Where: Branx (Portland, Oregon)
When: 3/2/2011 at 8 p.m.
Ah! There’s nothing like a new metal venue to help save your waning interest in attending shows… I’m only kidding. I actually had no idea as to how to introduce the fact that I’ve never been to Branx before.
For those of you who have never been to Branx before, it looks like a converted warehouse that plays host to several different kinds of bands. There’s a segregated bar area that’s easy to access while still in eye and ear shot of the stage.
There’s also two Neo-Geo machines that caught my eye immediately (I kill you all at Samurai Showdown!).
Overall. Branx is definitely one of the better venues in the Portland area that I’ve been to.
…but none of you really care about the venue at all, do you? You want to hear about the bands.
As I arrived with my plus one (Robyn “Scalp Whitey” Davis) we hit a bit of a snag at the front counter.
“You’re not on the list, sir.” DUN DUN DUUUN!!! I know right? She called me sir! I just turned twenty-seven and already I have people calling me “sir”!? Gah!
…oh yeah. I wasn’t on the list! That was the first time that had happened to me. I was a little miffed until I realized that the irrationally lovely Liz Ciavarella-Brenner had given me the number to Havok vocalist David Sanchez’s cell. A quick phone call and he had us inside with a thousand pardons. No harm done and not a moment too soon as the opening act was just taking the stage.
Beyond Terror Beyond Grace - A cold, atmospheric swell greeted the (very) slowly growing crowd as Beyond Terror Beyond Grace readied their weapons for battle. Even though I was a good one-hundred feet away in a dimly lit building without my glasses, I could see it clear as day. These guys were tired. They’ve been on the road for a while and were twelve-thousand miles from home. That’s enough to put anyone off their waffles. But if you would of shut your eyes and let their scorching blackened grind do the talking, then you would of thought that this was the first gig on their tour!
Their tight musicianship coupled with a demonic possession of the stage and complete commitment to themselves, their music and to the crowd made BTBG glow like some kind of radioactive lizard to me! Even when the sound guy ignored the muddy mic settings and fuzzy (and unintentional) reverb or after the vocalist politely invited us from the bar area to the main floor and NOBODY moved, they managed to keep their awesome’titude going by playing their hearts out.
I honestly hope I get to see these guys again live. But until then, I picked up their 2010 release, Our Ashes Built Mountains. So look for that review soon.
Havok - Unlike nearly all of the crowd, I was here to see Havok. I mean, how often does jet powered thrash come through Portland? Answer: often enough. (I’m just greedy) I was a little worried about David Sanchez’s vocals since when he let us in, he was complaining about not feeling 100% while rubbing his throat. But I guess he was worried about nothing since he and the rest of Havok sounded A-OK, even though he played it safe for one song which they performed as an instrumental.
Once again, the crowd wasn’t too enthusiastic. That is, until they pulled out the big gun for their finale called Afterbuner! Heads we banging, necks were wrecked and assess where kicked! So much so that an encore was demanded… by me and one other guy. Havok happily obliged as I picked up their new t-shirt with the Ed Repka art on it.
Full Blown Chaos - What Hatebreed is doing on this bill, I’ll never know… oh wait. *checks line-up flyer* Full Blown Chaos? Meh. Same difference. I actually didn’t know that these guys were still around. I remember hearing Wake The Demons back in 2004 or so, but after that was nothing I thought. Oh well…
Apparently, they still have a fan base that lives in this city since three quarters of the crowd broke off from the bar and flooded the main floor with their back banging and hardcore dancing. Seriously. I saw hardcore dancing at a show that Malevolent Creation was headlining! I heart sank a little. As for the band themselves, the vocalist love playing to the crowd and managed to turn the interim of EVERY song into a commercial for their CDs and t-shirts. They haven’t changed a bit since I heard their debut album. Apparently that’s a good thing.
Malevolent Creation – You see, I was thinking that the bar would be empty and the floor would be full at this point. I was wrong. Everybody who was there to see Full Blown Chaos switched places with the “true” metalheads in the bar, giving the headliners a support crowd. I almost cried.
Never the less, it was still Malevolent Creation and I was as excited as Albert Fish at a Wiggles concert! I’ve been to several death metal shows, but none as groovy, none as fun and none with a small crowd as devoted as this one was to see Malevolent Creation! They played a healthy smattering of new cuts and old ones, all of which had the crowd going berserk! And not that fake berserk either. Really bloodlust frenzy berserk! It was magical!
Overall: Awesome new venue. Brutal music. Fun, fun & more fun. And after all was said and done, I had a new shirt, two new CDs, one of which with a bunch of autographs on it (the other being Malevolent Creation’s Essentials 3-Disc set) and an admiration for a band that’s a long way from home and needed a handshake.
Beyond Terror Beyond Grace On Facebook
Havok On Facebook
Full Blown Chaos On MySpace
Malevolent Creation On Facebook