The Great Misdirect
A month ago, I had the pleasure of attending and photographing a Between the Buried and Me concert at the Opera House in Toronto.
I began listening to Between the Buried and Me, a progressive metal band from North Carolina, in 2007 — shortly after the release of Colors. The album plays through almost as a single hour-long song, taking musical queues from many widely separated genres including Death Metal, Jazz, and Bluegrass.
Shortly after my discovery of Colors, it became one of my favourite albums of all time. The more I listened to it, the more I appreciated the musical skill and originality from the quintet. A live DVD of Colors being performed in Tennessee was released in 2008, and only further demonstrated the band’s musical ability, proving to me that the band could do more than just play well in a studio.
Fast forward a year to 2009, with Between the Buried and Me touring with three more of my favourite bands; Protest the Hero, In Flames, and Killswitch Engage. I had initially planned to attend the September concert, but some things came up that made it impossible to attend. Luckily for me, Between the Buried and Me released their sixth studio album, The Great Misdirect, a month later.
The Great Misdirect became another one of my all-time favourite albums, featuring the same huge combination of genres — mixing everything from skilful technical guitar solos to soulful jazz and acoustic riffs — with amazing originality and a complete lack of repetition, while maintaining musical cohesion.
Upon the announcement of The Great Misdirect tour, I immediately purchased my ticket and marked the show date on my calendar.
January 26th came around,
and after a four hour Information Design class, I trekked down to Queen Street East via TTC and made a short stop at the camera store to pick up an extra battery for my camera. Just in case. I didn’t want to miss a shot.
I had brought all my gear with me, my Canon 5D and all my lenses; the 17-40mm and 35mm for wide angle, 50mm for mid-range, and 135mm for longer shots, four memory cards totaling 20GB, and most everything but a tripod packed in my oversized camera bag.
I had never been to the Opera House before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect or how close I would be to the band, how many people would be in attendance, or even what I would be allowed to photograph with the photo pass I had been granted.
I arrived at the doors to the venue over an hour early, and rested myself against the building behind only ten other hardcore fans. For an hour I listened to Between the Buried and Me and played Tetris on my iPod while I waited anxiously.
The doors opened,
and the line, now populated well into the hundreds and wrapping around the side of the building, started to wander through slowly. Greeted by a quick pat down and the words “you’ll have to check that bag”, I quickly requested my photo pass and was pointed to a small table, and a reflective adhesive material was applied to my shirt as my name was crossed off a list.
I had another hour-long wait as the tail of the line worked its way around the corner of the Opera House and onto the floor. I made sure to take advantage of the empty building, and bought a Between the Buried and Me tour shirt before the crowd grew too large.
Eventually Scale the Summit (pictured above), an instrumental progressive metal band from Texas, walked onto the stage to start the show. The band is made up of Chris Letchford, Travis Levrier, Jordan Eberhard, and Pat Skeffington.
Usually before I decide to attend a concert, I look up the opening acts and listen to them to get an idea of what the show will be like, but as my decision to attend this concert was based purely on the attendance of Between the Buried and Me, this was the first time I had heard Scale the Summit.
I was impressed.
Scale the Summit could easily be headlining their own shows, and after listening to what they could do, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of them sooner. The rhythm guitar was solid, the bass and percussion were well thought out, and the leads were technical and melodic, without being overpowering or tiring, and had a good balance of solos. Suffice to say, Scale the Summit’s album, Carving Desert Canyons, now resides in my iTunes.
The Devin Townsend Project (pictured above) was up next. Hailing from British Columbia, Devin Townsend was a true performer. Playing the lead guitar and providing the vocals, in addition to his quirky facial expressions made Townsend quite the spectacle. His music was very loud and very catchy, and managed to get the entire crowd involved. Addicted is another album that has found a home in my music library.
The third and final band to take the stage was Cynic, from Florida. Cynic started playing music before I was even born, but disbanded between 1994 and 2006, and I had never heard their music before. Again the band could have easily been headlining their own show, the progressive metal sound, with great vocals and technical instrumental made the trio of opening bands the best openers for a concert I had attended yet, and their album has also found a home among the others in my iTunes.
Scale the Summit, The Devin Townsend Project, and Cynic were the perfect lead-in for what the crowd can come to see.
Between the Buried and Me took the stage,
almost four hours after I had entered the Opera House. The sold-out crowd was packed onto the main floor, making it impossible to move around the stage. The crowd roared as the band played the opening notes to Obfuscation — the first single off of The Great Misdirect.
They continued with Disease, Injury, Madness; eleven minutes filled with fast-paced technical progressive metal and death metal growls, slower and more melodic sections with clean vocals, bass grooves, jazz-inspired riffs, and awesome guitar solos.
After the pair of new songs came More of Myself to Kill, a song from their first, self-titled album. This was followed by Ants of the Sky off of Colors, and one of my personal favourite songs, with another suitable mix of styles and genres, and one of the most epic Between the Buried and Me song endings.
Alaska, from the album Alaska, was played next. Then, after only five songs, it was time for the finale. The eighteen-minute-long masterpiece, and final song from The Great Misdirect, Swim to the Moon. Chuck Johnson, who had recorded guest vocals for the song was their to provide his voice once again, and made a failed attempt to crowd surf to the back of the crowd, falling short somewhere in the centre of the pit.
“No more panic, no more regret,”
The crowd sang along in unison to the melodic vocals leading up to each Chorus with the sign of the horns raised in the air. Person after person jump up on, and subsequently dive off of the brightly lit stage into the pit.
The song got quiet and the crowd died down, just for a moment, before erupting into the final hectic minutes of the song. As the song ended and Tommy Giles Rogers, Paul Waggoner, Dustie Waring, Dan Briggs, and Blake Richardson walked off the stage, the packed floor began shouting once more.
“BT-BAM! BT-BAM! BT-BAM!”
The band returned to the stage to more roaring cheers, as if there had been any doubt that they’d return, and they started to play arguably one of the best closing songs of all time; White Walls. The song made the perfect finale for the Colors album, and was just as appropriate for this show.
As the song progressed to the final three minutes, and Paul Waggoner’s amazing ending solo approached, the crowd — still enthusiastic as ever after 5 hours of being packed together — were nearly jumping and stage diving more in those few minutes than the rest of the show combined.
The crowd erupted into cheers once more, as the masterful solo finished and the final keys were played, and Blake Richardson rang the trademark gong, after which the band left the stage again before returning to shake the hands of a few of us that had stayed. Ears ringing, body likely bruised, and back and neck sore from hours of carrying camera equipment, I could not have been more satisfied. Between the Buried and Me managed to surpass my expectations, and put on the best show I had ever attended.