Friday, May 05, 2006

Project 86 / August Burns Red / The Showdown

Every show with a scene friendly band on the bill that I attend, I feel so far away in age from every other attendee there, and it only feels like there is an even larger gap when I go to Christian clubs since they attract so many of the ultra young crowd, no doubt because parents think it is a safe haven to drop their youngsters off at so they can go home, down some wine, and enjoy the rare occasion they have to try making babies.

This show took place at the 3 Degrees Club in Minneapolis, MN and I will say that the venue is phenomenal for mid-tier bands to play in, except that the owner won’t let the kids mosh, hardcore dance, or crowd surf. In fact, they kick you out if you even jump around and bump other kids too much. Oh yeah, and then there’s the fact that there is no alcohol served there because, obviously, beer came from the devil. Oh, and don’t forget the crazy ass host of the place who comes on between bands and acts like a maniacally possessed 30 year old who just shot a load of smack and mainlined a gram or two of caffeine. But beyond those few items, the club is a great place.

The show got underway with a local band that went by the name of If Truth is Dead. I know this because they mentioned their name after every damn song in an obvious attempt to get anyone in the crowd to remember who they were because their music sure as hell wouldn’t do it. Imagine a really crappy rip off of Emery, complete with dueling vocalists and a keyboardist who doesn’t have anything to actually do on stage. Well, ok, I might be a little off by saying that If Truth is Dead is a really crappy rip off of Emery. I should have said that they are a horrendously amateurish wannabe hack job that creams over Emery before they go to bed every night. Thankfully they only played like 20 minutes.

The first touring band of the night that graced the stage was Schema, a band that is still unsigned for some odd reason. Their set was actually very well suited for the strictly ruled club in that they don’t play music that makes you want to move. Imagine A Types era Hopesfall mixed with some Chevelle and you got their sound.

It was pretty apparent that they weren’t all that into the venue, the host, or the other performances that much, but that didn’t detract from them playing a tight set. Every song was expertly played with minimal movement by the actual band members, which isn’t all bad. The crowd, full of greasy teens with bad haircuts and Norma Jean t-shirts, heckled the band between songs making fun of their name, probably because it was too hard of a word for most of them to understand what it meant.

Schema did debut one new song and it was easily the best one they played that evening. The song embodied an edgier version of their melodic modern rock sound, as well as showed a thickness that was not as prevalent in their other songs. I seriously believe their next release, be it another independent LP or through a label that actually takes the initiative to sign them, will be a phenomenal offering. Keep Schema on your radar.

Once the coked out host did his thing between sets, The Showdown hit the stage and ripped right into it. With the no fun policy, err, I mean no moshing policy in effect, the crowd, which was primed to explode with bundled up energy, could only jump up and down and scream as the band roared through their brand of shredding, double bass pounding, raw metalcore.

After two songs something odd happened, however. The Showdown stopped playing and a Maylene and the Sons of Disaster cover band started up for a couple of songs. Most people probably believed the guys up on stage when they said that they were actually The Showdown and were playing some new songs off their upcoming disc, but I wasn’t fooled. You could easily tell by the complete lack of double bass, shredding, or screaming along with the addition of groove guitars and southern accented, melodic vocals that this was a Maylene cover band and nothing more.

Eventually the real Showdown showed back up to finish the set with the song “Iscariot”, but that southern rock band that took over the middle part of the set still left a disastrously bad ringing in my ears. Anyone hoping to see a progression of The Showdown’s sound on their upcoming CD is going to be in for a real letdown as it appears that the band has pulled an Avenged Sevenfold on us and totally pussed out.

Thankfully the youngsters in August Burns Red kicked us all in the teeth and reminded us what being really, f-ing heavy sounded like. It would be a lie to say that it wasn’t a little bit odd to have the youngest band on the tour being the ones who showed the other bands how to kick audible ass. Every song they played was spot on, aggressive, energetic, and destructive. This band is not a band to listen to live while standing around doing nothing. If the club had been filled with actual metalcore fans instead of all the pubescent, cross adorned, upper class kids you would have seen the crowd going off and people messing each other up. I can only imagine the destructive beauty of it all.

August Burns Red do not act their age at all, and that is definitely to be taken as a compliment. They were all business while on stage, and impressively they never looked like amateurs or kids. Josh McManness is a beast behind the mic. With a similar approach to Jeffrey from Poison the Well (minus most of that melody stuff), every lyric was screamed out with guttural urgency. These guys are primed to explode, if given the chance. Solid State should be salivating while they imagine what amazing things this band could do for them down the road.

The final band to take the stage were the headliners, Project 86. I last saw them in concert in 2001 shortly after Drawing Black Lines had hit the shelves. It’s amazing how much a band can change in five years. As soon as they hit the stage, I was overcome with a small feeling of being underwhelmed. My memory remembered Project 86 as one of the tightest performing bands my young brain had seen. Now it felt as if they’d grown sloppy and complacent, which I can imagine happens to a band after playing the same songs about a kajillion times.

To their credit, though, they didn’t skimp on the amount of songs they played. Each of their five releases was represented throughout their set, but the majority of their songs came off of Drawing Black Lines and …And the Rest Will Follow. It is always nice to see a band traverse their entire back catalog when performing. Unfortunately many of the songs came off quite lackluster with poorly mixed vocals (they were very soft) and thin guitars. No doubt they would have had a much thicker sound if they still had Cory Edelman with them (as was the case when I last saw them).

In the end, their set was less than spectacular, but far from being bad. Well, that is, except for the couple of minutes that Andrew Schwab took out of the set to evangelize. It gets on my nerves whenever a band comes out and uses their time on stage to push their beliefs. I really don’t care what a band believes, I’m there to see them play music. I don’t want to hear about how weak they are and how Jesus helps them feel strong and all that crap. That’s good for them, but get back to playing songs!

The night finally drew to a close after Project 86’s two song encore, which culminated with a rendition of “Sincerely Ichabod” featuring Josh of August Burns Red and David from The Showdown on vocals and the drummers from said bands banging away on bass drums. It was quite the spectacle, and actually was a great way to end the show – a combination of the different, somewhat diverse, heavy music that was played that night.

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