Katatonia @ Chicago 9/17/2010


Set 19 2010, 18h08

Fri 17 Sep – Katatonia, Orphaned Land, Swallow the Sun, Novembers Doom, Clad in Darkness

My birthday is coming up within a week of me writing this. Initially one of my friends was set to buy me a concert ticket to see the power metal band Kamelot. Their frontman Roy Khan was supposed to serenade me with "Happy Birthday" while I drunkenly scream praise ("YOU ARE A FUCKING GOD MAN, MAKE LOVE TO ME SO I CAN MAKE MY FRIENDS JEALOUS," etc), do horribly coordinated moshes and make a general ass of myself. However, turns out that Mr. Khan couldn't make the concert, and the plan thus could never come to fruition. Then it turned out that Katatonia was playing in Chicago soon as well. I hadn't heard Katatonia or any of the other bands playing this concert in a very long time, preferring instead to play my beloved Boards of Canada and other non-metal groups.

Still, free ticket, and I had no other plans. Why not?

So I headed back to Chicago from a downstate trip, freshened up and walked out the door with the friend buying me the ticket, rocking my Opeth shirt with the Blackwater Park artwork printed on. We took the train south to Reggie's Rock Club and headed straight in. Clad in Darkness was already playing when our hands got stamped with the image of a cock. Er, rooster.

We made our way through the crowd with ease. Most of the people there were spread out all over the floor, socializing, talking on phones, or grabbing beer (PBR for $1: good deal next to what some venues charge). There wasn't a huge amount of focus on the band playing onstage. Perhaps Clad in Darkness sensed this, because they seemed to be going through the motions the entire time I observed them. And though they sounded great back when I saw them open for Alcest in April, they seemed to be somewhat schizophrenic with their music this time around. Yes, going from a cookie monster mindset to almost post-rock has its place in music; however, switching between the two every 30 seconds was very off-putting to my wonderful ears. At least the vocalist still sounded good, even though he wasn't doing much other than waiting for his few and far between cues to sing. 2/5

After that I ran outside for a cigarette and reentered in time for Novembers Doom. I'd heard Novembers Doom way back when a friend linked me to a song of theirs, but had forgotten and effectively was ignorant of what they sounded like. Well, they played, and they sounded good. Not great----I kept thinking they were a doomier, poor man's incarnation of Nevermore----but good, and better than CiD was. They energized the crowd well and kept me engaged and remembering where I was. The frontman also asked the audience to buy their albums ("Seriously, we have family to feed," he said) and wished us well. 3/5

Swallow the Sun was up to bat next. Now these guys sounded pretty great for the most part. They didn't exactly energize me like ND did, but that's to be expected from a band on the slower side. The gaping holes in the crowd present in previous performances disappeared for this Finnish (Am I the only one shocked that Finnish metal bands exist that aren't power metal and don't sing about vodka?) band, and the crowd seemed happy...I have but one, huge problem with these guys. They did not move. Except for head banging, the musicians were statues with the same expressions engraved on mostly-grim faces. The keyboardist honestly scared me because he had the look of a student that's ready to shoot up a school. I don't want to fuck with him in a dark alley. 3.5/5

Then entered Middle East stalwarts Orphaned Land. They began by having their frontman stand in a black robe making a hand sign (peace? violence? sex? I HAVE NO CLUE) and looking very picturesque. Cameras flashed to capture the moment, then came the excellent progressive metal and odd chants. OL sounded very good the entire night. They brimmed with energy in stark contrast to the still crushing doom of the previous band, and the "whats-a-chorus-lol" problem that plagued their otherwise delicious songs on Mabool was entirely absent. There was a problem I had, again performance related. The singer/frontman kept trying to make the audience clap excitedly and jump up and down. I was hungry, tired and sleep deprived at that point, so I (and probably many other audience members) was thinking "Fuck that shit." He scented our indifferent and announced, "Hey guys, we ask you to do a lot of things. If you go along with it, it's a great show. If you don't, then it's a bad show. So let's try this again," and effectively guilted many of us into jumping up and down. Annoying, yes, but bearable considering how great they played. 4.5/5

And finally, Katatonia. And boy, didn't the crowd sense it. The few gaps remaining in the audience quickly got filled, and I magically found myself at least a row further back than I started. More body heat, more excitement, and everyone was pumped up. They kicked ass. They played a lot of fan favorites like Saw You Drown, Ghost of the Sun (FUCK YEAHHHHH), Omerta, Leaders, July, Evidence and Forsaker. Many a day was made with their excellent performance. Jonas performed well, despite rumors I've heard to the contrary. I left happy and exhausted, but mostly happy. 4.5/5

Some notes:

-Know how Orphaned Land is composed of Jews and Arabs working in harmony together? It's a shame not everyone in the audience didn't have that view. A Jewish man (why yes, he didn't have the "little hat" on) and an Arab man got into a fight in the middle of Katatonia's set. LOL IRONY

-Jonas had guest vocals on a StS song, but alas, he wasn't that great. He returned to impeccable form with Katatonia.

-Novembers Doom frontman: "It's good to be playing here in Chicago!" Audience member: "There's nothing like playing with yourself!"

-The audience overall was older than a typical metal show. It was still virtually a sausagefest.

-It is no longer cool to wear an Opeth shirt. I put my shirt on expecting to see one other Opeth guy at most. Instead, Opeth shirts were slightly more widespread than the tobacco and marijuana being smoked outside.

KatatoniaOrphaned LandSwallow the SunNovembers DoomClad in Darkness


  • BeneatheBrim

    Your wonderful ears...

    Set 19 2010, 18h37
  • Wyzt

    Error! PBRs are four dollars! I Wish they were one dollar :( They hand out a card for one 1 dollar PBR next door after the show, thats probably what you heard. I also think I saw someone in an Opeth shirt(talking about how people recognize the band on your shirt fairly often?). Yea, Opeth shirts are preeeeettty rare at most metal shows at reggies, youll see plenty of em at fests with metalcore bands, etc.

    Set 20 2010, 9h57
  • BlueGhost60

    Oho. I didn't actually buy any, I just saw the case as I was leaving and I saw a sign saying they were $1. I do remember talking to my friend about Opeth shirts, so that may very well have been me you heard. :O

    Set 20 2010, 23h20
  • bardism

    Jonas didn't do guest vocals when I saw them live!

    Out 8 2010, 16h29
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