Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Night The Metal Community Called In Sick

Shadows Fall w/ Damage Plan & The Haunted
Irving Plaza, NYC 11/29/04

I have been to plenty of metal shows in my time, and certainly many took place at Irving Plaza. The place has a capacity of about 1,500 I believe, but it's odd though how small the place looks when you can see most of the floor. Sure, plenty of folks show up late to shows for various reasons. Some closed minded individuals would rather kill time at the corner bar so as not to be exposed to something different, AKA the opening band(s). Some have to work late. And some are just slackers who can't get themselves into gear to get anywhere on time. So keeping all that in mind, I kept waiting for the club to fill up. But it never did.

In an unexpected twist, a night at Irving Plaza, AKA Old Reliable, actually started before 9PM. Thanks to this, I and my comrade Markkind missed the beginning of The Haunted's set. I was fairly disappointed since I've never seen them and have been a fan for over four years. In this time I've come to learn that if a European band you enjoy is actually able to get into the country to tour, you better go. Cuz you never know when a band member will get linked to a murder, and in turn prevent the band from touring outside Europe.

Anyhow, The Haunted are still fighting to build their audience in the States. This was apparent by the lack of interest displayed by a good portion of the crowd while they were playing. I just don't understand folks sometimes. If your motivation to buy a ticket was to see Shadows Fall, I can't imagine that you'd be so put off by The Haunted. If you were there for Damage Plan, then I understand your issues. I was certainly entertained by their fine thrash metal offerings. The singer struggled to get the audience to throw up their "horns". That shouldn't be a tough request to fill people. It's not like he was expecting everyone to throw up Westside gang symbols. Now that could be asking a bit much.

When you throw a band like Damage Plan (half of Pantera) on a bill, you're going to attract a lot of knuckleheads still clinging to the old days (only 10-15 years ago) of Pantera as if that great band never inspired any of today's young bands. It's the same mentality I witnessed at Ozzfest where the "old school" guys are either too thick headed, or too drunk, to connect the dots between Black Sabbath and Dimmu Borgir.

Seeing Damage Plan live proved what was only hinted at on the CD. They are a band consisting of two talented musicians carrying too much dead weight to balance things out. The songs are boring with lyrics on the level of a local neighborhood bar band made up of ex-high school football players. Their plethora of swag displayed some hot quotes (probably stolen from Beavis & Butthead), one of which was "It's All About Blowin' Shit Up". Am I the only one who notices that there are three syllables in both Damage Plan and Taliban?

The singer for Damage Plan wants to be Phil Anselmo so bad he can taste it. He's got the macho posturing, shaved head, and forehead vein-popping growls down to a science. He's even mastered the art of running off at the mouth between songs, something that has gotten worse with every Phil Anselmo-fronted band show I've seen. Markkind and I have come to the conclusion that this can all be tied to Dimebag Darrell... and his Beard Of Doom.

We've decided that this Beard Of Doom emits an airborn virus that, with repeated exposure, causes the lead singer of the band to utter complete nonsense instead of singing and giving the fans what they paid for. So much time is wasted, and so much fan anger builds up... but wait! Here comes the guitar player to get the crowd back in line with some hot licks. It's all one big sinister plot, I tell you what.

The only thing that saved Damage Plan's set was the inclusion of two Pantera tunes, which certainly woke the place up. It was the first, and only time that night where the floor was whipped into a real giant moshing frenzy. After they left the stage, much of the "old school" crowd left the building. I had no problem with that, more room to breathe.

I did think of what it would look like to the guys in Shadows Fall when they took the stage though. The place was half empty, or worse! It was just sad. Where were all the loyal metalheads that filled up Irving Plaza almost exactly one year ago the last time I saw SF headline the joint? Was it because the band just played a headlining show in NYC within the last two months? Was it because it was a school night? Was it the inclusion of a more mainstream band like Damage Plan on the bill? All I know is, I was half expecting the singer to walk out on stage, look around at the half empty club, put down the mic, drop his pants, take a dump on the monitor, pick his pants and the mic back up, and say "Good night everybody!"

Instead, the band came out and played as tight as ever amidst a series of technical problems that had to be dealt with between each song for a while. Then again, they did bring up the fact that their Boston Red Sox embarrassed "our" NY Yankees recently. That seemed to get a few goats, and more than one sheep. I was most pleased with the inclusion of the title track from Of One Blood, the album that sold me on Shadows Fall over four years ago. The delays seemed to force the set to be shortened, which is odd because I've been to a few shows at Irving Plaza that went to 1 AM. They barely played more than either of the two openers.

All in all, Shadows Fall are one of the best American metal bands out there today. They are not to be missed. They never disappoint me anyway. Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell, I'm sorry Pantera is over and done with. You're not fooling enough people to carry on with the nonsense that is Damage Plan for much longer. And you crazy Swedes in The Haunted, please keep your noses clean between now and the spring when you promised you'd be back to tour the States. Don't let me read about any criminal shenanigans!