At last a concert came to town metal enough to lure me from the sweet seclusion of my cave. As the name so eloquently implies, the Summer Slaughter Tour is the “most extreme tour of the year.” And although the year is far from over, the veracity of that statement probably won’t be compromised unless a bunch of pro skaters pack up their halfpipe and tour the country themselves (those skaters are so fucking extreme, they’re actually X-treme). Regardless of the tour’s superfluous extremity, the show promised nine bands for the low, low price of only $17.00. With a price like that, I couldn’t afford not to go.
Unlike many of the metal shows I’ve attended in the past, this concert took place at an all-ages venue. I’m used to seeing metal bands in filthy little dive bars where you spend most of your time trying to avoid stepping on potentially hazardous piles or puddles of sticky god-knows-what. At this all-ages show, however, I spent most of my time trying not to step on any kids. The fuckin’ place was crawling with the little bastards. Watching these annoying, sideways-hat-wearing, trying-to-look-tough thumbsuckers pour through the doors of the venue reminded me of maggots crawling out of a freshly kicked hole in the side of a rotting animal. I think I prefer the maggots. They have more personality.
Being an all-ages venue, there was no alcohol on the premises; unless you count all the cool kids trading sips from tallboys of warm Budweiser in the parking lot bushes. From the looks of these little wimps, they were more accustomed to Zima and wine coolers, but, you know, it’s a metal show and they have to look tough until their minivan-driving mommies pick them up.
I had never been to this venue before because it’s pretty much just a hangout for screamo kids, punks, and various types of hoodie-wearing hardcore dumbshits. The venue itself is fairly large and has decent sound; although, some of the bands sounded rather muffled—like someone blast-farting into a couch cushion. If there was a designated outdoor smoking area, I didn’t see it. This drove a few unfortunate guys with shaved heads and prison tattoos to start punching people until security threw them out. Come to think of it, they were probably just skinheads. Those guys love punching people … and nailing their cousins … often both at the same time.
Overall the venue was good: plenty of parking, decent sound, large merchandise area, large stage area, etc. What the venue lacks, at least when I was there, is some airflow. Being in that place was like cramming your head up a bee hive and jumping into a kiln. Would it kill their budget to invest in a fucking ceiling fan or two? Crack a goddamn window, guys, you’re starting to attract wayfaring Italian cooks looking for an oven big enough to cook pizzas shaped like Italy. (I was going to make a Nazi oven joke, but my conscience threatened to sue.)
Here is a quick rundown of the bands that played.
Beneath the Massacre:
A tech-death(ish) metal band from Canada. They sounded like a group of speed freaks jackhammer fighting behind a liquor store while a robot kicks over trashcans. Sweet!
I had never heard this band before. I guess you could call them a hardcore band with grindcore tendencies. Their bass player was bald and thrashed around a lot.
Melodic, blackened death metal. I would have paid $17.00 just to see these guys play. I bought their “United in Regret” t-shirt because it’s way necro. When they played “A Diamond for Disease,” it was so fucking badass that three people exploded.
I had never heard of these guys, either. Their keyboard player looked like someone who would have gotten beaten up by Moby back in Junior High School.
As Blood Runs Black:
“We want you [their fans in the crowd] to fuckin’ go crazy and tear this shit up!” They probably would have, but they were all too busy writing notes about their feelings to put on LiveJournal when they got home.
A local gore/grind band that has become somewhat well known. I saw them back in the day with Nile and Impaled. Their singer looks like a cracked-out Jim Breuer. He flailed around a lot, poured bottled water on himself, and spat in the air and caught it in his mouth. I wanted to drop kick him. The band itself is cool, though.
These crazy bastards are an awesome mix of death metal, grindcore, and other random types of assorted musical madness. Since I know that drug-free is the way to be, I can’t say I approve of their calls to smoke weed. During “Endless Cycle of Violence,” I punched a kid so hard it knocked the Billabong logo off of his shirt.
A tech-death metal band from Poland. I’ve been listening to these guys for years. Back in college “Spheres of Madness” was practically my theme song, and I finally got to see them play it live. They were an unstoppable wall of brutal death metal battery.
The final and headlining band of the Summer Slaughter Tour took the stage and beat the shit out of the audience with complex tech-death riffing, time signatures nearly impossible to headbang to, and an eight-minute-long drum solo.
Highlights of the Show
Beneath the Massacre, Arsis, Cephalic Carnage, Decapitated, and Necrophagist.
“GORE not CORE” shirts. Goddamn right!
Things that Pissed Me off at the Show
For the sake of brevity, I’ll try to keep the unhinged ranting to a minimum.
Because there were so many bands on the bill, every band leading up to Necrophagist only had a four-song set. I’ve seen soundchecks last longer than that. If I had sneezed, I would have completely missed Decapitated’s performance. The simple solution is to put fewer bands on the lineup. Even with dirty metalheads, quality trumps quantity—unless you’re talking about alcohol, in which case more is always better. I myself would choose a dusty metal bucket of Jim Beam runoff over a clean shot glass of Maker’s Mark any day.
In any case, the Summer Slaughter Tour would have been no less extreme had Ion Dissonance, The Faceless, and As Blood Runs Black not been involved. In fact, the exclusion of As Blood Runs Black probably would have added to the tour’s extreme cred, as their absence probably would have cut down on the number of fifteen-year-old emo kids sniveling up the joint, reeking of expensive hair conditioner.
Speaking of emo kids, just what the fuck happened to the metal scene since I’ve been gone? I’ve been to all-ages shows in the past, and there always were a bunch of annoying punker and hardcore kids around, but never have I been to a metal show so full of tragically hip, senselessly pouty, emo douchebags with stupid haircuts. It was as if Junior Prom at the school for the extraordinarily angsty let out after an especially moving performance by My Chemical Romance. I went to take a piss but couldn’t get in the bathroom because the raging torrent of mascara-laced tears was impossible to ford without three pack mules and one-hundred feet of rope. At one point, the mosh pit turned into a moping circle, and all the emo kids just sort of shuffled around, flipping their feathered hair out of their eyes in melancholy unison. I didn’t know people on suicide watch were allowed to go to concerts.
This unholy mixture of clashing subcultures—emo/screamo, hardcore, punker, and metal—led to an unusual pit experience. Hardcore kids performing the ever-popular and totally not lame pit dance “picking up change” were inevitably kicked in the head by safety-pin-covered idiots jumping around karate kicking the air like spastic, uncoordinated Ralph Macchios. Fragile screamo boys and girls bordered the pit and looked sad when anyone ran into them, and metalheads just ran around, plowing through anyone in their way. Some jackass was literally doing cartwheels in the pit—the kind of cartwheels effeminate guys wearing lederhosen do while picking flowers and singing show tunes in a field somewhere. The last time I saw him he was getting his shit totally ruined by a big guy in a Morbid Angel t-shirt. He got hit so hard mid-cartwheel that his shoe flew off.
It also occurred to me that many of the younger, emo people at the show didn’t “get” the death metal stylings of Decapitated and Necrophagist. If I had a nickel for every emo kid completely baffled by the death metal legends, I could have bought the Hot Topic store at the mall, invited a bunch of screamo fanboys (and girls) in for a studded belt sale, and burned the motherfucker down. The great majority of emo kids in the crowd looked like wild turkeys drowning in the rain, slack-jawed and glazed over, when Necrophagist was playing. The confusion finally became too great, and they fled the venue in droves, looking for a band full of mascara-wearing pretty boys in tight pants to play some tired-ass harmonies in 4/4 that they could wrap their heads around.
I even overheard a guy saying, “What the hell’s with this band? They have no stage presence. This is, like, boring.” Really? You try jumping around on stage like a flaming monkey during a seizure while playing this. I know image is really important to you hip kids, but some people value musical prowess more than eyebrow piercings and choreographed jumping. If I just wanted to see a bunch of adults jump around, I’d go to the loony bin down the street and light off some firecrackers during story hour.
All in all, it was a great show, well worth leaving my cave to attend. It doesn’t beat the Anal Blast concert I went to last year, though. At that show, the bar’s toilets overflowed and flooded the club with two inches of putrid, hepatitis-rich sewer water. Because of that, all the drinks that night were half price. Score!