Thursday, December 30, 2010

Idol Threat's Top 5 Shows/Festivals of 2010


It's finally here! I'm going to kick off my string of "year end list" posts with Idol Threat's Top 5 Shows of 2010. I don't think I attended more shows in one year than I did this past year and yet it was still just a small fraction of the amount of shows that actually occurred in 2010. So keep that in mind if you disagree with any of the shows I picked (and if you have no opinion of the list whatsoever it may be a sign that you need to attend more shows in the future.)

There was alot of amazing shows that I considered for the list; Anthrax's last tour with Slayer & Megadeth, the Floor reunion show, my first time seeing Envy and seeing Unsane perform "Scattered, Smothered & Covered" were definite highlights of my year, but the following 5 shows each had something special that gave them the edge over all the others. So without further ado here is Idol Threat's Top 5 Shows/Festivals of 2010. Oh yeah, Rock the Bells didn't come to Chicago so they're automatically out of the running. Click the jump to see the list:



Maryland Deathfest VIII 5/27/2010-5/30/2010 at Sonar in Baltimore
Including the pre-fest show night Maryland Deathfest 8 was FOUR straight days of metal, coupled with a 12 hour drive to Maryland and a 14 hour drive on the way back. Needless to say I was left pretty exhausted when I did finally return from “America's Biggest Metal Party of the Year.”

This year they expanded the Deathfest even further by adding another outside stage for a total of 3 stages. The main stage was indoors at Sonar while the other two stages encompassed a side lot and the entire front of the venue. Here's my top 10 personal highlights of the 'fest (in no particular order):

1. The crazy (now infamous) overweight/middle-aged “Dancing Man” who danced around in a gypsy-like flex style and bugged out eyes during sets & in moshpits throughout the weekend. There's a video of him at the bottom that doesn't BEGIN to do justice to how the man looked live.

2. The Communion choosing to play to honor the memory of their recently-passed guitarist instead of canceling.

3. Gorguts playing Obscura (the song not the entire album) and 3 NEW songs

4. DRI Bassist Harald Oimoen jumping onstage to dance during Watain's set only to be kicked off, and purportedly beaten down by the band and security afterwards

5. Coffins’ entire set and Coffins front man Uchino's being seen deep in the crowds during most of the other bands' sets throughout the weekend - fuck a backstage!

6. The inflatable balls, multi-colored animals, dinosaurs, dicks & glow-sticks being thrown around during all the foreign grindcore bands' sets.

7. Repulsion bringing out recently transgendered Cretin guitarist Marissa Martinez to play during Horrified and Maggots In Your Coffin (The drummer in Cretin is also the current drummer in Repulsion.)

8. Brutal (and all around manly) Death Metal legends Malignancy and Incantation having to play outside right next to “Gay Street” (Pentagram's frontman Bobby Liebling was STILL the manliest man at the fest despite playing on the same street and wearing a shiny gold outfit that reflected rainbow lights.)

9. The crazy, bloody, half naked Crustie resisting 5 officers in the nearby parking lot and getting beat while all the other Crust punks watched (and while one of the girls with rats on her shoulders was taking pictures with her digital camera.)

10. Gridlink announcing that they just wrapped up recording their new album the night before, and then proceeding to play their new album “Orphan” in it's entirety. It was around 20 minutes long.

There was of course tons of other highlights to the weekend but this post will never end if I went into full detail. Finally getting to see Autopsy perform live (with Dan Lilker of Brutal Truth filling in on bass duties) was an amazing treat despite minor sound issues. In fact for the most part all the acts who played on the outside stages suffered some degree of sound issues throughout the weekend and it seemed that only those who brought their own sound guys were able to be heard (I could be wrong but that seemed to be the only explanation for the inconsistency of the outside stages.) Unsurprisingly the doom bands who played the outside stages sounded the best, the legendary Pentagram sounded crystal clear and Eyehategod practically filled the air with their rumbles. Even when we were across the street & behind all the speakers we could still hear their set clearly.

The main indoor stage was the place to be if you wanted true ear-splitting sound. The superior sound and enclosed space contributed greatly to Portal's set being the heaviest experience of the entire weekend - they were the only band that was truly terrifying. Converge once again delivered a solid, energetic set proving my theory that they’re one of the most consistent bands in extreme music today. Their set, Wolfbrigade's and Repulsion's set had the craziest pits of the entire fest (I thought I was gonna get my hip broke during Wolfbrigade's set.) Repulsion, Gorguts, Portal & Coffins were probably my favorite sets of the weekend.

MDF was as exhilarating and enjoyable as it was exhausting and the whole thing felt so long but now seems like a blur when looking back. I was so tired that I probably looked like this guy afterwards:





Swans 10/5/2010 at Bottom Lounge in Chicago
I hope that I don't have to explain the importance of the Swans reunion/non-reunion, they've been a major influence to indie and heavy bands for decades even after they split up. Their 2 hour long set was composed mainly of tracks from their recent album My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, but they did manage to sneak in old favorites such as Your Property, Sex God Sex and I Crawled. All their songs were either extended or re-worked specifically for the tour to make each show a different experience and sonically unique from the albums. They closed their set with an amazing free jazz-like rendition of Little Mouth.

The new Swans sounds very much like heavier versions of Michael Gira's post-Swans band Angels of Light, but it still doesn't match the intensity of the Swans' earlier work. This absence and evolution was definitely noticed and addressed at this show - when heckled by a fat fan to bring back more of the old Swans sound because they're not “fucking Belle & Sebastian” Michael Gira responded that if he wants the old Swans he should just fucking die. He then asked the heckler if they could just end this now and invited him to come onstage to get his dick sucked. It's good to have Swans back.

Little Brother 5/19/2010 at Double Door in Chicago
When Little Brother announced that Leftback would be their last album as a group it came as pretty shocking news to me. They’ve been together just shy of 10 years and it’s barely been 7 years since they released their classic debut The Listening. Their public split with founding member 9th Wonder and their failed short stint with major label Atlantic Records would have been major setbacks for anyone but they managed to survive and persevere. I always assumed that meant that the duo’s career would last as long as all the Hip Hop groups that came before them, of which their name was an homage to.

Little Brother always appealed to the more “mature” Hip Hop crowd and you could definitely tell from the amazing reception the DJ received from all the classic songs that he played. Early 90s rap, Reggae and even some old House music was scattered throughout the night further cementing the fact that this was a show for the "grown folks" and possibly an end of an era to those that all this music appealed to. The thing that set apart a Little Brother show from any other Hip Hop show was that it was always a party, you could tell that the group had fun performing (and to my knowledge they're still the only group to successfully encourage the crowd to do the electric slide during a show.) This show was no different and despite an air of finality that dominated the night a good time was still had by all. RIP LB. (at least it looks like Phonte & 9th were able to reconcile.)

Bastard Noise 7/5/2010 at Ronny's in Chicago
Ronny's isn't the most upscale venue. It's a local bar with a venue attached, it reminds me of a small house that added a connected garage as an afterthought. It's dingy, cramped and loud with shitty sound and low ceilings. Dirty, trapped & distorted; I can't think of a better place to experience The Bastard Noise live. This tour in support of their amazing album “A Culture of Monsters” was more anticipated than usual due to their recent shift towards the power violence style of their originating band Man is the Bastard. The anticipation was stretched to the point of breaking since it took forever for them to set up and get the sound right. They never did get that great of a sound going but it didn't stop Eric Wood and company from producing some of the heaviest, most progressive noise I've ever witnessed live.

Sleep 9/9/2010 at Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago

When legendary Stoner Doom band Sleep announced that they would be reuniting and playing at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival I hoped that it would mean that they would also tour soon afterwards. Luckily for us (and six other cities) my wish came true. Seeing High on Fire about twice a year to compensate for my Sleep deficiency kept me happy for awhile, but I was dying to finally see Sleep live. This show was especially monumental since the band planned to play their classic album Holy Mountain in it's entirety. They kicked off their set with about 7 minutes of the beginning of Dopesmoker/Jerusalem and went straight into Holy Mountain before starting the album from the beginning with Dragonaut. They ended with an encore of almost 30 more minutes of Dopesmoker/Jerusalem, a massive end to an equally massive set.


So there it is folks, Idol Threat's Top 5 Shows/Festivals of 2010. Stay tuned these next couple of days and throughout the weekend for the rest of Idol Threat's year-end lists.

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