Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Concert Review: Exodus @ The Pearl Room, Mokena 2-16-08

by Wayne Graham

"God, I'm so glad that THIS is who we're on our way to see!" - Me

With bellies stuffed full of delicious pre-show Kuma's Corner burgers, Myche, Mark and myself were cranking the excellent new Exodus album, The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A and on our way to The Pearl Room in Mokena, IL for the Exodus/Goatwhore/Warbringer show (additional openers Arsis were not able to make it to the gig). As even the most casual of observers will notice, thrash, particularly straight-up mid-80's Bay Area-style thrash, is back in a huge way lately, and what better way to celebrate the days of hi-top Converse sneakers and sleeveless denim vests than with an evening moshing it up with one of the greatest bands the genre has to offer.....

This was my maiden voyage to the famous Pearl Room, and I was not disappointed. You can get there from Chicago in less than an hour, and the room is PERFECT for metal. Intimate without creating clausterphobia (a nice balance), I vowed to come back the second I stepped foot inside.

Ventura, California thrash prodigies Warbringer were already in the process of dropping an atom bomb on the joint when we arrived, and, lemme tell ya, don't let the fact that hardly any these guys were born when Reign in Blood came out deter you, they know their way around a light-speed riff and back again. Take all the best parts of Exodus, Kill 'Em All-era Metallica, and Slayer (vocalist John Kevill even resembles a young Tom Araya), and roll it up into a big wrecking ball, and you get the idea. Kevill could stand to refine his between song banter (or chuck it altogether), but the band is more than worthy of all the hype they're generating right now.

Next up was Goatwhore, from New Orleans, Lousiana. After perusing some of their work here and there leading up to the show, I wasn't sure how I'd like them, but their thick brew of black and death metal went over great. They had plenty of nice riffing and and an arresting stage-presence to offset the doom n' gloom atmosphere of their songs. If they're in your area sometime, go check them out. I think you'll be pleased.

So then we're up to Exodus, finally, and they......well........they played great. Lots of killer riffs and great drumming and enough great thrashing about to suit the most jaded of fans, but.....

Something rubbed me wrong about them from the get-go. I feel like a nice, massive moshpit is to be earned, not demanded, and vocalist Rob Dukes was calling out the moshers from the second he hit the stage, and when he found himself doing so over and over, his annoyance was clearly visible, and it really took me away from the great job they were doing, you know, MUSICALLY.

But I put this aside, as they were ripping the Pearl Room a new brown-eye, but then came....."The Incident".

A few songs into the set, a kid jumped onstage, got his bearings, and took a nice leap off the stage. Pearl Room security, of course, gave him the boot, which didn't please Exodus in the least. The band stopped playing entirely, demanding that the boy be let back in, and that no one was being harmed by stage-diving. At this point, the band starts playing again, inviting as many people onstage to stage-dive as space would allow, in a grand "fuck you" to the security guards, who, it must be said, were not abusive or unfair. They were just doing their jobs.

At about this point, Exodus got their mics turned off, and we were all forced to wait while the band cursed at the owners of the venue. The crowd ate it up. Me? It bored the shit out of me. I'm not a stage-diver, nor am I mosher. I want to headbang, and shout with gang vocals, and throw horns, and dance when the mood strikes. What do I care if some dope gets to jump onstage??

Eventually, the band manages to set aside their differences with the venue management, and they all come to an agreement that moshing is fine, but stage-diving isn't, and blah blah blah and they finally start playing again. Unfortuately, all the posturing completely ruined the momentum, and I was already thinking about a post-show Frostee at Wendy's.

Like I said, the band played great...when they played. Even without The Incident, I could have done without Rob Dukes' bullying stage presence, but that' s a personal preference. As much as has been said aboutWarbringer resembling the classic thrash bands, perhaps guys like Exodus could stand to take a page from the younger band's play book...the one that says "Shut the fuck up and shred!"

Here's Warbringer's "Combat Shock" from their War Without End album.

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