I Lack A Sense Of Purpose: In Flames at the House of Blues, 10/3/2009

I pledged to myself several months ago that I wouldn’t put this off any longer, mainly cos life is uncertain and if I have to wait ’til next October… well frankly I don’t know if I’ll die or not. So before some punk decides to run up and smoke me with a Mac 10 as I walk home, I’ll write this account of what can be called my first showgoing experience, excluding Madonna, because what can I really say about that? It’s Madonna, nothing mindblowing happened, and someone probably did coke backstage, but that’s all speculation. Since In Flames is playing the House Of Blues again soon, it seems appropriate to dredge up this tale of naïvetè, with no holds barred.

Since this was my first ever Metal show, I could say with certainty that I was almost breathless at seeing so many people with the same musical taste as me gathered in one place at the same time. So many heathens bearing the logos of their favourite bands, most Satanic, cryptic to anyone not in the crowd, or just blatantly offensive. I wore my Behemoth shirt, because it was probably my most extreme at the time, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t wear it with some amount of pride, despite getting it at Hot Topic. Looking across the street and making fun of the “normies” going to see the Red Sox game is always a great pastime for those waiting to get beer spilled on them and violently collide with sweaty men for a few hours. It’s a fair cop, I suppose, spending some hard-earned cash from an extra-cirricular program to buy pain, tinnitus, and morning-after soreness in the neck, back, and legs enough to make waking up a Herculean task.

After marvelling at all of the other black-shirted monstrosities surrounding me, I inched my way toward the door, practically shaking with excitement. At the time, I hadn’t heard much by The Faceless, but I was stoked for 3 Inches Of Blood, In Flames, and most of all, Between The Buried And Me. Hell, I watched their Silent Circus bonus DVD with live footage twice just to get in the right mood. Of course, not being battle-ready and pit hardened, I was nowhere near as adept at any of the manœuvers I had witnessed in some live footage I had seen, but more on that later. It’s hilarious.

When I finally entered the venue after being felt up by the ever-so-friendly security, I was just barely able to contain myself. I immediately half-ran, half-walked up to the massive stage, taking in the sheer immensity. Here I was, after listening to this music for years, finally getting a chance to see how it’s done in real life. I made a five-minute friend, which is exactly how it sounds: You meet someone, you complement one another’s shirts, tell them who you’re there for, talk about the bands on your shirts, and drift off into something else until the band begins sound-check and it becomes too loud to hear normal speech.

It was this very occurrence that cut my engrossing Buckethead conversation with Andrew short, since The Faceless were revving up and about to blow a Tech-Death load all over our faces. Note that in lieu of the professionally taken pictures that I normally post, they shall all be photos I took with my then incredibly inept cellphone, complete with the streak effect that comes with poor motion capture.

 

At that time, Planetary Duality had just recently been released, so naturally they based their setlist mainly in that album. Having only listened to “Leica” and “An Autopsy”, and not even being particularly learned in those, I wasn’t quite prepared for all of the action. Sensing air turbulence behind me I wheeled around to witness people throwing down madly to the breakdown sections. I was simultaneously enthralled and frightened, having never seen it in person. A veritable sea of flailing fists and legs I decided wisely to not entangle myself in. I was immediately sold, especially after hearing the tastefully melodic “Sons Of Belial” (the clean vocals were a big plus), the evil Carnival tinged “Legions Of The Serpent”, and of course, the energy displayed by both the band and the crowd. I stole Planetary Duality a few days later, and became a fan. I showed my appreciation by immediately going to the merch table… and buying an In Flames tour shirt.

Up next were Speed Metal freax 3 Inches Of Blood, bringing to the table lots of loud noises and songs about battle with various mythical creatures and non-Metalheads.

 

I went in without a terribly great knowledge of 3 Inches Of Blood’s discography, and if asked today how many songs by them I even moderately know, that number would be only several higher. However, one doesn’t need to know the songs when going to see 3 Inches, but just be prepared to run in circles for the duration of the set. It was at this point I can say that I had my first collaboratively Metal experience in the real world, being a part of the Goatrider’s Horde, brandishing tooth and fist against the indomitable forces of mainstream pop culture. It was a glorious dithyramb of Heavy Metal debauchery, marred only by my losing the In Flames shirt in a circle pit. Luckily I have that same shirt, though a few sizes smaller than I originally bought, through an act of charity by Christian, my best friend at the time who was with me, which I thank him endlessly for.

With spirit undampened due to Between The Buried And Me setting up, I took my place in the crowd, virtually shaking with the anticipation of being able to witness my favourite band.

 

Upon hearing the opening notes of “All Bodies”, I instantly ran into the pit, colliding with any knave foolish enough to be in my way. I was embarrassingly green when it came to moshing of any kind, so I aped the techniques of those around me, including an uncannily Godawful floorpunch. Realizing the silliness of it all, I went back to shoving people. The great thing about Between The Buried And Me is that there’s no shortage of people to sing along to the clean sections with. “People of the stars” we are indeed.

Selkies: The Endless Obsession made an appearance, and I damn near cried. My favourite band playing my favourite song? Pinch me, Mister Ho, I think I huffed too much propane. The only real downer was that people continued moshing to the outro solo. Thus, I learned that some BtBaM fans are not exempt from being as stupid as everyone else. Their then new song Obfuscation was played, which made me a little sad at the time, but since it was a good enough song, I went along with it and watched the band in their fine-tuned ministrations. Tommy leapt around the stage, never once losing energy or spirit, and the crowd reacted in kind. Paul and Dustie’s dual guitars wrapped around one another with the majesty of the Caduceus, and Blake’s drumming resounded in my chest as it never could on record. It was a sensory heaven, aside from the smell of spilled beer and fat man sweat.

The Foam Born series was where my burgeoning mosh-warrior re-awakened and slew some more posers. White Walls made me tingle from start to finish, especially when the entire crowd chanted “Get. Out. Of. This. Closed. Off. Cir. Cle.” In unison. It was at this moment I realized the power that comes from seeing such a great band live. Sure, you can imagine it, but nothing beats being there. By some amount of luck I managed to not be knocked out during the ending breakdown, since it was a veritable tempest of frenetic rushing in and out of the areas quickly becoming safe and unsafe. There was nowhere to hide, and it was great.

It seemed almost impossible that In Flames could live up to my favourite band, even though they were my second favourite. Now they are my third, following Dir En Grey after a rather shameful bout of conduct, what with releasing Sounds Of A Playgound Fading… Whatever, the fact of the matter is, they played, and it was fun.

 

After a set-up time that even I could tell was somewhat abnormal, they launched into “Cloud Connected:, which caused the entire venue to jumpdafuckup. Quite a good time, at least in my mentality at the time. I shouted along every word, since it was quite simple and I listened to it frequently for a quick fix of headbanging action. Looking back, I realize now that a lot of the moshing during the set was completely incongruous to what was being played. Sure, faster songs like “Drifter” and “Pinball Map” can get a circlepit treatment, but the choruses of “Come Clarity” and “Alias”? Makes me want to place my head upon the nearest brick wall for not knowing that was a silly thing to do. The oldest song they played was “The Hive”, which I am certain some sucka MCs thought was a cover of “Right Side Of The Bed” by glamcore stalwarts Atreyu. My generation fails me.

I may not have the same amount of respect for In Flames’ more recent output now, but I’ll be damned if Anders isn’t an entertaining frontman. He cracked jokes, complemented shirts, and was all around a showman at heart. Guitarist Niklas Engelin, presumably taking a break from Engel, was filling in for Björn and sporting a cheesy Red Sox shirt, which begs the question as to whether he wore the shirt of a local sports team at every stop. Björn at that time in the process of being kicked out of the band for being a drunk fuck. We’ll miss ye, as you were the only thing keeping the band from making Sounds Of A Playground Fading. But it is too late. Oh, it is far too late…

By the time the set was nearly over I was almost dead tired from running in circles, pleading to the gods they wouldn’t play “Take This Life”, because by that time I had figured that a huge circlepit would break out and joining would be mandatory. Take a guess as to what happened? Oh yes, I was quite thirsty afterward, that’s for sure.

This concludes this stroll through memory lane, I hope you hated it. I still look fondly upon this event in my mind and almost shed a tear. No, not because it’s a sentimental thing, but because I was such a damn dork. Imagine me floorpunching in a Behemoth shirt with some shitty worn-out Adidas. Time to go drink to my newfound awesomeness.

In all seriousness (kind of), this show may not have been logistically the best I’ve ever attended, but the fact that it served as my gateway into all the countless others I would go on to see at the Palladium, assorted Allston basements, and even as far as Maryland Deathfest, it’ll remain on top for some time to come. Until next time, where I’ll review something that happened relatively recently.

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