Dreams come true: Neurosis at Neumo's, Feb. '08


19 Feb 2008, 7:31

Sat 16 Feb – Neurosis, Converge
Sun 17 Feb – Converge, Neurosis, Akimbo

Whether I want to or not, from now on I know I'm going to group metalheads into two groups: those who have seen Neurosis live, and those who haven't. I am finally able to group myself with the latter, so I wear my musical elitism like a badge, appropriately.

So I flew out to Seattle just to see these two shows, and there is no doubt that it was worth every penny to see them. I had previously assumed my chances of seeing Neurosis live were dead and gone unless I moved to California (not gonna happen), and so this opportunity was a big deal to me.

The first thing I noticed about the date, outside of the welcomed feeling of belonging with punks, kids, and old school dudes in line outside the show, was how kickass of a venue Nuemo's is. Compared to the small club venues in Denver, I'd say that Seattle has us pretty well beat, at least based on this venue. Awesome sound, great views and decor from pretty much anywhere, and the genius idea of providing free water via a cooler? Hell yes. This place kicked ass.

I went to both shows and arrived early enough on Saturday's show to get a spot on the floor for A Storm of Light's set. Josh Graham is a pretty transfixing image on stage during his Red Sparowes sets, and in spite of a vastly different sound, this project was equally entrancing, too. Very heavy, y sloooowww as fuuuuck . The sounds these guys were emitting actually bordered on frightening from time to time, which set an appropriate vibe for the rest of the night. Awesome treat for all the old school Neurosis fans in the audience, too, of which there were many.

On Sunday night I got to the venue a little after Akimbo's set had started, and wandered around the venue/merch stand in between watching them play, mostly up from the balcony alongside the stage. Didn't take as well to their music like I did with A Storm of Light the night before--kind-of a more metallic version of At the Drive In or Glassjaw, to me, and less fun than either--but they were into what they were doing, and a more appropriate choice for the all ages crowd. The audience took a liking to them, and they put on a respectable performance, but by the time their set was over I honestly couldn't wait for my second taste of Converge's live show in as many nights.

These dates were my third and fourth time seeing Converge live, and both times were a complete blast. The first night I went a little crazier than I tend to at shows; I was up front in the thrall, screaming along with choruses and throwing fists in the air without relent. They opened with "Plagues" (both nights), one of my favorite songs off the new album, No Heroes. What a way to kick off a show...after that slow-burner, they ran through predominantly fast-paced material ("Concubine", "Black Cloud", "Homewrecker") before announcing a 'special' closer, "Jane Doe"! I had hoped they would whip this out at least once, and it offered both a much-needed chance to cool off AND see them play the most crushing song in their catalog. Certainly a treat for the Converge fans in the audience.

After their physically exhausting set, I made tracks upstairs in search of some water, only after passing by some metaler-than-thou longhairs in denim jackets who were doing some prissy impersonation of Converge fans. I actually didn’t see a single ‘screamo’ haircut in the audience that night, a plus. In spite of their hilarious comedy stylings of these knuckleheads, most people I talked to at the show seemed to be either there for both bands, or at least receptive to the hardcore set, which was a pleasant surprise. I always thought that the punk/metal in fighting in the 80s was a good thing, and Seattle demonstrates this spirit of togetherness a lot more than Denver scenes do. Maybe that, or I was just too busy getting my ass kicked in the pit to give a shit what somebody else thinks about a show.

Converge’s set on Sunday was a little bit of a different story...this pit was definitely crazier (and dumber; hardcore dancing this time where previously there was none) and more violent, and because of Saturday’s show, my arm/neck/ribs were already pretty sore, which meant less running around and screaming for me. Lots more crowd surfing and circle pits, undoubtedly because of the all ages status of the crowd. Converge put on another awesome show, and both sets were a ton of fun. The setlist, from what I can remember, was nearly identical, except they added “Bare My Teeth” and “You Fail Me”, and closed with “Concubine” instead of “Jane Doe”. A little disappointing to hear no songs from the first two albums, but nevertheless, a kickass time.

Now on to the crowning jewel of the Seattle trip–two sets by fucking Neurosis. One thing I liked about the concert, and that was especially noticeable during the headlining set, was the diversity of the crowd. Some older guys had undoubtedly seen them on early West Coast tours 15 years ago, and I overheard a lot of newcomers like me eagerly talking about getting their cherries popped by the band on either night. I had high expectations for the band, of course, and they fulfilled them. I knew within a couple of songs that not only were Neurosis probably the loudest and heaviest band I’ve ever heard live, but one of the best sounding ones, too. They have been in the business long enough to know what sounds good, and hats off to their sound guy, because in spite of volumes that would have ruptured plenty of ear drums, they sounded AMAZING.

On Saturday night, I made the mistake of waiting too long before heading down from the balcony to rejoin the floor–after making my way a few yards up from the back wall, I settled into a spot that seemed ‘close enough for now’. Big mistake on my part, because in a few minutes two of the tallest guys in the room reclaimed their spots right in front of me. This would have been okay except for their fucking vapid girlfriends who couldn’t bare to stop with the idle bullshit, texting, and girl-on-girl makeout sessions during the set. I know, this is a stupid thing to complain about (what guy bitches about girls getting it on with girls right in front of them?), but it’s even more stupid when this shit is distracting enough to take your attention away from the matters at hand. I know people talk at shows, but at least talk about something that doesn’t make you look like an obnoxious attention whore to everybody else in earshot. I guess one advantage was this gave me an opportunity to focus more on Josh Graham’s superb visual display for the set; I didn’t know music and images could be so cohesive, and like his work in Red Sparowes, I was continually impressed by his selection of video footage to compliment the band’s sonic armageddon.

During the heavy parts of the band’s set, I could at least close my eyes and let the sound take over, but as soon as it dropped below a certain (high) decibel level, these girls immediately resumed where their idiotic banter took off. Finally, about seven songs into their set, they ripped the crowd open with “Water is Not Enough”, and seizing my opportunity at the start of the breakdown riff, I charged through the girls and joined the pit, putting me in prime location for the remaining songs in the set. The next song, “Burn”, was a major highlight for me, probably my favorite song of the night. Let it never be said that Steve von Til can’t bring down the house with a bellow or a whisper. Even though that was amazing, nothing braced the audience for their closer, the ‘who set off a bomb in here?’ heaviness of “The Doorway”. This was the only ‘old’ song they played, and made for a great, chaotic closer. The pit opened wide up, the breakdown felt like the building was going to collapse, and at the song’s end, the band let the amps do the talking for a good three-five minutes of feedback and tribal drumming. Scott broke his forehead open on his mic, Steve ripped some guitar strings right off the neck of his instrument. At one point during the noise, I wondered how I would feel if this was the last thing I ever heard...and I think it would’ve been alright.

Here’s the setlist to the best of my memory, most of it was Given To The Rising material:

Given to the Rising
Fear and Sickness
To the Wind
A Season in the Sky
At the End of the Road
Distill (Watching the Storm)
Water Is Not Enough
The Doorway

Not too much else to say about their second set of the weekend, except that when it comes to concerts, never underestimate the power of location. Instead of being a wet blanket for most of the night, I stayed front and center after Converge was finished, and what a difference that made. The sound went from great to amazing (in spite of some low vocal mix early on), and being that close to the band made the experience that much more visceral. I didn’t notice any moshing at all this time, maybe due to fewer devout fans, but lots of headbanging from start to finish. I even got a few decent pictures of the guys in action. Same exact setlist and videos as the night before, but a vastly improved experience just from sticking around and spending the time closer to the band. At the end of “The Doorway”, I checked out of the fray to view the feedback from a safer distance, and to get a head start at the merch stand’s que. Plus, I honestly think Noah is the most interesting guy to watch during this part, and I had a better look at him from the side of the stage.

All-in-all, it was an amazing weekend. Got to see some new and exciting openers, and as always, Converge put on the most energetic, relentlessly aggressive show I’ve ever seen. But this weekend was really about six harbingers of musical doom, Neurosis. I have a newfound respect for Neurosis in many ways–not only for an understanding for the complex layering that goes into their songwriting, and their technical proficiency as a band, but also for the sheer heaviness they achieve in the live setting. I hope I never forget this weekend.


  • 4LAO

    I must've been almost right behind you during Neurosis' set on the second night. You summed up the show quite well! I'm glad to be part of the people who've seen Neurosis live group now as well, even though I'm relatively young.

    23 Feb 2008, 23:13
  • motiondojo

    Nice review! great bands live!

    24 Feb 2008, 4:33
  • therapymachines

    A bit late I know but, Cheers, thanks for the compliment, and I am glad you enjoyed the shows. DC

    9 Jul 2008, 4:10
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