I wasn’t very well acquainted with any of the bands on this lineup before I came to the Starland Ballroom on Sunday. October 15th. I had heard one King Parrot album and knew, of course, that Phil Anselmo was the vocalist for Superjoint, but I went in blind for the most part. Maybe if I knew more about the bands, it wouldn’t have felt quite as much like a violent fever dream; these bands are insane! However, it’s the infectious type of insanity that gets you excited and invested in the music, and soaked in the sweat of people around you.
Watching Child Bite perform was like being held captive by escaped mental patients, but in the best way possible. Each band member’s appearance had a very charming air of social disconnect that worked wonders for their already baffling stage presence. Their set was just as much an acting performance as it was musical; their frontman was violently contorting himself and thrashing around on stage while beer was dripping from his mouth and the audience watched in horror and confusion. Child Bite sounds like a bipolar Dead Kennedys, switching back and forth between violently aggressive punk to something a little groovier and smoother. Some synths and samples were employed as well, but they only served to make the music even stranger and more jarring. I thought it was really cool and their music was funky enough to move to, but I think most people were too busy trying to figure out what the hell was going on to dance, mosh, or even headbang.The crowd didn’t seem to enjoy Child Bite very much, but for something so wild and creative, that’s to be expected.
Cane Hill was the most forgettable of the main lineup. They have a very nice groove to their style that translated well to the live performance, but it wasn’t enough to save them from being a relatively generic metalcore band. That along with the constant uttering of “smoke weed” into the microphone really emphasized the fact these are just kids – talented kids, but still a bit unprofessional. The flashing lights were excessive as well; I can respect that it’s part of their aesthetic but it was noticeably uncomfortable for the people attending. But despite being a bit immature, I found the frontman to be charming and he handled his banter well. While I could have done without them on the lineup, Cane Hill engaged the crowd, got people moving, and put on a good show, just not a particularly memorable one.
King Parrot was absolutely insane. I didn’t show up to the Starland Ballroom that day expecting to be put in a headlock by a shirtless Australian man while he emptied water bottles on my head and rubbed my face into his stomach, but that’s part of what made it so much fun. Their unique blend of thrash and grind is wild enough on the record, but it didn’t prepare me for what King Parrot would be like in person. These guys are masters of crowd interaction, and in the trashiest, most enjoyable way possible. Each member of the band seemed to have their own brand of ridiculousness – Slatts Slattz was especially amusing to me; The way that he would make eye contact with an audience member, widen his eyes, and then stare down at his bass in shock as if he didn’t realize he was playing would consistently get me laughing out loud. From what I could tell, they mostly played tracks from Ugly Produce, and King Parrot was as tight and professional as they sound on their studio recordings. That’s very impressive when you consider just how much energy they devoted to being crazy and interactive. Vocalist Matthew Young took it to the most extreme by actively throwing half-full water bottles at the crowd, grabbing audience members, taunting hecklers, and even joining the mosh pit at one point (all while still actively screaming). It was very lively and hands-on, and it’s the most times I’ve ever been called a cunt in a single day.
DevilDriver was great, and this is coming from someone who finds them cheesy and commercialized as a whole. They all seemed like cool, down to earth people that were there to help people have a good time, and that’s exactly what they did. They weren’t the main headliner, but everyone that I spoke to was there mainly for DevilDriver. The vocals were a little quiet in the mix but that was a problem with the venue that plagued the entire lineup, and it wasn’t a humongous issue, just a little frustrating. DevilDriver’s performance was just like their studio stuff: fun, generic, and though it lacks depth it’s still mindless junk food style fun. The only shocking part to me was when they covered AWOLNATION’s “Sail.” It came out of the left field for me and I actually thought it was really cool.
Superjoint was nice, although it was pretty clear that most people were excited for Phil Anselmo and not necessarily Superjoint as a band (myself included, quite honestly). Nevertheless, Superjoint got plenty of praise and support from the crowd and the set was fantastic. Phil is very confident and imposing in the way that he carries himself, and he can still scream with the best of them after all these years. The rest of Superjoint had clearly come to terms with the fact that Phil was the most attractive part of the band, but they didn’t seem to be bothered by it. Jimmy Bower and Steven Taylor at one point had a sort of face-off against each other where they played right in front of each other, but all of their antics were self-contained and sort of in the background. The issue with the volume on the vocals became pretty apparent with Superjoint, which was disappointing but still very much worth seeing. The crowd was relatively small but despite getting some jokes about it from the bands, it ddn’t have a negative effect on the performances or atmosphere.
This North American tour consists of some of the dirtiest, trashiest, and silliest bands in metal today. I strongly recommend heading out to catch the full lineup if you’re in the market for a wild and energetic night with some fast-paced and talented performances.