Meshuggah w/ Decapitated and Baroness 05/05/12
House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
It was not just any Saturday night on the Sunset Strip, it was Cinco de Mayo. America’s version of El Día de la Batalla de Puebla or as alcoholics prefer to call it Amateur Night. You can always tell it is going to be a good night when vomit is flowing down the boulevard long before sun sets upon Sunset. There is a good energy in Los Angeles right now, people like hockey all of a sudden and we can no longer laugh as hard at the Clippers. Hell even the metal heads on the Strip were feeling good on the 5th of May as most of them had tickets for the sold out celebration of a battle in 1862 with Decapitated, Baroness and Meshuggah.
The fiesta kicked off with Decapitated. The band was faced with the unfortunate circumstance of having to go on as fans whom showed up well in advance of the doors opening were left waiting outside as metal detectors and slow ticket takers worked at the pace of snail. That didn’t stop the Polish natives from bringing a pulverizing set. For those who were in the venue the group did a great job of warming them up for a night of metal. After rocking classics like “Mother War” and “Post Organic” the highlight of the brief set was the moment that the band welcomed back original bass player Marcin Rygiel for the set closing Spheres of Madness. I didn’t know much about Decapitated walking into the venue, but they no doubt won me over by the end of the night.
Baroness hit the stage around 9:15 and pleased the crowd with 45 minutes of southern sludge metal. Circle pits were swapped for stoney head nods as the Savannah four piece played a set that drew heavily from their 2009 album Blue Record. I was particularly impressed with how the band strung songs together using jams that were sparse in notes yet dense in tones. Highlights of the set included Steel That Sleeps The Eye, The Sweetest Curse and a new song called Take My Bones Away that I assume will be included on the groups’ upcoming Yellow and Green album. I was hoping we would get an hour but as the band busted into Isak I knew our time together was done. A great main support set I need to see these guys headline someday.
After great opening sets it was clear everyone was ready for the main event to begin. With their most recent record Koloss debuting at #17 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts House of Blues is far too small of a venue for Meshuggah. Those who made it in knew they were lucky and made sure to show it by forming small pits on the crammed floor as a recording of Obsidian played across the PA. When the band finally did come out, they opened with the outstanding new song Demiurge. You can hate me for saying this all you want but this song reminds me of Primus and I could not have asked for a better way to kick off the set.
Early on there was a heavy focus on the band’s 2008 effort ObZen as Pravus, Combustion and Lethargica all cemented the notion as fact that this venue is far too small for the music being performed on stage. Other early highlights included Glints Collide and the new song Do Not Look Down.
Around the midway point of the show, the band left the stage as Mind’s Mirror played. When they return we were treated to one of the high points of the night as they performed In Death – Is Life and In Death – Is Death from the 2005’s Catch Thirtythree. The entire band sounded top notch all night, especially vocalist Jens Kidman.
I was shocked at how little of the new record the band played. I Am Colossus did make a late appearance sandwiches between fan favorites New Millennium Cyanide Christ and the eventual set closer Rational Gaze. Also shocking was how loud the crowd was during the obligatory encore break. In my decade plus in Los Angeles it was one of the loudest I have heard. Fans were rewarded with two more songs before being sent back out onto the strip to shock the Swagtastic lushes of amateur night. After a mighty camera killing Future Breed Machine, the men of Meshuggah bid Hollywood goodnight with Dancers To A Discordant System. It may have been a Mexican-American holiday but on this particular night it was the Swedes who won the battle of the Sunset Strip.
Click here to see where you can catch Decapitated, Baroness and Meshuggah.