Before I dive into the specifics of my Behemoth-filled birthday weekend, it’s worth noting that my excitement level leading up to these NYC and Boston dates betters that of any other concert event in my recent memory (outside of Wacken, of course). So don’t expect any negativity here… aside from my shit cell phone pictures. But you see, Behemoth is, by a distance, my favorite band and The Satanist is, by a distance, my favorite album. And of course, seeing this album played start to finish was simply something I needed to experience… at least once. So, with my birthday falling on the 22nd, the NYC show falling on the 23rd, and the Boston show falling on the 24th (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively), the stars were aligning. My plan was pretty obvious.
Unlike Manny-O-War, who shared his experience at the Webster Hall show yesterday, I will be digging more into the personal side of this adventure, because both shows were unique in their own way. So, come Saturday morning, off I was to NYC to be reunited with some of my favorite humans for what would be the concert event of 2016 (so far). After a quick gathering with some of the best NYC metal has to offer (including Mr. Dan Kaplan and Mr. Manny-O-War) at The Smith for beers, food, and more beers, we made our way to Webster Hall.
But first, a quick word on The Satanist. Behemoth has long been a band I respect. From their raw black metal days of the mid-90s, to their ferocious blackened death metal days of the mid-2000s, they have always progressed their sound with the utmost expertise. Behemoth is a collection of absolute master musicians, and their quality has never been questioned. The Satanist, however, reached another level. Taken apart or listened straight through, it is among the best metal has had to offer in years. It is an absolute masterpiece. So, yeah, anticipation was building. But first up… Myrkur.
I am sick and tired of the hate spewed onto this project. Myrkur, as far as I’m concerned, is awesome. M was a very powerful piece of art and the performance this evening only enhanced my opinion on the whole thing. Amalie sounded amazing, her accompanying musicians sounded amazing, and the whole performance just left us gazing at the stage in astonishment. Maybe Myrkur’s take on black metal isn’t for everyone. But like I always say, it’s your choice to listen to it or not. She owned her set this night all the way around, and the crowd was very much in acknowledgement of that. Anyway! Behemoth time.
I’ve seen most of the songs from The Satanist played live before. In fact, I’ve seen them live since the drop of this album no less than five times (eight or nine overall), so I already knew the show would kick ass. But just seeing the whole album, an album I have repeated over and over for two years, played straight through was incredible. Behemoth always puts on a strong, energetic performance and this show was no different. Much of the same costume work was featured as on previous tours, but there were some new stage antics to spice things up. For example, Nergal offering communion wafers during “In the Absence Ov Light” was particularly enjoyable. But much was familiar in a good way… the horned masks during “O Father O Satan O Sun!”… Orion’s freaking size and presence, yeah it was all still incredible. But the whole album sounded great, with hardly any breaks between tracks.
But of course, at the end of this particular show, my adventure was only half through. After waking up early the following morning, I was on my way back to Boston for round two. The live performances by both Myrkur and Behemoth were equally as impressive at The Royale, and I won’t waste time covering the setlist again (there were no changes). But the primary difference this time around was my VIP access. Arriving an hour before doors, I had the opportunity (because I was willing to pay for it — money does by happiness) to get up close and personal with my heroes. This wasn’t a free-for-all VIP event as I’ve been a part of in the past; this was structured on all levels. But that was more than fine. A quick autograph/photo session with a chance to chat with the members was cool by me.
When I met these guys back in… 2006 or 2007, they were, well, somewhat abrasive. Tonight, however, they appeared happy to chat with us, take pictures, and share stories. Nergal especially, who entered the VIP area (which was really just the crowd area of the venue) looking fly as hell as always, skipping and acknowledging us star-struck jabronis with all the charisma in the world. They were easy to talk to, discussing NYC, snapbacks (which Manny-O-War can appreciate — see below), beer, whatever. It was an awesome experience. I got my three massive posters signed, and proceeded to the front row to await the start of the show… but only after dropping some serious coin on a special edition BlackCraft Cult hoodie designed by Nergal himself. Totally worth it. And now I’m spending more money at that site than I probably should. Oh well.
(Nergal, Manny-O-War, and Butters all respecting the snapback… the unofficial wardrobe accessory of Nine Circles)
The show was just as impressive as the night before — if not more as a result of my closer position — and rounded the weekend off perfectly. Never once did I feel a lull due to the fact that I was witnessing the same show twice in a 24 hour span. But a large part of that is because Behemoth’s live energy is simply unmatched. And at the end, hearing the finality of the concluding “Chant for Echaton 2000” offered me a bit of personal, cheesy, reflection on the last couple of nights. Really though, that song is an amazing closer.
Sure, come Monday I was exhausted from the miles, music, and intensity, but it was all very much worth it. I have long said that anytime Behemoth is playing within a reasonable distance, you can guarantee I’ll be there. Nothing from this past weekend changed that position. I enjoyed every second of this two day stretch and I owe it all to my friends in both NYC and Boston… and of course Behemoth. The Blasfemia Amerika Tour 2016 has just about come to a close. If you managed to catch one of these shows, I’m sure you enjoyed it as much I did.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”