Dallas, TX – 9/21/2013 – Written by James Wicks
The House of Blues is an exciting venue for any music lover, considering they primarily host high profile shows. This tour, which included Between the Buried and Me, The Faceless, The Contortionist, and The Safety Fire was a testament to that. Right away I have to apologize to the members of The Safety Fire, who opened the show, and to their fans who expect a live review. There were complications getting the proper access passes, and as a result I missed their set. However, they must have made a good impression, because when I finally made it into the venue their merch table was buzzing with traffic.
The second band of the night was The Contortionist; a progressive death metal band from Indianapolis, Indiana. 2013 has been an interesting year for the band since the departure of vocalist, Jonathan Carpenter, and acquiring his replacement, Michael Lessard (Current vocalist for Last Chance to Reason). Many Contortionist fans were—and still are—ambivalent about the change, but Lessard’s live performance was spot-on; he was as close to Carpenter as one could possibly get without sounding like an exact clone. One of their more impressive songs was “Holomovement,” the first track off of their 2012 release, Intrinsic. It is extremely important that bands start off with the right song, as it sets the tone for the rest of the set, and “Holomovement” did exactly that. The live mix was good; clear and distinguishable guitars, heavy bass, and full-bodied drums. Some of Lessard’s clean vocals were difficult to hear, but it was corrected as the band moved forward in the set. The same thing could be said about Joey Baca’s snare drum, which sounded more and more aggressive with each song. The Contortionist’s set was short, but sweet, and set the bar pretty high for the following acts.
Up next was Sumerian’s, The Faceless. First of all, it’s difficult not to keep up with this band simply because they are everywhere. Every couple of months a new article appears about their member instability or sound changes, or rumors surrounding whether or not they will break up.
Controversy, trivial as it sometimes is, seems to follow this band like a lost puppy.As soon as their set began I realized there was no bass player; Evan Brewer was missing. Similar reports have come in from other stops on the tour, leading many to speculate about Brewer’s future involvement with the band. Instead The Faceless played with a backing bass track, which, for what it was, sounded pretty good. Despite the sound however, the band looked incomplete and missed the energy that Brewer usually brings. All of that said, they were incredibly tight, and performed very well. Alex Rudinger was solid on the drums, and together with the bass track made a strong rhythm section. Keene and Hauch were both flawless on guitar, and vocalist Geoffrey Ficco was energetic, aggressive, and consistent—all very important to compensate for Brewer’s absence. The Faceless are an impressive group of musicians, and seeing them live really was a privilege. They are one of the more capable active metal bands, and it’s a shame that they are plagued by such inconvenient circumstances.
Between the Buried and Me
This tour emphasized Between the Buried and Me playing their latest album, The Parallax II: Future Sequence in its entirety. Tours like these are rare, especially for bands that have had successful previous albums; they run the risk of upsetting fans by not playing older favorites. BTBAM however has the ideal fan base for this kind of tour because it is so fundamentally progressive, and is open to new experience. As promised, their set began with the first track from Future Sequence, “Goodbye to Everything.” I worried that because the song is slow, and only features vocals, soft guitars and synths that the crowd’s anticipation would be let down. Thankfully my concerns were dismissed by the start of their next song, “Astral Body,” which had almost everyone in the crowd jumping with the beat. Both the band and the audience kept this pace for the entire show, proving just how dedicated they are to one another. The sound was very well mixed; not one instrument overpowered another. Vocals came through loud and clear, and even the softer keyboard parts sat atop the mix like icing on a cake.
Between the Buried and Me are a unique musical experience, and not for what people usually think of as unique. Most of the time seeing a band—even a really good band—goes pretty much the way you would expect: you see them live and hear the songs you enjoy off the albums, and then you go home satisfied (or sometimes not satisfied), talking about it with yourfriends on the way home. And sometimes a band you’ve never heard of blows you away and you become an instant fan, and again, talk about it with your friends on the way home. But what BTBAM offers in terms of experience is more than that; they are like the band portrayed in movies, embodying celebrity and talent simultaneously, occupying a stage like they were born to be there. Watching them perform is like watching a professional athlete in her/his respective sport; they are in a league of their own. They are the complete package, and can transcend the boundaries of genres whenever they please.
What the fans took away from this show is unclear, and probably varies much more than the average tour from person to person. On paper, this was a total headbanger; a horns-throwing, hair-flying good time. The reality was much more ethereal and emotional. The Contortionist thrives not in typical metal environments, but where fans are willing to give themselves up to musical and emotional experience. Aggression and moshing are not the point; It’s always welcome, but it ultimately distracts from what this kind of metal really has to offer. The Faceless are such a collective talent that doing anything other than watching in awe robs the experience. It’s not enough to hear Keene play the riffs that he does; you have to see it. Between the Buried and Me provided as close to a stadium-gig performance as a band can get without the actual stadium, and demonstrated what a well-rounded band is really capable of.