Toronto, Canada: In October of 2022 (I can't believe it was that long ago already), Orlando, Florida's Trivium was in town, headlining their own tour after supporting Megadeth and Lamb of God earlier in the year during the "Metal Tour of the Year". In tow with Trivium for their headlining tour was North Carolina's Between The Buried And Me (affectionately known as BTBAM). Now, less than 1 year later, BTBAM is headlining their own tour, a 35 date run that got kicked off in Charleston, SC (a really cool city that is deserving of another visit) on June 16.
A week and a half later, on June 25, BTBAM's "The Parallax II: Future Sequnce Tour" rolled into Toronto. It's a tour that is seeing the band perform the 2012 album in its entirety, celebrating 10 years since its release. With a number of tracks clocking in at well over 9 minutes in length, it's an album that is extremely high on the band's favorites list, and it's a perfect backdrop for a tour to celebrate its importance in the band's catalogue. Supporting BTBAM on this run is Rivers of Nihil, and Thank You Scientist.
Sometimes shit happens. Unfortunately, this evening was one of those, as it got started off on the wrong foot. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we actually arrived late for the opening act, Rivers of Nihil. Very unfortunate as I would have loved to catch the band's set. Fortunately, it seemed as though our tardiness was an anomaly. As I arrived at the venue, and finally got my media pass, I literally had to squeeze my way through the packed house to get to my usual spot near the photo pit. Unfortunately, the photo opportunities had passed me by.
As I got to my typical standing spot, red lights cast a glow on the band and the stage. Occasionally, the light spilled out onto the crowd, bathing the metal faithful in a sea of read. As a photographer, the red light is not very inducive to great images. As a fan, nothing looks cooler! The heavy, brooding beats of Rivers of Nihil don't lend to a ton of vicious moshing, but the crowd is banging their heads in more visually stunning unison. Beside me, a fan drops and hits the floor, passed out cold! But metal fans are frickin' amazing as a number of fans rush to help the dude. Heat related? Probably not, but it is hotter than hell in here!
Thank You Scientist
Without doubt, I am a massive Dave Matthews Band fan. They're one of those bands that you either get, or you don't. If you get them, you are among the millions of fans that love them. If you don't get them, you are among the millions of fans that hate them. For me, the sound is fully rounded out with guitars, and drums and bass, and keys, and horns, and saxophones and fiddles and piccolos and everything else you can throw at it. And the band has a ton of fun on stage, which is completely contagious. When I saw Thank You Scientist come out onto the stage to open their set, I was immediately taken aback by the instruments that the band members adorned. I thought "What in the world??? Is this a heavy metal Dave Matthews Band????"
In front of us onstage was a 7-piece, very obscure jazz/rock/metal fusion band who was was unlike anything I had ever seen. Having been formed in 2009 by vocalist Salvatore Marrano and 3 other members, the band is not "new", but have not made the circuit through Canada for a number of years. As we learn from the singer on this evening, the band has previously been denied entry into Canada, so instead, they just sat around and smoked pot. With that, Marrano asks the crowd if anybody has ever seen them before and well over half of the crowd cheered. There was clearly a shit-load of fans here. "Cool! This next song is Mr. Invisible!!" says Marrano. As the track commences, I look out into the crowd, and everybody is dancing to the groove. At the song's saxophone solo, the crowd roars. Yep, Thank You Scientist is completely loved! At least, they were this night.
Between The Buried And Me
To this point, security has not been very busy. Nothing to do with the musician's not being completely endeared by their fans. It was quite the opposite actually. It's just that the music thus far isn't the blistering tempo that gets the fans in a frenzy. I mention it to one of the security guards ahead of BTBAM's appearance. He tells me that he was working the door at opening, and that the fans were the coolest, most chill fans he's ever seen. But the calm environment wasn't going to last for a hell of a lot longer... maybe mere minutes?
As the lights went out, the crowd deafeningly starts the chant, "B-T-BAM! B-T-BAM! B-T-BAM!". It's black as night inside the music hall, and we hear the intro to the band's 6th studio album "Goodbye to Everything". Once "Astral Body" kicks in, the bodies in the crowd start to fly. The heat picks up physically, and metaphorically. The crowd bangs in unison, and you can practically see the electricity as the strobes give the appearance as such.
The sound in the Danforth Music Hall is great, but not without the band being spot on. And BTBAM is just that. It's as though we're listening to the album at home. Lead singer Tommy Giles Rogers Jr's vocals are spot on, as he hits his vocal range perfectly. The growls, the screams and the high notes. The crowd is engaged as they cheer. I get a glimpse of a few younger fans in the crowd. They wear massive smiles and have a look of unbearable excitement. They're beyond ecstatic to be here, quite possibly as though it's their first concert ever. Or perhaps, it's just the performance that's being unfolded in front of them.
30 minutes into the set, we start to feel as though we're floating through the universe. The album's track "Parallax" is being performed and the video screens behind drummer Blake Richardson project stars and galaxies passing by. It's such a cool sounding track and the visual highlights intensify the feeling. But the gentle floating lasts only a minute as we're then thrust into "The Black Box".
Between The Buried and Me's style of vast tempo changes, tie changes, and vocal ranges and styles makes this such a unique band. They toy with you, giving you a false sense of calm, and then they slam the pedal to the metal, and you're thrown into a frenzy. With little, to no interaction with the crowd, the band literally plows through the album, track by track, further leading to the intensity of the performance. As the band concludes with the album's final track, "Goodbye to Everything Reprise", Rogers Jr. thanks the crowd, and the band heads off stage. The crowd stats into their earlier chant again, calling out "B-T-BAM! B-T-BAM! B-T-BAM!" They desperately want more, but the lights come on. No encore on this night, but the crowd doesn't leave. They hang on for more, and then the realization hits that it's over.
Guitarist Dusty Warring is not present during this tour due to current allegations he is dealing with. A session guitarist is filling in during this tour, and frankly, he looked pretty gassed to be there.
During the show, a fan comes up to me and shows me a cell phone. He says "I found this on the floor. What should I do with it?" I directed him to security, who further advises him that there is a lost and found at the venue's entrance. And off he went to bring the found item. As I watched this unfold I thought "Metal fans are the coolest!!"
Goodbye to Everything
Lay Your Ghosts to Rest
Autumn (sound clip)
The Black Box
Silent Flight Parliament
Goodbye to Everything Reprise
Show Date: June 25, 2023