Monday, April 07, 2008

Testament at B.B. King's

It's incredible how a good band can get past the limitations of a terrible venue and play a great show. It's also incredible how much I've come to dislike seeing shows at B.B. King's, and yet I still continue to subject myself to the occasional appearance because I'm willing to sacrifice things like sonic quality to see a band. It's a common enough problem for any concert goer I'm sure, and I should probably consider myself fortunate that the three shows I've seen there - Emperor in 2006, Symphony X in 2007, and now Testament in 2008 - were all excellent despite the venue. I'll go into that more in a minute, but first: Testament and their awesomeness.

Not ten months after I said Testament refuses to tour anywhere near New York City they very kindly made me a liar, and came to headline B.B. King's at the head of another group of local acts I had no desire to see. Once again, my reactions bordered on hero worship: Chuck Billy is larger than life and should take up air guitar competitions as a side gig, Alex Skolnick is a shredding demon who's still the man even though he bounces around on stage like a teenybopper, and the set list (see below) was quality. Seth had teased me with reports of inclusions of "Demonic Refusal" in earlier gigs, but it seems like either New York wasn't Satanic enough to warrant the inclusion, or Testament still hasn't quite come to terms with their past.

To be honest, I'd love to know why they don't play more from that album: is it musically too far outside of where they want to be? Too demanding on the voice? They gave us "Low" instead, which kinda jives with the heavy groove thing they're putting into the new record, but it's not like Demonic was bad album - give us more of it! Maybe they'll bring back some more when they open for Priest/Heaven and Hell this summer. I think three appearances in the same area in less than a year warrants some set list experimentations.

Anyway, B.B. King's: I don't like the place because unless you're right up front, taking the risk of having someone's boot planted in your face as they go crowd surfing by, it's difficult to see, as your view will doubtless be blocked by one of the room's odd architectural features (like the thick columns spaced a third of the way out from either side of the room's walls), and if you're shorter than six feet, you'll be looking at the stage through gaps in shoulders. Then there's the sound problem: sound must get trapped in weird corners of the room and die, because it's not making it to the back. I took my earplugs out during the second song to see if that gave me more of an impact, but that only lead to my discovering what everyone else in the club was enjoying: highs so shrill they'll cut your head off. Good stuff. Like I said above: I've yet to see a bad show at B.B. King's, but I get the feeling I'm never going to enjoy it there.

Set List
  1. Over The Wall
  2. Into The Pit
  3. Apocalyptic City
  4. Practice What You Preach
  5. The New Order
  6. Electric Crown
  7. More Than Meets The Eye
  8. Low
  9. A Trail Of Tears
  10. Henchmen Ride
  11. Souls Of Black
  12. Evil Has Landed
  13. The Preacher
  1. DNR
  2. 3 Days In Darkness
  3. Alone In The Dark
  4. Disciples Of The Watch

No comments: