There was an undeniable sense of something as soon as you walked into Amsterdam Bar & Hall last night. I’m not quite sure what words to use in order to describe that something but there was definitely something there. It was a sense of family, love, and admiration that hit you right when you stepped foot inside and left the bitter cold that is Minnesota behind you. Warm, cozy, and comfortable, the second I arrived I felt like I had never really left my apartment. I truly can not put it into words (as you can tell from my rambling) but I can tell you that if you were at Amsterdam last night you were part of a family and everyone was damn glad to have you there.
Due to an early start time and the need to just take a little time after work to decompress (okay, and maybe pregame a bit), I unfortunately missed the first couple of bands. It’s never something I like to do but after a hellish week at work and some of the most stressful driving due to roads being pure ice, I just needed some time at home to relax before going back out in the mess. My apologies to all of the bands that I missed but, for the love of God, please stop starting shows at 5:30PM. Some of us have day jobs and have used up all of our PTO and can’t afford to drink at the bars so we have to take some time to get a little tipsy before heading out. Again, my sincerest apologies to Inflict., Descent of Man, and Coffinrot. Seriously, I can not apologize enough.
Descent Of Man
My friend and I arrived just in time to catch the tail end of Graveslave’s set and I instantly knew that I was in for a treat. Graveslave’s music was pumping through the speakers as I did my rounds saying hi to as many people as I could. Although I knew all of the bands that were playing last night and have seen them all multiple times, it was hard to remember that this was just a local show. The crowd was rowdy as Graveslave finished up their heavy hitting sound. Although to many people it may have sounded like just noise, their sound came through the speakers clear and concise the way a touring band would sound. A bit heavier than what was to come from the rest of the night, walking into these guys was definitely a great way to start my night.
Following Graveslave was a personal favorite of mine- Agony Reigns. Definitely one of the youngest bands in the local scene, these guys are also one of the best. I’ve seen them a couple of times now and they have yet to let me down. Last night was no different. Celebrating the release of their debut EP “Death From Within”, these kids (yes, kids) took the stage like any seasoned veterans would and absolutely wowed their crowd with their original thrash sound. Even though I just saw them a couple months ago, there was an obvious change in this band and I mean that in the best way possible. Young and able to adapt and not be put into a box, some of their new songs had an almost more Black Sabbath and early metal sound than the trash songs I had gotten used to for them. I loved it, the audience loved it, everyone loved it. There’s no denying that these kids have power and a sense of originality that many older bands lack and, as I always say when I write about them, I truly can not wait to see what the future holds for them. Seriously.
Mirror Of Being took over the stage and kept the energy high. Like every other band performing last night, I always look forward to catching these guys live. Always full of energy and always producing some of the cleanest sounds I’ve heard in awhile, MOB kept the audience moving with their heavy music and pure musicianship that, if you watch and listen closely enough, will have your jaw on the floor. MOB’s live show was one of those sets yesterday that stood out for seeming like so much more than just a local band full of people you drink with at the bar. A sense of professionalism without coming off as cocky or suffering from big ego syndromes that seem to get the best of super good local acts, I couldn’t help but just stand back and think, “Hot damn, I have some uber talented friends and am part of one of the best metal scenes in America.”
Just a couple of weeks ago I found myself at the Druid CD release party and found myself completely speechless. They took the stage right after MOB and I instantly found the loss for words again. Like MOB, Druid has a sound and a stage show that just doesn’t seem possible for a local band. I’ve written about it before but it never seizes to amaze me- the way vocalist Noah Lecuyer seems to attack the words with such a sense of fury and aggression is truly impressive. I mean, let’s be honest, the way all of the members of Druid seem to attack each note with this sense of professionalism and precision is down right impressive. Definitely one of the gems in our current local scene, this is another band that has a very bright future and I can’t wait to watch it all happen for them.
The audience erupted into a roar as applause as the final band of the night took the stage. I’ve been friends with the boys in Buried Above Ground for years. I’ve seen them in their other musical projects before this one, drank with them, and fought with them like a sibling would for years. Seeing them is always a treat but there was a bit of a somber note to their set last night that could not be ignored. Last night was vocalist Eric McMahon’s final show with this band. Honestly, I’m heartbroken over the decision but as a band that is truly making waves beyond the local scene and quickly becoming a nationally recognized act, touch decisions and changes need to be made. I understand that and was just happy to see their set go off flawlessly and see that, although decisions were made, they are still all brothers and will never not being part of this same thing we call the Minnesota metal family.
As mentioned, their set was flawless and honestly Eric’s vocals have never sounded better. Their haunting yet aggressive music flowed through the speakers as easily as the drinks were flowing through the taps at the bar. Sam’s Goldberger’s stellar light show had me wanting to reach for my sunglasses but also added a very “too big to be local” vibe to their set. To an outsider, it may not have looked or felt like much of a party atmosphere but, to us in the scene, that’s exactly what it was. It was a party celebrating the fact that our boys in Buried Above Ground are about to embark on a lengthy tour with the almighty Whitechapel (seriously, how cool is that?!) and a celebration for Eric and all that he has brought to the band and to this scene in general. He’s not going anywhere, we all know that. We all know that we will see that big beard here and there at shows and what not but it will definitely be a bit different now. It was hard to not dwell on that during their powerful set last night. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every damn second of it but it was a heartbreaking kind of enjoyment. I don’t know who they will find to replace Eric but I know whoever it is has huge shoes to fill.
I’ve already written more words that I like to for a blog post but last night was just one of those shows that filled me with so many different emotions it’s hard to articulate it all. The bottom line is– I have the best fucking family on the planet. It is full of some the most amazing musicians I’ve ever seen, the nicest people I’ve ever met, and a feeling of love and appreciation that I never thought I would feel.