December 8, 2005

Concert Review: Ill Nino w/ Opiate for the Masses, Unbalanced, Junket on 12/7/05

Ill Nino rocks! Every time I see them, they get better. I remember when I was first exposed to them, September of 2001. They were the first warm up act for a show co-headlined by Fear Factory and Machine Head. I thought they were pretty good, but not exactly special, but as the years wear on and they release more albums, they have grown into a monstrous force. But I am getting ahead of myself, before Ill Nino could take the stage, we have some warm up acts.

I got to the club around 7:30. There were no lines, I walked right up to the door and on inside. I was greeted by a pretty empty place. I was surprised, Ill Nino is a band that should draw more. Anyway, I checked out the merchandise and headed down towards the guard rail near the pit to settle in for the show.

The first act to challenge us with their sound was a local group called Junket. Don't really have much to say about these guys. They reminded me a lot the Deftones, only not as good. Junket looks like a real young band, they have plenty of time to develop into something. Right now, though, I don't know, they can play, there is just something I cannot put my finger on. They didn't seem to be completely comfortable onstage, although they loosed up a bit as their 20 minute set wore on.

Next up are local legends Unbalanced. I cannot claim to be a big fan of these guys, but I have seen them a few times, and they are always first rate. Sadly, tonight their set was hampered by technical difficulties which knocked out the lead guitar player. The set was abbreviated, presumable for that reason. Hopefully next time. What we did get was very good. They are heavy and tight, they have been doing this for sometime.

Our final opener, and one we probably could have done without, was Opiate for the Masses. This was the wrong crowd for these guys, not that the crowd has gotten any too big. This was a night for metal, and these guys fall into that newer wave of metalcore and punk metal styles. On top of that, I don't think they were all that good. There problems with the mix which did not do them any favors. I watched as they regularly signaled the sound guy to raise/lower various levels. The singer was obviously feeling the lack of energy from the crowd, dampening his performance. To say something good about them, the drummer was incredible. Besides having a great sound, he was also a showman. He played with a pair of blue tinged spotlights on him, giving him an zombie like appearance. He would cross his sticks, point them into the crowd, throw them to a roadie at the side of the stage, give the crowd crazy looks, all while maniacally pounding the drums. He was good, very good.

Now, the time we had all been waiting for, Ill Nino took the stage. The crowd had grown somewhat by this time, still not too big, but it was better than when we started. Ill Nino kicked right into "This is War," hitting hard and fast. One thing I have to say, I may listen to too much music. I say that because I am horrible at recognizing songs, there are ones that I recognize, but would be hard pressed to tell you the song name. Back to the show.

The wonderfully layered sound they get, even in the live environment. The sound is thick and full of texture, they are a tight unit. The twin guitars create this wall of rock that it is near impenetrable, combine that with the drum/percussion duo, and you probably have an idea of the layering that can occur. Something else that impresses me, is the inclusion of acoustic guitar. Most bands will play their songs acoustic or electric, Ill Nino is the first band I have witnessed that incorporated so much acoustic guitar into the songs. There are numerous acoustic fills, but not acoustic songs, it adds a great new element to the show. The drumming duo is another great sound, adding the Latin flavor. Part way through the set, there was a jam between the two that is a sight to behold. It wasn't quite up to the level of the show with Disturbed a few months back, but still. As the set neared its end, they teased us with some cover songs. We got beginnings to songs by Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath, but that's all they were. Then we got to make fun of the guitar tech who was unfamiliar with Maiden! If you can believe that.

This was the fourth time I have seen Ill Nino, and they have not disappointed. These guys have come a long way in just a few short years. If you get the chance to see them, do it.

Set list transcription:
I Am Loco
How Can I Live
God Dave Us
Turns to Gray
Drum Jam
What U Deserve
Te Amo
Comes Around


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