I sometimes feel that musicians treat the last stop on tour the way us common-folk treat work when the clock strikes 4. I’ve been known to dick around on a spread sheet when I’ve got an hour of work left, however, a band just can’t go on stage with their equipment and Milli Vanili the crowd. For them, though, the excitement of being on tour has probably subsided after being on the road for 30 days. The first few weeks of boozing and partying must be great, but after grinding it out every night, I’m sure it becomes just that; a grind. I had hoped this wouldn’t be the case as the last night of the Metalliance Tour 2011 was in Hollywood, CA. Los Angeles couldn’t possibly have a bad show with a lineup like Helmet, Saint Vitus, Crowbar, Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl, and The Atlas Moth, right? I was about to find out.
Doors were unusually early at the House of Blues on Sunset that night. Folks were being let in 5:30 PM and, sadly, I missed The Atlas Moth, Howl and special guests Witchburn but I showed up just as Red Fang was finishing up their set. I marched right down to the pit area to catch all of “Prehistoric Dog,” remembering that I had forgotten my ear plugs at home. I hadn’t seen enough to make an impression. By the time I got into it, the set was over.
Kylesa came on next, and rather quickly I might add. I don’t even recall hearing a sound check. They got right into it, playing a little intro jam before jumping into “Hollow Severer.” Then there was a quick solo drum solo that segued into “Unknown Awareness.” I remember seeing Kylesa about 7 months ago, not really feeling it, wondering why they had two drummers. After picking up a few of their records, and listening to them with an open mind, the music really grew on me. I couldn’t wait to get the memory of a boring Kylesa performance out of my head, and replace it with a memorable one. Good thing they were on point on the last night of Metalliance. Their sound was so epic. Not even in that stupid fucking hipster use of the word way, but truly epic. Big, loud, all-encompassing. Sound that resonated within you, chest vibrating from the riffage and the pounding drums x2. This was Kylesa on Tuesday. They were huge. They played a mix of older stuff, not really dipping into Spiral Shadow much. Towards the end of the set, Philip Cope told the crowd they were being cut short due to time constraints, but before the band could even start putting shit away, Laura Pleasants announced that they’d be playing one more song. A new song, even. Not sure if that was done out of frustration or what, but it was a pretty bad ass. I have to admit Kylesa arguably had my favorite performance of the night, totally making me forget about last September.
Crowbar was next. I had a hunch that everyone was coming to see them on this tour. All the hXc crews and over 30 crowd were starting to fill the venue. It was becoming clear who most of the concert goers came to see. I moved away from the pit because some Roughians were beginning to stretch as if they were about to work out. That’s never a good sign. I got out just in time because that first chord struck and there was almost an instant mess in the pit. Kirk Windstein probably has the scariest voice in all of music, too. It’s just so threatening to hear live, even when he’s thanking people between songs and being a nice guy. I stood back and watched the whole set go down thinking to myself how lucky I am to have finally witnessed Crowbar. They sounded so heavy. I mean really heavy. I recorded “The Cemetery Angels,” their closer, but I don’t think the audio does it any justice. I suppose you had to be there to feel it.
Saint Vitus played after Crowbar. Wino’s voice was practically destroyed after touring, and it was kind of a drag. Dave Chandler’s playing more than made up for it, though. He was so full of life, something that I didn’t really see from any of the other performers that night. He marched around the stage like someone who was 30 years younger, interacting with the crowd as much as possible. At one point he played guitar with his teeth. Dude is a beast. Drummer Henry Vasquez is pretty sick, too. I often wonder how drummers do it. A round of playing Rock Band drums has me sweating up a storm and taking water breaks in between songs. Vasquez doesn’t look like the type of fellow who runs marathons, either. I stood in amazement watching this guy beat the shit out of those drums. And major fucking props for that dude wearing a Sleep tee shirt that night.
I didn’t know Helmet was playing Meantime in it’s entirety. Hell, I didn’t even know what Helmet was doing headlining a doom/sludge metal tour to begin with. Not a word was uttered between songs. It was kinda weird seeing him so gray, but showing up his the other guys in the band, who were at least half his age. I was pretty impressed with how his voice sounded live, too. It was a pretty good end to the show, but vibe changed so drastically when they started to play. I almost didn’t know how to deal with adjusting to something that wasn’t on anywhere on the beardo spectrum that night.
So I think Los Angeles got a pretty good show. Despite it being the last stop on tour, none of the performances felt like they were lacking anything. In fact, I think all the bands came to Los Angeles with the idea of closing the tour out stronger than they started it.