April 4 at the Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln, Nebraska
I bought my ticket to the Decibel Magazine Tour about three minutes after they went on sale, and that is not exaggeration. I don't really care about Converge, and Vallenfyre I could take or leave, but At the Gates? This is the band who released arguably the best metal album of the 90's. Yeah, I was excited. When Pallbearer was added to the bill, that anticipation built even more.
So last night I attended.
The rest of the people there were exactly the kind of people you expect to see at a legit death metal show, save for one hipster chick. There were more Mercyful Fate shirts than metalcore or tech-death shirts, as far as I could tell. Unfortunately, they didn't manage to pack the house. If I had to guess, I'd say there were close to 800 people at the Amon Amarth show back in November, but maybe only 300 for this one. That's too bad, because it doesn't bode well for future tour prospects. To be fair, it was the night before Easter, and church is usually pretty early on Easter--but I don't know how much difference that makes to this crowd.
Anyway, the relatively small number of people ensured that I could stake out a spot just behind the rail, five feet from center stage, for almost the entire night. My calves are sore from holding my ground during the At the Gates set, but it was worth it.
Vallenfyre took the stage first. For a 30-minute set, they sounded great. Gregor Mackintosh had a confident stage presence despite having fucked-up his leg in Seattle a couple nights earlier. I don't know their material particularly well, but death/doom was a good way to start the night. And I shook Mackintosh's hand by the merch table afterward to congratulate him on a great show.
Pallbearer was up next. The instruments sounded fantastic, but they never managed to get Brett Campbell's vocals up in the mix. That was disappointing, and the short 30 minutes was not nearly long enough to appreciate this fantastic band. As far as stagecraft, they seemed a little stiff and unsure of themselves, which could be expected of the youngest band on the bill.
|Pallbearer sound check|
Now, Converge was the band I was least excited about. Nonetheless, they owned the stage. Jacob Bannon ran around constantly, water and saliva dripping off his face. They knew exactly what they were doing and left it all out there during their 45 minute set. Despite that, I was only really impressed by one tune, a cut from Jane Doe, but the rest of the crowd was nuts over it. Bannon's vocals weren't nearly loud enough when he attempted clean singing, though.
The night finished with At the Gates. They played about an hour and a half, with a mix of tunes mostly from Slaughter of the Soul and At War With Reality. They also had a brief problem with the vocal mix, but for the most part they just sounded amazing. Tomas Lindberg played his role with enthusiasm (and dude was sporting an Evoken tee, so fuck yeah to that), but I think he overestimated how well we knew the words to the songs. He seemed a little bit frustrated with trying to get the crowd to sing along, but took it mostly in stride regardless.
After an hour I decided to go back and get a big-picture look, where I nabbed video of "Kingdom Gone."
I managed to shake a couple hands out back and get signatures on a CD of At War With Reality (sadly, not Tomas). They seemed like nice guys after, accommodating, but tired.
In all, it was a good experience, but the sound issues (especially for Pallbearer) were annoying. I also really wish Pallbearer would have had a longer set, but that's all right.