GIG REVIEW: Periphery, Sikth, Chon & Toothgrinder Live at Sound Stage, Baltimore
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
With the ever-changing tastes of a fickle audience, one constant that metal fans can always count on is progressive rock/metal. Progressive is a relative term and can be interpreted in many ways, as is evidenced by the wide variety of styles and sounds of artists considered to be progressive. Take, for instance, the lineup of the Sonic Unrest Tour featuring Toothgrinder, Chon and Sikth supporting headliners, Periphery. All four of these bands are considered progressive yet all four have their own niche sound within the subgenre.
Opening the final night of the tour in Baltimore was Toothgrinder, a prog metal band out of Asbury Park, New Jersey. We’ve seen these guys several times and they never disappoint. Justin Matthews’ vocals were tough and strong and the double guitars of Jason Goss and John Hasney meld nicely. The stage was active and they enjoyed a bit of crowd surfing during their set. It was also a packed house with no photo pit so maneuvering the room was nearly impossible.Swiftly moving through songs like “The Hour Angle”, “Schizophrenic Jubilee”, “Lace and Anchor” and “The House (That Fear Built)”, Toothgrinder delivered a spirited performance which was a bit less sloppy than performances previously witnessed.
After a few cool 80s tunes, Chon was up next, a prog rock group out of San Diego, California. Consisting of Nathan and Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel, Chon portrayed a more traditional prog rock sound with flourishing instrumentals showcasing excellent musicianship. Opening with “Bubble Dream”, Chon kept the energy flowing, weaving through other original offerings like “Fluffy”, “Suda”, “Splash” and “Perfect Pillow”, Chon provided proof that they are a name to watch.
During the stage break before the next band, we were again treated to a smattering of 80s/90s tunes. It quickly became one of the more surreal moments of my life when a bunch of young male metal heads erupted into the chorus from “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal.It made me oddly happy.After the family sing-along, we were treated to Sikth, a British prog metal ensemble commended for having helped inspire the Djent movement. Sikth’s overall vibe, their sound, their appearance, was very reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine, with the difference of an added vocalist. Their rap-style metal was well-received by fans through songs “Philistine Philosophies”, “Scent of the Obscene”, “Flogging the Horses”, “Wait for Something Wild”. The crowd surfing started during “Skies of Millennium Night”and continued throughout the closing songs, “Sanguine Seas of Bigotry” and “Bland Street Bloom”. A few brave souls attempted stage diving, which is not usually allowed at shows these days. But the bands on the bill requested no photo pit so this was to be expected.
Headlining the event was Periphery, making their home-town appearance on the last night of the tour. The guys were tight, opening with a track from the second installment of the Periphery series, “Scarlet”. Spencer Sotelo’s vocals were spot-on and the, not double but triple guitars of Misha Mansoor, Mark Holcomb and Jake Bowen were white hot with ripping riffs and solos, plus the drums of Matt Halpern, successfully bestowed what was an epic achievement in live progressive music. Periphery’s setlist was culled from their fairly extensive catalog but focused mostly on their new album, ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’offering up “The Way the News Goes…”, “Flatline”, “Marigold” and first single, “The Price is Wrong”. The stage diving reached its peak during the encore with “Stranger Things” and “Lune” giving fans a great backdrop for some metal calisthenics.
Every band on this tour put every bit of their hearts into this gig. It was the last night of the tour but it wasn’t obvious. The bands didn’t seem anxious to play and go like maybe some of us would have. We give two thumbs up for Toothgrinder, Chon, SikTh and Periphery for a great night of prog metal.