Monday, December 7, 2009

The Middle East Experiences Cave In

I took the image above in 2003 when Cave In played the second stage of the Lollapalooza tour in support of their RCA major label debut Antenna. Since then, the band had been dropped from RCA, denounced Antenna, and went on hiatus. Fortunately for those of us who are familiar with the band, they have returned in prime form releasing the Planets of Old EP and performing a few shows for lucky audiences. In my previous post, I mentions how psyched I was to see the band on their November 22, 2009 date at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. Now that my ears have finally recovered, I can recall the glorious return of one of my favorite bands of all time.

The band has a much different approach than when I saw them in 2003. Back then, they were playing tracks from their space rock classics such as Antenna and Jupiter while ignoring their heavier back catalog. As a fan of their heavy material, I was given a surprising treat at Lollapalooza when they announced they were revisiting their metal past and played "Juggernaut". This time around sees them reversing their line of attack by performing mostly devastatingly heavy tracks with their spacey material used sparingly in between. The band opened by tearing through "Trepanning" which contains crushing vocals and guitars in the verse complimented nicely by a soaring chorus sung by Stephen Brodsky. The rest of the set was comprised of the entire Planets of Old EP with songs from their entire catalog (sans Antenna) scattered throughout. The band also played a new song called "Vicious Circle" featuring an insane guitar solo by Adam McGrath that had him twisting notes into a deafening sonic spiral. A professionally filmed video of the track played at a different date can be seen below.

Cave In - "Vicious Circle"

Although, as previously mentioned, I love their heavy material, nothing impressed me quite as much as hearing slower jams like "Big Riff" and "Dark Driving". I was a little disappointing in this aspect since I would have loved to hear more tracks from Jupiter and even some from Antenna. "In the Stream of Commerce" from Jupiter stands as my favorite song of theirs and one of my favorites of the past decade. I'm still hoping to see it live before I kick the bucket. Also, I know that the band has a bad taste in their mouth from their experiences working with RCA while putting out Antenna but I still love that record and I know a lot of fans who feel the same way. I wish they wouldn't write it off so quickly. Tracks like "Inspire", "Seafrost", and "Lost in the Air" were miles above what other major label bands were doing at the time. Listen for yourself below.

Cave InAntenna

The set ended with the one-two punch of "Moral Eclipse" and "Juggernaut", two of the heaviest songs from their incredible release Until Your Heart Stops. The odd thing about this show was that the audience was more-or-less completely motionless until these last two songs where everyone went batshit crazy. I guess it took those two fan favorites to get everyone moving but it seemed like a shame that everyone was really getting into the show just as it was winding to a close. I was also disappointed in the lack of an encore since they have such a rich catalog to pull from. In all, it was still a great show and one of the loudest I have been to in quite some time. My ears were actually ringing for two days after the concert. I certainly didn't regret it and look forward to seeing them again and hopefully hearing a new full length in 2010. The set list is below:

1. Trepanning
2. Air Escapes
3. Cayman Tongue
4. Vicious Circles
5. Big Riff
6. Summit Fever
7. Inflatable Dream
8. The Red Trail
9. Luminance
10. Retina Sees Rewind
11. Dark Driving
12. Moral Eclipse
13. Juggernaut

Deathwish Inc.’s Trap Them opened the show with a mixture of grindcore and sludgy hardcore. The singer had a brutal scream and a stare that could burn a hole straight through your soul. They ripped through most songs at maximum velocity but I found their slower stoner metal influenced moments to be more enjoyable. They closed the set with “Mission Convincers” which is one of the sludgy stoner gems that stood out to me. It comes from their latest full length Seizure in Barren Praise. The album can be streamed below:

The band that played right before Cave In was Narrows, another band from Deathwish Inc., a label which stands among the last consistent and genuine record labels of its kind. The band features Dave Verellen of infamous hardcore legends Botch. It was great to hear Verellen on stage screaming again since he has one of the most distinctive and incredible screams in hardcore history. The group began with one of their strange yet alluring instrumental passages before slicing eardrums in half with their dissonant mathy guitar licks. This band has one of the most peculiar guitar sounds which probably comes from the fact that they used two hollow-body guitars that actually gave them a simultaneously sharp and full tone. I’m not a big fan of their ambient segues or meandering dirges but I really loved the songs where they similar rock out such as “Life Vests Float, Kids Don’t” and "The Fourragere". “Gypsy Kids”, however, made an impression as one of the more creative songs to blend the aforementioned ambient and gloomy elements for which they are widely known. Check out their debut full length New Distances below:

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