Meshuggah @ The TLA 2/14/13

Guess how I spent MY Valentines day?!?!

I traversed down to Philly to have my mind blown in ways I never thought were possible until now. A couple friends and I went to see Meshuggah play at the Theater of Living Arts (otherwise known as the TLA) with Animals as Leaders and Intronaut supporting. After the grueling car ride down through rush hour traffic, we made it to the venue and eagerly awaited the magic that was about to take shape on stage.

The first band to hit the stage were Intronaut, a century media band, which is somewhat surprising because most band on that label are either melodic death metal or power metal. They have recently been gathering bands that are more progressive and dare-I-say, more “djent” (ie: Monuments, Jeff Loomis, Vildhjarta, and TesseracT). I had heard of the band, but never listened to them before, but I thought they were fantastic. The guitar work and the vocal harmonies between Sacha and Dave were stellar and the rhythm section was absolutely ridiculous. Joe is a phenomenal bass player (and a really nice guy) and Danny is a killer kit player. The band also had a light show to rival every other band on the bill, with impressive lasers and trippy colors.

If you’ve never heard anyone randomly shout “TOSIN! ABASI!” before then you probably don’t know who Animals as Leaders are because Tosin Abasi is quickly rising to be one of the greatest and most influential guitar players to ever exist. But all the credit shouldn’t go only to Abasi because he’s got an incredible group of top-notch musicians helping him achieve his musical goals. Javier Reyes (guitar) and Matt Garstka (drums) help solidify animals as leaders as the trailblazers in this new wave of heavy, virtuoso guitar-playing. This was my first time seeing all of these bands actually so when Tosin played his first note, my jaw dropped to the floor and I couldn’t pick it up until after they finished. It was nothing short of mind-blowing.

As if the first bands weren’t enough, now I had Meshuggah to wait for. One of the all time greatest heavy metal bands as well as one of the most influential of all time. But there was a major problem. Lead singer Jens Kidman has been sick with the flu for some time now and has had to drop himself out of the shows. My friends and I were running so many possibilities of what was going to happen based off loads of rumors we heard and the like. Finally, Marten came out onstage and informed us that Jens’s evil-cardboard-cutout-twin would replace him on vocals as they played Jens’s studio voice through the PA. What’s funny is that the cardboard cutout moved just as much as they band. What’s scary is how extremely tight and precise this band are live. You obviously get that impression listening to the studio recordings, but live is a different beast entirely and they absolutely killed it like no other. Playing a blistering set of songs from the newest album (Koloss), the most popular album (obzen) and some older treasures, the band plowed through the set and proved that no obstacle can defeat this band. One cool little trick that the band pulled was inviting Sacha from Intronaut to come up and sing a song with the band. A huge boost for someone like Sacha as he sang “New Millenium Cyanide Christ”…and killed. It was a risky move, but I guess the band wouldn’t do it if he wasn’t able to because he nailed it.

What a special night overall considering the circumstances. Unfortunately I missed my train into Philly last Saturday night so I can’t give you a review of the Gojira show I was supposed to see. Oh well.

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