I'm no photographer. Cameras bother me from both sides of their aim and, I know for sure now, they should be bothered when I'm around too. I had to lone wolf it to this show (with someone else's camera). You're going to see some blurry shit, see-through people, red eye and the like.
So, you know, warning issued.
The show was in Portland at the Crystal Ballroom, right across Burnside from a pretty large EMI and just a couple blocks from the famous Powell's City of Books. Went into the evening feeling fuzzy and urbane, used some slot machine earnings to buy a plump bag of old metal discs and books, the sun was finally out, sky was blue, got to tip my hat at some necktie types, got some good coffee, had a beer and watched the Ducks fight Louisville admirably, walked past a Whole Foods twice and almost gave some money to an elderly homeless woman. It was all very zestful. That area of Portland during spring is exceedingly, obnoxiously pleasant.
Metal Alliance killed that mood in the best way possible--viscerally, exploding it out through the ears with non-stop metal. And fully top-notch metal at that; I'm a fan of four of the five bands that played, and even the opener that I'm not too crazy about absolutely killed it on stage:
The show started early and the Crystal Ballroom is windowy, so the lighting blew and the crowd, being able to see clearly who and what was around them, didn't go too crazy until the sun set during High On Fire's set (the third one for the night).
That said, Holy Grail brought their passion and gave everyone around me the means for some serious stokeage about the night. They know how to put on a good, energy and aggression-first show. Their new album might not be great, but when taken to the stage the tracks they played off it sounded excellent. It further reinforced the fact that they're a band that needs to be seen live—their stuff is complemented way more by the decibel level of a cranked amp than it is by their sterilizing studio mixing.
Gets a solid A from me.
So, Holy Grail laid down a thorough sonic ass whooping, but when Municipal Waste took the stage they proceeded to obliterate everyone with one the most entertaining shows I've seen. No bullshit, no costumes, no elaborate lighting, just them with their instruments shredding shit up. Crowd went wild, I went wild, drank some more beers and talked to an old homophobic-looking dude with missing teeth who, during "Born To Party," said verbatim: "I'd let Municipal Waste fuck me," leaving out that important "up."
The guys are professionals in the field of fun--their showmanship has got to be some of the best in the metal business and they deserved every scrap of the colorful confetti that started floating around at the end of their set. When life gave them lemony daylight in an awkwardly set up concert hall, they made sweet, sweet, crossover thrash lemonade. Never disappointing seeing them.
Giving it an AA.
Holy Grail killed it, Waste obliterated it, and when it was time for High On Fire, the band I'd really gone to see, it was time for them to stomp on it. Every goddamn time they're in Portland life fucks me over and I miss them—didn't happen this time, and when it comes to executing their tunes well live? There wasn't any discontent, they sounded excellent. Like, I really hope they were recording it, excellent.
Bad side? Matt Pike didn't look like he was enjoying himself. Maybe it was just because Waste's vocalist always seems like he's riding high on a sugar rush and a beer binge and I was comparing the two too much, but he definitely looked like he wanted to wrap it all up and book it out of Portland more than put on a show. Probably tired, probably wanted a drink, probably none of my business. It was a tad disappointing though considering they sounded so good, you want the bands to be enjoying themselves as much as you are, makes it feel like they're partying with you and whatnot. Didn't happen during their set. Nevertheless, they took good advantage of the only thing I could gather that the Crystal Ballroom really has going for it, decent acoustics, and did indeed stomp on the room with their tunes. Can't complain.
AAA performance, C show.
After High On Fire left was when the camera I was using really started messing with me. Couldn't get one publishable decent picture before its battery died and it killed itself.
That said? Before it shitted out, I was able to capture what must have been a murder getting plotted. Evidence pictured below.*
Just another dude watching the crowd
Or is it?
Exodus has been around tearing up stages forever, so it was no surprise that the show they put on was great. Angry fun of the best sort. Crowd loved it, I loved it, end of story.
Gets an AARP from me.
By the time Anthrax started playing, I was exhausted--my batteries were in a comparable state as the camera's. Objectivity is overrated and all, but I honestly can't comment much on their set without emphasizing that the only thing I really wanted to do was go to my car and take a nap. Which I did. About three songs in. They were clearly enjoyed by most in the room, but they couldn't hold my attention enough to keep me slouched in my corner by the merch watching them. Anthrax can be great, but they just weren't great enough that night to beat out my fatigue. Spent way too much time in a casino the night before, the beers I had weren't helping, and the fact that the camera was dead all teamed up to get me out the doors and back to the parking lot.
Here's an old video of them for formatting purposes and consolation:
Overall? The show was pretty damn fun. Pictures could have not sucked so hard, the Crystal Ballroom could be more metal-friendly and charge less than $4.50 for a 12 oz cup of fucking Rolling Rock, for fucking Jesus' fuck, I could've been more alert near the end, but it'll be hard to find a better line-up while at something other than a festival. Don't hesitate to check the show out if it comes near you.
*The only pics I got of Exodus. If you look closely and turn up the contrast, you should be able to see their vocalist in the background...