GIG REVIEW: Napalm Death, TBDM, Misery Index & Abnormality Live at Bottom Lounge, Chicago
When I was first assigned this gig about a month ago all I kept thinking how great this lineup was going to be! Finally, the waiting came to an end. After years of not going there, my first time being back at Bottom Lounge had me feeling very excited! I arrived on a cold dark night because, I mean, winter is around the corner! Tour buses were parked outside the venue and it had a pretty decent crowd going. Half of those people had just gotten off of work like myself. Aside from having minor issues with getting in, I finally made it into the show.
First to hit the stage was Abnormality, and it was my first time seeing this brutal band live. I am not a big fan of a lot of front female vocalist, but Mallika really blew my mind away. When she talks her voice is so soft and gentle, but once she hits the stage her epic growls and head banging really surprises you! The band open up with “Hatred Relentless” such a killer song! This song really got the crowd going! Abnormality was a fun band to watch and hear! Everyone in the band had great energy, so much groove and great vibes. It was all just in general a deadly wall of sound and it was great!
The crowd started getting even bigger by the time Misery Index went on stage, ripping through with Adam Jarvis heavy drum hits, followed by Mark Kloeppel’s vocals and guitar tone. The crowd started head banging hard to the song “The Carrion Call”, a pit opens up, and by that time if we definitely were all feeling pretty warm despite the cold outside! Not to mention Bottom Lounge becomes a big sauna when it gets packed! Adam is a great drummer with so much groove, he makes playing drums look so easy, but it is so far from that! By the time the band ended I was so ready for the following band who I had been so anxious to see for a long time since I was young.
I was really surprised to see how packed it got for being a weekday. I will always remember the first time I heard of The Black Dahlia Murder back in 2003 as if it was yesterday! Now people really, truly love them. They have put out album after great album, with each one continuously displaying the band’s growth as musicians and songwriters. So finally being able to see them for the first time took me back to sitting with my friends and watching their documentaries and laughing talking about it. As soon as they open up with “What a Horrible Night To Have a Curse”, and the first notes rang from the PA, absolutely everyone lost it. A brutal pit opened up and everyone started running around head banging and singing along with Trevor! What a way to open up the show with a song from Nocturnal album, it was nothing short of electric! Their set contained material spanning their entire discography and they kept the crowd increasingly on edge with every song. They played with the same stunning presence of their albums and did not disappoint. Trevor’s stage presence was amazing; the connection he had with the crowd was absolutely incredible. He kept using his hands a lot as if he was directing an orchestra, and the band sounded so amazing live. In the middle of song “Everything Went Black” he had everyone fist pumping yelling out “hey” in rhythmic unison! People throwing horns up, people yelling out “Black Dahlia,” it was a good kind of chaos. By the end of their set people still wanted more!! I don’t think there is a single album The Black Dahlia Murder has released that could ever be described as bad. Trevor and the guys were simply incredible and sounded great live with everything they played!
British band Napalm Death have been around since the late 80’s, and a few of my friends were extremely jealous that I would be seeing them. I don’t know how to explain this but for some reason there was a huge circle in the middle and people were scattered, almost as if they were getting prepared for something. 16 albums and 30 years later they continue to evolve. First person to hit the stage was Shane Embury. He had such a mean and heavy tone coming out of the PA along with Danny Herrera who played a few notes on the drums. I knew it was going to be a sick heavy set! After John Cooke comes in and he is getting ready. Lights dimmed down as the band played “Apex Predator-Easy Meat” Barney Greenway came up and started singing. The whole place kind of became madness, but the good kind of madness. People started running around that middle circle that I previously mentioned!
There was so much tension in the air. The sounds were so deep and loud it kind of makes you dizzy, as if your head was going to explode. Napalm had such an intensity when playing, and Just when you think they are done and can breathe they start again. Not so far into the set a fight broke out of 6 guys. I was minding my own business enjoying the set and next thing I know I was punched right in the jaw almost knocking me out but I was able to maintain my balance even though I kind of fell back, my phone was pretty much crushed and shattered, and my friend had to break up the fight! I made it out alive, but I felt extremely dizzy and couldn’t pay great attention. I tried to keep my cool from worrying my friend! BUT It was sick haha! Napalm is not just all about speed and down tuning! It is technical. Seriously, age didn’t take anything away from this band. The energy was incredible! The band went back and forth from new to old. Barney interacted a lot with the crowd, talking about the songs and making a few jokes. He also gave a few wise words of advice. It was all in general a brutal set that consisted of 26 songs; they combined brutal music with political engagement and ethical values beyond the usual cliché of sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll. They ended the night with a cover of Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”. The crowd went nuts and once again a huge pit open up! They did not care if you weren’t part of the circle the came crushing at people! By the time they ended the show with “Adversarial/Copulating Snakes”. They proclaimed a message that is as relevant now as when their career started in the 80’s.
I must say their old school sound and presence is a refreshing site to see in a modern world of mediocrity in metal. Despite being viewed as grindcore “godfathers”, their charismatic and crushing stage performance gives every contemporary metal act a run for their money. The show came to an end and I was very pleased! I really look forward to seeing The Black Dahlia Murder and Napalm Death live again! It was all in general a very great heavy show! What a way to end the year!