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Apocalyptic Blues

CVLT Nation Top 6 Bay Area Live Shows

#6 Fell Voices at Eli’s Mile High Club

I was able to see Fell Voices and Ash Borer three times during their time in the Bay, but their appearance in Oakland was particularly special. The lineup consisted of Oakland funeral doom band Lycus, San Francisco blackened noise trio Sutekh Hexen, Oregon doom band Hell made their California debut, and Velnias from Colorado played by candle light. The combination of a diverse lineup, good friends and a solid turnout helped make this one of the best shows of the year.

Read the rest of the list and find out who’s number one after the jump.

#5  Pale Chalice : Any 2011 Live Show

Pale Chalice are one of my favorite bands to see live, and the fact that they’re local makes it even better. I was impressed with this band when I first saw them open for Thou last Summer. I’ve seen them play nine times and they always sound incredible. The sound is raw but the riffs, lyrics and performances are incredibly refined. Chalice would be engaging to watch live just based on the strength of the material, but they take it a step further and create a whole aura through the use of corpse paint and candles housed in bones. I think it’s a crime that this band isn’t bigger than they are. I’m hoping a full length record and more flawless live shows will expand Pale Chalice’s audience in 2012.

#4 Black / Death Fest at Oakland Metro

In March, the Oakland Metro hosted a two day fest consisting of one day of black metal and another day of death metal. The black metal night was incredible. It was headlined by locals Dispirit and also included Pale Chalice, Mutilation Rites, Valdur, Black Fucking Cancer (Necrite offshoot), and Pandiscordian Necrogenisis. This show was my introduction to Mutilation Rites from NYC and I was completely blown away by their performance. All the bands were split between two stages and the whole thing ran very smoothly.

#3 Zola Jesus at The Independent

This was my first time seeing Zola Jesus live. She played at one of my favorite venues, the Independent. The sound and lighting were perfect and I was able to take some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Her voice is so incredibly powerful, it was impossible not to be moved  by her live show. A full backing band with a live drummer helped really bring her songs to life. Her set consisted heavily of songs from her new album Conatus which I had been listening to religiously beforehand, so I knew the songs pretty well. Whether or not I sang along shall not be mentioned here. This is the only non-metal show on my list because I mainly only go to metal shows, but there is something irresistible Zola Jesus that I know will keep me coming back to her shows in the years to come.

#2 Deafheaven at Fivepoints Art House

Like Pale Chalice, I’ve seen Deafheaven play numerous times over the last year. This show was in the basement of an art gallery called Fivepoints, and it was the show that kicked off their first West Coast tour ever. It was only the second time I’d seen the band play and it was before I had any sort of friendship with them. The news that they would be releasing an album on Deathwish Inc. had just been announced and there was a palpable buzz around the show. This performance was so energetic and passionate, and the tiny basement was packed full of people. There was so much movement throughout their set, I was lucky to get any pictures that night. This show was also my introduction to Deafheaven guitar player Nick’s other band Whirl; an excellent shoegaze, dream pop rock band. This show  was early in what has been a very successful year for both Deafheaven and Whirl, and I would like to congratulate both bands on their success.

#1 Neurosis at Great American Music Hall

The best show of the year unfortunately happened in January, and nothing else could quite live up to the experience of seeing Neurosis two nights in a row at Great American. Neurosis are one of my favorite bands and I had never seen them play. Neurosis live was probably the most powerful live music performance I have ever experienced. Their lack of touring makes live appearances rare and very special. The band sold out both nights, and from first night to last I watched them throw themselves into the music while I struggled to stay afloat in a rolling sea of bodies. The passion, dedication and influence of Neurosis needs no explanation from me. I felt honored to be able to witness them live. The first night they played, they opened with “Through Silver In Blood,” and the second night they closed with it. The song set the tone for the first night, it threw the audience into the maelstrom right away. The second night it was their last chance to get all of their energy out before leaving. By the end of the second night Scott Kelly was bleeding down the side of his face, and Steve Von Till had broken strings and thrown away his guitar and screamed his lines crouched down in everyone’s faces. Live visuals by Josh Graham helped immerse the audience into Neurosis’ world, and we weren’t allowed to leave until they saw fit. Both nights were truly unforgettable.

I would like to thank Meghan and Sean for making me part of CVLT Nation. This has been an amazing year and so many opportunities that I never thought possible have arisen thanks to them. Congratulations to them for curating two sick clothing collections and running the best music blog on the internet.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jonathan D.

    December 21, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Neurosis were incredible, I saw them for the first time as well (when Through Silver played first). There were a shitload of great shows in the bay this year. I got to see many gods of metal. Here are my favorites:

    1. Neurosis/YOB
    2. Autopsy
    3. Short Fast Loud: F.I.D., Capitalist Casualties, Despise You, P.L.F., Population Reduction, Bastard Noise
    4. Doom/Brainoil/Kicker
    5. Mournful Congregation / Aldebaran / Anhedonist / Lycus / Laudanum
    6. Eyehategod / Impaled / Laudnaum / Brainoil/ Burial Tide / Badr Vogu

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