Sounds Of The Underground Report From Vancouver
Band Photo: Lamb of God (?)
On July 26, I got the chance to attend the Sounds of the Underground tour when they stopped in Vancouver, BC. The show was originally scheduled for the Pacific Coliseum but was moved to the PNE Forum, which is a lot smaller. My guess was that the ticket sales didn’t do very well.
Doors opened at 11am and All That Remains was set to take the stage at noon. Unfortunately, I missed All That Remains while waiting for the guestlist to arrive and caught NYC’s Madball halfway into their set. I had seen frontman Freddy Cricien perform in his street punk side project, Hazen Street, twice before and enjoyed their show. Although the two bands sound nothing alike, Madball’s hardcore music had the same amount of energy. Madball’s new album, Legacy, comes out August 2nd.
DevilDriver took the stage about 5-10 minutes after Madball left the stage. I rather liked the short time it took for them to set up the stage because waiting half an hour to an hour between bands really sucks. Anyway, DevilDriver recently released a new album, The Fury of Our Maker’s Hands. I’m not very familiar with DevilDriver’s music, new or old, and I only know the song “I Could Care Less.” They sound a lot like Coal Chamber, which would not be surprising seeing as how frontman Dez Fafara was in Coal Chamber.
A common complaint about the tour that I kept hearing all day was that there were too many hardcore bands on the bill and not enough diversity. I, personally, have never been a big fan of hardcore or metalcore and am unfamiliar with the genre. Bands like A Life Once Lost, High on Fire, Every Time I Die, Poison the Well and Norma Jean, although they each put on a great show, sounded too much like one another. That’s just my opinion and I’m sure hardcore listeners would probably disagree with me.
I missed Terror’s set to get food.
Vancouver’s very own Strapping Young Lad received a lot of attention and praise that day. The band was touring in support of their latest album, Alien, which came out in March and the only song I remember them play is “Love?” Frontman Devil Townsend’s talent stands out more than his hair. He can sing or scream and his death/thrash guitar work is amazing. Drummer Gene Hoglan, as some people have commented, is really a machine behind the kit. The band put on a solid, energetic and heavy show.
Next up was Orange County, CA’s Throwdown at 4:00. The band recently put out a new album, entitled Vendetta. I never really liked their hardcore music but their fans seemed to enjoy the show. The only song I recognized was “Forever.”
Gwar hit the stage at 5:15 and played for half an hour. These guys are notorious for their amusingly obscene stage shows and they are definitely one of my favourite bands to see live. Gwar dresses up in alien costumes while mutilating monsters and cheesy celebrities (including George Bush) and dousing the audience with enough fake blood and other bodily fluids to dye their skin and clothes pink and blue. The stage set up seemed a little less complex than their last headlining show here, probably because they didn’t have a lot of time to set too much stuff up. Near the end of their set, singer Oderus sprayed the crowd with fake blood coming out of his costume schlong.
Swedish progressive death metallers Opeth took the stage at 6:05. With their drummer, Martin Lopez, reportedly back home treating a rare blood disorder, SYL’s Gene Hoglan substituted in. This is the second time Vancouver has seen Opeth perform with Gene Hoglan. The first time was back in January of 2004 when the drummer was sick. Opeth definitely stood out from the other bands on the tour, playing songs like “Deliverance” and their new single “The Grand Conjuration,” off their upcoming release Ghost Reveries. One of the things I like about Opeth is that their songs are always changing and their 10-minute songs can sound like many shorter songs put together. I have seen Opeth twice and both times their sets have been relatively mellow. It isn’t really music you can mosh to, but more like something you slow dance to. The band consists of extremely talented musicians but I think they could have picked some of their faster, more brutal songs because it is a metal show after all.
Unearth took the stage 10 minutes after Opeth left at 6:45. I had seen these guys once in January when they opened up for Slipknot and they had impressed me with their catchy Swedish-metal-influenced riffs so I was rather looking forward to seeing them again. They’re like Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying rolled into one.
Clutch’s bluesy southern rock did not seem to fit in with the rest of the bands on the tour but it was nice to have something different like this occasionally, especially the cleaner vocals after so much screaming and yelling from the previous bands. They were interesting to see. Some people moshed while others danced. The vocals seemed to fit pretty well with their music. Some of the music seemed to have a psychedelic, stoner-rock-like sound (think Kyuss) to it.
I’m not very familiar with Chimaira and the only song of theirs that I have heard is “Sp Lit.” I have never seen Chimaira live before but someone had told me that they sucked. However, I found that it quite the opposite. They put on quite an intense show and their music reminded me of a more aggressive, thrashier, Pantera-influenced 40 Below Summer.
Lamb of God took the stage at 9:55. Having been there almost all day, I was extremely tired by then and left after taking photos of the band. I have never been into their music. Maybe because it’s too raw for my liking? I don’t know. Frontman Randy Blythe did seem a bit tired but the band still put on an energetic, brutal show.
Overall, it was a great show. It was nice to see most of the bands take their time to meet their fans when they did the meet-and-greets at their merch tables. Aside from complaints about too many hardcore bands, there were also rants about the lack of a beer garden and the quality of the sound of the PNE Forum. But it wasn't the tour's fault. Since most of the equipment was set for a stadium show, shoving them all in to the small Forum worsened the sound. There was just too much echo in the venue.
You can check out the photos for the Sounds of the Underground tour in Vancouver, BC in the photo gallery.
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