35-Show Between The Buried And Me Tour Ends Heavy In Tennessee
Between The Buried and Me have done some crazy things, such as playing "Colors" live in its entirety and following the hour-long album with a second complete set of fan-picked favorites. They've also been selling bundles of their latest album, "The Parallax II: Future Sequence," that include a full-size BTBAM NASA-themed space suit. It's safe to say that the bar on what constitutes 'crazy' for this band is set rather high. For the whole 35-date tour, which had started on September 13th in North Carolina, the band decided to go full crazy again and perform "Future Sequence," their longest album to date, in its entirety.
Moreover, they were bringing a slew of other near-virtuoso-level bands with them to add even more moments of jaw-dropping to the mix for the show. The Faceless, modern kings of start-stop melodic death metal, The Contortionist, a band pushing the boundaries of metal as much as they push the boundaries of jazz and djent, and The Safety Fire, groove-centric prog lads from overseas, rounded out the lineup. These Herculean feats of skill were all to close out the tour in Nashville, TN on October 25th at The Cannery Ballroom.
It was an inordinately cold evening in Nashville, with the temperature dropping to the low 40s. The line started to form around 5:30PM and had reached the edge of the building by the time I had shown up at 6. The first Robbie, the tour manager for The Contortionist, had walked out to find me and bring me backstage to meet with the second Robby, Robby Baca of The Contortionist, for an interview just before the show. During the interview, I had found out that vocalist Michael Lessard had taken a very proactive role in the formation of the material for the band's next record, as well as a bit about Baca's guitar playing and the construction of the songs.
When the doors finally opened up around 6:30, it still took an hour or so to get everyone inside from the various lines. Luckily, The Safety Fire were not going to take long to get out on stage and do their thing. The UK-based five-piece started things off with a quick fury, with sections of the crowd yelling the lyrics back to vocalist Sean McWeeney. Songs off of "Grind The Ocean" were greeted with acclaim, especially by one heftier man who had tried to crowd-surf and ended up nearly taking me down with him when he failed. The band was a sight - with both guitarists utilizing Fender Telecasters (a country icon, befitting of Nashville) on either side of the stage, pointed outward because of their differing dominant hands. Songs from "Mouth of Swords" were exciting as well. Drummer Calvin Smith performed in what looked like a Burger King kids meal hat for some of the set.
Inbetween sets, a Nashville pastime could be celebrated just outside the venue: Squeals on Wheels, a food truck with barbecue, had made the front lot its temporary home. Seeing as how "Booze ain't food" (according to Dethklok), it was a great decision to park it in front of a venue full of hungry metalheads who wanted more than just booze. If you didn't freeze your nipples off when you walked out to get some, and you managed to make it back indoors, you would have noticed the merch area just inside getting a lot of attention.
A quick set change gave The Contortionist the reins of the show. Not ones to really freak out on their more banger-friendly moments, the bandmates were in a considerably zen-like state for most of their set, choosing to focus in on the their playing and soaking up the soundscapes. That's not to say that Michael Lessard wasn't a beast of a presence on stage, which he transformed into when he was singing or screaming. Guitarist Cameron Maynard was grinning most of the time, thoroughly enjoying the experience. Their djent-prog combination had most people craning their necks to watch the dizzying musicianship, but also got the pitters going, with forceful shoves all around. "Geocentric Confusion" closed out the set properly on a high note.
When it was time for The Faceless, the crowd was primed. "Autotheism" had elevated the band's status in 2012, and the band led with the lead track and went through all of the movements of it to begin the show. Vocalist Geoffery Ficco was a ghastly presence, at times completely still and looking out over the crowd like a puppet with no master, and then fiercely barking the lines and swaying with the rhythms as if he were born to do nothing else, especially on "Ten Billion Years." Guitarist Michael Keene's hands were a blur, as well as drummer Alex Rudinger's limbs. Once our minds had doubled back on themselves, the band decided it was time to let up and give way to the headliners.
Between The Buried And Me love Nashville so much that they filmed "Colors Live" here, so it makes sense that they'd end this mighty trek of a tour here. The room was packed to about 3/4 of its total capacity for their set, which utilized two antenna-like structures on the back of the stage to display visuals during the show. "Future Sequence," from start to finish, felt monumental. The frantic screams of Tommy Rogers, intricate riffing between Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring, deft additions by Dan Briggs, and superhuman drumming from Blake Richardson felt positively surreal. With barely a break to pick up water and rehydrate, the band rolled through the 72-minute record while stage divers and crowd surfers hit their stride. The mosh pit was big enough to engulf the room with a few more well-placed shoves at certain points, and nobody was bitching about anything for once -- The sound was good, the lights were great, the audience weren't totally drunk and onerous to navigate in the crowd, and the security staff had no problems either.
It was a fitting end to the tour, with the band closing out their US shows for 2013 on the 14-minute encore "White Walls," reinforcing Nashville's love of the "Colors" record. Between The Buried and Me and The Contortionist are both set to take on Australia in two weeks, while The Faceless will be paralleling them through Australia opening for Nile. The Safety Fire will take on one show in the UK for December and then resume full activity in January.
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