While on the road supporting their latest record, ‘Trust No One’, the mighty Devildriver steamrolled their way through Louisville, KY on a warm September Thursday night, bringing their Fall headlining roster along with them. What separates this particular tour date from the rest is the fact that said show took place in a strip club/entertainment complex known as Trixie’s. It’s just as amusing as it reads, no matter how mature you might be!
Failing to truly settle in to the grimy atmosphere, I took my place in the middle of the venue’s floor, which is separated from the club itself. The show began early in the evening at 6:10 PM, as soon as nu-metalcore act Tetrarch took the stage.
Despite wrestling with sound issues and having each member playing an instrument, none free-form, Tetrarch were about as good as an opening act could be. They set the tone for an energetic evening through opening with their pump-up thrasher as well as my personal favorite song of theirs, “Break The Trend” off the forthcoming album ‘Freak’. Rarely stopping to say much, I had to chuckle when they began playing “Relentless” as it fit their tone ironically. Though Tetrarch didn’t have much of a crowd to play to, they didn’t let that stop them from giving their all, especially during “Freak”. Lead guitarist even managed to crank out some awesome solos. It’s interesting too that they’re currently on tour with 36 Crazyfists too, as frontman/rhythm guitarist Josh has clearly taken vocal inspiration from Brock Lindow. “We Are The Hunters” breakdown echoed in the air as Tetrarch exited the stage. Good start.
The next band changed the tone significantly to a more brutal and technical death metal direction. Dubbed Uncured, they’re another relatively young metal group and watching them showed me their immense potential. The band’s foundation are a brother duo of two shredders who alternate technical lead parts and crushing rhythms with each other as well as trading growls and shouts. Their set-up is interesting and caught the audience’s attention. Opening with “Stygian Valley” off their debut EP, I became immediately interested and it was “Myopic” that especially caught on to me. Uncured clearly take influence from a progressive manner of metal playing and for their young age (The two brothers are 17 and 19), they show nothing but promise. There was constantly a wall of sound going on instrumentally and while the brothers stood in place for their constantly technical parts, the bassist, who has a history in playing with Diecast of all things, made up for any lack of presence with his headbanging and amusing poses. The audience enjoyed them for their shreddy six song set and the darker energy was welcomed.
By now, the small room was getting packed and that was the perfect setting for nu-metalheads Cane Hill to carve a path of raging annihilation. I’ve seen Cane Hill four times now and this time especially, I was blown away at their fantastic stage presence and the control of vocalist Elijah Witt who roared, shrieked, whispered and shouted his ass off. “True Love” off most recent debut LP ‘Smile’ was easily the most destructive song of the night thus far and perfect for opening. “Ugly Idol Mannequin” kept things rolling until the announcement of playing two new songs was shouted out. We as a crowd obviously didn’t know these songs, but that didn’t stop the room’s energy cold turkey whatsoever. As a matter of fact, the sinister control of “Erased” and utter ravaging power of “Too Far Gone” amped the conditions of the crowd up, moshing finally becoming a part of the conversation. These two tracks are due out for a new LP next year and judging by their live energy, Cane Hill are sitting on something nasty. “Fountain of Youth” got heads banging, while “Ox Blood” and “The New Jesus” kept things grooving. If not for their headliner pals, Cane Hill would have had this crowd in the palms of their invitingly open hands as the best band on the bill..
That is until 36 Crazyfists brought their raw Alaskan intensity to their Kentucky faithful. Careening in with the album opener for forthcoming record, ‘Lanterns’, the pseudo-hardcore, alternative metal energy Brock Lindow and friends brought with them was infectious. Specifically, Brock’s stage energy and tendency to dance to every song influenced the crowd themselves to start moving. “At The End of August” remains a classic mainstay for its big chorus from what many will consider this band’s finest hour, but my counter to that is “Have you heard “Also Am I”?” which was also included in their hour-long set. Interestingly, the majority of the set was compromised of currently unreleased tracks from ‘Lanterns’. I already think “Wars
To Walk Away From” is a bonafide hit despite that and that’s based off its live vibe alone. It got necks snapping. “We Gave It Hell” and “I’ll Go Until My Heart Stops” are always welcome sing-a-longs though and the inclusion of the title track from ‘Time & Trauma’ ended the fantastic hour on a somber note. I loved how sharply the guitars cut through the air.
The room was now at the capacity it should be for such a ferocious band as Devildriver to make their way to the front and center. And make their way they did, strolling out to tried-and-true barnstormer “End of The Line”, AKA about as good as set openers can get. Seeing Devildriver is a high-energy, full-throttle experience and no amount of lackluster sound on the venue’s part was keeping them down. Blistering through “Hold Back The Day”, “Trust No One’s finest “Daybreak” and, to my surprise, “The Mountain”, legendary frontman Dez Fafara was quick to shout his appreciation between songs and note how the crowd was only getting more intense over time. Bursting out the guitar fireworks with the title track from their latest offering, the intensity ramped up with the inclusion of the burly “My Night Sky” and classic pit anthem “I Could Care Less”. It was interesting to note that the audience was most receptive to the oldest as well as newest songs, so anything played off ‘Devildriver’ absolutely shot off like a rocket to the friggin’ moon, proving that record’s underrated status in the metal echelon and ‘Trust No One’s current excellence. Just as well, anything played off fan-favorite ‘The Last Kind Words’ was a hit with the crowd, especially “Clouds Over California”. Perhaps the highlight of the set was changing the tone with the band’s spectacular melodeath cover of awolNATION’s “Sail” before “Meet The Wretched” acted as quite the sendoff, eliciting the lone circle pit of the night. Devildriver exited the stage with elation that they could have played for such a receptive crowd, despite the small venue.
Overall, Devildriver brought a great lineup of up-and-comers and veteran acts along for the fiery ride. I credit every act on the tour with making the most out of a lackluster sound set-up and area for production, playing a strip club like they would any other stage. There was no moment in the night where momentum wasn’t present, making for a solid metal bill that headbangers should seek out this Fall.