March 11, 2006

Concert Review: A Little Taste of Chaos on 3/9/06

Tast of Chaos 2006I missed the inaugural Taste of Chaos tour last year, which was headlined by Killswitch Engage. This time around I made sure to get to it, despite the reservations I had. You see, on the surface, I am not an ideal candidate for reviewing this type of show. Granted, I am a music fan and enjoy a lot of different types of music and bands, but I have never been terribly attracted to this post-hardcore, emo, metal-core, screamo movement that has been making waves over the past couple of years. None of the bands have really grabbed me, although I am not adverse to the possibility. On tip of that, I haven't actively listened to this tour's headliner, the Deftones, since 2000's White Pony. Maybe I'm just getting too old for this, still, I was intrigued by the huge assortment of bands being offered.

The real world did its best to keep me from getting a Taste. The show started at 4:30, my quitting time, add in my commute home, time to change, grab something to eat, and drive to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, and I didn't get in the doors until just after 6pm. Once inside, I was greeted by a long line of merchandise, all the bands had their wares. CD's, t-shirts, hoodies, DVD's, pins, stickers, and more adorned the walls and tables as the rabid fans clamored to get what they could. I moved by these tables only to be asked to sign a PETA petition against KFC's treatment of chickens, I quickly moved by. The next battle was getting past the insanely long beer line. Once through those lines, I was finally able to enter the concrete cavern of a concert hall.

I have never been a big fan of the venue, it is a tough place to mix as it is very much an echo chamber. I have heard great mixes and some some downright horrid ones, this show leaned towards the better, although it was a little drum and bass heavy. Anyway, I walked in on the tale end of one of the side-stage acts, not sure who, but they were just finishing up their last song. As they finished I took a look at yet more booths lining the walls. There were bartenders and Nintendo, The Alternative Press, and a few others. Before I could get a good read on all the signs, the show was off and running again. The above description was all in the span of less than 5 minutes.

It was approximately 6:10 as As I Lay Dying began their set. This was one of the bands that I was interested in seeing, guess I got there just in time. Their 30 minute set was electric, the crowd was insane and the music, relentless. OK, It may only be the first band I've seen, but I was ready to crown them best of the night. The guitars were heavy, bass solid, screaming voice working, and above all else, the drumming was crazy! Their brand of music was a lot heavier than I was expecting, in a good way. I may not know the songs, but I think I may be listening to more of them in the future, in fact, I know so. As their set came to a close, I prepared for what I hoped would be a brief wait. Turned out to be a lot more brief than I thought.

As soon as As I Lay Dying ended their set, the next band began theirs. That band was, I learned right at the end of the set, The Confession. I'd never heard of them, and I'm probably better off. It's not that they were bad, but there really wasn't anything defining about them. If there was one thing they had going for them it would be the energy. They kept the energy high and the music going for their brief 15 minute set. During their set, I started to make my way through the thick of the crowd from my earlier spot on the right side, to the side stage area on the left.

Sorry to break in, but before going any further, I must give some props. Props to the stage and production crew working the tour. Throughout the whole night, they kept the mix consistent and were very quick in keeping the music going. There were no breaks, it was sort of like a tennis match going from band to band, it came out to about 5 hours of nearly continuous music from the moment I stepped in. Also, props to the lighting guys, for the 5 main stage acts they kept the lights different. Each band had their own lighting design to differentiate themselves. That can't be easy for so many different bands and one set lighting setup. These unsung heroes of the tour did a fantastic job. Back to the show.

I made my way part way across the meat of the pit, before I hit a block. There I stood to watch The Confession. The problem was that I was unprepared for the quickness that they left and Atreyu began, and I found myself in the middle of a raging, surging pit. I'm no kid that can take a lot of bashing anymore, so I quickly found my way out to the fringes, while simultaneously trying to stay close to the stage. Atreyu had the craziest reactions. They were pretty good, high energy, loud music, and they kept switching it up. They had a blend of screams and singing, rough riffs and speedy lead breaks. They were considerably better than the last time I saw them a few years back opening for CKY.

Keeping the show going, we move back to the side stage, which was a small corner on the left side of the stage. Greeley Estates was the next up. They were pretty good, and definitely had a following in the crowd. The following was small, but incredibly vocal, singing along and getting a few small pits going. They were not bad, again nothing terribly distinct, but they were young. My experience with the younger acts is that they can improve their performances by leaps and bounds in short periods of time with regular crowd exposure. They will probably be considerably better by the end of the tour.

As they left stage, focus shifted back to the main stage for Story of the Year. Better than the side stage acts, but not at the level of the prior two main stage setters. They were considerably heavier than I expected, blended with mellow moments. The crowd was still insane, the energy these fans had was astounding, exhausted me just watching them! Ripping guitars and driving double bass led to a stream of body surfing fans, just ready to be plucked out by the waiting security guards. Their set came to an end and we were thrust back to the small side of the stage.

Receiving End of Sirens picked up the baton and ran with it. Their sound was a little more poppier, and they had a nice sound range, filled out by a trio of guitar players and a trio of lead vocalists. They looked very young, and excited to be onstage, but they weren't without their problems. I was disturbed by the great number of triggers and pre-recorded sounds they used, I think they could have gotten away with a lot less. Plus, they kept turning their backs to the crowd in favor of the crew member filming the set from behind the drum kit. I'm all for recording your performances, but not at the expense of crowd interaction. Still, they weren't bad.

No breaks to be had here, they left the stage and the final pre-headliner band was beginning their set. That band was Thrice, another band that I had heard of, but am completely unfamiliar with. While still having a great deal of energy, were nowhere near that of, say, As I Lay Dying, I would have preferred their sets be flipped, but that's just me. Thrice is a co-headliner and, as such, got to play a little bit longer, in the 40-45 minute vicinity. They had some nice drum work, and a welcome addition of some keyboards. The addition of keyboards added a nice dimension that the prior bands didn't have. Their set was good, although I wish they were a bit heavier.

Now, we have come to the part of the show where there is inevitably a wait. No more side stage acts, and the crowd needs a break to regroup. The stage was redressed for our headliner. Drum kits moved, new speaker cabinets rolled out, and a roll cage placed over the center monitors, to help, lead vocalist, Chino Moreno get up over the crowd. The wait was just about 20 minutes, then the lights went down and the band moved into position.

The Deftones took the stage, the lights came up and the band kicked into their opening track. This definitely got the energy kicked up, the 20 minute rest did the crowd some good, feet and elbows flying everywhere. Next they played the only song I recognized by name, "My Own Summer (Shove It)". There were a few more I recognized the music to, but couldn't tell you the names. While they played very well, some of the music went too far into the realm of the ambient. It's sort of like live Tool, good music, but a little bit dull. They would spice it up with a heavier track on occasion, but a lot was the ambient alt-rock that started in earnest with White Pony. At one point, they brought out the Street Drum Corps to play a song with them. I missed them earlier on. The trio came out with various drumming instruments and their day-glo paint, and proceeded to add another dimension to the Deftones sound. The hour long set was very good, for the most part, but I wish they played a few more livelier tracks.

8 bands in just about 5 hours, hectic pace and a lot of music. I know there were a few I missed, wish I didn't, but it couldn't be avoided.

I may not be the most familiar with these bands, or this style of music, but there has to be something given for the willingness to try something new. I know that at least one band has a new fan. Something else I can say is, although I prefer heavier music and bands that practice a little more precision, but there is something to be said about live music. The energy was infectious, even if you aren't a fan, there is no denying the electricity formed when you bring high energy music in contact with an overly enthusiastic crowd.

The Taste of Chaos tour (sponsored by RockSt*r Energy Drinks) is about halfway through. There are a lot more dates on which you can catch them, so be sure to check out the official website for the dates.

Here are some rather poor quality phone-cam pictures from the show, just click the one you want to see a larger version:

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