Another year of awesome shows — some old heros, some new ones.

My list of favorites after the jump…

Early Man live

7) EARLY MANEuropa Nightclub, Brooklyn
This show was not as good as the last time I saw Early Man play (at a secret show over CMJ ’06), but with this band you sorta can’t go wrong. Rebuilding America’s interest in intelligent thrash one motherfucker at a time, Early Man is probably the band whose new album I am most excited about. Get into it.

pelican live live

6) PELICAN – Luna Lounge, Brooklyn
This band gets love because they did such a complete 180 since I last saw them play in the Summer of ’04, when I was seriously bored with a capital boo-yah. This year, however, seeing the soundscape-y post-metal outfit in their newfound glory, I was psyched to learn that they have gotten much better. Not only is the new material a great deal more refined and interesting, but the homies’ playing (especially the two guitar players) is a lot more cohesive and incendiary, and I guarantee I ain’t the only mofo singing this song about this band.

Mastodon live

5) MASTODONStarland Ballroom, NJ
Of course the almighty Mastodon makes it onto this list. Whaddya, crazy? Any true prog-metal afficionado needs to not only respect this grown-up oufit, but be – muthafuckin – down. I have seen Mastodon three times this year, and this show at this small venue was perfect. Big enough to hold a few hundred people, and small enough to still feel very intimate — after seeing Mastodon play at bigger spots Bowery and Roseland (both “ballrooms”, no less), it was apparant that the smaller, the closer, the better. Yeah, I circumnavigated the pit for a great deal of the time but I also chilled by the side bar for a little while, as well as in the back for a minute, and nowhere in this room did I feel far from the band.

tool live

4) TOOLPNC Bank Center, NJ
Okay, so I had never seen Tool before this show (and I keep asking myself why come?), but I sincerely doubt that I will ever miss another opportunity to witness this epic group’s performance. All of these four guys are fantastic players, and the show — synchronized video and lasers (uh huh), artland performance art (complete with lab coat-wearing doctors and Mehican/Big Business drum-pounding caballeros, and more — was among the best I’ve ever seen. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a better use of video mixing at a live performance (and my eyes have been open for quite some time now), and I don’t even know if I can put my feelings about the lasers into words. The best way to accurately describe the whole experience is as a magical rock odyssey, but that’s pretty gay, so I’ll just say that that shiat was sweet, brah!

3) APIARYThe Knitting Factory, NYC
I found my way to this show in a somewhat haphazard fashion: didn’t really know much about the band, got a subtle recommendation, showed up, and watched the fireworks explode. Okay, sure — there were no more than ten people in the haus, but the band played with such mirth and zeal (yeah that’s right) that it was near impossible to not get swept up in the dissonant fury and might of this amazing group. What a perfect blend of underground passion and professional sheen…I was taken immediately, and the energy was unparalleled. I expect Apiary’s next album to be spellbinding.

btbam live 22) BETWEEN THE BURIED AND METhe Blender Theater, NYC
So now I get this band and I couldn’t be more impressed. This Fall’s Colors is undoubtedly my favorite release of 2007, and the live show complements the record perfectly. I didn’t quite realize it at the time (thanks to my meds and searing pain from a broken shoulder), but BTBAM just played the album from start to finish, and didn’t miss a fucking beat. Despite my injury (and due to the aid of several whiskeys), I found it extremely hard to refrain from running into the pit. This band is a huge part of the future of progressive metal.
log live2

1) LAMB OF GODRoseland Ballroom, NYC
This show, and the many pits I experienced within, was perhaps the most metal experience I have ever had in my life. The stars aligned in such a way that the bone-crushing rush of the frenzy of fists just made sense to me, in a very simple way, and I finally figured out how to float through the crowd and use my aggression in a positive way. This is what metal is all about.


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