I will open this post by acknowledging how long it has taken me to put thoughts to screens for this particular show. Ok, moving on from that for now. If you somehow missed out on the absolutely immense tour featuring Primitive Man and Spectral Voice that covered a significant enough chunk of the United States, you done messed up. Or you don’t like being murdered by sound, which… what’s wrong with you? This was one of the darkest, densest shows I’ve attended in awhile. Actually, since the last time I saw Primitive Man, now that I think about it. Anyway, let’s talk about it!
Before getting into set details, I feel like I owe you all an explanation as to why it took me so long to share this show with you. Here is a list of reasons behind the month-long delay…
- Having too many pictures to go through and realizing only about 10 are worth shit and getting stressed about it
- The paying job getting unnecessarily busy
- Taking whatever free time I have and using it to escape this disaster of a society we suffer through daily
OK, I’ll let you take the above list and order it based on what you think held the most significance in my inability to WordPress. Shall we continue? Usually I write these concert review in sequential order, covering the openers before dedicating a couple paragraphs to the headliner(s). Since I’ve seen and covered Primitive Man so many times in recent years, I’m actually going to do the reverse.
In case you weren’t aware, Primitive Man is the most destructive (musically and emotionally) band out there. This show gave us no reason to interpret what they do otherwise. From one lengthy, crushing song to the next, they treated the audience as a rag doll and beat the Middle East into an absolute pulp. It’s a bit difficult to truly describe the impact their music has. I hope at this point we’ve all heard Caustic and have at least a semblance of what they are capable of. But experiencing those sounds in person is a completely different experience in terms of overall weight. They have complete control over what you are going through during their set and they are relentless. For some reason, however, it’s impossible to not be completely fixated on what they are doing. They turn us into gluttons for their particular brand of punishment. Take it from me. This is my third Primitive Man show in… a year or so?
The band I really want to focus on, however, is Spectral Voice. Yes, I did listen to Eroded Corridors of Unbeing. Exactly one time. I don’t necessarily know why, that’s just the way it worked out. So for the sake of simplicity, I went into this set blind. (That’s actually a bit of pun, as you’ll realize in a second). Now, I’ve heard of bands performing without house lights before (*cough* WolvesInTheThroneRoom *cough*) but I have never really experienced it. So when Spectral Voice wrapped up their sound check and ordered all the house lights be turned off, having only a few small candles surrounding them to serve as a source of light, a couple thoughts went through my mind… “this is fucking awesome” and “my camera is useless”. The former held more weight.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a band take something they’ve put onto record and extend it’s impact through a live performance as much as Spectral Voice. The tones were darker, bleaker, more encompassing. The shadowy figures on stage projecting these sounds, completely enshrouded in darkness, left a certain mysterious dread around every note. The outlines of these performers will be burned into my mind for awhile. There was zero musician/audience acknowledgement, nevermind interaction, forcing the impact of the music even further. There was literally nothing to distract us from the darkness of their set. While I’ve seen bands perform with minimal light (Dragged Into Sunlight), there was something far more organic and ethereal (in a heavy, burdening kinda way?) about this performance. And as a result, obviously, they’ve become one of my favorite bands.
Before rounding off this review completely, I need to nod to Scaphism. This Boston-based death metal group will probably go down as one of my favorite local discoveries of the year. The entire set was not only well-performed, but thoroughly enjoyable as a result of the band’s demeanor. Completely casual. No fucks given. I tend to find some local death metal bands trying, I don’t know, too hard to be “death metal”… and I just can’t take them seriously. Not the case here. Scaphism kicked ass and they clearly had a good time doing it. And probably didn’t give a shit about anything else going on around them. Which is important. So, go them.
I guess there was another opener too. Something called Mourned. Moving on…
The only gripe I have about this show (aside from the scene kids), was the venue. The Middle East Upstairs has served as the perfect setting for certain black and death metal bands (Primitive Man, Dragged Into Sunlight, Mgła) and I can only fantasize about what Spectral Voice’s set would have been like in the 100ish capacity room. The downstairs venue doesn’t have anything wrong with it, but the open space was definitely notable. And the last time I was there was for Meg Myers. Not the same. Otherwise, this show kicked ass. Pay attention to all these bands and go get destroyed by them in person. Whenever the next opportunity arises. Since, ya know, this was over a month ago.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”