The show opened with a mathy, metalcore band under the name “TOOTHGRINDER“. Right out of the gate, it was clear this band was a force to be reckoned with. I hadn’t listened to much of their music before, so it was impressive to witness the opener for the “Sonic Unrest Tour” come out and be exactly that: a sonic assault. Boasting mathy, odd time and tempo chaos in between the heavy, solid, and chunkiness expected from a band of the genre, Toothgrinder set the bar for the night miles high. Jumping right into it, they started off with the song “The Hour Angle”. The cacophony of aggression, visualized by stage scrims bearing fearsome animal heads, was pierced by crazy tight solos from the Jackson V wielded by their guitarist who intermittently lent his clean vocals to harmonize with the vocalist, Justin Matthews. From the crowd perspective, they dominated the House of Blues for the duration of their set, with the majority of the band jumping to and fro. At one point, the triggers on the kick drum cut out, yet undeterred they continued on, still sounding as massive as they did without until the booming, bone shaking punch returned. Slaying through songs back to back, Toothgrinder continued on through “Schizophrenic Jubilee”, “Lace and Anchor”, and “The House (That Fear Built)”. The dynamic between members was electric; they all seemed to be having such a great time up there and their music reflected the enjoyment. With all but the drummer contributing their vocal chords, it allowed for a very dynamic and unique sound from a genre so inundated with similarities as of late. The band ended their set with the song “Blue” and left me wanting hours more. Tight and melodic, but fresh and challenging to predict, TOOTHGRINDER brought their own unique strengths to the tour package and earned a new fan that night.
Following right after was Chon, an instrumental progressive band consisting of 4 considerably younger guys, with brothers Mario and Nathan Camarena on guitar and percussion, backed by guitarist Erick Hansel and a touring bassist. Without wasting any time, the guitarist said “what’s up” to the crowd calmly like they were all good friends, right before jumping straight into insane and technical clean guitar ambience. Holy hell, what a massive amount of notes for such laid-back dudes in pastel collared dress shirts. I wasn’t well versed in Chon’s discography either, but that made me one of few in attendance. I didn’t expect to see people moving their bodies to music that was so upbeat and pretty rather than aggressive, but the room went off, especially on particularly groovy parts. All of their music was played on gorgeous multicolored 6 string guitars, nowadays a rarity in technical music, and being a guitarist myself, in my mind it underscored the level of talent the band had. The technicality and cleanliness of their playing was off the charts. Tastefully managing to merge technical prowess with the feel of actual music takes a lot of skill and feel; a feat Chon pulls off masterfully without going off into the deep end. It wasn’t just fretboard Olympics, Chon put feeling out that was visible on all of their fans’ faces.
Only a few hours after spending time discussing their band history, cultural differences, plans for the future, crazy times and current feedback from their first US tour EVER, SikTh took to the stage. If I hadn’t already known, I’d have assumed they’d been touring and performing live for the entirety of their 7 year hiatus/breakup. Featuring two vocalists, the 6 string progressive metal band that have been cited as inspiration for Peripery’s original driving force, Misha, sounded as fresh as if they’d sprung from within the prog surge in the metal scene, not helped form it from incubation. They opened with the song “Part of the Friction” to almost instantaneous crowd movement. Despite not knowing them very well, it was beyond inspiring to watch, and at one point I felt a ton of emotion surge and my eyes began to well up. I can’t exactly explain why, but something about watching this band come back and receive the reaction I felt they deserve was so satisfying. Both vocalists were all over the place, jumping at specific parts and getting crazy amounts of air. The dreadlock clad vocalist, Mikee Goodman, performed a multi vocal styled spoken word from their first album, titled “When Will the Forest Speak”. It was chilling to witness him switch over styles so rapidly, truly exemplifying the amount of talent each and every member has. With the music as chaotic and odd timed as I’d already come to expect from the previous bands, the majority of the audience was able to keep up and on beat, headbanging along to the songs “Sanguine Seas of Bigotry” and “Pussyfoot”. Between tapping riffs, droning certain parts out, and the somewhat spastic but still musical bits, SikTh is a hell of a lot more than a one trick pony. Getting the chant “look at the sky” going to lead into another song, the storytelling of their music is captivating, closing their set out with “Bland Street Bloom”. It was amazing to see a band that had been separated for longer than a lot of today’s chart topping bands have even been together perform as if they hadn’t missed a step. Without a doubt SikTh gained plenty of younger fans that may have missed out the first go around.
(Want to follow SikTh on their tour in the states? Check out Dan’s Blog Here!)
“The Sonic Unrest Tour” indeed. Each time I’ve seen Periphery perform has been a very different but great experience, and this was yet another noteworthy change up. One of my favorite things about seeing the guys live is how dynamic the band remains – seeing them live over the last 5 or so years has felt like a different band and a different show with all of the members remaining the same (minus their bassist Nolly, replaced with his backing track as he no longer tours with them). They opened with a new ambient synth intro, leading into a fan favorite, “Scarlet”. Luckily I remembered to pack ear plugs, as the volume of their set felt as if it were shaking my bones out of my body. “Periphery III: Select Difficulty” recently released, and to my delight, half of their set list consisted of tracks from it. Hearing Spencer, their vocalist, belting lines that sounded almost identical to album quality was as much a joy as ever to hear, but also Jake, one of the guitar players, joined in at times with pristine clean highs. The chemistry between all of the members is notable and hysterical to watch, as they all keep it tight and professional while still maintaining the enjoyment and goofiness to be expected after seeing behind the scenes footage. All of them quite animated, at one technical guitar point during “Make Total Destroy”, their guitarist Mark put his head through the legs of a very concentrated Jake (standing on a riser) to the laughs of many. Backed by “a crowd of singers” as Spencer commented, it was a very theatrical and orchestral performance with frequent electronic and ambient interludes between songs. After playing through “Remain Inside” and “The Bad Thing”, the vocalist gave slight insight to the meaning of the song “Flatline”, referring to the lyrical content and summing it up with the words “fuck bullying”. Leading out from there, all three guitar players came into a tight formation and played off of one another alongside ambient lighting, in a clean, dreamlike and atmospheric interlude. Clearly, this is a group that not only loves what they’re doing, but it flows directly from them. After the unbelievably heavy “Four Lights”, a treat of a guitar driven instrumental track, and the closing track of Juggernaut: Omega, “Stranger Things” (no, not to be confused with the recent hit Netflix series), they walked off and said “see ya” without even so much as a bow. Clearly baiting the crowd to start the encore chant, they returned minutes later to cheers, and announced they’d be playing the song “Lune”, asking all in attendance to hold their significant other tight as it was a song about love. Sea foam lights cascaded over them as they led out in a vocal centric chorus, closing the night out to a crowd absolutely losing their minds in ecstasy.
Overall, the night was progressive, technical beauty and beyond enjoyable. Though only due to ignorance, I may not have been as die-hard a fan as a lot of others in attendance, something that changed immediately. I recognize and romanticize beautiful moments whenever possible, and this was the perfect night to do so. Caught up in the raw and visceral essence of live music. Overcome with emotion at times, it was easy to see what earned each of the lesser-known bands the accolades they’ve received by others. The “Sonic Unrest Tour” was a sonic assault on all of the senses, and a beautiful night to spend amongst friends in the city I love. I simply cannot wait to see any and all of these bands again.