Some days just don’t go as planned. You think you are going to show up early to a venue, meet some people, take some pictures, have some drinks, and generally have a good time. But then sometimes, life happens and you just have to deal with it. Since I am a plan-to-the-minute kind of guy, little hiccups tend to throw me off my groove, and trust me, Saturday was hiccup-central.
Between having to make unexpected trips across town to procure tickets for a friend, and not being on the guest list as expected, sitting outside the Knitting Factory and listening to the opening band from an alley when you are supposed to be working the show is indeed a frustrating thing.
It is then fortunate, that Saturday’s headliner was groove metal pioneer, Soulfly, as that was exactly what was needed to get me back into the place I needed to be to both enjoy and work a show not going as planned. The downside is that meant that I missed the first opener, local band Ghostbox.
I was able to get inside in time to snap a few pics and catch a song or two, and what I heard from the alley definitely sounded good, with solid riffs echoing their dulcet tones into the outside environment. I saw good crowd engagement, good energy, and I am really bummed out I couldn’t catch the whole set. Maybe next time.
Next on the stage was another local band, Fault Paradox. While Ghostbox’s initial and probably completely inaccurate impression was more of a downbeat melodic rock with an intimate stage presence, Fault Paradox contrasted with high energy, fast riffs, and machine gun vocals that have a high similarity to Disturbed, especially in the hilariously titled song, “Cuddle Slut” (is that just a person who really enjoys cuddling with lots of people? Maybe they would prefer to be known as Cuddle Enthusiasts…).
Vocalist, Ryan, really carries the stage presence here, marching around like a preacher demanding the attention of his congregation, looking good for the camera as a result. As locals go, (and I have seen plenty of mediocre local bands for major touring acts), they made an excellent fit for Soulfly and represented our town well.
While good local openers is always a pleasant surprise, probably the biggest surprise of the evening was the next band, Lody Kong. Their sound is a bit of grunge mixed with thrash and hardcore, and it was delightfully heavy. Not that it’s unexpected that the one touring opening band was surprisingly good, but that this band in particular was so young
A little research yields the reason, that being that half of Lody Kong are the progeny of Soulfly’s Max Cavalera. The name is a bit silly, and some will balk about getting a free ride on tour thanks to a famous daddy, however, they fit the billing well and performed well enough that I was none the wiser to any insider connections at the time.
Of course, the reason we are here is Soulfly, and to a lesser extent, to see thrash metal legend, Max Cavalera. But before we get into that, I have a confession to make. I am not a huge thrash metal fan. In all honesty, I haven’t listened to a Soulfly record since 2000’s Primitive. I barely know anything about Sepultura. On top of this, I consider the 80’s in general to be a dark time for all music.
So why am I the journalist at a Soulfly concert? Am I just the token metalhead for BPM? Am I just looking for a dark hole to get drinks and maybe listen to some heavy music in the process? Probably. The most likely answer is I am surrounded by metalheads who grew up on the stuff, and saw it fit to drag me into their own dark corner of the metal universe, since they can only stand so much of the doom and sludge that I foist onto them.
But herein comes a major revelation: you do not need to be a huge fan of a band to be a huge fan of their show. Nu-metal and groove metal gets a bad rap from elitist metaljerks in general, and even I tend to stick to my own well camouflaged holes; however that doesn’t change the fact that Slipknot or Lamb of God puts on a great show. Y
es, I prefer the self-realization that comes from a Yob record, the lamentations of personal pain and discovery brought on by Neurosis, or the pure riffy heaviness of Bongripper, but its hard to deny that the grooviness of songs like “Jumpdafuckup” are actually what make concerts fun. That’s really the question; can I put away my metal hipster jacket long enough to bang my head to heavy music even if the lyrics are cheesy?
The answer is a definite “yes”. I can pound an overpriced brew, ignore the over-angst lyrics of the mid-90’s and bang my head to a groovy riff, and its not because of Max Cavalera. Wait, what? That’s right, the name most connected to Soulfly isn’t really why I enjoyed the show; the real reason is axeman Marc Rizzo, who outclassed Max with an infectious enthusiasm and technical capability that Max just couldn’t keep up with. To be honest, Max looked tired. In fact, the ‘cult of personality’ around Max is a bit confusing to me.
The singing was far from perfect and….he seemed to barely be able to play guitar, sticking mostly to open fretted palm mutes while Marc did all the work. His rendition of Happy Birthday was literally grade school level. But that didn’t matter because Marc looked jazzed and he rocked. His energy easily carried the show, and as a result, my head still banged and my ears still bled. It was a great show after all and despite the many setbacks, I had a killer time.
Check out one of Soulfly’s videos below!Article and Photos by Joe Turmes