bITS 'N CHUNKS
Live video of "The Mob Goes Wild" courtesy of YouTube user HiDef ROCK, all I have for you are blurry pictures. On to the belated review.
Well then. I went to a concert and felt old.
A moment of forethought went into my purchasing tickets for this show. Clutch? Fine, saw them on the last Psychic Warfare run around through these parts. Back then, they brought Corrosion of Conformity in tow. This time was The Obsessed -- the pinnacle of old school doom metal -- and Devin Townsend, the peak of progressive operatic something-something metal that doesn't take itself terribly serious. Surely you've heard Ziltoid by now.
A moment of forethought, then things became strange. The Obsessed and Clutch seem like a similar fit to each other. Even if The Obsessed is the bigger band for me I definitely understand why Clutch is headlining. I'm glad they brought them along. But Devin stuck out to me -- what in the world was uppity prog rock doing at a stoner metal concert for us bottomfeeders? Devin has two speeds: melodic heavy and heavy fast. That seemed incongruent to the ceremony that we were about to witness. Then I thought, I could definitely see Clutch touring with Devin as both have a quirky sense of humor and penchant for sci-fi, but that leaves out dead ass serious The Obsessed. What…? Where…? When and how?
I don’t put together tour packages, I just buy the tickets. And so I sat on them for a clean month. I took my first vacation day in years, and I was off to the rare, coveted Saturday show at Marathon Music Works.
Ah, Marathon. My second home. I've hit this venue officially more than any of my other frequent haunts in the city. I'm trying to get back to the Exit/In one of these days and I'm starting to feel a little out of touch with The End. I save the big money for the War Memorial Auditorium and the Municipal. I'll never get into the Ascend Amphitheater. But Marathon is just right. There's almost always a little something there for me, it's accessible enough in terms of pricing, and it's close enough for a $10 Lyft ride from my house. So there.
A word on accessibility before I go on, though: please be considerate of people with physical disabilities and don't close off pathways for them just so you can scurry up to your favorite band like ten feet away. Don't be that asshole. Thanks.
So I get to the show and I realize no one asked for my ID. Do I, the oldest twentysomething, finally look my age? No, it's an all-ages show! This is fantastic and a curse at the same time. On one hand, most of my scenes are dying and could use some fresh blood. If a ten year old is interested enough in The Obsessed to headbang and drone alone, I am all for it. I will buy you as many sodas as you want. But as the night went on and a few drunken participants got in their feelings, as Devin randomly and deliberately caressed his own nipples on stage and shot mucous, I thought to myself, "how on Earth do you explain this in your back to school essay?"
I'm no one's moral guardian. All told, the weirdness aside, I hope those kids have fun and come back. We need more all-ages events to be honest. Can't yell at the kids for listening to Justin Bieber or whoever is relevant now if you don't give them an alternative. After all, I've been listening to this music since I was their age, too.
The Obsessed was loud and menacing. I was so happy to be at the front to watch Scott do his thing and bellow hatred at me. There was so much smoke and red light I was pretty sure I was being ferried right into Hell. They played a short set, but long enough to make an impact and Devin and Clutch singer Neil Fallon were cool enough to stress supporting them with merch sales. Merch sales are important for touring bands, folks. Sometimes you just have to buy a hat so someone else can eat that night.
If Clutch is the more mainstream band here then Devin is the most pop. Yeah, I said it. DTP combines pop sensibilities with fine progressive craft, a touch of actual Industrial metal as Lord Al Jourgensen intended it, and just being entertaining as all get out. It ended up being a cathartic, bright experience and heavy on the more bombastic tracks from Addicted, Epicloud, and new album Transcendence.
Ah, Marathon was packed but so cold at this point thanks to the weather and being in a warehouse. Even bundled up I couldn't shake the mix of exhilarated goosepimples and "fuck I'm cold" chills. I rub my aching neck with my ice block hands; feels good, but helped one thing and not the other. I was now less sore and cold. I look around at the little headbangers and the people older than me running off adrenaline and I feel ancient. I shifted and shuffled around the audience a bit until I was at the very end of the audience for Clutch. A trick at the Marathon for fellow shorties is to stand at the very edge and angle yourself; you can see the whole stage unobstructed now. Even if they can't hear you, the sentiment of "excuse me" and "I'm sorry" still carry a long way when maneuvering around.
"We Need Some Money" by Chuck Brown signals the main event. Clutch finally takes the stage bathed in more red light and smoke, but they're far from the menacing doom that The Obsessed brought. Clutch is like a fine medium between DTP and The Obsessed: serious but a serious good time, somewhat foreboding but more tongue-in-cheek. They can do a little progressive jam. I'd dare put them closer to Voivod if they weren't such a boot-scooting, blues-y good time. Oh yes, I danced. I paid for it but damnit I danced. This set list wasn't as Psychic Warfare-heavy this time around but it's also the second (or maybe even third) leg of the tour, the album's been out since 2015 so hopefully you've caught it by now. If you haven't, well, enjoy this Clutch retrospective.
I snuck out of the show near the end of Clutch's set. I glimpsed a few drunken exclamations. But you know what, in the end it's alright. I had a good time and that's what it means to go out. I pulled my ear plugs out and soaked in the night air and the night cold, shivering with equal parts excitement and the effects of the below-20 weather outside. I'm so glad I got to see two bands off my bucket list and Clutch for a second time. My concert season is over for the year, but January and February are already looking up. Here's to another year of youth and the scene which refuses to die.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...