You may recall my absolute mess of thoughts and words from three weeks ago, where I talked about a couple shows I attended at the end of March. Well, we’ve finally reached the second phase of my 2019 concert review installment thingy. (I skipped the first shows I went to for some reason.) Based on the headline above, you might think this little piece only discusses one evening of metal. But oh how wrong you would be. Well, actually only a little wrong. You see, not only was I fortunate enough to attend the Yob, Voivod, and Amenra show at the Royale on the 3rd, but I also had the opportunity to checkout the Portland date of this tour at Geno’s the night before. Let’s talk about those two nights, yeah?
Starting with the date on April 2nd, I would love to open by saying how amazing it was seeing all three bands play their unique styles in two very different, and equally as unique, venues. But alas, I cannot do so. With a Boston work day looming a mere 10 hours away, I had to make a decision, and that was to drive the hour north to Portland, cover the Amenra set, and then try and duck out in a way that would get me home before midnight. For a quick reminder: Portsmouth is about an hour north of Boston, and an hour south of Portland… so these kinda things take strategy.
With that decision made, I managed to execute as well as I could. I got to the cozy bar known as Geno’s Rock Club a few minutes before the Amenra set. So far so good. Honestly, it was imperative for me to make this show. This was the most important hour of this 30 hour adventure. I had seen Amenra exactly one time before, and that was at he Royale a couple years prior when they opened for Converge and Neurosis. That set, albeit brief, completely altered my musical taste and made me a permanent fan of the band. Strong words, I know. Needless to say, after that experience there was no way I was going to be satisfied with seeing them only once of two possible opportunities… and at the same venue as before. Geno’s is different. When you’re on the floor in front of the stage, you may as well be on the stage. With a capacity maybe 1/10 that of the Royale (which may be an exaggeration, but you know what I mean), the shows there become a far more personal, interactive experience. And given the spectacle that is an Amenra set, I had to be there. So there I was.
And in no way was I disappointed. If I could have envisioned this performance beforehand (which I didn’t – too distracted by the chaos around me constantly), it would have played out exactly this way. The same key elements were there. The black and white, the mesmerizing video backdrop, CHVE’s back to the audience as he bellows one line after another… but from this perspective, you were force-fed the dense atmosphere. Despair just flooded out of the stage, and there was absolutely no opportunity to look away. For those familiar with Geno’s box TV form of a stage, this visual may ring a little more clearly. It was like this dark wave of energy was exploding out of a defined space and expanding infinitely. And you are at the center of it all. Of course, I’m sure we all understand that some aspects of a performance are sacrificed in a venue of this size, but in this case there was just as much to be gained.
So yeah, that was cool. The set ended and I bowed out. Home before midnight as planned, and up five hours later to make the journey south.
The real reason this back-to-back stretch worked out so well for me was because I knew I had a Boston day at work that night of the tour. It was honestly too perfect. The work day ends, I make my way a few blocks down to the Royale, and once again I’m ready to go. This time, however, there is no need to bail early. Equipped with the usual photo pass (along with way too many other people – a story for another day), and I’m ready to shoot another Amenra set. I went into this one a little less enthused, having just seen them play a far more personal show the night before. But that mentality was, well, stupid.
Almost immediately the benefits of the larger stage, more elaborate lighting, and spacious venue took form. Everything was just… bigger. Rather than forcefully projecting an energy on a small venue, the audience was sucked into the performance like a black hole just because of the sheer immensity of what was occupy both sight and sound. It was so distinctly different. And just like that I was at the same mesmerized state as I was the night before. Of course, the set was the same – which I just realized I hadn’t mentioned until this point. Honestly, with an Amenra set it barely matters. But for those curious, we did get a healthy mix. “Boden”, “Razoreater”, “Diaken”… all kinds of good stuff worked into a fairly concise set. They wrapped up and honestly I wasn’t quite sure I needed to stay for any more of this particular show. But I did. Because this time I could.
Ok. So I understand Voivod has their following. They’re quite popular in parts of my metal circle, in fact. But I just… don’t care. I hate saying it, but I really don’t. I’ll start with the good stuff from this set: they sounded great, they brought a ton of energy, their awareness and interaction with the audience made for an incredibly engaging performance. The weird robot cartoons that made up the visual display were… fun. But it honestly just felt like a set that wouldn’t end. I’m not sure how long they played, nor could I name any of the songs featured, but it just seemed to roll on endlessly. That didn’t seem to matter to many, and for that it was worth catching them doing their thing. But I’ll wrap up thoughts on this set here… I wasn’t paying much attention to some of the details, but for those attending MDF this year that were looking forward to their set, I’m sure they were entertained.
And at last, we have reached Yob. I’ll start with a disclosure that by this time in the night I felt borderline delusional, so some of the moments and memories from this set have faded a bit. What I can tell you is that the last time I caught Yob live was when they opened for… Enslaved, I think? down in NYC. I wasn’t as familiar at that time, and I just remember being absolutely pummeled by their sound. I almost had to sit down during their set, it was that intense. They were touring Clearing the Path to Ascend on that day, and that is an album I obviously have grown to adore. But that show still resonates with me (is that a pun?) to this day.
This set didn’t have quite the same feel to it. It was just as heavy, but this felt more lively… brighter… definitely more fun. There was something about those pummeling riffs that just sparked my energy once more. Again, not that it matters a ton to a Yob set, but this performance was curiously loaded with older tracks. (Curiously doesn’t mean unfortunately – I loved it). Highlights from The Unreal Never Lived, The Great Cessation, Atma, and then “Marrow” made up this set. Pretty wild, honestly.
So they kill me for a solid hour and then somehow I end up having more energy than I had at any point in the prior three days. Go figure. From there, commence drive home, commence sleep. In that order. Obviously. Everyone, go find a Yob show. It’s a requirement.
Galleries for each set can be found for Amenra, Voivod, and Yob. Have fun with those, and I’ll resume my preparations for the next batch of footage I need to go through and subsequently share. Enjoy the weekend, all.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”