Monday the 6th of December 2010 was a damn cold night, but not cold enough to keep me from going to see The Sword play at the 9:30 Club. It is Washington DC’s most well known non-seated music venue, and also the largest. They don’t get a whole lot of metal bands there, so when they do I usually try to get to the show. This concert was different than any I’d been to before at the 9:30 Club because I had been given a photo pass by the band. This meant I could get up in front of the audience and shoot pics with my “pro” camera, so I really spent a lot of the show focused on that. That’s not to say I wasn’t paying attention to the band, but I just wanted to get that out there as it changed my perspective of the concert a bit, and I generally try to write these reviews from the point of view of the average person in the audience, not some guy with special access or whatever. The show was a lot of fun, and it was cool getting a chance to test out a lot of the settings on my camera. I think I got some really great pictures, and while I see lots of room for improvement, I’m still proud of how some of them came out. Anyways, on to how the show went…
I missed the opening band Mount Carmel though I heard they were a bluesy band. When I walked in Karma To Burn was playing their first song. These guys are from West Virginia and I’ve heard a few of their albums. Mostly instrumental metal, and that’s great to me because I’m a fan of instrumental metal bands. They’re a very groove based sort of doomy or stoner band, and I’d say they are pretty similar in sound to Pelican. They did play several songs with lyrics, though I’m not familiar enough with the band to give you a set list or song titles. They put on a good show with some fun songs, they were a really good choice for a support act, really helped warm up the crowd. I shot a few pics of them from the second level, but apparently my photo pass didn’t allow me to shoot any video and I was told to stop after having captured just one song. This also means I have no video of the headliner, a first on this blog, sorry! I await the day that all bands stop telling their paying fans they can’t make their own pics or videos at concerts. People aren’t bootlegging/stealing from you, we’re trying to have something to remember the experience with, and share them with our friends. Hell, I’m trying to use them for the purposes of a review, which is promotion at best and fair use at worst. Well, before this turns into a rant, I’ll start talking about the Sword.
The Sword is a doom metal band from Austin, Texas. Their sound is almost 70’s rock-ish with fantasy, and on their latest album, science fiction themed lyrics. You’d almost think this band spawned straight from a Frank Frazetta painting. They have caused a bit of a stir among music critics, some praising their classic style of metal with it’s epic heavy riffs and crushing grooves, while others say they’re basically reinventing the wheel and haven’t really done anything to deserve all the attention. I’d never seen them live before, and while I like their music, and their latest album, Warp Riders, has really grown on me, I wouldn’t say I absolutely love their studio work. That said, I really enjoyed their live show, much more than the studio material. Maybe it’s just the studio producer they’ve got, but the songs really came alive on stage in comparison. You could tell the band was glad to be playing and having a blast up on stage, and the songs just seemed to have an extra energy that seemed to be lacking in the studio. While I was there to take pics, sometimes I just had to put the camera down and headbang to some of those tunes. The setlist was very heavy on Warp Riders material, they played eight of the ten songs on it, though they didn’t play the song Lawless Lands. I find that odd since they just released a music video for that song (see it at the bottom of this post). I really liked how the song Night City sounded live, and their encore performance of Winter’s Wolves was fantastic, a perfect way to end the show. The new drummer, Kevin Fender, did a great job executing, especially considering how short he’s been playing with the band. In case you didn’t know, this concert was supposed to happen back in October but the old drummer abruptly quit and the tour had to be rescheduled. Also, this was the first concert I held a ticket give away for on the site (here), and I hope the winner Matt had a blast! It did so well I’ll be holding another contest with free tickets for the Gwar concert coming up on December 29th, also at the 9:30 Club. I’ll have a post with details about that up soon, so check back in a few days. Now, here’s the one Karma To Burn video I managed to get before I was told to stop shooting video, followed by the Sword’s official video for Lawless Lands. If that’s not enough you can check out some more of my pics of the Sword on Flickr here. Enjoy!