The House of Blues in Chicago was home to the Saints and Sinners tour this year feat. Between the Buried and Me. Along with them came Animals As Leaders and Tesseract. You can check out our review after the break!
The Saints and Sinners Tour round-house kicked its way into Chicago this last Friday and it most certainly left a black eye you’ll be proud to wear to school on Monday. This tour package was long rumored about before it became a reality; it being what every current-day progressive metal fan’s dreams are made of. Those dreams came to fruition for a full House of Blues worth of people that night.
The show started off with Tesseract. Hailing all the way from Britain, this quintet is beginning to sweep the nation. Deriving their name from a geometry term for a four dimensional hypercube, Tesseract has been gaining a substantial amount of steam within the American progressive, and ‘djent’ scene. The band started out as guitarist Acle Kahney’s bedroom project. Recording ideas and posting them on popular heavy metal musician forums much like Misha Mansoor of Periphery and John Browne of Monuments had, the band was able to became tangible after some time.
Tesseract’s sound is absolutely surreal. Complexity is an understatement. Not to the point where it’s cacophony, but just the right amount of twist and turns to make the mind bend, amongst spoons. Airy, subtle moments shattered seconds later by mammoth chords and voluminous drums. Visceral lyrics form their debut album One into a tremendous audio landscape. This is the kind of album you listen front to back every single time. Every second deserves to be taken in by an open mind and a curious musical prowess. Most notably is the third track Concealing Fate, made up by six scenes within the song. Tesseract’s live show is just as tremendous as their studio work and I would highly recommend catching them live if you can.
Next up was Animals As Leaders. With an extremely technical awe inspiring sound, AAL had the attention of every single person on that floor. Guitarists Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes do a wonderful job of both raising the bar for technically proficient musicians, and making everyone else want to quit their instruments. I hope their 8-string Ibanez guitars have reached the age of consent and are willing to be played like that.
The forging of Animals as Leaders was started by Prosthetic Records asking Tosin to create a solo album to be released under the label. Originally refusing, after his previous group Reflux disbanded, Tosin reconsidered the offer; the rest is history. With the absolute technicality of this band, it almost makes it difficult to put into words. You have to see it to believe it. My advice to you is to check out this band by any means necessary. Looking up their videos on YouTube is a huge recommendation. AAL’s live show is absolutely awesome. The stage is predominately white-wash and two large screen behind both guitarists visually stun the crowd with images that closely resemble the visualizations on a media player. It makes for a hypnagogic scene. If you’re a musician, or looking to push the boundaries of your musical comfort zone, Animals As Leaders is a definite recommendation in my opinion. I’m just glad the band wasn’t paid by the note played or the world would be broke.
Describing themselves as ‘new wave polka grunge’ or ‘adult contemporary progressive death metal’ and confusing everyone’s iTunes library on how to properly spell their name, (is it And, &, or and?) Between the Buried and Me is a tremendously creative band and a life-changing show to witness. Instances before, driving as far as two states over to see the band, I’ve made my fair share of effort to absorb live what I have listened to for hundreds of hours on CD. I have never been disappointed. Their albums have been the soundtrack to my life for the last six years. Specific albums, songs, riffs, piano parts, choruses, bass lines and fills have all been tagged and associated with specific events of my life thus lived. With every album released they further pushed me to become a better musician and songwriter, lead by their examples.
Remembering back to the first time hearing Alaska, BTBAM absolutely blew my mind. As the years went by and I became a better musician learning how to listen to music and being able to understand more about it, I would go back and re-listen to each of these albums and find all new senses of appreciation and astonishment from them. As if there was a series of auditorial breadcrumbs that you may have looked over the first time, but find the second, fifth, hundredth time through. I once described their 2009 release The Great Misdirect to a friend as ‘the Sistine Chapel of music” and after hearing me say this, she listened and couldn’t agree more.
Back to the show. BTBAM begins their set with Mirrors, the opening track off of The Great Misdirect. Starting off with a light, floaty guitar part that the crowd can instantly recognise after the first two notes and starts to build its way into the next song in the set, Obfuscation. For roughly the next hour and twenty minutes, BTBAM played an extraordinary compilation of song ranging from all of their albums, dating as far back as their 2003 sophomore release The Silent Circus, all the way up to their most recent release The Parrallax: Hypersleep Dialogues. Mid-set after Specular Reflections, drummer Blake Richards breaks into a well composed drum solo, the crowd responding with an uproar of applause and cheers. Next is something that I wish I saw a lot more band do. Metallica did it on some tours, and so has Arch Enemy on their most recent North American Khoas tour; the medley. Taking parts from several songs and stitching them into one long jam. I love the idea of this, especially when a band, like the aforementioned, have a significant amount of material that the crowd is anxious to hear but set times and venue curfews prevent them from being played.
What to close a set with is a critical decision and I feel they picked the perfect way to end the night on the highest note possible. The ending consisted of the last two songs off of Colors. The instrumental Viridian, which is a beautiful bass solo from Dan Briggs built on top of the softest, most elegant guitar chording you’ll ever hear, which then leads into White Walls. White Walls is a opus of substantial size. Clocking in at 14:13, the song takes on several feels. Starting out pounding and heavy, almost tribal, then becoming spastic and almost obfuscated (to cite the band themselves) to a very wide, and ethereal clean part. Finally building back into a shred-happy jam. Rounding out the end of the song is the same piano piece that is the beginning track Foam Born (Part A) of Colors. It’s a great way to end the song with the beginning of the CD, almost in a way where the best movies ever made start with the end and tell the story leading up to those events.
The Saints and Sinners tour this year was an absolute success. Every band showcased a remarkable amount of talent and creativity to the point where I’m still trying to wrap my head around what I had witnessed that Friday night. I definitely plan on adding Tesseract and Animals As Leaders to my daily listening routine for a little while. (BTBAM already had permanent residency) and I recommend you do the same. Catch this tour in your city if it hasn’t already knocked you on your ass.
Information about the review…
Tour: Saints and Sinners Tour 2011 feat Between the Buried and Me
Reviewer: Shaun Andruchuk
Bands: Between the Buried and Me, Animals As Leaders, and Tesseract
Date: November 11, 2011
Venue: House of Blues in Chicago, IL
Joshua Weidling Owner/Founder
I'm the owner & founder of Digital Tour Bus. I started the company in my dorm room during my freshman year of college. I have a degree in Marketing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Outside of music and going to concerts, I'm a big fan of stand-up comedy, playing board games, trying the most amazing unhealthy food, and watching really mediocre comedy tv shows.