In The Clubs
|Fear Before The March of
Nov 02, 2004
By Mark Hensch
The Weston St. Theater in Grand Rapids,
MI is the kind of club that every city or town, regardless of size, has.
You guys should know what I am talking about; it's those miniscule clubs,
the one with a few beaten couches in back and a poorly lit stage the size
of your dinner table, maybe slightly larger. The one where the local kids
all converge upon, like an alternative music mecca, just because a few
kids are playing some metal or punk or hardcore or whatever it is that
is against more conventional forms of music.
I went to Weston last night simply to kick
back and have some fun with a couple of buddies from school. Oh, and yeah,
those local bands brought in California metal band Scars of Tomorrow and
Colorado spazzers Fear Before The March of Flames. "Sounds like something
worth reviewing," I said, and off I went.
The first band is an up-and-coming local
act by the name of Flesh and Blood Robot. I wondered why I hadn't heard
about FBR before, and it soon became apparent when the band took the stage.
Cramped with a singer, drummer, two guitarists, and a bassist on a tiny
little stage, I thought maybe this was going to be one of those nights
where a bunch of highschool/college bands sucked it up in a cramped basement
for minimum profit. But my fears were ripped asunder as Flesh and Blood
Robot proceeded to cook us with one of the more unique local bands I've
heard in quite some time; thus the reason why they are not mentioned by
any of the local kids who generally go to genre-confined shows (see hardcore)
more for the lifestyle then the music. FBR essentially took razor-thin
jazz chords, played them at grotesque and inhumane speeds, and then alternated
everything with a blender full of sludge-y metal riffs and hardcore punk
drumming, all set to time signatures as varied as the pieces of a plastic
toy that has been thrown in a compactor. Easily defying most "normal" styles,
the closest I can equate Flesh and Blood Robot to is The Dillinger Escape
Plan. There is also a slight classic grind tinge to everything, but the
majority of what I saw last night (November 2nd) was jazz-metal influenced.
National readers will eventually be able to purchase some of the band's
music, as it will be released shortly by Rusty Razor records. I highly
recommend these dudes, and it will be interesting to see how the new album
Next came another local act, Lola. An act
who has played quite a few venues in this area, Lola played an interesting
take on melodic hardcore. The band's frontman stumbled around growling
and yowling, but the band crafted an interesting wall of sound generated
from a keyboardist and twin guitars over rolling, deep bass lines. Maybe
it was FBR's intensity earlier, but something was oddly soothing about
the band's crisp, harmonic, and emotional hardcore. I enjoyed it a lot,
and was totally surprised amidst chatting with the band's drummer that
he had only played a mere four shows with the band, and one of the guitarists
was also new as well. Lola apparently (as I was told) has suffered many
severe line-up shakedowns and is still trying to evolve past the traditional
local hardcore scene. Invoking a little Underoath perhaps, Lola combined
a refreshing blend of tranquility and savagery for an excellent warm-up
The heaviest act of the night assaulted
the stage next as California's Scars of Tomorrow appeared. Playing straight
out thrash metal, all I could see was endless levels of guitars spinning
and head banging. With growled vocals and chaotic riffing, the band took
things up a notch and sent people out scurrying onto the floor for the
first largely-involved hardcore dancing of the night. Riff after riff was
fleshed out to an increasingly antsy crowd of around 70 people or so, and
SOT was the perfect end to the trifecta that supported the main act: Fear
Before The March of Flames.
Fear Before decided to open with "Hey Kid,
I'm a Computer: Stop all the Downloading!" and the wailing feedback intermingled
with frontman Dave Marion's banshee catcalls. Later songs busted out where
the genius "Should Have Stayed in the Shallows,""Whiskey has its place,
but unfortunately its place is Hell," and "The Long Road Next to The Middle"
to the dedicated fans. Earlier tunes "The 20th Century was Entirely Mine,"
"The Lisbon Girls, Oh The Lisbon Girls" and "Sarah Goldfarb, where are
your Manners?" jittered and slithered all over the stage, at one point
seeing Dave crabwalk like that possessed girl from The Exorcist. Definitely
a highlight was "The State of Texas Vs. Fear Before," ending the evening
with a crowd of sweaty and tired concert-goers, all worked up over the
spastic tunes played through the show. Guitarist Adam Fisher and bassist
Michael Madruga kicked the holy hell out of the audience with their wacky
tunes, a perfect combination of squawking feedback guitars and plodding
bass. Fiery-haired drummer Brandon Proff was consistent and clear; his
varied tempo shifts provided a much-needed, overtly flexible, and downright
twisted backbone for a barely sane band.
The thing(s) that impressed me the most
at this show was the level of intensity all of the bands, mainly SOT and
Fear Before, brought to what was essentially a tiny group of kids looking
for a good times with some good bands. Fear Before in particular was truly
devoted to playing an awesome set; hailing from Denver, Colordado, you'd
think that a band from so far away wouldn't give a rat's bum about playing
for seventy kids in a club sorely in need of some expanding. Barely a few
years older then myself (I'm seventeen for the record), Fear Before struck
out with intensity and integrity that only comes with youth raised in a
scene as unforgiving as hardcore. Grown like genetically enhanced crops
in this environment, FBTMOF has crafted a live show (and album to boot)
that is the musical equivalent of a comet; every time it speeds by in a
burst of Flames and then fades, it surprises you much later by re-entering
your orbit and burning you to a smoking crisp.
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