Event Review: Dissention In The Promised Land
All That Remains @ Lo Fi Cafe, Salt Lake City, UT, 12-07-04
Photos by Penny Robinson. Salt Lake City ... a rather unlikely location for the likes of GWAR, Dying Fetus and All That Remains to rear their heads. Nestled in a back alley on the edge of the Mormon Church's holiest ground you'll find the Lo-Fi Café, which often plays host to the heaviest of the heavy in the Metal scene.
Photo: Phil Labonte. Without the sounds of screaming fans and ultra loudness booming trough the walls of the venue, it was a little hard to find, but persistence paid off and I was able to follow the growing stream of black trench coats and body piercings to the secret underground hideaway.
The scene outside the Lo-Fi was rapidly becoming chaos ... fans of all ages trying to push their way into the club to catch a glimpse of GWAR. I, on the other hand, came to see All That Remains and hear them pull it all off live.
Once inside, I made my way towards the stage through what was a fairly docile crowd, considering the bands that were to appear. The stage was fairly small and the Lo-Fi didn't look like it could hold more than five or six hundred people at best ... and it was already shoulder-to-shoulder.
All That Remains took the stage and blew up with the title track from This Darkened Heart. The crowd seemed unchanged, but the bodies pushing against my back told me there was a mosh pit forming behind me. The band themselves were completely absorbed in the music. Phil Labonte was giving it all he had as he leaned out over the audience and screamed "I will not be held down again," and then song ended as furiously as it began.
Photo: Oli Herbert.
"Tattered On My Sleeve" was next in the set. ATR broke heavy into this one. The mix was crystal clear and the guys were at maximum tightness. Mike Bartlett's bass kicks thumped throughout the Lo-Fi and drove dark spikes deep through the audience's feet. The mosh pit remained undaunted and continued to push the rest of the crowd in all directions. With nothing but one club security guard between me and the stage, I found myself almost toe-to-toe with Matt Deis and Mike Martin, bass and guitar respectively. ATR faded into the "acoustic" bridge in the song and much of the now hard-driven crowd was taken by surprise. The mosh pit mellowed and people looked at each other like "Huh?"
It was then that I realized All That Remains hadn't quite reached this part of the country. "How sad," I thought as I found myself pitying this poor deprived audience, but the feeling diminished when they shattered the air with my favorite ATR song, "For Salvation." Oli Herbert's lead was dead on ... an impeccable performance and true to form, but the real money shot was Matt popping a bass string about mid-song without missing a step. After the song the band had a good laugh about the whole thing and Phil talked to the crowd while Matt got his gear in shape.
They went on to play "Passion," "Focus Shall Not Fail," which is one of Phil's favorites because, as he puts it, "The whole band gets to shine." They closed their set with "The Deepest Gray" and said "Good night" to the crowd. ATR began to pack their gear off the stage with the help of one club roadie. I made my way outside to meet up with them. I caught Phil outside the backstage door grabbing a few puffs while the band boxed up their equipment and lumped it to "Wendy," the name of their van.
I hung out with the guys while they roadied their own equipment, getting my This Darkened Heart CD signed by the whole band and raving over their set. Our conversation bounced from how Matt popped his string to why ATR was opening for Dying Fetus ... instead of the other way around. They weren't too fazed and Phil commented that DF had been around longer. "What a dynamic bunch of guys," I thought.
Photo: Matt Deis I don't remember who asked, but ATR were looking for an Olive Garden that may be open nearing 10:00 pm. My response? "This is Salt Lake City ... I dunno what's open after nine!" I shook hands with all the guys, again raving about their set, and got a picture of me with the band before retreating to the bar across from the Lo-Fi to grab a couple of beers before Dying Fetus went on.
DF was mostly unimpressive and my being unfamiliar with the band probably didn't help my understanding much. I think it was a few songs into their set before I left the club to grab a smoke outside. The rest of the audience had grown by this time and the Lo-Fi was probably to capacity. I decided to fight my way to the merch table, run by ATR's tour manager, to grab a T-shirt and I cut out. Later, Dying Fetus was loading their gear into their Ryder truck and I hooked up with them and introduced myself while they indulged in a bit ‘o' the after-party.
I went back to the bar for a few more as I waited for GWAR to take the stage ... an announcement went out via the bar's DJ that GWAR was ready to perform. I followed the crowd back to the Lo-Fi, which was now impossible to enter. I literally fought my way to the stage, where a security guard told me the only way back out was through the entrance whence I came. The crowd was completely unmanageable and the stage erupted with smoke and guitars. Barely visible was a bare ass and John Kerry ... I think. Oderus Urungus, GWAR's vocalist, beheaded him and blood spurted all over the audience.
The crowd went insane and suddenly I felt a fist land upside my head. I looked for a way out to no avail. I packed my camera back into its bag, slung it over my shoulder and tried to push for the entrance. This was a feat of madness as I was assaulted twice more before returning fire. I swung furiously as I made my way back to the door, turning to try to get a glimpse of the stage action every few steps. I think I broke someone's nose as I fought my way out of the crowd, but I finally reached the club's access point. My wife, who originally accompanied me as my photographer, was waiting outside. She'd seen GWAR's stage set with the dead baby and opted not to enter ... instead giving me the equipment and sending me to face the hounds of Hell that were this audience.
"Oh my God ... you're bleeding!"
"God had no hand in this," I said, "and I don't think this is my blood!"
We headed back to the car and passed Wendy on the way. Matt was behind the wheel and I yelled back to him how lucky they were not to be buried in that crowd. He called me back to the van where they were listening to Night Ranger on the radio, having some beers and playing PS2. I boarded Wendy for a few more shots of the band in their own habitat and headed home. What did I bring away from this night? ATR is truly a class group of guys ... and even with the things that went amiss that night, I feel lucky to have met so much talent in so little space. Visit ATR online: www.allthatremains.cc
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