, but remained solidly geriatric. A couple of visits to the bar ensured I was experiencing a nut brown euphoria by the time Revocation began to set up. Once again, there appeared to be an extraneous guitar player assembling his gear. Have Revocation added a touring guitar player? The answer is yes.
With nary a cue from drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne, the show got started and the shred reigned. I was mildly concerned that the layered guitar sound on Existence is Futile wouldn't translate to the stage. The mysterious touring guitar player ensured that the translation was seamless. The sound was really great – I'm quite pleased with the Knitting Factory's acoustics.
David Davidson is the kind of guitar player that anyone can appreciate. During soundcheck, he whipped out the intro to “Tornado of Souls.” Touché. The guy plays like he was born with a Flying V in his hands. He's also a charismatic front-man whose energetic stage presence is entirely entertaining. All the kids who drool over Alexi Laiho should consider adopting Mr. Davidson as their new ruler.
I had no problem securing a spot directly in front of Mr. Davidson at the stage. I couldn't think of a better spot from which to enjoy the acrobatics. The crowd was all smiles, but barely moved. At one point, Mr. Davidson requested a circle-pit, but it didn't happen. For my part, I headbanged enough to induce a massive bangover. These guys are all motion on stage, and you can't help but siphon off some of that energy.
It took perhaps one song for the band to overheat and decide to disrobe. Clearly, the touring guitarist isn't used to this kind of thing; he doesn't have the road-worn, Bruce Lee physique of the other band members. Give him a few weeks on the road, and he'll fit right in.
The new guitarist held his own throughout the show. On some of the leads he ably mirrored Mr. Davidson's fretwork. The band seemed comfortable with the extra presence on stage. The only miscue occurred rather quietly when Mr. Davidson asked the guy to re-tune his guitar. I doubt anyone else noticed.
So yes, Revocation ruled. Songs off the new album like “Deathonomics,” “Dismantle the Dictator” and “The Brain Scramblers” sounded better live than they did on the album. The band's exuberance adds some extra sauce that the recorded compositions can't convey.
Bass player Anthony Buda raged around the middle of the stage and shared vocal duties throughout the set. Phil Dubois-Coyne's drumming was relentlessly punishing and quite impressive. The band played a couple of songs from their first album, Empire of the Obscene. The new guitar player ensured that every track sounded tremendous.
This was an awe-inspiring performance and an excellent way to start off the new metal year. If you think Revocation are decent on tape, I assure you they sound better in person. This show was a lot of fun, but I'm a little worried about the turnout. The Binary Code and Revocation are ear candy for the older metal crowd, but both bands need to draw a younger audience. Someone needs to get the kids out to these shows, or else it could be a long tour.
Unfortunately, due to my mammoth commute home on a work night, I couldn't stay around for Hypno5e. My apologies.
“Metal as Art” is not the sexiest tour name I've ever heard. I'd rather go with “Metal as Life.” Either way, existence is not futile as long as there's metal like this.