Given the chance, I will always take live music over recorded. I love the aura of the unexpected from a live show.
Anything could happen – including technical flusterclucks, musical epiphanies, or the simple magic of a few hundred people united in admiration for music well-played. When a band like Between the Buried and Me offers that kind of musical experience, I am SO there! Such as last night when I attended BTBAM’s CD release show at the Orange Peel in Asheville.
BTBAM’s CD release show for Colors (Tremont, September 2007) was probably one of the top 3 shows I’ve ever attended, so I knew the release show for The Great Misdirect would be on my calendar if physically possible. I watched the internet like a hawk for weeks, ready to pounce on the ticket announcement. BTBAM landed a spot at the Orange Peel in Asheville for this show — marvelous venue in a great town.
Jesse, Robbie, and Trevor joined my crusade as faithful companions (and Robbie as faithful driver, which I dearly appreciated).
We got to Asheville early enough to enjoy a leisurely afternoon supper and then join the already-growing-line outside the OP at 5:15 (doors at 7; free poster to first 200 fans). Poster is pretty sweet, by the way.
Waiting sucks, but we had a deck of cards and plenty of hilarious human beings to entertain us. The guys behind us turned out to be 1) very cool; 2) in a band; and 3) from Pennsylvania! They heard about the CD release show on Tuesday and one of them said to the others, “Hey guys! We should drive down to that show!!” So they did. LOL Took 81 all the way to NC from Bethlehem PA and slept in their car at a rest stop yesterday morning. Now THAT is hxc. haha We also enjoyed an entire parade of costumed bike riders — I guess that’s how Ashevillans celebrate Halloween? lol
It was cold, windy, raining, and dark by the time we edged into the doors of the OP to snatch a couple sweet shirts from the merch table (and the free poster, of course) and get our places in front of the stage, Row 2 for Jesse & me. Robbie was right behind us. Trevor was nowhere to be found for most of the show — dunno what’s up with that but he said he had fun so whatever. lol
The Halloween costumes around us were entertaining. Top-dressed fans won prizes and I saw a few creative ones. Some guy wearing an all-green nylon suit won the admiration of the crowd and thus top prize. I’m not sure why a green man is impressive, but there’s no accounting for the whims of the mob. They also cheered wildly at the girl wearing a cleavage-revealing, skintight Catwoman suit, but those motives are pretty obvious.
Unfortunately, I was situated behind Mr Hot Dog and Santa Claus (who were on the center of the front row) and spent most of the night peering over the hotdog’s foam-encased shoulders. That was not cool… but on a positive note, when the crowd rushed forward and crushed me to the front I was essentially in the front row too, but cushioned against the hot dog’s bun. Not buns. Just bun. lol
The opening band is irrelevant to me – I didn’t like their music at all. I will give them mega-props though, for dressing as Mario characters & decorating their amps with coins, clouds, and critters from the Mario world. There’s something endearing about a guy wearing huge ears screaming vocals at you. Perhaps rock bands should dress in costumes more often. (“Why is that lead singer dressed like Bugs Bunny?” “…. I dunno, dude. Why not?”)
The second band, BraveYoung, captured my heart as soon as the lead guitarist stepped on stage with a GORGEOUS Gibson and a violin bow. The drummer rolled out a tympani and marimba. I knew this was gonna be cool. No vocals, just gorgeous, layered musical tones coming from this band called BraveYoung. They played only 2 songs during their set (long songs!) and I highly recommend you give them a listen. The first piece slowly constructed a tidal wave of sound, crashing over us with an intensity that can come only from a long, patient build-up before the musical climax. Seriously. That was an awesome band….
Glass Casket, which includes 2 members of BTBAM, played the last set before the headline. I know several people who love GC, and I can see why people admire their skill. They aren’t my favorite, but their set was well played and I appreciate the musicianship. I’ve got a couple of their songs on my iPod, and the band played both of them. The crowd went nuts for them …. some very drunk guy reeking of beer smashed himself against my right side and screamed in my ear for those 6 songs…. that got real old, real fast. I was happy for him to vacate my quadrant of the crowd at the end of the set (to be replaced by other, slightly less annoying fans).
But on to the real attraction:
Hearing an entire album from start to finish played live by its creators for the first time in public is an unparalleled musical experience. BTBAM was, in a word, wonderful. Their shows ruin most other shows for me.
The music is complicated and (to me) intellectually stimulating, and they play impeccably during their live shows. Yeah, it’s awesome to hear a good band play anytime. But BTBAM delivers a lot of extra musical awesomeness at their CD release shows. The Great Misdirect is an interesting album, echoing bits of every band that BTBAM appreciates or lists as an influence. Moment to moment you might hear a smidge of Opeth or Animals as Leaders or even snippets of bands they’ve played with in previous tours. And, of course, you’ll find the now-expected WTF moments in the music — 70s rock, Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin echoes, 1890s carnival music, banjo.
The album is still too new for me to evaluate at this point, whether it’s “better than …..” or not. A lot to digest. But I really enjoyed what I heard. I know the “BTBAM purists” out there shake their heads and sigh that the band has gone soft and lyrical. But I think that puts the band in a box, as if musicians must always retain their juvenile sound. I like where BTBAM is going these days, and I love their older, more brutal records. Best of both worlds (as long as we get to hear an older song live once in a while.)
After a full hour of full-bore performance, the band took a 5 minute break while the fans decompacted themselves from the ridiculous crush of humanity at the front of the crowd. (Thank God He gave me elbows.)
Danny (bass) rocked out some weird but cool bass improv while they regrouped, and then BTBAM hit the stage again for a 30-minute encore…. I lie not. When songs are 10-15 minutes long, that shouldn’t be surprising. lol So they capped their 90 minute set with “Mordecai,” “Selkies,” and finally “White Walls” … a holy trinity from earlier albums.
Couldn’t ask for anything more. And I wasn’t dead tired, totally trampled, or otherwise abused at this show… a nice change from the typical concert experience.
The Colors release show set me on a euphoric musical high for a few days. Shows were still very new back then. This time, more seasoned, I left musically refreshed, as if I had given the musical parts of my soul a resort cruise. Creativity is flowing again. Restored.
And the best part? It was a Saturday night show on Halloween, just before time change Sunday, on a 4 day weekend at NCS. That might just be the best part of the whole affair — not only did I enjoy a full night’s sleep last night when I got home, but I got to actually rest for the entire Sabbath and delay thinking about school until Monday!!