We got there at about 7:30pm. Doors were scheduled for 7:00. There were a few people at the venue. I was granted a photo pass by management so I took a little
time to get acclimated and a beer. I was in awe of the monolith representations of the new Meshuggah album "The Violent Sleep Of Reason" behind Tommy's kit.
Which if you haven't purchased this album yet In strongly recommend that you do so. Link below to order.
Further, I observed the cascade of lights sitting dormant alongside this great tapestry and on the ground like a beast silently waiting for hibernation to end. I was certain that the evening was going to be a spectacular show of light and sound that would be the envy of most bands out there gigging. High On Fire started on time at 8:00 pm sharp (Has anyone noticed that shows are starting on time lately -it's bizzarre.) I observed the venue had only about one third capacity of people present during the beginning of igh On Fire's set. I saw quite a few people that were there were busy chatting and gallivanting around - not paying too much attention to the mayhem taking place on stage. Before I proceed with the show review. I have some scruples in regard to attending shows that I would like to share with you. If you go to see a show for fuck sake have some respect and give the opening acts your attention. You open yourself up to a whole new dynamic while being attentive to a live performance rather than just settling with a stream on your damn smart phone. If you want full immersion go to a damn show. That's just how it works. If you want to just wander around and not appreciate the action going on the stage go to fucking piano recital. I had never seen High On Fire. I have enjoyed many of their records and they sound just as good if not better live. Just putting it out there. I am sure there are those that disagree with me and I am fine with that.
High On Fire's set began with The Black Pot and Carcosa - the first two tracks off their latest masterpiece "Luminiferous." These guys have a groove that is all their own and it didn’t take long for them to get everyone’s attention. As soon as they wrapped up an amazing performance of "Carcosa" they went straight into the anthem "Rumors of War." Overall the performance was fantastic. I appreciated the grit and the groove that these guys have. That would kick ass if they came back through with Weedeater.
Everyone has that memory of a show that they will never forget and I am excited to share my experience with you. During the event I kept the alcohol to an extreme minimum because I wanted to fully observe and retain the entirety of this event in my mind. Being that their latest release was recorded live that certainly built up the hype for me personally. With the theatre at an almost full capacity and everyone present, the audience finally converged to the front of the stage. A double blink from behind the stage set to the sound board and the lights came all the way down.
The set began with a blistering and flawless execution of the mind bending track "Clockworks". I have to tell you that I think that Tomas Haake is the most amazing drummer I have ever seen live. I think he has the brain of Stephen Hawking but just didn't wander too far away from a drum set. Further, the synchronicity between the light show and the performance was unlike anything I have ever seen in a live show. The next song jumped right into what is first single off the record "Born in Dissonance". I noticed that there
were no big spotlights on any of the band members. Just a panorama of colorful beams of light that would tower to the top of the stage and descend to just above the audience. This was all about the music. The visual presentation that accompanied the performance was moving in perfect unison with the guitars. It
was as if some other greater or higher power was pulling all the strings and the band was just a host. It makes me think of the album art which graced the backdrop image behind Tommy's kit from stage floor to ceiling. For the next track they played the classic "Sane" off their record "Chaosphere". Initially, I was a tad bit surprised that they played this song because they have grown so much over the years since this album was released in 1998. This song sounds so much better live and almost 20 years later. As you can imagine, during this stage of the performance, the mosh pit started to take shape. The circular motion was followed by several crowd surfers that would kindly get thrown on top of me while I was taking pictures for the zine. I was cool with it though. I've done it plenty of times and I was ready for it.
This was metal at its finest and the entire set had something for every generation of Meshuggah fan.
Nervous and with camera in hand I did my best to get as much material for The Gauntlet as I could. More than anything I was in awe of what I was seeing and
hearing. Though I already figuratively had the best spot in the theatre to enjoy this show I actually moved upstairs and to the front of the upper canopy. I decided that I needed to take some shots from a perspective appropriate for viewing a show such as this. Given the nature of the show I struggled to get decent pictures but I pulled through it and I got some killer images for your enjoyment. Pictures are below
The show continued with Perpetual Black Second then was followed by Stengah. Each song seemed to have its own programing for a breathtaking light presentation.
The sound overall was good. There were some people there that wished the sound was better but I was fine with it. I could hear what all five of these guys were playing and I was happy with it. I didn't expect the music to cut right into my ears because these guys are all about giving their best performance
rather than blowing everyone's ears back. My ear drums are shot to shit anyway I need to preserve what little use I have with them.
After a visually mesmerizing presentation of Stengah this was followed by the “The Hurt That Finds You First”. During the capitulation in the second half of the song all you could see was a single light shining on guitars Fredrik “The Mighty Thor” Thordendal.
I have to say something about their performance of the song Bleed (Guys I hope your reading). Hearing you guys play that song up close and personal was the
most shocking and mind bending thing I ever seen. It was perfect. Jens Kidman must have iron vocal chords because he held it together. This guy was at 110%
full unflinching scream to the very end. The concert was concluded with Demiurge and Future Breed Machine. I just simply didn’t want the show to end. That evening I did not get to sleep until 6:30am because I had so much adrenaline coursing through my veins.
I want to personally thank Tomas, Fredrick, Martin, Jens, Dick and the whole Meshuggah crew for coming to Lawrence, Kansas. In my opinion these guys did
not take any shit during the entire concert. It was wonderful to see all five of these guys totally in their element and doing their thing. I am grateful that I had the great privilege to behold such flawless execution of what can be easily argued the most difficult and glorious music in Heavy Metal.