THE COOL TOUR PROVES ITSELF TO BE ACTUALLY SOMEWHAT COOL
I was pretty skeptical when I first saw the Cool Tour lineup. Actually, I was more than skeptical: I was pretty much positive that I wasn’t going to attend. It seemed to break down as 50% Christian screamo, 25% hardcore, and 25% good bands, which meant that there would be a lot of obnoxious hardcore, scene, and straightedge kids. But when the opportunity arose to go to the tour, I just decided to do it despite the high scene-kid-to-normal-metalhead ratio, because I had never seen either BTBAM or As I Lay Dying live.
As it turned out, I made the right decision. Although I did skip the first four bands (War of Ages, Cancer Bats, Architects, and The Acacia Strain) because I’m not a fan of any of them besides Architects, I hear that all of them save for War of Ages put on a pretty solid showing. The Acacia Strain apparently managed to work the crowd into more of a frenzy than any other band, probably because it was a hometown show for them.
I arrived about halfway through Blessthefall’s set and pushed my way through the endless wave of skinny teenage scene girls to get to the front of the crowd for BTBAM. That was a good idea but also a very bad one – Blessthefall’s fans turned out to be some of the most annoying people I’ve ever had to deal with; they continually declared the suckiness of Between the Buried and Me, and had a tendency to fall on top of me while crowdsurfing shirtless. When the band finally ended their mixture of breakdowns, “singing,” and semi-melodic riffs, I was not feeling very optimistic. Fortunately, Between the Buried and Me were on next.
They opened with “Foam Born: B,” which was a good choice, seeing as it shocked the Blessthefall-faithful into submission and enabled me to vent my annoyance at those very same fans. Then came “Obfuscation,” which was when I realized what people meant when they said that Between the Buried and Me were life-changing live. Everything from the band’s recordings manifested itself in a more alive way. Every lyric made more sense, and every concept energized the crowd, including the hardcore kids. “THIS IS WHAT WE CALL A BRAIN!” really got things going in the pit. Dusty and Paul both replicated the solos from the albums flawlessly, and the mix was fantastic too. The next song was “Disease, Injury, Madness,” and while it was actually not one of my favorites on The Great Misdirect, it turned out to be a great live song. It’s one of their heaviest, and the execution of said heaviness actually managed to keep the hardcore crowd attentive. I guess most of them only understand breakdowns. (Although, in all fairness, the mellower sections seemed to be a hit, too.) And finally, to my utter joy, the band closed with “White Walls/Viridian.” I honestly don’t remember how the crowd took it because I was too into the music – gazing at Paul’s soloing at the end (I’m a guitar dork) was the best part of the night by far. BTBAM alone was worth the show.
Then I retreated to the balcony to watch Underoath. I had very low expectations of the band, remembering my few dismal listening sessions as being laden with screamo, breakdowns, dissonance, and preachiness. While pretty much all of this was true, the band managed to play songs in a way that didn’t annoy the shit out of me. I actually really enjoyed the way they intertwined dissonance and heavier riffs on songs like “Everyone Looks So Good From Here,” and the breakdowns were not incessant or overwhelmingly frequent. The band’s break to say “Hey, just so you guys know, we’re Christian, and we love Jesus, and we’re not going to force it down your throats” was pretty stupid – seriously, everyone knows you’re Christian. “Not going to force it down your throats” my ass. But the rest of their set was both surprisingly and refreshingly… uh… not terrible. I wouldn’t pay to see them, but I would tolerate them as part of a larger bill like this one.
Of course, the headliners came last – As I Lay Dying. So I decided to venture into the pit. And here’s where I discovered the horrible truth about the East Coast. I come from California – the Bay Area, to be precise – and I just happened to be in Boston when the Cool Tour came through. I was expecting normal pits, maybe a few circle pits, stuff like that. That’s how things work back home. WOW, was I wrong. I break through the crowd of people, ready to get into the pit, when I see (essentially) this:
And everyone is doing it. Oh, the irony! I can’t even get into the pit without being kicked in the head by some fool “picking up the change” or two-stepping or windmilling or any of the other hardcore dance moves. I knew there was something funny about the fact that everyone had short/no hair and there were pretty much only deathcore t-shirts at the show. I caught a temporary reprieve during the circle pit for “Within Destruction,” but the crowd soon again collapsed into a hardcore dancing scene. At least As I Lay Dying were great – playing a mix of stuff from The Powerless Rise (“Anodyne Sea”), An Ocean Between Us (“Nothing Left”), and their older stuff (“Confined”, “Vacancy”). Their performance was a pretty great introduction to the band as a live entity.
All in all, the Cool Tour was kinda cool. But my inherent intolerance of scene/hardcore/emo/whatever kids made it a difficult show for me. I have no doubt that had I shown up to see all the bands I would have gone mildly insane. So if you can afford it, go for BTBAM and As I Lay Dying. But avoid the pits at all cost.