The Summer Slaughter Tour 07/22/11 House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
If I ever have a moment where my life flashes before my eyes, I look forward to revisiting July 22nd, 2011. I ran into Grace Potter on the streets of Hollywood. I got a bunch of great vinyl from Amoeba Records and I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the kickoff of the 2011 Summer Slaughter Tour. Yes, July 22nd was much better than the day where a bee sting put me in the hospital or the time that one gal broke my heart into a million pieces.
I made it to the House of Blues a few minutes before Oceano was set to take the stage. I was ready to head inside but then life threw me a curveball that I just had to hit out of the park. Yes, I really wanted to see Oceano and As Blood Runs Black and I’m bummed to have missed them. However, when you are presented the opportunity to enjoy happy hour with some of the performers higher up on the bill, you take that opportunity and run with it. I did make it into the sold out venue as Powerglove was wrapping up their special halftime performance. Being the only power metal video game theme cover band on a death metal festival, the crowd was clearly showing the love for Powerglove. That could have been fun, maybe next time?!?!
The only time I have seen Dying Fetus is when they woke up on my couch in Sherman Oaks, CA about a decade ago so there was no way I was missing the bands 25 minute set of death/grindcore goodness. On a pure technical level, Dying Fetus in my opinion was the most impressive band that I saw. Not to take away from anyone else on the bill, but to watch these guys (especially guitarist/vocalist John Gallagher) pull off these complex parts and schizophrenic tempo changes in person is a treat. Highlights of the brief set included “Shepherd’s Commandment” “Praise The Lord (Opium of the Masses)” and the final number “Your Treachery Will Die With You.”
Six Feet Under
Another legendary group I finally get to kick off my bucket list. I was actually at their Key Club show in 2006 (maybe 2005?) and had to leave early which I still regret to this day. The band opened with the Cannibal Corpse classic “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” as the very young crowd erupted into a massive swirling pit. Barnes kept banter between songs to a minimum instead choosing to crush the capacity crowd with classics like “Revenge of the Zombie” “Seed of Filth” and “Human Target.” The 30 minute set (which felt much more like 12 minutes at best) wrapped with another Cannibal classic “Hammer Smashed Face.” Perhaps it was Barnes announcing that he would be at the t-shirt stand outside after the set, but as soon as Six Feet Under left the stage, so did much of the crowd.
I knew nothing about Darkest Hour walking into the House of Blues on a night where LA had below average temps and rather clean air. Clinging to my small piece of rail above the club I noticed that when they began they had the smallest crowd I had seen all day and after watching their set I think I see why. Based off thirty minutes with these guys it feels as if are having an identity crisis. The older songs like “The Sadist Nation” felt like Death Metal. Some of the newer songs (including songs being performed live for the first time) felt as if there was a lot more melody. Not a melodic metal say The Black Dahlia Murder, but it almost felt as if it wanted to be a heavy 90’s fuzz rock melody but was afraid to go there. Imagine Hum playing Death Metal, that’s what it felt like to me. As I said earlier, I don’t know anything about this band, so if I am way off my rocker on this one, let me know via the comments below.
It has been a little over a year since I saw Whitechapel at the Vans Warped Tour. While an entertaining performance, a new drummer mixed with an early afternoon set in the food court of a county fairground is not the ideal condition for these Knoxville based deathcore heroes. House of Blues on a Friday night is a different story. With this being my third Whitechapel live experience I was caught off guard at just how devastating the band was. From the opening notes of “Breeding Violence” to the closing “This Is Exile” the six piece band made you feel as if you were stranded at sea in the storm of the century with only an inflatable raft to hold. The triple guitar attack lead by Ben Savage sent the crowd into frenzy. The kids surrounding me were banging their heads and bouncing up and down in furious fashion during “Possession” and “End of Flesh” that I feared the balcony could collapse. It wouldn’t be a Whitechapel show without the band closing with a massive Wall of Death during “This Is Exile.” While the Ventura version was full of fail, on this Friday night in July the kids of Hollywood did not disappoint. Watch out America, Whitechapel is in the zone right now and with an entire tour ahead of them it’s scary to think just how destructive they will be at the conclusion.
The Black Dahlia Murder
I have said it before and I will say it again. The Black Dahlia Murder is the best metal band to emerge from America over the past decade. These guys get it. They are brutal, but can laugh at themselves. They fit the Concert Confessions format because like us they are fans. Where kids went and grabbed merch or water between acts all night, from the second Whitechapel left the stage to the moment The Black Dahlia Murder took to it the floor was packed. It was the main event and the masses were ready.
It made sense that the band kicked off an hour of madness with the opening track from the just released album Ritual. With the opening lyrics “Let us go out this evening for pleasure for the night is still young” “A Shrine To Madness” got the crowd moving despite the fact there was no room to move. A triple shot of classics including “A Vulgar Picture” and “Nocturnal” followed. It didn’t matter if it was a new song such as “Malenchanments of the Necrosphere” or a classic like “Miasma” the place was going nuts. Shout out to the wook in the mini skirt and polka dot underwear. Everyone up top got a good laugh at your crowd surfing antics.
One thing I have noticed about shows with The Black Dahlia Murder is that the energy from the band is fueled by the energy of the fans. The last two shows I saw had no guard rail and fans were free to get on stage and jump back into the crowd. On this night there was a large gap separating the fans and the band. All through the night you could see front man Trevor Strnad reaching for the crowd, greeting crowd surfers as they were escorted back to the pit by a hard working security crew. That need to connect that effort to reach each other was felt by all inside the house and I am still not sure if that struggle helped or hindered the music.
Personal highlights of the set include “Statutory Ape” “I Will Return” and “Funeral Thirst.” When it comes to The Black Dahlia Murder, the guys never disappoint which is why I see them again and again. The 2011 Summer Slaughter tour was an amazing day. If you are a fan of metal and it’s hitting your town you don’t want to miss it. Quick set changes, great bands and I believe all of the dates are inside so you don’t have to stink of sunblock.