So, I’ve done a number of interesting things lately that I feel I should have blogged about, but haven’t had time to do so, so let me attempt to rectify that.
First, on Nov. 30, I attended a concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom featuring Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Soilwork, and DevilDriver. I’ve been to the Starland Ballroom and the Roseland Ballroom, but never the Hammerstein before, and I can’t help but wonder at the fact that metal shows are being held in a place called a "ballroom." After seeing concerts there, it’s kind of hard to imagine them as ballrooms. The Hammerstein is the nicest of the three, I think, and the best for a concert, at least from my point of view as a 31-year-old who doesn’t want to get kicked in the face in the mosh pit. I sat up in the mezzanine on the advice of a friend, which turned out to be a great idea. There were actually chairs to sit down in, and the balcony gave me a great view of the stage, even though I wasn’t among the first people in line. I even got to sit in the chair for a good deal of the night; once Lamb of God came on stage (the third band to do so), it was pretty much standing from there on out (because everyone in front of me was standing).
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m a huge fan of all four of these bands, so it was a rare treat to see them all at one show–there was no "filler" bands I had to sit through in order to get to the main event. I thought all four bands played really well live; of all of them, I thought Soilwork had the best overall set, mainly because all of the songs they played were ones I’m particularly fond of, and they didn’t do a lot (or any, as I recall) of that annoying "make the audience sing the lyrics" bullshit. (Mostly they played stuff off their most recent album, Sworn to a Great Divide.)
DevilDriver annoyed me a bit by playing several songs off their first album, which I don’t really like, and completely neglected their second album, which is great (with most of the songs coming from their most recent third album, which is also really good). I wasn’t sure how good they’d be live, as before their third album came out, they’d released a live recording of one of the tracks on their MySpace page, and it was really terrible. The song itself is great, but that recording? Man, I don’t know what they were thinking, the quality was just abysmal. But turns out they do sound really good live.
Similarly, I felt like Lamb of God played too much of their older stuff, which I think most of the fans enjoyed, but as with DevilDriver, I’m not as fond of their older stuff. To me, their most recent album, Sacrament, is pure genius, whereas their other albums I can appreciate for the craft, but I don’t really enjoy listening to them. (However, I’ve enjoyed their older stuff live more than I do on CD.) As is the case when I saw them the first time, by far their best live song–and their best song period–is the great "Blacken the Cursed Sun." Incidentally, LOG is the loudest fucking band I’ve ever seen live. They use a gigantic wall of speakers on the stage, and I mean wall. To give you an idea of how loud, check this out: Between sets, I was listening to my iPod, and had it up pretty loud to drown out the chattering (and house music) around me. But when the roadies were setting up LOG’s equipment, and they started testing the drums, that first drumbeat scared the crap out of me. I mean, I had my iPod blasting and that drumbeat completely drowned it out. And, you know, the earphones were in my ears.
Killswitch Engage played a lot of older stuff, mixed in with the newer stuff, which was fine with me, as I like pretty much all of their stuff. I didn’t realize how popular they were though; I thought they them and Lamb of God were about equal when it comes to popularity, but it was clearly a Killswitch crowd, based on the sing-along portions of their set (which they did, unfortunately, pretty often–of course, they have a lot of actual clean singing in their songs, rather than screaming, so it makes more sense for them to do it). They closed their set off, with their encore, which was their brilliant cover of "Holy Diver" (originally by Dio). I’d encourage anyone who likes rock or metal to go check out that track on KSE’s MySpace page; it’s really one of the best covers I’ve ever heard–it really captures the essence of the original, yet sounds utterly like a KSE song; they made it their own while retaining all of what made the original so good. I’m glad they ended on that song; it’s a great choice for a closer. It’s odd, though–they have not one but two songs that seem ideal for closing numbers: "Bid Farewell" and "My Last Serenade." Though they didn’t end on either of those, they did play both of them.
Great bands, great venue, great show. If all concerts were that good, I’d go more often.