In the past month or so I attended two of the craziest shows I have been to in quite some time. This year I have seen a lot of different genres of music live and really nothing was that out of hand to the point where I left almost laughing at the insanity of the performance of both band and crowd. The last two shows though that I attended at the Grog Shop, not only did I leave satisfied with the show, but also was just blown away at the insanity created during it.
A few weeks back I was invited to see longtime hardcore act Converge play a small show with special guests High On Fire and Keelhaul. Converge and High On Fire were taking a break from the [adult swim] sponsored Mastodon / Dethklok tour. As much as I wish Mastodon and Dethklok made a stop as well in Cleveland I knew that Converge and High On Fire would play longer sets at the smaller venue.
Keelhaul, a local metal band, played a great, mostly instrumental, set to small but growing crowd. I was pleased to see these old school (to me) Clevelanders take stage and deliver some solid sludge metal. At times they were heavy and out of control while other times formulated into a Clutch like jam the whole crowd appreciated. They were solid and really into their performance and I am glad I got there in time to see them.
I saw High On Fire previously over the summer at Bonnaroo so I was already aware that they would put out a sick performance. The band rocked from the moment they took the stage until their final song. Playing for just over 45 minutes I enjoyed seeing a good metal set and was even treated to a new track from their upcoming release. Lead singer Mike Pike admitted that they had not played a small venue in a while and perhaps that is why they all seemed so pumped to play that night.
High On Fire Setlist:
Blood from Zion
Eyes and Teeth
Commeth Down Hessian
Waste of Tiamat
Rumors of War
Sadly some people actually left once High On Fire was done. Why? Who knows…their loss.
Now where do I begin with Converge? I have to admit that I missed them all of the previous times they came through Cleveland for whatever reason so this was my first taste at live Converge. All I have to say about their set is this…WOW. They played a huge array of tracks including a couple of their newest album Axe To Fall which was recently released through Epitaph Records.
For a band that has been around for 17 years they are just as incredible as ever. I have never seen anyone like lead singer Jacob scream so hard into a mic. The fans were eating it up with the hardcore kids flailing about carelessly just enjoying themselves.
As a seasoned concert goer I stay away from the pit. I am old and get tired quickly. I can not do roundhouses with grace nor do I want to jump on top of other fans in attempts of getting the mic pushed in my face for a chance to recite a lyric. Now if I were younger you can bet your ass I would have been jumping around and kicking and singing through the set just like many of the younger fans did. It was incredible. These kids were true fans pushing out every lyric of every song with ease. I could only look at the kids and think back to the days when I did stuff like that.
Converge played songs old and new and just tore it up. It was one of the better shows I have been to all year. Hardcore is not dead by any means and Converge is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Bare My Teeth
Reap What You Sow
Worms Will Feed
Axe to Fall
Eagles Become Vultures
The Broken Vow
Bitter and Then Some
A few weeks later one of my favorite UK bands invaded Cleveland once again. There was no way in hell I was going to miss this show. Sadly a lot of my friends punked out but my pal Josh and I trucked up the the Grog Shop on a Sunday night in hopes of a great show featuring none other than Gallows.
Local openers Wreak Havoc and Above This Fire were both decent openers. I have heard of each act and have seen their names posted around Cleveland for some time now yet never checked either out. Their fans were all about both sets as they jumped on top of each other and kicked and danced around the pit. I do need to note one particular instance of the night though that cracked me up during Above This Fire…
There was a younger fan, a female fan, who was a little shorter than the rest. She stood her ground at the front of the stage with a mean pissed off look that honestly resembles mine. Every once in a while she would take a lap around the pit and push people around and clearly was just into the set doing her thing, being hardcore. For whatever reason during one of the rounds she decided to go into the crowd and punch me straight in the kidney. On purpose or not, I was laughing too hard to feel the pain… Don’t worry, I did not retaliate.
This was my third time seeing Gallows live and there is a reason for that…they own. Frank Carter and crew put on a killer performance and the kids were jumping and kicking and screaming their hearts out. I thought for sure Carter was going to take the mic into the pit and sing in the crowd as he has done previously but this time he planted his feet on stage.
I don’t know if it is from constant touring or what but Carter just looked tired and not himself. He sang on point but lacked the overzealous attitude I usually am humored by. He is usually outspoken and just a bad ass but this time around he seemed tame. Even the crowd did not seem as insane as when I saw them at the Warped Tour. During the Gallow’s cover of Black Flag‘s “Nervous Breakdown” I thought for sure the Grog Shop was going to be one giant circle put but it did not even make it past the pillars in the center of the venue.
On occasion Carter dipped in the front row while singing but never stepped foot in the pit until the last song. Covering songs on both albums it even seemed as if they could have played a little longer but before I knew it Carter announced it was the last song and busted into “Orchestra Of Wolves”.
During that last song he let the fans take over singing duties as he jumped in the crowd and pushed himself to the back of the pit where I was standing. After a few moments the sweaty skinny hardcore Englishman thwarted back in the pit and back on stage. Once the song was done that was it. No encore, show over, and I loved it.
Sadly I was not paying a lot of attention to the set because I had one too many PBR‘s during the show. If anyone knows of the set the Gallows slammed out that night let me know and I will gladly post it.
As I finish this blog up tonight it was brought to my attention that the Gallows jumped off the AFI tour due to illness in the band. Perhaps that is why Carter and crew did not seem nearly as energetic. Direct from their website they stated:
We will not be appearing on the remaining 5 dates with AFI we were scheduled to play. This is due to members of the band being very sick & we need some urgent rest. We’re very sorry to anyone who bought tickets to see us on these shows, we will be back soon!
Rest up Gallows.
I may be getting up there in age but I can tell you that I had a blast at both shows even if I stood at the base of the put and did not move at all. Crossing my arms and nodding my head is my way of approval these days and I can tell you I did a lot of that at both shows I attended.