A little more than three weeks ago, the renovated and revamped Bomb Factory re-opened its doors to much fanfare from promoters, bands, and concert-goers alike. Clint Barlow, owner of the fantastic venue Trees, dedicated some serious time, energy and money into re-opening one of Deep Ellum’s most beloved concert halls, and the results were awe inspiring. There’s a mezzanine level wrapped around ¾ of the main hall, with a massive stage (60 ft wide X 40 ft deep, with an adjustable height from 3-5 ft) covered in top-of-the-line speakers, adorned top to bottom with intricate lights, with a massive 18 ft X 30 ft HD projection screen as a backdrop. The sheer majesty of the venue seemed to lend itself well to the progressive metal that was to unfold onstage, and as I settled into watch the opening bands, I felt a level of excitement and newness that exploring new places often brings.
Design of Destiny, was the first band to really grab my attention. Their new material packs a wallop, and was definitely invigorating for the audience. Vocalist Andrew Patterson was the first of many entertaining and commanding vocalists to grace the stage this day, and, along with his musically talented band mates, really got people’s blood pumping. The new line up for local favorites In Search of Sight came next, and whether it was Russell Hollar’s 8-string guitar shreds or Nolan McCormick’s furious drum styling’s they kept the mood energetic and interactive. Vocalist Danbo even leapt onto the guardrail to lead some chants and get people’s heads banging. After showcasing the wealth of DFW musical talent on hand, the main attraction of the evening was beckoning- which had to be one of the best one day line-ups that I’ve ever seen.
Promoter Kevin Dunlap and his team from Third String Productions worked their asses off to get these bands to converge in Deep Ellum on just the right day, at just the right time. They brought Entheos here on their first (mini)tour, got the Red Chord to do one of their extremely limited reunion shows, put Animals As Leaders and Between the Buried and Me on the same stage again, and managed to squeeze all of that into a supple April Saturday afternoon. Many hats should be off to Kevin and his team for the work they did to make this show happen.
Back to the action: Entheos is one of the newest bands in the metal community, and while their band might be new, the members have been around the metal scene for years. Bassist Evan Brewer, Guitarist Frank Costa, Drummer Navene Koperweis, and Vocalist Chaney Crabb have been some of the most revered names in metal for the last 10 years, having played in bands from Animosity and The Faceless to Animals As Leaders and Fleshwrought. I’d been dying to hear this band for months, and they did not disappoint. Their vocalist, Chaney Crabb, was the biggest delight of their whole set. This phenomenal woman, barely five feet tall, puts most of her male counterparts to shame with her style and sound. She has a massive presence that filled the entire venue, and really helped round out the sound of her tech-prog metal band mates. I could not have been more impressed, and am comfortable saying that they’re the best new band I’ve heard so far in 2015. I even sought them out after their set, and got to spend a few minutes chatting with the various members, and I have it on good authority that a full-length follow up to their recent “Primal” EP should be arriving in the fall.
The next few hours were a nostalgic trip through three of my all-time favorite bands: The Red Chord, Animals As Leaders, and Between the Buried and Me. For those of you just now figuring it out, The Red Chord started playing re-union shows again and they chose Dallas as one of the lucky locations. I had been amped for this for weeks. I heard they were jumping on the show back in February and nothing could excite me more. Gratefully, they did not disappoint. They played a jam-packed forty minute set that opened with the maniacal “Antman,” and featured every great TRC song you’d ever want to hear. It was like being sixteen again, getting tossed about the pit like a rag doll, smiling and sweating, pumping my fists and hugging random strangers. I loved each moment, and they’ve lost nothing to time. Their time was too brief, and as their set ended I found myself physically wishing for more. The trick with Atomic Music Fest was its ability to realize you wanted more, and give it to you, albeit in the form of another all-time great band: Animals As Leaders.
In less than a year I’ve been privileged to cover AAL on three separate occasions, and it seems like they get better each and every time. The Bomb Factory sound system and light show really helped the ambiance of their performance in such an overwhelming way, that it took me a while to recognize that guitarist Javier struggled through most of “The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing” with technical difficulties. It wasn’t until guitarist Tosin Abasi and drummer Matt Garstka began to improvise through the middle of the song that my attention was drawn to the malady of sound, but even in the jaws of defeat these talented musicians reacted with finesse and ultimately gave the audience a new and incredibly awe-inspiring ending to an old favorite. The trio blasted solidly through ever other track they chose, rifling through old songs and new, their entire library on display for the lucky few in attendance. Their set was so mesmerizing that I almost forgot there was yet one more band to come.
But Between the Buried and Me are not easily forgotten or overlooked. The last show of theirs I’d seen was last summer, and this time my interest was based solely around a recently released track and an upcoming album release, “Coma Ecliptic.” BTBAM dropped the track “Memory Palace” last week, and I was excited to see this soundscape unfold before my eyes. I was beside myself with joy. As is usual for me with these icons, it was “Sun of Nothing” from 2007’s “Colors” album that had my skin raised, pulse quickened, with tears streaming down my face. Every time this band plays I feel such a deep, profound response. I can’t help but sing each word at the top of my lungs, throw my head back and absorb their radiant energy as much as possible- and if you’ve ever been to a BTBAM show you’d know, that’s just the natural reaction for anyone. I was content.
For a Saturday this show ended quite early. I was driving home by midnight, but that was okay by me and by the multitudes of people who showed up for the doors at 2 P.M. I had a full day, and had to process the sheer volume of amazing I had just laid witness to. To every band’s credit, they all made themselves freely accessible to every fan. I shared a round with Dusty from BTBAM, caught a smoke break with Entheos, and shook hands with the guys from The Red Chord. It was a fulfilling day, and the Bomb Factory was a fulfilling host. I think now it’s time for those summer concerts to roll through and keep me occupied for a while.
[ P H O T O G A L L E R Y ]
Photographs taken at The Bomb Factory Dallas on April 11th of 2015 – Between the Buried and Me, Animals As Leaders, The Atlas Moth, Entheos, In Search of Sight, Design of Destiny
Disclaimer: All photographs are copyright Chantelle Renee Photography and cannot be used/cropped/printed without the consent of the owner.
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