This is my first concert in Portland since I moved here in November from a booze soaked college town full of bro's and ho's and not much metal to be heard. In recent years since the closing of the only decent venue north of Sacramento in my opinion, The Brickworks, I had only the horrible Senator Theater to watch concerts. No matter how much equipment and sound guys they had, everything still sounded like balls. So I expected a lot from this concert.
The concert started at 8:00 p.m. and like any good organized metalhead I was there 45 minutes early...a decision I came to regret. At the Hawthorne Theatre in South East Portland the only sign that there was a metal concert was the tiny little sign that said "Nile Thurs, Well, that and the gaggle of metal shirted long haired folks crowding each other for both warmth and position in line. I regretted my decision to get there early because even though there was no sound check taking place or roadies bringing in gear the good people at the theatre did not open the doors until well after eight oclock. BASTARDS! I was sick as a dog that day but my overwhelming love of death metal gave me mightier wings than the Red Bull I was drinking. The place is small!! I have been to tiny venues before and have played some small stages with my bands before but for a professional gig such as this? Oh well, I counted myself lucky that I could have a nice intimate venue to see bands that in my opinion should be playing much much larger venues.
After waiting in the cold for Gods know how long finally, the doors open and the warmth of the concert hall gave me back the energy the cold winds of Portland had sapped from my bones. First thing I noticed is that the merch tables were right on the mosh pit! This can never be a good idea I thought, and as the night wore on I was definitely proven right. Working the merch booth for all four bands was Ross Dolan himself! I was practically dancing when I came up to talk to him. Turns out he is an incredibly humble and nice person that was more excited when I told him I was here to support all bands than he was when I praised the work of his own.
After chatting with Ross for a few minutes since nobody else in the theater seemed to recognize who he was, the first band Dreaming Dead came out to test the equipment and start sound check. When finally the mayhem began , I was blown away to see that two of the members of Dreaming Dead were petite ladies! No wonder their songs online had such wierd high pitched vocals! This four piece of two ladies and two heavily bearded fellas began their assault with pretty good energy and man, those girls can play!! The ladies provided both guitar and vocals whilst the beards rock the bass and drums. To be honest this was kind of a lack luster set at first. Though the music they played was fast and full of venom ,it appeared to me that they could have enjoyed their time on stage a little more. The crowd was not really into them at first and then you could literally feel the energy change. The raven haired waif that was the lead singer announced the title of the next song though she did it in typical grumbly death metal talk so I have no idea what the hell the name of the track was. This song was bursting with energy!! You could feel the metal crackle and burn through the speakers and a mosh pit broke out for the first time. Imagine if you will old school thrash metal perfectly blackend! The tunes from this point on were fast, catchy and totally searing. In my heart I felt that they saved their set and properly worked the fans up for the next band, the Brazilian crazies Krisiun.
Finally I was about see live the band that I vehemently recommend to any metal head. Krisiun, were loading their gear onto the stage. First thing I noticed was they did their own sound check...every member of Krisiun tuned and checked their own instrument. Which would be no shocker for an unknown band, but it fit the DIY ethos of Krisiun quite well. They opened the set with a cut from their most recent album Southern Storm. These guys look like they are straight from a machetazo gang! Whilst these guys tore it up with songs I knew all the words to and they even played my favorite track off of Assassination, Vicious Wrath ,something was missing. It took me a second to figure it out, the guitar was lacking. On the albums they have the benefit of multi-tracking riffs, so live without a second guitarist it just sounded kinda empty. But all in all Krisiun had the crowd chanting their name and begging them for more!
After an all too brief set with Brazil's "Better than Sepultura" band (and I mean way better...come on, Sepultura, what the hell are you guys doing lately?) a few bearded men in baseball caps brought in some pretty awesome gear and within ten minutes Immolation took the stage. My god, Immolation was playing and I was only 20 feet from the stage! Ross went from a kindly music enthusiast to a raging beast! His vocals were so distorted but plainly audible, I have never seen his like before. Immolation pounded through a few cuts from their brand new album Majesty and Decay. Wow! These new songs are smoking ,my fellow worms, that I promise. The crowd was so worked up that the mosh pit was begining to spill over on to the poor bastards working the merch tables. A grizzled old man, Max from Krisiun and the tiny lead singer from Dreaming Dead did their best to push the wild frenzy away from their merch. The old man was yelling and pushing people back into the mosh pit, he was furious! Max from Krisiun was laughing like a wild man as he shoved people away from the tables and back into the fray. I was soaring by the time Immolation announced in a non-death metal grumble the song coming next: Gang of Thieves! Let me tell you folks , I have never heard a heavier well played song in my entire life as a music fan. Immolation will go down as the best band I have ever seen live and also the most professional. They didn't call everyone "Fuckers" like the rest of the bands that night, which I found to be a sign of class.
Next up after waiting a grueling 20 minutes for all of Kolias' drums to be tuned and checked, the FX boards to be tuned in and the guitars and bass sounding good, and finally the three microphones Nile used dialed in. There came Nile! Guitarist Karl Sanders was rocking his long blonde locks and ankh necklace as usual. Most interestingly, he played a double neck guitar for most of the night. I don't know why, but everytime I see a double neck all I can think about is Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen's hilarious histronics. Quickly Cheap Trick was blown to the back of my mind by blistering cuts from Nile's new album Those Whom The Gods Detest. Is it just me or does Dallas Toler-Wade look alot like Heavy Devy himself, Devin Townsend? Oh well, they brought down the house and had the place frothing at the bit from all their metal power, they even played my favorite song"Lashed To The Slave Stick". Sick as a dog and wired off my ass from energy drinks and metal fury, I went home and passed out. The Hawthorne Theatre is a miserable venue with terrible acoustics, but it will forever be the place I saw Immolation and learned from the masters how death metal is supposed to be done.
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