Review of Fear Factory gig at Jaxx

On Thursday 3 June 2010 I headed out to Jaxx again to see Fear Factory play on their so called Fear Campaign Tour. I get off of work kinda late these days, and when I got to the venue I realized it was another early show at Jaxx. I got there about 9pm and Prong was finishing up their set, which meant the next band was Fear Factory. Luckily I really wanted to see them headline more than anything, so not the end of the world missing the openers. The only Prong song I know by name is that old Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck tune, which never interested me anyways. I do wish I could have caught local support band Loculus but they were on far too early for me to see them. Upon entry I spent a few minutes talking to friends of mine at the back bar, then as usual I headed towards the front of the pit to get some good shots of the band.

Fear Factory is a band I liked a lot when I was younger, their first two albums really kicked ass. They had a unique blend of metal with industrial tendencies. What I always found interesting about their sound is they really tried to write songs that sounded mechanical or robotic, not just write metal songs with repetitive keyboards and sound effects added to give it that industrial sound. Then the nu-metal fad hit in the late 90s and while I did like some of the songs on their 3rd album, Obsolete, you could tell the band was changing direction and not in a way I cared about. I didn’t really listen to them much for many years, though a friend of mine would always get their new stuff so I did hear some parts of albums I’d consider forgettable. Through sites like Blabbermouth I’d heard about the band breaking up and reforming and various other bits of drama involving their line up, until at some point I guess they just stopped being a band all together. A few years passed and their original singer, Burton C. Bell got back together with their original guitarist, Dino Cazares, and they got the band going again. Their current guitarist was moved to bass and then they added legendary drummer Gene Hoglan (whose complete credits are far too long to list here) who has been in a wide array of metal bands, from Death to Strapping Young Lad to Old Man’s Child to Testament to the Cartoon Network’s joke band Dethklok. The buzz around this new version of Fear Factory interested me enough to check them out again, and I’m glad I did. Their new album, Mechanize, released in February this year, wasn’t just a return to form from the days I enjoyed them, but they had a new energy and excitement to their sound that had been missing for a while. When I heard they’d be coming to Jaxx on their reunion tour I was excited, I certainly wanted to see this band again. The last time I saw them was almost exactly 11 years before, when they played on the side stage of Ozzfest in 1999, but this new album made them a must see for me after a decade of apathy on my part.

So there I was, up in the front waiting for the band to come on. They started early, a few minutes after 9:30pm, but when they came out the crowd was already excited. They started off with the title track off their new album, Mechanize. People enjoyed it but when they started playing the next song, Shock, the crowd was definitely into the show. I saw a few crowd surfers at this gig, and I don’t know if Jaxx security was being lax on purpose or just slow to the draw this night, but they weren’t kicking them all out as I saw some of them back in the audience throughout the show. The band came out with a good energy, Dino was singing along to the lyrics of most of the songs while playing his 8 string guitar and Burton was getting right up on top of the audience. This set list was certainly tailored to older fans like myself, as they only played 2 songs from albums between Obsolete and their newest. They played the first 4 songs from Demanufacture (one of the best A sides in metal from the 90s if you ask me) and the first 3 songs from Obsolete. They only played 1 song from their first album, Soul Of A New Machine, the overly repetitive yet still catchy Martyr. They said this was the 17th show on the tour and you could tell between songs they were starting to get a little tired as the show went on. At one point they did break for several minutes to thank the other bands, and as a kind of cool gesture they actually learned a riff from a song by each opening band and played it saying the band’s name. I was rather impressed by that and I wish other bands did that sort of thing. The break then continued as they brought out the vocalist, J Costa, from the opening act Thy Will Be Done to do a rather stupid Christopher Walken impersonation to introduce the members of Fear Factory. This really did eat up a lot of time in which they probably could have played another song, but I suppose they were just trying to take a breather. Sadly, they didn’t play my favorite song off the new album, Christploitation, but they did play another song from it for the first time ever live, Controlled Demolition (video below). Luckily they didn’t play their awful Gary Numan cover of the song Cars, which they had a video for that actually got rotation on MTV back in the day (and not on Headbanger’s Ball mind you). They did seem to feel guilty for playing the song Descent and claimed they were playing it for the women in the audience, but I thought it showcased a different side to their typical songwriting and wasn’t a terrible song to add to the set. Their show did seem to be running out of steam towards the end though, and Burton’s voice didn’t seem to be holding some of the notes as well towards the end of the gig. He seemed to be having trouble hitting higher notes as well as holding the breath to sustain longer notes. Still, they put what they had left in the tank into Zero Signal, a personal favorite of mine from way back when, and the crowd seemed to really enjoy it as much as I did. They closed the set with Replica and didn’t do the tacky staged ‘encore’ thing so many bands do. They apparently stayed after the show to sign things for people as I saw a line formed in the main concert hall long after the set was over, that’s always cool of the bands who do that. I had a lot of fun at this show, I wasn’t bothered by security about my camera at all, and they played a set list I really enjoyed. I could see how people who weren’t as familiar with the older material would have preferred a set with more of the material from the past decade, and again I really wanted to see Christploitation live, but I really can’t complain about the set list. They might be a bit older now but they’ve certainly got me interested in the next album they’ll put out and I wouldn’t mind seeing them again in a year or two, just hopefully with better openers, and ones I can arrive in time to see too!

Review of Dark Tranquillity gig at Jaxx

After work on Wednesday 12 May 2010 I headed over to Jaxx again for another metal show. Been there a lot recently, though that’s not a bad thing. This time I was going to see the Gothenburg band Dark Tranquillity. When I got there a parking spot right in front of the venue was open (no, not in front of the stores with the 30 minute parking signs, a real spot). When I got inside the band Threat Signal was on stage about midway through their set. I wasn’t too interested in them, and quickly made my way to check out the merchandise stands. As soon as they finished playing I headed up to the stage to try to get a good angle to get pix from.

The band came on stage a few minutes after 10pm, and people were ready. Ironically they used a “Projector” on the stage, and had interesting visuals on the backdrop throughout the concert. I prefer this method to the typical banner that most bands put up, as it it much more interesting to look at because it’s dynamic. This combined with the excellent lighting and just the right amount of smoke machine fog made for a very visually stimulating show. They made use of the entire stage and kept their wires, pedals and other equipment very neat and organized. This was probably necessary because the band really likes to move around on stage. I had a great time photographing them and while I often have to move about the audience to get good shots of the various band members that are on different locations on stage, they made it easy for me since they all moved around so much up there.

Ok, the visual stuff is cool and all, but how about the music? Well, I got a photograph of their setlist when they were setting up so I knew what to expect. Sadly, it didn’t consist of much from my favorite album of theirs, Damage Done. They did play Final Resistance though, so I can’t complain too much. Of the 15 songs they played 6 of them were from their new album, We Are The Void, and another 4 songs from their previous album, Fiction. They only played 1 song from before 1999, and they’ve been around since 1991. That’s great if you’re a newer fan of the band I suppose, though I’d have preferred a bit more of the older material in the setlist. Regardless, the band played well and it was a lot fun to watch them. Mikael Stanne has a great stage presence and really hangs right over the crowd for parts of almost every song, even letting fans scream into the mic from time to time. He didn’t talk too much between songs but did say they would probably be back next year. The sound mix wasn’t bad. The keyboards were almost non-existent from where I was standing (front and center) but that’s fine by me. It’s something that happens to a lot of metal bands, where the keyboards that get raised so highly into the mix on the album but are almost impossible to hear live. That’s fine by me though, as I really enjoy hearing the guitars carry the band more live. Also, the vocal style of the growls wasn’t the same as on the new album, another thing I think is good. I don’t really like how they sound on the new album, probably due to layering the vocals in the studio, but I think it made him sound too much like Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. They played for about 80 minutes straight and luckily they did not do the typical rockstar encore thing. After the show Mikael came back on stage to pound a beer for some reason. Not sure what was up with that as I was already at the merch stand (bought a t-shirt from local opener band Apothys). Apparently the band members of Dark Tranquillity were going to head over to the merchandise area and sign stuff for fans, which is always cool when bands do that, but I didn’t wait around because I’m not that big on autographs.

I remember I’d heard years ago from a few people that Dark Tranquillity wasn’t a good band to see live, but trust me, whoever said that was lying. The last time I saw them I was really surprised on how good of a show they put on, and this time was even better (even if I didn’t enjoy the setlist as much). Though I didn’t have any problems this time, I did hear people in the audience grumbling about security bugging them about their cameras. Regardless, I did shoot two videos (of older songs) which you can see below. Also of note, this will be my last concert review until Maryland Deathfest. I should have a lot of pics and footage of that afterwards, and maybe some other surprises too.

Review of Overkill gig at Jaxx

Friday the 30th of April 2010 I found myself at Jaxx again, this time to see Overkill headline the Killfest Tour. Well, not so much Overkill as the openers Vader, God Dethroned and Warbringer, so maybe this review’s title is a bit misleading. Unlike the previous Friday’s Cannibal Corpse concert, or Monday’s Amon Amarth gig (which I missed because they started so early), this concert’s headliner wasn’t scheduled to hit the stage until 11pm. That’s great for me as I work later than most on weekdays and I really wanted to see some of the opener bands too. I got to the venue but couldn’t find any parking, so I had to cross the street and park by the Shell station in the Giant’s parking lot. Of course as I was walking to the venue I saw a car pull out of a spot that was actually, you know, in the correct lot. Always frustrating when that happens. Anyways, I proceeded to walk to the venue.

Warbringer was on stage when I got there, so I went straight to the main room and got up front. I thought they’d be done playing by the time I got there, but apparently things were running a bit late so I got to catch a decent amount of their set. These guys were really a lot of fun to watch live. I’ve enjoyed their studio material but this was the first time I’ve been able to catch them play. In the past week I’ve seen a lot of these modern thrash bands (Skeletonwitch, Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste) and Warbringer might have had the best stage presence of all of them. Their lead singer, John Kevill, really got the crowd into it, but on top of that the other guys in the band did a good job of getting the audience excited. This isn’t a band where the singer gets everyone into the show and everyone else just sits there playing their instruments. There was a lot to watch no matter where you were looking on the stage.

Next up was God Dethroned. I saw them headline a show at Jaxx back in October 2009 and they really impressed me with their live show so I certainly wanted to see them again. The last time I had seen them they had a woman on guitar, Susan Gerl, but this time they had a new guy, Ian Jeckelis, who is apparently also a member of Abigail Williams. This show performance wasn’t as good as their headlining gig in October. They were plagued with technical problems, and actually played almost an entire song without vocals nor one of the guitars as Henri Sattler tried to find a solution to the problem. There was a pause for a few minutes after that song while the equipment was set back up, I figured they probably had to cut a song out of their set because of the time it took. The final song also seemed to have a problem as about 90 seconds into it the other guitar seemed to go out and Ian stormed off the stage and didn’t return. A shame the show didn’t go better for them, as they’re a good band and people should pay more attention to them. I did talk to the bassist for a couple minutes after they had played, and he said that after the tour they’d be working on a new album and would probably come back to the US after that was out, though he said he didn’t know if it would be as headliners or as support. He said it would be another album about a battle in World War I, but he didn’t say which it would be this time.

The next band to play was an old favorite of mine, Vader. They’re an old school death metal band I’ve been a fan of since I first heard their album The Ultimate Incantation. They are from Poland and are actually one of the first bands of any genre, not just metal, that broke through the iron curtain to the west, due to their early demo material being highly praised on the old underground tape trading scene (for the young people reading this, that’s what people used to find out about new metal bands before the internet had things like Napster or bit torrent, where people would actually trade copies of demo cassette tapes through the regular mail). Unfortunately Vader wasn’t headlining this concert so they didn’t play all the songs I wanted to hear, though they did play some older material like Sothis and Carnal as well as a good amount of newer songs too. They didn’t play my favorite Vader song Silent Empire, which sucks because that song is so damn brutal. The line up has completely changed, except for main man Peter Wiwczarek, since the last time I saw Vader live (in December 2007). They still played very tight and really got the mosh pit going. I’m glad I got to see them again as they always seem to impress with their high speed death metal assault. And I don’t say that lightly, Vader is one of those bands that’s fast even by death metal standards. I had an entertaining time talking to some of the younger guys in the audience while they set up too. One of them told me how he wished he had gotten to see Damageplan with Dimebag Darrell before he died as Pantera was his favorite band. I really felt old when he stared at me wide eyed when I told him I’d actually seen Pantera play several times!

The next band set to play was going to be the headliners Overkill. I’ve never really been a fan of theirs, they’re a bit too “Waaaaah!!!!” for me, if that makes sense, haha. Since the guys who were in front of me on the railing left after Vader played, I got to stand in the front row and figured I’d give em a shot live since I was there anyways. They took longer to set up than any of the other bands, and before they played Jaxx owner, Jay Nedry, came out onto the stage to talk to the audience for a while. He thanked the all bands playing, the roadies, sound and light techs, bartenders and staff and the people in attendance for coming to shows for all these years. He promoted a few of the concerts coming to Jaxx soon (which you can always find out more about on the Upcoming Shows page here on this site) and gave a toast to the war veterans in the audience. After a few more minutes Overkill hit the stage. Their lighting set up was rather impressive I must say, one of the better ones I’ve seen at Jaxx. I took a few pics and figured I’d shoot a video of one of their first songs before I got out of the front and let someone else up there who really wanted to be there. While I was shooting footage on my regular camera something strange happened that I’ve never had happen at Jaxx before (and I’ve seen over 60 concerts there). Security asked me to put my camera away. What the fuck? I wasn’t shooting with a camcorder (though most clubs don’t mind that these days anyways, but I know that’s a no-no at Jaxx). It really took the fun out of the show for me. If I couldn’t use my camera (which I wanted to use to post material here for my review) then I surely wasn’t going to stay to watch a band I didn’t care about otherwise. I gave the guy behind me a chance to take my spot in the front and then headed to the back of the venue. I bought some merch and a ticket to the upcoming Dark Tranquillity gig and left the venue with a really bad taste in my mouth. Maybe Overkill played a great set but from the 2 or 3 songs I saw them play I wasn’t really impressed with much besides the lighting. I’m hoping Jaxx doesn’t turn into another camera-nazi venue like the 9:30 Club and hopefully this was just a 1 time thing, maybe brought on by the band or something. Anyways, the footage I did get of Warbringer, God Dethroned and Vader is all viewable below.

Review of Cannibal Corpse gig at Jaxx

So Friday night, the 23rd of April the infamous death metal band Cannibal Corpse was coming to Jaxx. Awesome, I hadn’t seen them since they played the 9:30 Club in October of 2007, so I was pretty pumped. Somewhere there was a communication breakdown between the bands and the venue though, as 2 different set times were announced the day of the show, the final one saying that Cannibal Corpse would be hitting the stage at 9:30 pm because they had a early load in time the next morning in Boston. Pretty shitty for me since I didn’t get off of work til 8! I really wanted to see Diabolic play, but since the show started so early, Skeletonwitch was already playing by the time I got there. Since 1349 wasn’t able to get into the country at that point (apparently due to the volcano Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland) that meant Cannibal Corpse was going to be the next band to play. For those of you outside the area, 1349 will rejoin the tour on April 25th in Long Island.

Skeletonwitch put on a good show. I had meant to catch them at The Red And The Black in DC back in February but I had gotten sick and couldn’t make it. I think they were just starting when I got there so I did catch most of their set. They’re pretty fun to watch live, great thrash with catchy riffs and death metal style growling vocals. Though most of the band didn’t do much but head bang in place, the vocalist, Chance Garnett, had great stage presence and really got the audience into the show. They really were a good band for warming up the crowd, though I’d have like to have seen Diabolic and/or 1349 too. I ended up buying a Skeletonwitch pint glass at the merch stand after they played, hard to pass up at just $5 (by comparison Cannibal Corpse was selling a bottle opener for the same price).

There was a rather long delay before Cannibal Corpse started to play. The crowd was getting anxious and started chanting “Corpse!” and within a minute of that the band got on the stage. They came out shredding and the crowd was eating it up. I’ve seen Cannibal Corpse many times before, and this set included the least amount of Chris Barnes era songs, though they did play 2 songs from their debut album Eaten Back To Life, A Skull Full Of Maggots and Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains (someone in the audience was screaming for Born In A Casket during most song breaks though, which they didn’t play). Also of note, they played The Cryptic Stench, from Tomb Of The Mutilated, which I thought was sort of out of left field (they of course played Hammer Smashed Face also). Despite the audience’s requests for songs like I Come Blood and Fucked With A Knife, they didn’t really play many of their more sexually disturbing or misogynist songs, though they did close with Stripped, Raped And Strangled. They also played a couple songs from their latest album, Evisceration Plague, and most of the rest of the set was a sampling of the material from 1998 on. Regardless of what songs they were playing, they played them fast and tight, and the audience was losing it. I did see a couple crowd surfers, a rarity at Jaxx, and the pit was pretty much constant. Their vocalist, Corpsegrinder, talked a bit more between songs than the last few times I saw them. At one point someone yelled out to play the Barney The Dinosaur theme song, which he did not find funny and he went off on a rather entertaining rant about people requesting “retarded songs” before going right into A Skull Full Of Maggots. Still, it probably would be pretty hilarious if they actually played a song like that in the classic Cannibal Corpse style. As usual they didn’t do the typical bullshit encore thing bands seem to always do, which is cool. So lame when you plan your own encore ahead of time. They announced that Hammer Smashed Face would be the final song of the night just before they played it, though just like the last time I saw them in 2007, when they finished playing it Corpsegrinder immediately said they had lied and the band went right into Stripped, Raped And Strangled, which the audience went crazy for.

After the show I hung out a bit talking to some of the people I had met up with for the show in the first place (didn’t have a whole lot of time to talk to them earlier due to the show being early and my late arrival). Local thrash metal band Cab Ride Home apparently played after Cannibal Corpse got their stuff all loaded out, but I didn’t hang around long enough to check them out. I had lots of pics and vids to sort through and the Caps game to watch on DVR. You can see the videos I shot at this show below, though I have 2 more that YouTube is having trouble with for some reason. They both keep getting hung up at about 80% when I try upload them and I don’t know why. I’ll post them here if I can get them to upload correctly, not sure what the problem is. Not a big deal as these vids should give you a good idea of this brutal concert regardless. Enjoy!

Review of Kreator gig at Jaxx

Wednesday the 3rd of March 2010 I headed over to Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia to go catch Kreator. It had been over a month since I’d been to a metal show, far too long! This was the first show of Kreator’s 2010 North American tour and I was pretty excited. Back in early January Kreator posted a message on their MySpace blog saying they would play a special “old school” set list on this tour since 2010 is Kreator’s 25th anniversary. This being the first show of that tour those of us at Jaxx were going to be the first to hear it. Also, the last time Kreator played Jaxx, back on the 17th of May 2009, it was the final concert of that tour and the guys from Exodus dressed up in drag as cheerleaders during Kreator’s final song of the night. The 300+ lbs singer for Exodus, Rob Dukes, did a stage dive on my head during the fiasco and I was shooting video at the time, which you can see on YouTube here. So all that stuff meant I was pretty pumped to see Kreator play!

When I got to the venue I was told opener Voivod had just started their first song. I’ve never been a huge Voivod fan, though I was curious to see them play live. I was surprised to find that they did not have Jason Newstead (of Metallica fame) playing bass for them. He’s been a member of the band since 2003. I guess he doesn’t tour with them though. Their set wasn’t bad, but the mix was a bit rough and it was hard to hear much over the drums and vocals. They put on a good show and the crowd’s energy wasn’t bad considering they were a support act. Still, you could tell everyone was waiting for Kreator to hit the stage and by the time Voivod announced the start of their final song, I was heading to the bar to beat the rush.

Kreator took what seemed like a very long time to set up the stage. They had a lot of banners hanging on all kinds of scaffolding style metal piping and they brought their own lighting rig too. The lights went down and a recording of Choir of the Damned started playing. When the band finally took the stage the crowd was ready. They opened with The Pestilence and people were going crazy. The rather thin mosh pit for Voivod was now most of the dance floor area, and it was getting hard to keep my camera shooting straight with all the bodies flying around. The show had a lot of energy, as is to be expected from a Kreator show, and of course the lights were intense. The “old school” set list there had been so much talk of wasn’t that different than the last time I saw them. They did only play a couple songs off their latest album, Hordes Of Chaos and Demon Prince, and they threw in a few older songs like Endless Pain, but overall the setlist wasn’t much different than the one they played last time. I took a picture of the setlist from a guy who pulled it off the stage at the end of the show, and you can see it here and if you want to compare it to the picture I took of the setlist from May 09 you can by going here. I don’t want to say the show wasn’t fun, it certainly was, but I had been hoping for more older songs to be thrown in and less of the same staple songs you kind of expect them to play. I guess that was a bit of a let down, but still, it’s always a blast to see Kreator. Oh, and in case you were wondering they didn’t have any guys in drag dressed as cheerleaders on stage this time either, haha. Overall I’d say the show was a lot of fun but still, the let down of the set list sort of left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. I still recommend seeing them if you get a chance, especially if you never have before. They really get every bit of energy out of the crowd they can. Oh, also of note, got my videos from this show posted in a Blabbermouth article, which is always pretty cool when they do that. You can check that out here. I’ve also posted one of them below.

Pentagram at Jaxx

This isn’t really a full review of the concert, it was 2 weeks ago now, and I had been drinking a bit at this concert too so I decided not to review it. Due to a hangover I didn’t get all my photos and videos from the evening posted on time, then they just got kinda put on the back burner, but I finally got them all sorted through and ready to display today. Ol’ Scratch was setting up when I got to Jaxx. Everything must have been running late because I didn’t think I’d be able to get there in time to see them. I’d heard good things about them before and I like their latest album, the Sunless Citadel too. They weren’t the first band to play but they were a perfect local opener for this kind of show. They have more energy than a lot of doom bands, but that’s not a bad thing. They also have a lot of beards! I recorded 2 of their songs, one of which is embedded at the bottom of this post. I don’t know the name of that song so if you do please let me know so I can update the listing. Earthride was on next but they didn’t really hold my interest and that’s when the beers started flowing! They are most known for having the bass player from Spirit Caravan on vocals, but they just sounded rather generic to me, nothing I hadn’t heard before. By the time Gates Of Slumber came on I’d run into some old friends and was rambling away most of the set. I do like them and I’ll have to see them the next time they come around (sadly they’re dropping off the Weedeater tour before they come to DC9 in April). By the time Pentagram got on stage Jaxx was pretty packed. I don’t know if it was a sell out but it was certainly a good sized crowd and you could tell Bobby Leibling was happy to see so many people came out to support him in what is basically his home town. They put on a good show, though they didn’t play Buzz Saw, a personal favorite of mine. However, they did play 2 new songs from an upcoming release that is yet to be recorded. I actually video taped both of these songs, I’m Takin No More and South Of The Swamp and have put them on YouTube (just click their names to see/listen, the visual quality isn’t the best because it was so dark, but the audio isn’t bad). This might be the first time those 2 songs were played live in front of an audience since this was the first show of the tour. There were people of many different age groups all coming out to see the local very-old-school doom legends Pentagram and they really did put on a fun show (and it wasn’t just the beer making me think that). I can’t wait to get to see them again on day 3 of Maryland Deathfest this May. Well, sorry it’s taken so long to get all this stuff posted (the show was on Friday 15 January 2010), but you can see the pictures I took on Flickr here and the videos I shot on YouTube here. Enjoy! Oh, and if you’ve got a review, pics, videos or whatever else from this show, feel free to link to it in the comments section of this post.

Review of Behemoth gig at Jaxx

So Friday the 8th of January 2010 I went to Jaxx in West Springfield, Virginia, to see the Polish blackened death metal band Behemoth play. Well, this was actually the first time I’d been to Jaxx since I saw God Dethroned play there back in October. A lot has changed with the look of the club since then, but I’ll get into that later, this is a review of the Behemoth concert after all.

I got there kind of late and didn’t get a chance to see any of the openers, Septic Flesh had just finished their set as I walked in the door. I’d have watched them play but really I’d have liked to see Shining, who was originally on the tour as well only to drop off due to visa complications. The parking lot was completely full and even the lot in front of the Giant across Old Keene Mill had a lot of cars parked in it for the show. Although it sucked parking so far away (the temp was in the lower 20s) it was good to see such a turn out for the show. The last few metal shows I’d been to at Jaxx didn’t have really big crowds. This night the entire club was pretty crowded, which made it kind of stuffy and hot with my coat on, but it was bearable and nowhere near as bad as that sold out Morbid Angel/Behemoth show in 2006 when the air conditioner didn’t work. After what seemed like a very long drum kit set up and sound check, the lights finally went down a few minutes after 11pm as Behemoth took the stage.

They came out onstage and the crowd was ready. People were excited as the band ripped through songs from Evangelion and Demigod. The last time I saw Behemoth play they were opening for Dimmu Borgir at the 9:30 Club and they didn’t play many songs from older albums, which is of course what I wanted to see. Not that I don’t enjoy their newer material, but I certainly prefer some of their older less polished sounding songs. Now I knew they wouldn’t play anything like Lazy Pomorza, but I was glad to hear them play 3 songs from the Satanica album (instead of just the staple Chant For Eschaton 2000). They only played 1 song from Thelema.6 though, Christians To The Lions. Regardless, the show was a pretty decent mix. Certainly more focused on more recent material but not completely forgetting their older songs either. One thing I wasn’t expecting was a killer (but short) drum solo by their drummer, Inferno. It only lasted about a minute but it was pretty impressive. They did do the generic encore thing, which was kind of weird since the back stage area is much more open now. Behemoth’s main man Nergal came out with some sort of Roman centurion looking wooden or metal (hard to tell in the lighting) mask as they played their final song of the night, Lucifer. Kind of strange I suppose but better than that weird ‘evil teddy bear’ mask he put on for the final song last time I saw them. The show ended about 15 minutes after midnight and people started filing out into the cold right after, though the merch stand was really busy for a while.

After the show I hung out a few minutes because I didn’t want to deal with the herd of people all heading out to the door at once. It gave me a good chance to check out some of the changes to the club’s interior. The walls have all been painted orange, though the ceiling is still black. They got rid of the bar on the side by the merch stand which opens up some more room for the under 21 people. The big black drapes that hid the backstage area from the audience have been completely removed, which really makes the room seem bigger. The raised bar area around the dance floor has had new railing put in that looks much nicer, though you can’t really notice it when it’s darker. It looks like the lighting rig has had an update too. There were some new lights that looked sort of like LEDs or something, as well as a couple things that looked like rotating balls of laser pointers (not too impressed with those, hope they didn’t cost much). The club certainly does not look like a hive of scum and villainy, and comes across much more welcoming, organized and professional looking. This change certainly helps the club move past being just a ‘metal club’ to a venue that can host concerts in several genres. A part of me wonders if they’re trying to phase out the metal all together, but I think if they get more head counts like this they won’t be phasing out the metal any time soon. The place has sure come a long way since the owner posted on their website about possibly trying to sell the place in January 2008.

Not everything was an improvement though. I don’t know if it had to do with changing the shape of the interior space or maybe just a bad ear during the sound check, but the audio mix during Behemoth’s set was terrible. The vocals kind of mushed into the midrange guitar parts and the high end tones were getting drowned out by the kick drums. It didn’t seem to me that any of the audio equipment had really changed, though I really don’t know for sure. Hopefully it was just a fluke as I’ll be back to Jaxx this Friday to see Pentagram and The Gates Of Slumber. Also, though the lighting seemed to be upgraded, it’s almost all backlighting. This makes it hard to see any of the band members (besides the drummer in the back) when the spotlight isn’t on them. As you can see in the video below, most of the time they just appear as silhouettes. The stage sure is lit up, but the band members aren’t (at least not on the side facing the crowd). Combined with the fog machine, it was starting to look like just a big blur of stage lights. I’ll be interested to see what the place looks like for Kreator in March as they bring some great stage lighting with them. Overall the changes aren’t bad at all, though I’m sure some of the more die hard metal heads who have been going there for a while will take some time getting used to it.