Thursday, February 11, 2016

HMT goes to the show! A review of the 2016 Voivod tour stop in Providence RI

Bands: Voivod, Vektor, Eight Bells
Wreak - We got to the venue after Wreak's s set. (Check them out here)
Venue: Fete Ball Room
Date: February 6th, 2016
All Below Photo Credits:

   It was a dark and stormy night...well not really...the weather was decent, Providence did a shit job with plowing, snowbanks still corrupted all sides of Dike st. and the scent of Onleyville's best hot dogs was sadly absent from the crisp winter's whip.
   Alas, there was yet another cool heavy metal line up at the Féte Ballroom in Providence RI this past weekend. To set the stage, I was home on a Saturday, my wife worked early and the show started late. My buddy Clint (of Clint's Mixtape on this very blog) and his buddy Pat Crocker (of the famed smoke shop, Holy Smokes, of Newport, RI) were headed to the VOIVOD show. I had heard of the gig through some facebook invites. I was really interested in the opening band Wreak who's drummer Rob Cinami, I follow on social media. Vektor another favorite of mine was also on the ticket and I had been waiting a while to see them. I had missed them earlier on the Iron Reagan tour back about two years ago. I'm fortunate to live in an area where I can make an hour's trip to Worcester or Boston. Give me a tour stop about twenty minutes on a night I'm free, I'm in.
   We headed into the Féte and got a quick head count of about 200 from the bouncer. The Féte Ballroom holds a capacity of over 400 which includes the balcony. Most shows are standing room only, so 200 for a metal show not utilizing the balcony is decent stuff. The crowd was a nice blend of battle vests, college types and 40 somethings like myself. Hands stamped we walked in as I noticed Rob from Wreak breaking down his drums and the band leaving the stage. There was a nice crowd surrounding the stage in the pitch dark room. We picked up some brews and I made my way to the merch area. Eight Bells, had some shirts, stickers and their latest EP. Vektor had a few shirts and hats. Unfortunately due to the recent snow storm, some of their merch was on back order. Voivod had a wide array of stuff to satiate their fans appetites.

Eight Bells
  Prof. Fork Tongue who was unable to make it to the show had given me a heads up earlier in the day that I really needed to check out Eight Bells. I struck up a conversation with their merch guy and planned to meet up with a band representative later on in the night to hopefully set up an interview. With Wreak's set off the stage, a sparse three piece were about to play next. Eight Bells were equally spaced and all at the same depth from the front of the stage. The Féte's stage always seems higher to me like one you'd find in old highschool auditorium. There are no barriers between the stage and the fans, so I positioned myself close enough to take in each performance while still giving myself room to rock out. Eight Bells began their performance with some compelling clean singing and repetitious rhythms that put me in a trance. Prof. Fork Tongue has turned me on to a few bands in the past that involved female vocals and he's usually on point. This was no different, by the third song, people were really moving. Clint was rushing up to the stage throwing horns between each song while I was closing my eyes, head banging to the groove. By their final song, Pat leaned over and expressed how impressed he was with the set and it's build. He put it perfectly. "They reminded me of Isis and left us wanting more."
   It felt like a deeply poetic set. Their performance was like a summer storm, starting off with a pleasant breeze of harmonized vocals, quickly raising the temperature with increased percussive tempo and finally dropping a total torrential rainstorm of emotion on all of our heads. A collective feeling of WOW! came over the crowd as the trio completed their last tune. Taking a breather between sets, I struck up a conversation with a few fans and told the Eight Bells merch guy that I was blown away. Awesome start to a show.

   Vektor was up next. Battle vests and long greasy hair soon filled the small pit. With very little introduction, Vektor just tore through a number of tunes only stopping to let us know that they were about to throw in "Ultimate Artificer" a new track off the upcoming Terminal Redux album. The riff count on this song along is mind blowing. By the time the vocals kicked in, the pit was spinning and the ferocity of the song took it's toll on a hapless string that busted off Erik Nelson's guitar. The band didn't miss a beat as Erik rushed to get a new axe for slaying. I probably tore through a number strings myself on my beat up old "air guitar" that I was putting to good use throughout the evening. At the end of their set I turned to get my friend's reactions and they all were beaming. Vektor put us all in a thrashzone.
   Once again we all kind of dispersed for a breather. Erik Nelson was manning the merch table and I made my way over to congratulate him on his set. He was a bit hard on himself for having to switch out guitars mid song but I assured him that the set blew me away. I arranged contact with him down the road so that we may be able to do an interview to promote their next album. Erik was a genuinely awesome dude.

   The crowd moved forward towards the stage for the iconic prog metal act, Voivod. Their stage setup was clean and streamlined with the Voivod banners flanking their drummer Michael Langevin aka Away. The band launched into a set fueled by music of all eras. As someone that hasn't listened to a lot of their music in the past it was all new to me. The atmosphere of my section of the crowd was that of a complete party. I whipped out some dance moves I hadn't performed since I was young punk. At one point I turned to see the members of Vektor and Eight Bells completely head banging to Voivod's set. It's always cool to see tour mates enjoying a show with the fans. I quickly thanked Vektor bassist, Frank Chin, for coming back to Providence and killing it. He responded with "I'm living my dream" and that put a smile on both our faces. I bid him farewell and jumped into the action.  Denis Boulanger aka Snake was incredible to watch as a front man. Snake's a confident party(after all Féte is French for Party as he explained) host who can drive the crowd into a ruckus at will. The Snake slithered with his hands dangling over the front row like a puppet master pulling the strings. The new bass player, Dominique Laroche aka Rocky was having the time of his life as he smiled, laughed and jammed out to the crowd. Voivod is known for having a pedigree of standout bassists, from Blacky to Piggy and on to Newsted. Rocky's playing puts him in that same conversation. He respects his spot and performs with a confidence of a guy much older than his years. The thick maned axeman, Daniel Mongrain, lived up to his nickname Chewy as he blasted away on his guitar like it was a bowcaster all night. In an ironic twist, master drummer Langevin was so far "AWAY" that when he finally revealed himself after the set, he was given a standing ovation. Voivod really impressed me and made me a fan. I reached out and shook each members hand as they departed into whatever realm a Voivod goes to. They are out of this fucking world.
   After all the booze fueled fun and the amazing non stop music, I wandered away sweat soaked from the concert floor. I quickly made acquaintances with Eight Bells front woman, Melynda Jackson, near her merch table. I pronounced my joy and admiration for the band. She handed me her contact info and was happy to grant us time for an interview sometime down the road. I appreciated that all the bands were very approachable throughout the night. It reminded me of my youth when a band would get off stage and mingle with the crowd. Clint and Pat felt that this whole night was one of the best they had at a show in some time. Fans huddled around the back door and bar area speaking of the night and of their favorite bands long after the stage was clear. That's a success in my book. We all were left wanting more of that metal magic. - grownman

1 comment: