Metal mayhem invaded the Commodore Ballroom, a sea of greasy heads and denim as far as the eye could see. With a mixed pedigree of metal practitioners taking the stage the night was set for some heavy base and thrashing guitar. Voivod rocked the house hard, with intense instrumentals but failed to bring home the deep vocals for the night. The crowd was still enthralled by them, and made it known by slamming in sequence to every beat. When Down took the stage the hungry mass nearly lost their minds, as a plethora of screams came bellowing forth from their mouth’s. The lighting was matched to the energy, and was both explosive and vivid. Every speaker in the house was turned to eleven and even a pin drop felt like an explosion of bass in your gut. Down carried through the night, attacking every song with an undying, almost forgotten, passion for this lost black art. Not a metal head was left behind, the intensity of the crowd, shows why they are the most dedicated fan base on earth.
Voivod, maintained a deep dark place through their entire set. The crowd was somber and held back at times, not the norm for a metal show. But when they would unleash some delicious beats with some major backbone, the mass responded with pure power. The waves of slam dancers rippled around the room, heads banged in perfect rhythm while sweat drenched locks flung through the air. The minimalistic approach is not known in this realm of music for the most part. Voivod did however manager to have a minimal stage support system, very quick scattered lights with no other major frills and gimmicks to push their wares on the valley of thrash shirts that lay before them. Near the end of the set, Voivod invited Phil from Down onto the stage and they powered through a mini metal duet. The maniacal crowd bellowed with pleasure as the thrashing beats sped up. Once the song ended though, there wasnt the usual persistance of turbulance, it was immediate calm, and the mass lay somber once again. Voivod closed out there set and dismissed themselves from the stage, taking their deep intrumentals and lack of vocals to another town.
The replenishment of beverages was like an attack on the bar, as fans fought their way through the crowd to get their favorite ice cold treat. The merchandise stand lay still with almost no movement, I guess the attitude for most at these shows is “get in, get drunk, get rocked” and they were making sure to follow that to a T. Half empty cups of booze were tossed over the crowd, while many who had over indulged were out stirring trouble, tearing off their shirts and getting in everyone’s face. While the mass lay semi-patiently for Down, the lights suddenly dimmed. An intense roar shot forth from the haggard group and Down flooded the stage with their larger than life presence. Kirk took the stage and stood like a tree, a massive man holding his powerful axe, and sporting his trademark beard. The rest of the band followed suit, all except Phil. Phil laid back a few steps, just to torture the fans. Finally he ran forth and the mass before him lunged closer, drooling with anticipation.
The vocals were powerful, for a metal band, they can hit you with their lyrics and make you feel several levels of emotions. This supergroup is proof that people are still rocking hard and fast. The constant overlay of dual guitars with deep powerful drums, and an extremely talented bassist make for a near sure thing. Through the set the band powered out to many of its well known hits, at one point dedicating a song to their fallen comrade Dimebag Darryl. This sparked insanity in the sea of metal heads, the rhythm of the music doubled, the slamming was now more intense, and they showed their love for the gone but not forgotten guitarist of Pantera. Through out the show fans would repeat it in the crowd and it would spark mini version of that chaos. It was quite the site to see such passion, a true love of music in its purist form. The night went off without a hitch, Down flooded its set with crowd pleasing favorites, and flooded the Commodore with intense lighting effects. Wash lights and strobes permeated the night, helping to wrap this band in a dark little blood red bow.
All in all I would surely suggest seeing this band live, get out there and party yourself stupid. It’s something you have to do once in a while to remind yourself of pure human nature. Besides that it has nothing more to offer, it’s a gimmicky layer of music. To me this is just as shiny as Britney Spears, it’s just as bubblegum as the Jonas Brothers, it is all about catering to the bottom denominator. Their is nothing original about them, they repeat the same chords, they sing the same styles, it’s a never changing entity, and that’s why it is safe. The crowd at these shows like it safe, it’s always the same, it’s always fast, and it always gets your heart racing. For them it accomplishes everything it needs to, and that in itself is reason enough for it to exist. Down puts on a great show, they are intense fan driven performers, with pure energy and raw talent throughout the group. But the depth of this subculture of rock is lacking, perhaps it’s the fact that any time someone tries something new to further the genre, it no longer falls under the same category. Of this I am not certain, but the bottom line is that this rock sub group will be around forever. It will always sound the same, and in a way I find that very touching. The fans keep the genre around and keep it strong, this is the pure definition of pop, but with a basis is anti-pop. A true oxymoron if you ask me, but it’s best not to delve too deep, the music is what it is, and it does what it needs to. Get out there and experience it, but in my opinion it’s just one star in the universe that is music.