Last Tuesday night, The Age of Metal staff road tripped down to Tucson for a tour that I’ve been anticipating since its’ announcement. Headlined by Between the Buried and Me, the Saints & Sinners Tour 2011 featured support from Animals as Leaders and TesseracT. It was my first time seeing all of these acts live. It was also my first time seeing a show at Rialto Theater in downtown Tucson. Rialto, from the outside, looks like an old time movie theater complete with a blazing neon marquee sign. I was pretty impressed with how the show sounded, as the Phoenix area has only a handful of venues and some of them are notorious for their horrible acoustics. That night’s show left me wishing that this wonderful venue would transplant itself to Phoenix.
First up for the night was TesseracT. The British djent act underwent a change in vocalists over the summer, with Elliot Coleman replacing former vocalist Dan Tompkins. There was some pre-show chatter about how he’d perform live, and the crowd focused in on Coleman for most of the performance. He had a fantastic stage presence and his vocals were top notch, but seemed to still be getting used to playing with TesseracT. I’d be interested to see them on their next tour, to see if they really hit their performance stride in full. Before the show started, we had the chance to interview the band. You can find that interview here.
Next up were Washington, D.C. prog metallers Animals as Leaders. I’m not sure if there’s another band I’ve been hearing more buzz about this year. The three-piece instrumental act put out their second full-length, titled Weightless, on Prosthetic Records a few weeks ago. I was interested to see how their stage presence would be live – and boy, was I impressed. The stage held two projector screens on which trippy visuals pulsated with the music. Aside from the projections, these guys don’t have much by the way of stage presence, and they’re probably the only band I’ve seen in recent years that doesn’t need it. Their musical abilities are so astounding to see live that they don’t need too much else to hold the crowd’s attention and put on a captivating performance. A few pits opened up during their set, but for the most part the crowd seemed to understand that these are the type of musicians that deserve to be watched closely and carefully, or risk missing an instant of their musical prowess.
When the first note of BTBAM’s set ripped from the speakers, the crowd was beginning to get really worked up. The band released The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues EP back in April, with this being their second tour behind the album. Their sound is a unique blend of progressive metal & metalcore with elements drawn from dozens of other genres mixed together to create one of the most distinctive sounds I’ve heard in recent years. Vocalist Tommy Rogers has incredible range and stage presence, and was very entertaining to watch live. He masterfully switched back and forth between clean singing and deep growling in addition to manning the keyboards. Guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring propelled the show forward with their fantastic performances, which were both technically proficient and energetic to watch. During the epic ‘Specular Reflections’, the band stepped aside and let Blake Richardson show the crowd his drumming chops with a solo. One of the highlights of the night was the mix of six or seven older songs that BTBAM melded together. It allowed them to fit in those older songs that fans always want to hear but sometimes get forgotten after a new album or two. A medley like that could be hard to pull off well without ruining all the individual parts or loosing the audience, but BTBAM played it perfectly. They chose to close out the night with an encore playing of ‘Mordecai’. Their performance was very powerful and left us talking about it the whole trip back to Phoenix. While we were in Tucson, we also had the chance to interview bassist Dan Briggs… check it out here.
Check out all our photos from the night in our gallery.