Friday, July 30, 2010

High on Fire, Priestess, Skeletonwitch @ Time to Laugh, Kingston, ON

July 21, 2010
When I first heard this show was coming to Kingston, I simultaneously came, shit my pants and suffered a minor heart attack. And that lasted for a good couple days. We're talking High on Fire playing a club show within a half hour drive from my front door. It doesn't get much better than that. Oh but wait! Look at the support! I knew it was gonna be a good time.
Thrashtastic rippage from Skeletonwitch started things off (well, for me. I missed the local opener) much to the crowd's delight. Between tunes, throat-shredding vocalist Chance Garnette engaged the crowd. He praised "old school fucking heavy metal!!", saluted the beer drinkers at the back, admonished the dudes standing cross-armed for being "too tough to have fun at a metal show," and implored Kingston to, until they return, "eat more fucking pussy!"  I'm glad my mom wasn't there. Performance wise, no disappointments. Well, I did wanna see them play "At One With The Shadows" but they only had a half hour set. I'm sure it woulda been the next song. Black/death thrash doesn't lend itself to much jamming per se so they kept pretty much to playing the songs as heard in recorded form. Which is to say, tight, precise and catchy. It was a half hour of fist pumpin, horn throwin, neck snappin, good times. They said they should be back around sometime in November. Sweet.
I own Priestess's first album, Hello Master but for some reason I never bothered with their second, Prior to the Fire. Until that is, I knew they were coming to town. I checked it out. It's good too! If you like catchy, 70's-ish hard rock. So upon realizing that I liked most of their tunes I was a little more excited to see the live show. Like Skeletonwitch before them, they played a tight set. They weren't flyin' all over the stage like the bands that bookended them but it was still high energy. Of course, they played their biggest hit, "Lay Down" as featured on Guitar Hero. And to my approval they played "Lady Killer". The first track off their newest album. However, I did miss a bit of it due to a very much needed pit stop. During their set they had a screen behind them showing some pretty trippy flowing images. Eventhough they wouldn't really be considered stoner rock, it really worked. The exploding blood cell and the psychedelic burning school bus were the highlights in my opinion. I didn't have very high expectations for Priestess but they exceeded what I did have. They impressed me enough that if the Montrealers were to come back as a headliner, I'll come out again.
High on Fire. High on Fucking Fire! In Kingston! I thought I would never see the day. One of my all-time favourite bands playing a small club basically right down the road. I was far from disappointed. It was incredible! One of the best performances I have ever seen. Guitar god Matt Pike, bass master Jeff Matz, and drummer extraordinaire Des Kensel were at the top of their game. The energy in the club was crazy. And it seemed the band really fed off that. Especially Matz. He put everything out there and left nothing behind. (except the setlist. I nabbed that.) Did I mention he uses his fingers? No pick. Right on! Every time I listen to a High on Fire album I marvel at how Matt Pike is able to play those guitar parts and sing at the same time. And still, after witnessing it in person, literally in my face, I still can't believe it. You add into that the seemingly effortless, room-shaking drumming of Kensel and you have an unstoppable force. A 10 tonne fucking Nuclear-power trio. The only other time I've seen HoF live was on the first SOTU tour. It was in some big warehouse type thing in Mississauga. There were a couple thousand people there. And it had a totally different feel. No comparison to the intimacy of a small club. I don't live near a major market and I don't get to see as many bands as I want to so seeing a band this big (in the underground) at a venue this small was really something special for me. As I said earlier, I grabbed the setlist. Spoiler Alert!! The set consisted of a really nice mix of old and new. Feel free to correct me ( I am HORRIBLE with song titles) but the only album not represented was The Art of Self Defense. I was kinda hoping they'd play "10,000 Years" but I'm not complaining. Anyway, here's the setlist.
Fire, Flood and Plague
How Dark We Pray (It was awesome!)
Hung, Drawn and Quartered
Rumors of War
Blood from Zion
Snakes for the Divine
Sweet set, eh? Granted, they could fill an hour with any collection of songs and I'd fuckin' love it. I was some kinda sweaty when it was all said and done. And it wasn't all my sweat. I am 99% sure some of Matt Pike's sweat dripped on me. (Yes, I've showered) I was headbanging like crazy and expected to be in an assload of pain the next day but it was really quite mild. I've been in more pain from sitting at my computer too long. Maybe Skeletonwitch and High on Fire just taught me how to do it properly!

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