Let me start off by saying farewell shows for metal bands are the best kind of metal shows. There is a formula to make kids go from moshing to crying and hugging each other; and it only takes a short musical interlude mounted with encouraging words and thank you’s.
Local outfit, Parallels started the show off with the heavy pounding of drums from not one, but two juxtaposed kits. Fanning delayed guitars and twinned lead lines crept along the boundaries of post-metal genres while still remaining true to the two-step/break down structures that spectators are accustomed to. With Second Chances’ Kyle Segars on guitar and former Currents member Cody Ray on bass, the next generation of Memphis all-ages heavy music has hope in Parallels.
Nashville rockers A Plea For Purging followed and brought the hype. Pumping up the crowd for the night that awaited them by encouraging stage-dives that continued until the final curtains dropped. An unexpected addition to their set, vocalist Andy Atkins took a time-out for a short Q&A session. The humor and charm sprinkled along through panting breaths for only four questions, ending with, “how can I be as heavy as you?” to which Atkins asked, in Socratic-fashion, “musically or by the pound?”
And then came The Chariot. I am more certain than death and taxes that no metal band will ever top the energy, the passion, or the antics of The Chariot. Guitars gripped, each member taking his turn, recklessly barreling off of the stage into a sea of sweat and outstretched arms.
Bassist Jonathan “Wolf” Kindler gets the beast-of-the-night award for complete disregard for his own well-being, while flailing his bass and body with an inconceivable style and grace, embodying the music with every move. At one point, the Wolf trudged through the crowd of black t-shirts to the very opposite end of the venue only to trade his bass for vocalist Josh Scoggin’s microphone. Scoggin, no stranger to entertaining a crowd, proceeds to thrash through bass notes until a screaming Kindler made his way back to the stage, queuing Scoggin to hurl the instrument overhead, 30-some-feet across the stage. Kindler catching the bass with one arm swings it back into position, next song.
A new bit added to The Chariot routine, stagehands hoist 5x5’ plywood signs reading “Hands Up;” the audience responds accordingly. Then the roadies lay the signs down on top of the outstretched hands to form two free-floating platforms. The two then launch themselves onto the crowd-supported planks, stand, and catch drums tossed to them from the stage and play along with the band allowing those in range to reach up, beating the drums as well, until a collapse is inevitable.
A special treat for Memphis, Atlanta transplant, Listener joined The Chariot for the third ever live performance of their combined version of David De La Hoz. Giddy as a hipster at a mustache convention Listener’s Dan Smith seemed right at home leaping into the crowd twice before reciting his beat poet verse at an abnormal pace to stay on track with excited instruments.
The set closed with Smith at surrogate bass while Kindler swayed on his knees, slapping his legs with the rhythms of drummer David Kennedy. A sampled choir track looped while Kennedy continued to play, Scoggin tearing down his drum-kit piece by piece until there was nothing but a microphone-less thank you and salute to fans.
Former Once Nothing drummer, Giuseppe Capolupo, joined Haste the Day for their final show in the Bluff City. Dropping crowd favorite Blue 42 early in the set, I admit I couldn’t resist throwing a few nostalgic floor punches and donkey kicks. A blast from the past as fans bounced back and forth singing along with American Love. To preface the song, vocalist Stephen Kreech said that is what the service of Haste the Day has always been about, spreading love to a community of peers and praying that same practice will continue even after “Everything Falls Away.”