Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Radio Rebellion Tour 2006

Does it strike anyone else as horribly ironic that for a tour labeled the Radio Rebellion Tour, which would seem to imply a showcase of bands that are "underground", would have some pretty high profile sponsors in Nike, Hot Topic, and Hurley (among many others)? I know being confronted by the Nike logo throughout the venue was a little bit weird. Regardless of this fact and the lame name of the tour, the crowd was actually presented with a very solid package… well, except for the opener.

Bless the Fall started off the show in quite the underwhelming fashion. There was not a damn thing unique or redeeming about this band. They’re the epitome of fashionable mallcore metalcore garbage. There are five guys, all in girl pants and trendy band shirts, sporting their pasty white looks and 120 lbs of size to the crowd while squirting out boring, unoriginal breakdowns interspersed with lame melodic vocals and clich├ęd back up screams. Oh, and don't forget they use a keyboard for like two songs and try to pull off a couple of interesting riffs but fail miserably in sounding talented at all. Is it wrong for me to point out that I feel sad for this band?

What makes Bless the Fall even more sad looking is being followed by the metalcore juggernaut of Misery Signals. Truth be told, the thick, meaty, wall of sound found on Mirrors didn’t translate to the live environment perfectly, but damn if they still sound crushing. Playing a healthy combination of fan favorites from Of Malice and the Magnum Heart and the new album, the crowd wasn’t given too much time to rest, but there were a few times where the band wandered into the more introspective portions of their songs, which was good to see. Other bands would be tempted to cut out anything lacking intensity in order to keep the crowd churning, but Misery Signals played to their full range.

In breaking from the metalcore vibe the show had going, Fear Before the March of Flames hit the stage breaking right into some of their new material. I will say this for the band, even though I am not their biggest fan, I found their set to be quite good. In fact, in comparison to the last time I saw them, which was about two years ago, the band has come a long, long way. Instead of thrashing away on stage just making noise, they have managed to pull together actual songs and play them live to great effect. You have to give a band credit when they come around and improve as much as FBTMOF has.

With the three opening bands out of the way, you could feel the audience salivating for Between the Buried and Me, and for good reason, as you don’t often have a band of their caliber coming through town. Once the lights dimmed within the venue and the band members took their places, there was a small pause and then 45 minutes of sheer amazing-ness ensued. Seriously, this band is phenomenal live. The precision with which they play their instruments is something to behold, both visually and audibly. BTBAM know how to play. There is no doubt about it. Especially memorable were their performances of “Selkies” and “Backwards Marathon”, both including amazing guitar solos. The only slight setback experienced during the set was their cover of Queen’s “Bicycle Race”. Now I’m using setback in the sense that it only broke the flow of the set, but their performance of the song was still ridiculously good. Kids, this is a band to see if you ever get the chance.

Closing the show was Norma Jean. As much as I would have wanted to see another hour of BTBAM, Norma Jean put on a relatively good show. The good majority of their set was spent playing new material off of Redeemer, but they took the time to throw in a couple of songs off of the unbelievably underrated O God, the Aftermath and ended the show with “Memphis Will Go Down in Flames” off of Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child. In deference to other bands in this genre, the boys in Norma Jean didn’t come out in scene clothes but instead performed in what I like to term “Dirty Woodsmen” gear. Wearing old work clothes, mostly jeans and flannel, while having fake dirt and refuse on them, the band looked just like they sound — rough, abrasive, and violent.

With that said, I did have some problems with Norma Jean’s set. The biggest was the second drum kit and drummer that they had with them. I was wholeheartedly expecting some rad dual drumming techniques, but instead the second drum kit and drummer were there mostly for show. The auxiliary drum kit's cymbals weren't even mic-ed up and the mixing had the secondary drumming so low in the mix you couldn’t even hear them. It was all for show. The other problem with their set was the simple fact that, much like their albums, there is very little differentiation between any of their songs. Sure, each song was loud and aggressive, but by the end of the set it felt like the same 5 riffs had been repeated a billion times over, just at slightly different tempos.

At the end of the day, this is definitely a show to go to, if for no other reason than to see the intense live experience embodied by Between the Buried and Me. The rest of the bands, except Bless the Fall, were all also wonderful performers and deserve your well earned cash and attention. Get out there and catch this tour while you can!

Click here for pictures from the show.

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