TOO GOOD FOR WORDS: BTBAM, CYNIC, DEVY LIVE IN WEST HOLLYWOOD LIKE TWO MONTHS AGO
Photos by Adam Haussman
My bosses at MetalSucks love me for my looks, but by now Vince (pictured here) and Axl (here) know that my dazzling physical gifts are accompanied by a lot of blown deadlines and indecipherable twaddle about the band Junkyard and drugs. To compensate, I help out with dropped assignments and try to do a really super job on the big stories that fall to the MS L.A. Bureau. Well I direct your attention to the word try in the previous sentence cuz for the last month or so [Seven weeks, Anso. But who’s counting. -Ed.], I have been failing to produce even a coherent thought about the Between The Buried and Me/Cynic/Devin Townsend show back in January. I got zilch.
But it’s not my fucking fault. Stupid tour. It was too good.
Look, I’ve been going to shows since Queensryche/Suicidal Tendencies at the Mecca and only once before have I spent the post-show ride home in a state of calm, unbothered quietude. You too, right? Usually your mind is scanning back through snapshots of the show (and peeks at choice knockers) or at least you describe the fat guy’s asscrack into which you were hipchecked on the way back with the beers. I always talk a lot after shows, even if it’s just to meh a whole bunch. Every time.
But not after the West Hollywood stop of the so-called “Orgasm Tour.” Nay, en route back to my place I was already beginning to panic. I had absolutely nothing to write about. I know Vince and Axl would forgive me if I bailed, but would Ashley from Victory Records be so understanding? I’ll never forget that night at the Bulls game when she knifed me after I stepped on her scarf. I’m not going through that again. But how could I describe in words a beam of pure white light? What is the literal representation of a three-hour hug from Devin Townsend, Paul Masvidal, and Paul Waggoner? Uh shit you know what I’m saying! A rose by any other name, goddammit!
It wasn’t just the music. The crowd was neither annoyingly cultish nor ungrateful/expectant; even individually, people were just being cool. (Tip: See a guy in a Periphery hoodie? That guy is cool. Go hang with him.) And thank you House of Whites Blues on Sunset: The sound was crystalline and not painfully loud. It was one of those perfect nights.
And what about the music? Fine, if you must know, Townsend is a genius for a few reasons and one is his abandonment of the traditional “set” in thirty minutes. Instead, it was the solo Devy Sampler, in no particular order. Ever the genre-buster — he’s metal’s Alfred Hitchcock and is in similar need of a tailor — Townsend partook of little proggery until the set’s closer and bewilderer of late arrivals, “By Your Command.” The song’s entire third act is a guitar endurance test and he crushed it after a warm-up of only five poppy softballs. (That’s a mixed metaphor but the point is skillz.) Anyway, though Townsend was only the first of three bands to successfully acknowledge that dazzling virtuosity is only the sugar on the Cinnamon Toast Crunch of music, he owns the night’s (and the year’s, possibly) best moment: “Kingdom”. By the second verse I wasn’t even in my body .
I have a black belt in shampooing Devin Townsend’s crotch, but capturing Cynic is a greater challenge. You end up sounding like Bob Wiley on Dr. Leo Marvin: The professionalism. The warm confidence. The horse sense. Watching Cynic that night, I found myself almost perfectly content. Paul Masvidal and crew don’t beg to be liked, but have so much to like. And they seem to like you, judging from the lengths to which they go to create fucking awesome jams for you. So it’s easy to trust them. A long, subtly pretty workout? Sure! Extensive auto-tuner use? Why not! A mass yoga break? I’m in. I could’ve been talked into anything! Seriously, Masvidal. Anything.
By this point, there had already been a goddamn lot of fun (Scale The Summit’s photographer pal call me!), but Between the Buried and Me still was the frenzied gang-bang to Devin’s romantic dinner and Cynic’s backrub. A lesser band might’ve gone limp under pressure, but luckily for us, BTBAM is the best band in the world right now. And they achieved majestic, throbbing wood all night long. A bunch of times as they cherry-picked the highlights of The Great Misdirect and Colors, I was impelled to turn my back to the stage in an attempt to spot an unsmiling face. And I dare anyone to be unimpressed at the sight that I uh sighted: A thousand or so ecstatic people being held on a string by these fucking studs. (Hey did anyone else not appreciate drummer Blake Richardson until this tour?) During “Swim To The Moon,” I’d inadvertently jabbed a few people with my aching boner, but soon the night came to a end with Colors closer “White Walls.” Which was awesome. Nobody seemed to remember that in minutes, we’d all emerge into the cold winter rain — dead bum’s piss, my aunts would say — and that we’d each be returning to work the next morning. Or in my case, seven weeks later when it would be too late to urge undecided rockers to shell out for a ticket to any of the later BTBAM dates. I suck. Maybe I should just quit.
Wait what’s that? BTBAM kicks off a tour with Mastodon next month? Great! It all works out! Those gigs might even be awesomer! Go! Go! Go!