Monthly Archives: July 2018

Hyborian Closes the Night with a Frantic and Chaotic Experience

The final act of the night was Hyborian, but it certainly drew attention. Some of it may have been residual from Young Bull, but based on what I heard it certainly had enough to bring in a crowd in its own right.

Hyborian fuses prog and thrash metal with powerful, raw vocals and dynamic structures. The fast paced, complex structures paired with sudden breakdown evoke a chaotic feeling to the music that is overwhelming at times but brought back when it toes the line of overdoing it. The constant ebb and flow of blast beats and sudden breakdowns and dissonance add to the overwhelming feeling. It certainly is an interesting change from the rest of the line up, but at times this theme of ebb and flow proves to be hard to maintain even for the band. There were a few moments where I’m sure things weren’t totally on point, but Hyborian plays through them and makes it part of the song anyway. There are also times where it felt like the band had a certain length in mind for a song, and by golly that length would be reached like a music critic using a ton of words to lengthen a review.

As for their stage performance…I didn’t see too much to really note. It wasn’t that it was terrible, but nothing remarkable either. The band focused on the music, and they certainly covered that part well. It drew in cheers and applause and one brave soul decided to go into the mosh pit wearing roller skates. I can’t explain their reasoning behind it, but the occasion called for it, I guess it’s one way to look at the audience being enthused by a performance. Regardless other than questionable foot wear the audience seemed to like what they heard.

Hyborian offers a music experience that, if not complex, certain a break from the night’s lineup. It paired lots of high and low energy tempos with melodies that bring the listener to the edge only to edge off slightly. It is certainly a listening experience that can lose a person but bring them back to a concert atmosphere.

Technique- 3.5

Presentation- 1.5

Audience Interaction- 1.5

Brownie Points- 0.5

Total- 7

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Young Bull Tore Through the Shop

Young Bull came up next to last in the night, but they didn’t hold any punches.

If I recall this was one of the Lawrence bands so they drew a large crowd at a Lawrence venue for one obvious reason. The other obvious reason was their music. While they categorize themselves at rock and roll they certain brought in other elements. Bringing in punk grit along with music texture Young Bull creates a sound that is powerful, melodic, and strongly enticing. Rich in tempo changes and syncopation the music barrages any listener with a sound that is frantic at times but methodically and melodically keep everything seemingly familiar. It was extreme but not overdone.

Keeping things extreme but not overdone was the way this band kept all aspects of their performance. While I found lots of the special effects tonight a bit gimmicky Young Bull made it work cohesively. There were times where the lead singer made a gesture and the lights would change color, and luckily it was a mood appropriate one. It added an emphasis to the song and, if it was gimmicky, didn’t seem like a blatant gimmick. The only issue I had were flashing strobe light effects, but that is more of a personal issue than anything else. They were also one of the few bands who bothered to introduce themselves that night. I’m not sure if it helped endear themselves to the audience, but it certainly helped endear them to me.

It was obvious Young Bull was one of the bands folks came to see. Right out of the gate people were bobbing and pogoing. It built up into a frenzy and a circle pit was attempted (but wasn’t fully realized). This band drew the love of the audience, and that was used advantageously. The audience was worked up into a frenzy to a point where they would do what Young Bull asked. If the band fistpumped, so did the audience. If the band chanted, so did the audience. The band drew the audience in and kept them locked.

Young Bull certainly lives up to their name. They have a powerful stage show and tenacity to match their music. It was certainly a welcome change and one met by the audience as well. After all that here’s my rating:

Technique- 3

Presentation- 3

Audience Interaction- 3

Brownie Points- 0

Total- 9

Druids Evokes a Performance that’s Raw and Delightful

Druids came on during the second half of the showcase and helped establish the trend of less doom and psychedelic and more intensity. Out of Des Moines, Druids offers a welcome change to flash in the pan effects and de-emphasized those aspects to focus on a show that put the focus on where it belonged: the music.

It was also a nice change from the barrage of doom and relatively slow tempos in other sets. They immerse the listener in a blend of fast tempos with dark undertones. When the music gets to frantic tempos that peak it brings it back down with break downs and soothing prog and psychedelic elements. The raw screams added a nice touch to things, but at times didn’t pair well with the psychedelic elements. I get it was aiming for a contrast, but sometimes contrasts clash too much to work.

At the very least Druids seemed to want to be there to show us their cool music. Everyone seemed enthused to be there and showed off what they could offer. I think what I also appreciated was how they were able to do it without anything that gimmicky be it an attitude or literal flashing lights. It reflected well and that enthusiasm was infective. The audience loved it through and through. Even in the second song people were headbanging, screaming instead of cheering, and moshed hard. Their intensity matched the intensity of the music and the enthusiasm the band expressed.

I don’t have much to say about Druids, but what I do is rather positive. Their music offers a lot of texture and energy and they bring it with them to the stage. It goes to show how sometimes the old fashioned way of putting on a show is to make sure the music is good.

Technique-3

Presentation-2

Audience Interaction-3

Brownie Points-0

Total-8

Snowchild Brings in a Cool Sound but a Frosty Demeanor

Snowchild played after Orphans of Doom during the showcase, and oh do I have things to say! Coming all the way from Wichita (I know this because it was mentioned. More on that in a moment) Snowchild brings to the stage

The first impression I had of Snowchild was a nice relief of clean vocals to go with black metal and jazzy attributes. The tension created by juxtaposing polyrhythms had an incredible effect on the music. Reminiscent of some of the earlier metal music of the 70’s and 80’s it tried to blend elements of fantasy with melody and grit. This medley doesn’t always work out because at times the lyrics felt trite and the riffs mimicry of other bands. Otherwise they made it their own by adding slow doom tempos, which is more than what I can say about their performance.

Their stage “performance” was one hell of a performance. It became a bit confusing about when they were going to start. They seemed to do a sound check as the other bands had onstage (something I want to address in my final thoughts on the showcase), start, then left the stage. I wasn’t sure why they did the sound check this way, as was no one else. When they came back on stage to start they gave no introduction of any sort (then again, most of the bands didn’t. I plan on addressing that too), and took some time to talk about much of anything to the audience. When they mentioned they were from Wichita I had to research each band quickly to find out whom I was listening. After the last song of the set they abruptly left. No goodnight, no thank you, just left. It felt very cold and like they didn’t want to be there. I don’t know if something went on backstage or what, but there is no reason to bring that to the stage.

Regardless of initial confusion the audience loved it. From the get go there were people into the music. By the end of the set the audience was guaranteed to cheer and clap for the band. They loved the music and the band played. It goes to show that despite what I feel was very cold to the audience was not necessarily what everyone else perceived. Either that or they didn’t care as much as I did, which is understandable. They were there for a good time and they obviously had it.

Snowchild is undeniably talented and their music a welcome of breaking the monotony of slow tempo music from earlier sets. They know what they’re doing with their genre and have played with it quite well. Their stage attitude, however, left me feeling lukewarm and a bit annoyed.

Technique-3

Presentation-1.75

Audience Interaction-2

Brownie Points-0

Total-6.75

Orphans of Doom Rocks It Live

Next up on the showcase is Orphans of Doom. As some of my secret fans will recall I reviewed their latest album a few months back. Seeing them live wasn’t too much of a difference musically and there are some variants performance-wise, but that’s about it.

I suspected Orphans of Doom was opening as some of the music sounded familiar, so I do need to rescind some of my earlier comments about their music being indistinguishable from other stoner metal songs in the genre. However it seemed like some of the songs they played live were songs I mentioned as being their standout songs, so that’s why I only partially rescind. That said there’s not much I can add that I haven’t already said about the band’s music before. Those who are into stoner metal will enjoy their music as they are mostly standard with some songs where they explore slow tempos and prog elements to create a stoner-prog fusion. To this end, however, it’s explored in a separate way.

Orphans of Doom love to put on a light show, and in this case there were strobe lights at the most intense parts of the songs (thank you, Granada, for posting warnings). It certainly intensified and added to the extra energy and tenacity that wasn’t captured on the album. While I wasn’t able to observe how the audience reacted specifically to the light show there were people enjoying it, and as the set went on the audience’s adoration grew, albeit not as intense as it could have been. I can only assume it was effective even in a small amount.

Orphans of Doom bring an intensity that wasn’t observed in the album. Other people enjoyed it as the band allowed it to be extreme tempered with slow tempos. I feel like if the band didn’t try to hide their intensity they will give a more genuine performance onstage and on the album.

Technique-2.5

Presentation-2

Audience Interaction-2

Brownie Points-0.5

Total-7

Merlin Evokes a Stage Show

As some remember I’m reviewing a showcase by The Company. The next show was a presentation by Merlin.

Merlin is a local psychedelia doom band that has gained notoriety. I never knew why (being too lazy to look up their music and all) and interviews with them were somewhat unreliable in terms of discussing their music. When I saw their name on the showcase roster I knew I had an opportunity.

The music of Merlin is best described as if Taliesin himself were transported to modern times and tried to blend in musically. There’s a lot of dissonance, prog elements, slow tempos, and lyrics that don’t seem to completely mesh together. There are times where it does come together nicely, and it certainly outweighs the times where it didn’t. The times where I feel were most cohesive musically were when the band had the strongest prog elements, whether it was tying together an ocean theme or jazzy elements tied together with a saxophone. Speaking of the saxophone, it had a tendency to be extremely off. Based on how it sounded like an oboe at times and even squeaked I suspect it may be a reed issue or the saxophonist’s technique. That performance wasn’t the only issue I had with the overall set.

They didn’t introduce themselves, but I guess when one wears a cape and LED glasses it’s a good guess wizardry is involved. I also have seen lots of promotion for the band around so I was at least familiar with who they were, even if I hadn’t had a chance to check them out. While they certainly know how to stand out on stage it felt gimmicky. Between the laser light show, LED glasses, and the renfaire cape I felt like it was to compensate rather than enhance the performance. It also seemed a bit of a clumsy start. There was a radio playing while their own music started. To be honest I wondered why the sound check took so long in the first place, but that doesn’t seem like the band’s fault (more on that when I discuss the showcase as a whole). I’m also certain I’m the only in the audience who cared about this stuff.

The audience certainly enjoyed the show. The were enthusiastic and cheered on after each song. I’m not sure if it was completely acknowledged by the band, but it didn’t seem to matter. The audience kept their appreciation constant. There are moments where there did seem to be a growing number which coincided more with the start of the set than anything else.

Merlin is a bit offbeat but it seems like at times it seems aimless. There’s an attempt to dazzle, but for all the bright lights it needed to focus more on the music and technical aspects of the performance. There’s a lot to work with that could be emphasized more with a stage performance without bells and whistles and with more enthusiasm and preparedness.

Technique-3

Presentation-2

Audience Interaction-2

Brownie Points-0.25

Total-7.25

Stone Grower Ramps Up the Crowd During the Showcase

Wow, I really got walloped by the showcase put on by The Company! I have some thoughts on it as a whole, but that will come after I put up all the reviews. Since I’ve got seven of them it’s gonna be a minute.

First up was the band Stone Grower. My amateur behind managed to be late, so I’m giving them some leeway. Despite my tardiness I am able to glean something from the band.

Stone Grower offered up a mix of psychedelic music and dynamic tempos. At times with the dynamic tempo and long drawn-out notes with some atonal singing were reminiscent of Iron Butterfly or Jefferson Airplane. There are lots of stoner metal elements too, but it mostly complimented the psychedelic themes in the music. This was further complimented by a mostly on key falsetto, though I’m not convinced that when the lead was off key if that was accidental. It was at least a throwback to earlier eras of psychedelic music.

If the music didn’t charm people the lead singer’s goofy antics certainly did. His enthusiasm is a welcome change with psychedelic music brought something with its off kilter antics that was at times enjoyable and at times made me question the lead singer’s sobriety. This was further questioned when it seemed like most of the time it was only the lead singer that enthusiastic and the others were either concentrating or seemingly elsewhere. I’m not certain the stage performance hindered it, based on how the audience responded.

Stone Grower took a minute to grow on the audience, but it did happen. Oddly enough it doesn’t seem to be releated to enthusiasm. It actually seems like the more about the music line up than anything else. There were a few more songs closer to the end of the set that seemed less psychedelic inspired than the rest, which seemed to work in their favor.

I think people who are in to psychedelic and stoner music will find Stoner Grower fun to watch and enjoy the music. They provide some entertaining stunts on stage for those not into that type of music so they can enjoy it too. With that said here’s the rating:

Technique-2.5

Presentation-2.5

Audience Interaction-2

Brownie Points-0.5

Total-7.5