Review by Natalie Zed, Photos by Adam Wills
Due to a string of irritations and minor setbacks getting to the venue, which culminated in waiting 40 minutes for a streetcar to show up, I was wretchedly late to this event. Instead of seeing every single band on the bill, and I fully intended, I missed Hatesphere entirely and walked in just as Blackguard were walking off. This annoyed the pants off of me. I really enjoy watching opening bands for the most part, but it was not to be on this particular evening. By the time I finally arrived and settled, I was jumpy and irritable. [Luckily, I was there to enjoy another high-energy set from one of the most entertaining live acts around – Adam]
Happily, this was the kind of night that allowed me to completely recover my sunny disposition. Metal is the best mood-enhancer out there, and on top of that, the two bands that I did see were bound and determined to wring every drop of positive energy from the audience by the end of their sets. Both Warbringer and Nevermore accomplished this admirably. There’s nothing quite like being completely exhausted by an auditory assault to make a girl feel like a million bucks.
Warbringer were not kidding around. Their set was all about expending energy. The sound the produced reminded me of the shocking force of a fire hose turned on a group of protestors. Their setlist — “Scorched Earth,” “Whirlwind,” and “Prepare for Combat” stand out in particular – seemed carefully chosen to get the crowd as pumped up and manic as possible. The audience certainly gave an incredible amount back as well, creating a vortex of a circle pit and headbanging so intensely I was worried a few dudes were going to tear their neck muscles apart. Their songs have an imperative quality, daring the audience to respond. I found myself headbanging almost frantically, as though I had to. It was a wonderfully draining experience.
I wondered briefly if I would have enough left in me to give headliner Nevermore, but they managed to draw a whole new level of excitement out of me yet. They’ve always been an incredibly popular band that have never quite hit home for me. While I have certainly enjoyed them, it was not until I had the opportunity to see them live that their appeal fully made sense. Above all, I was profoundly impressed by how satisfying it was to sing along to their music with a room full of rabidly passionate metalheads. It felt like I was participating in a kind of full-contact crowd karaoke, especially during “The Heart Collector” and “Inside Four Walls.” Whereas Warbringer commanded violence from the audience, Nevermore demanded voice. There was still plenty of headbanging going on, but the entire experience was less combative; more a collective musical epiphany.
Between the music, the whisky, and the excellent company, this was the kind of night that reminds me exactly why I love doing this so much.