Live Music Review: Animals as Leaders & Between the Buried and Me
My July concert tour concluded with an aggressive burst of energy last Tuesday night at The Observatory in Santa Ana. (It was my third visit this summer.) It was a night of progressive-flavored heavy metal, headlined by North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me. (The opening acts were The Contortionist and Animals As Leaders.) This was the second best concert I attended this summer, and it only fell to number two because I’m such a Patton/Faith No More fanboy.
I attended the concert with my friend Dave, who was coming from a much further distance than I was. Unfortunately, he was running behind schedule due to traffic, so we were about thirty minutes late to arrive. We walked in during the middle of The Contortionist’s set.
I had never heard of Indiana’s The Contortionist before, but I’m glad we were able to catch the last three or four songs. Metalcore is the reigning indie subgenre in Indiana at present. The Contortionist bucks the trend. They used to be a death metal band, but now they’re more spacey, prog rock with metal underpinnings. (There’s definitely an Isis influence to the new stuff.) I’ve included the music video to the song Language I: Intuition for your enjoyment. If you’re going to pick up some of their music, keep in mind the newer stuff is strikingly different from the old.
It’s not fair for me to judge the entire set, as we didn’t get to see it in full. However, I’ll give my rating for what we saw. The visuals were a nice touch, although not unique. Most prog bands use some sort of complex geometric pattern as a backdrop. The lighting was more unique, and often obscured the band.
The crowd was at its calmest during The Contortionist’s set, due to the fact that the songs they played were more atmospheric than heavy. I think they were also saving their energy for the follow-up acts.
Overall, I liked The Contortionist and bought their two latest records. I am not sorry I did, they’re technically proficient and beautifully melodic.
Setlist: Intro | Holomovement | Flourish | Primordial Sound | Thrive | Solipsis | Language I: Intuition | Language II: Conspire
Sound: ★★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★½ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★★ out of 5
Overall: ★★★½ out of 5
Animals As Leaders
Next up was Animals As Leaders, and the band I was most looking forward to experiencing. Spoiler: They nailed it. I had seen them once before in 2010 when they served as the opening act for The Dillinger Escape Plan. I had never heard of them before, but they blew me away with their live show and I have since become a huge fan. Now that they have a pretty respectable fan base, I was expecting a big show. And I got it.
Animals As Leaders is a totally instrumental band. The frontman, Tosin Abasi, is a guitar prodigy. I don’t know how else to say it. He plays an eight string guitar and the sounds he teases from it are nothing less than incredible. Even if you’re not a metal fan, you may enjoy Animals As Leaders if you have any interest in rock. I embedded a more “poppy” video taken from their new album below.
The mosh pit was the most chaotic and energetic of the night. Dave and I threw ourselves right into it and were quickly bounced around the entire floor area. By the end of the show, I was soaked in my own and others’ sweat.
The band didn’t say much, they let the music do the talking. They even performed an acoustic improv in the middle of the set, which sounds terrible but was actually quite enjoyable. My only gripe with the performance was that all but one song were taken from the latest record. It’s a fantastic recording, so the quality is excellent. However, I would have liked to hear at least one song off of the stellar second album, Weightless.
Setlist: Tooth and Claw | Nephele | Lippincott | Mind-Spun | Physical Education | Acoustic improv | Para Mexer | Another Year | Ka$cade | The Woven Web | CAFO
Setlist: ★★★★½ out of 5
Sound: ★★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★★★ out of 5
Overall: ★★★★★ out of 5
Between the Buried and Me
The headliners finally took the stage, and I had found a spot on the floor up against the wall, right on the edge of the pit. I would remain there for the duration of BTBAM’s set as it gave me a good vantage point of the band and the mosh pit. Plus, I’m old now so I was worn out from moshing along to Animals As Leaders’ exciting performance.
I had seen BTBAM once before, as the opening act for Coheed and Cambria. I was looking forward to seeing what they could do as headliners, and they didn’t disappoint.
The stage visuals included a large banner prominently featuring the main character from their latest concept album, Coma Ecliptic. The concept is a man in a coma travelling through his past lives. The video that I embedded below tells the story of the concept, while being a fantastic song.
The stage decorum also featured light boxes that displayed imagery related to the song being played; more specifially, the album the song is from. For songs taken from the album Colors, the boxes showed animated line work. For songs from Parallax, outer space scenes were featured. Maybe because I had just attended the concert the night before, the light boxes really reminded me of the Imagine Dragons stage.
The setlist was a good mix of old and new. However, I had previously heard all of the old songs in a live setting. The only songs new to me were the songs off the new album, and the encore, which was a cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Two of the attendees next to us were mad at hearing a cover, and left early. In my opinion, they missed out. It was a lot of fun, and everyone sang along. At the end of the day, you go to a concert to have fun, and this was a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday night.
Setlist: Selkies: The Endless Obsession | The Coma Machine | Astral Body | Lay Your Ghosts to Rest | Memory Palace | Famine Wolf | Ants of the Sky | Prequel to the Sequel
Encore: Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover)
Setlist: ★★★½ out of 5
Sound: ★★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★½ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★★½ out of 5
Overall: ★★★★½ out of 5
- Tomahawk (feat. Retox)
- Coheed and Cambria (feat. BTBAM & Russian Circles)
- Black Sabbath (feat. Andrew WK)
- Vampire Weekend (feat. Beirut)
- Fit for a King & For Today
- ††† (Crosses) (feat. Omniflux & Spirit in the Room)
- Soundgarden & NIN 2014
- Dr. Octagon (feat. Avalon, Gap Dream & No Parents)
- Faith No More (feat. The Urinals)
- Mastodon & Clutch (feat. Graveyard)
- Coheed and Cambria (feat. Seahaven)
- The Appleseed Cast (feat. Adjy & Coaster)
- The Smashing Pumpkins & Marilyn Manson
- Danzig (feat. Cancer Bats & Saviours)
- Imagine Dragons (feat. Halsey & Metric)
- Between the Buried and Me & Animals As Leaders (feat. The Contortionist)
- Deftones & Incubus (feat. Death from Above 1979)
- 2015 Summer Rankings
- Blindside (feat. Hearts Like Lions)
- Puscifer (feat. Luchafer)
- The Black Queen (feat. Drab Majesty)
- Joe Satriani
- Coheed and Cambria (feat. Glassjaw, I the Mighty, Silver Snakes)
- Killswitch Engage (feat. Memphis May Fire, 36 Crazyfists, and Toothgrinder)
- Andrew Bird (feat. John Grant)
- Lamb of God (feat. Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity)
- At the Drive-In (feat. Le Butcherettes)
- The Dillinger Escape Plan (feat. Author & Punisher)
- Guns N’ Roses (feat. The Cult)
- Animal Collective (feat. Stuart Copeland)
- Alice in Chains (feat. The New Regime)
- Temple of the Dog (feat. Fantastic Negrito)
Giraffe Tongue Orchestra (cancelled)
- 2016 Concert Rankings
- August Burns Red (feat. Protest the Hero, In Hearts Wake, ’68)
- Norma Jean (feat. He Is Legend, Capsize, Comrades)
- Red (feat. Wolves at the Gate, Message from Sylvia, Death Therapy) (coming soon)
- Mastodon (feat. Eagles of Death Metal, Russian Circles) (coming soon)
- Pixies (coming soon)
- Tool (feat. Clutch, Fantomas, Primus, Melvins, Crystal Method) (coming soon)
- Rise Against (feat. Deftones, Thrice) (coming soon)
- Dead Cross (feat. Neil Hamburger, Ho99o9) (coming soon)
- Banks (coming soon)
- Between the Buried and Me (feat. The Contortionist, Poluphia, Toothgrinder) (coming soon)
- The Offspring (feat. Well Hung Heart) (coming soon)
- Russian Circles (feat. MGR) (coming soon)
- Our Lady Peace (feat. Smashing Hearts) (coming soon)
- Animals As Leaders (feat. Periphery and Astronoid) (coming soon)
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