Cavalera Conspiracy

support The Dillinger Escape Plan + Throwdown + Bury Your Dead + Incite
author AP date 31/07/08 venue The Fillmore, San Francisco, USA

We scribes rarely go to other countries to see shows and write about them. When we do, it's usually at some foreign festival, the line-up of which renders it worth it to drive that far. Or it's a TL moment, when he's caught in one of his spontaneity attacks and wants to drive six hours to a show for the sake of being able to boast with having done it. In any case, we've never gone this far for a single show. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Cavalera Conspiracy's headlining tour with special guests The Dillinger Escape Plan at San Francisco's premier venue: The Fillmore.

The Fillmore has a long and colorful history of hosting, without exaggeration, all the biggest names in music, today's and yesterday's pop icons and metal antidotes. But at the same time, it's renowned for entertaining the bands of tomorrow, too. Bands that, as the venue's past has shown, keep returning even when their audiences would usually number in the tens of thousands. It's a stylish, tastefully decorated locale that's as suitable for a soul diva as it is for a thrash metal band. Though considerably bigger, the venue bears a close resemblance to London's Astoria 2 (formerly The Mean Fiddler).

On the bottom floor is a large main area with a parquet centre similar to the elevated mosh area of the Fiddler, lined on the left by a long bar and on the right by theatric, red curtains. Upstairs is a spacious bar area at the back as well as a spacious balcony with its own bar overlooking the stage from the left. In both areas are chairs and tables and, get this, in-table waiting service and dinner menus! Waiters also patrol the downstairs area before, in between and during the shows, taking drinks orders and delivering these to wherever you happen to be; even to the moshpit. The walls of the venue are lined by past advertisement posters for bands and tours featured there and from the ceiling hang a number of elegant crystal chandeliers.

A U.S. concert crowd seems to be what it is in other countries: defiant of any rules imposed on them by the venue. That would explain the constant stench of marihuana in a non-smoking, public space. The key difference, however, is that there seems to be a mutual understanding that that parquet area is exclusively reserved for violent moshing and hardcore dancing and so it remains open throughout the evening, with most people gathering in front of it, behind it and on the sides. Much to our amusement, any hardcore dancing attempt is quickly thwarted by more conservative moshers in a simple act of fist-in-the-stomach for acting like a fool.


Once PP and I have adjusted ourselves to the premises, the evening's first band Incite, fronted by Max Cavalera's stepson Richie, is getting ready to warm up the crowd. Or the small amount of people that have actually bothered to, and been courteous enough to arrive in time to catch Cavalera Conspiracy's support bands, too. What follows is a pretty straightforward, un-amazing twenty minutes of standard, anonymous hardcore. There really isn't that much to describe: there is little, if any texture to the setlist and while the band has energy, it never manages to reach the crowd. Whether that's due to the small number of people present, that very few know Incite, the generic nature of the music, the all too often applied foot-on-amp stance by fifty percent of the band at any given time, or simply a collection of all those, I don't know, but I find myself completely and utterly unimpressed. For some credit though, the last song, whatever its name, has a catchy groove to it that almost has me headbanging. More songs like this would have given the show the boost it needed.


Bury Your Dead

Some may have noticed the not so recent release of Bury Your Dead's new self-titled album and even read my delayed review of it. As mentioned in the review, the band has taken some steps to expand their sound into a more diverse package, with the stagnant breakdowns replaced by welcome melodies here and there. Having said that, why the band has chosen not to include any of these tracks in tonight's setlist is confusing to say the least. What this means is thirty minutes of non-stop breakdown and Myke Terry's trademark vocal brutality, during which every song brings with it an unanswered prayer for one of those new songs next. Needless to say, crowd participation remains minimal, despite the band's energy on stage. They're having fun, sure, but save for the few wifebeater-clad gentlemen in the pit who'd mosh to just about anything resembling music, the rest of us aren't. Fortunately there's still some redeeming elements to the show: this bunch clearly has more experience than Incite, which shines, literally and blindingly, through a professional stage setup that could fool you into believing they're headlining tonight, as well as a thoroughly tested, crisp sound. Just as Incite, the set finishes with a somewhat more intriguing piece, the lyrics of which provide some free promotion for the band and to remind us that, just in case somebody had forgotten it, they're "Bury your fucking dead!"



Next to Incite, Throwdown is the only other band on the bill that I've never heard anything about or by. Later I've learned that they're moderately influential in moshcore circles (if such a thing exists), and this is also the perception I gain from their show. A frenzied crowd welcomes the band on stage to share with it thirty-five minutes of blunt force trauma. I'm talking plenty of low-tuned guitar work, a prevailent rhythm and bass section and vocals that aren't so much screams as they are shouts. A band worth mentioning in this context, and a band Throwdown seems to shamelessly emulate with variable success: Hatebreed. Again, I find myself frustrated at the conscious lack of variety characteristic of these types of bands. Meanwhile the ball-capped hardcore kid minority, dressed in base- and basketball apparel and baggy shorts (forgive the stereotype as I'm not exaggerating), has emerged from the masses and is staging a dangerous-looking karate pit in Throwdown's honor. But as mentioned in the introduction, their idiocy is quickly pacified by other, more traditional moshers, who simply punch them or push them to the ground for the slightest kung fu move. At some point during the set, the tour management's last minute decision to ban all photography without a permit is enforced on us, which would explain the subsequent lack of photos of the night's main acts. Just as I have digressed here, so does my mind during Throwdown's exhausting, mind-numbing insistance to play one in-your-face song after the other just because it sounds brutal and brutal is manly. Again, while there is nothing bad about their show per se, it fails to be very captivating.


The Dillinger Escape Plan

When other bands asked the crowd to give a hand to The Dillinger Escape Plan before, the response was frighteningly miniscule. In fact, one look around the now nearly packed venue suggests a more seasoned, old school turn-out, few of whom have probably even heard of the band. And when the Dillinger dudes explode into the ever-so-violent opener "Panasonic Youth", even fewer seem to be getting the gist of the band's extreme live character. As a result, the band seems more tame than usual. Don't get me wrong, the insane jumps, climbing and guitar swinging are still there, it's just not the entropy it's been the past two times I've seen them. Greg points out that he's happy to be playing to an older crowd for once, even treating it to Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher", but ironically the band's performance seems to suggest otherwise: that it's from an equally frenzied crowd response that the band gets the real kicks.

Being billed as a supporting act doesn't work to Dillinger's advantage either. A forty-minute slot has forced the band to adjust its setlist, with songs like "Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants", "Black Bubblegum", "Sugar Coated Sour" and "When Good Dogs Do Bad Things" all left out. What this basically amounts to is a set of sheer chaos with no breathing breaks in between, stealing something from the band's otherwise hugely varied character. But watching these guys live for the third time, I can't find much else to complain about. It's still miles beyond what most bands can put on live, and an unexpected bonus comes with the rarely played "82588".

"Sunshine The Werewolf" is expectedly the closer, and as usual stirs up utter confusion and chaos. As the song nears its end, the only band member still on stage is Gil Sharone with a drum kit from which one cymbal has been stolen and smashed onto the stage by Greg; Ben Weinman slamming a microphone stand into it has broken the rest. Now Greg is submerged somewhere in the front of the crowd, Ben's standing on the left speaker stack and Jeff has somehow appeared in the moshpit behind me. Where Liam is, is a complete mystery to me. Not on par with the band's past performances, but still a solid


The Dillinger Escape Plan Setlist:

01. Panasonic Youth

02. 43% Burnt

03. Fix Your Face

04. Lurch

05. Hot For Teacher (Van Halen cover)

06. When Acting As A Particle

07. Nong Eye Gong

08. Milk Lizard

09. 82588

10. Sunshine The Werewolf

Cavalera Conspiracy

Many critics and fans alike have chosen to see Cavalera Conspiracy rather as a long-awaited reunion of the Sepultura we once knew than a new collusive effort by the Cavalera brothers to write songs with their own, distinct character. This is understandable though, considering that the group's debut album sounds unmistakably similar to Sepultura's earlier material. And why shouldn't it? After all, that stuff is considered one of the milestones for modern metal. Thus it is with no regrets that I, too, join the ranks of those hailing the return of Sepultura (the band still exists, I know, but it's just not the same without the Cavaleras).

It's not a coincidence that Cavalera Conspiracy's recent tours have sported best of setlists that pack as much old school Sepultura in as Cavalera Conspiracy's own songs. That's what seems to make the difference live, because it's hard to pinpoint better moments in shows I've seen over the years than those that arise from classics like "Beneath The Remains", "Dead Embryonic Cells", "Refuse/Resist", "Troops of Doom" and "Roots Bloody Roots" among other Sepultura relics. That is not to say that Cavalera Conspiracy's own songs are weaker though, just less tested by time. But it'd be naivë to claim that someone came to hear those songs. This is what fans of Sepultura have been waiting for, for too long, so let them have their treats.

Just as at Metal Town in June, Cavalera Conspiracy's testosterone-packed set speaks attitude (and quite accordingly that song is included) and involves no bullshit. Just one and a half hours of straight old school thrash dished out with the meanest face expressions and plenty of fucks and shits, though Max finds it difficult not to crack for smile at the raving crowd. And to highlight the fact that this truly is a reunion, a coming together of the Cavaleras, Igor's son Igor Jr. mans the drumkit for "Troops of Doom", performing a note perfect version of it, while Richie joins Max on vocals for "Dark Ark" - the monstrosity of this duo is hard to even put in words. Hands up for the Cavalera legacy!


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