GIG REVIEW: ARCHSPIRE Live at The Stoned Meadow of Doom, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
When I first heard about this show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I was pretty stoked. You know that elated feeling you get when a band you really like tours through your town, or close enough to make the trip. In the Midwest, that feeling doesn’t really come around often, so when it does, you have to jump at the opportunity. So of course I made the drive from one fly over state to another. I’ve yet to get to a show in Sioux Falls so I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as crowd turn out is concerned. It was the night before the show that I learned that Archspire had actually hopped onto a festival, The Stoned Meadow of Doom. The name itself should be a dead giveaway as to the theme of the festival, stoner jams! As a fan of the genre and the marijuana pots, I was amped up that much more. Forget the fact that Archspire couldn’t be any less stoner friendly, I was excited to see them in such odd context.
The turn-out started off pretty meager, but picked up steadily throughout the day. I feel it’s worth mentioning that the Sioux Falls metal scene was one of the most friendly and welcoming groups of people I’ve come across in a long time. Rarely do I go to a show out of state, by myself, and end up making that many new friends. These guys liked to party and made sure I had a good time, which I absolutely did.
The stand-outs from the Stoned Meadow of Doom line-up were bands like Swamp Ritual, the two man band out of Montana. For just a bass and a drum kit these guys put out some heavy tunes. The band Wizzerd was also from Montana, which led me to assume the entire Montana metal scene had come down to the fest, which is pretty exciting.
There were a few bands on the lineup that I was not keen on at all. I get that stoner jams are pretty simple and repetitive, but when your drummer rides the crash cymbal the entire song, for every song, on top of a vocalist who can’t quite dial it in, it gets old pretty quick. Other than that, my only other grievance with the fest is that one of the promoters decided to shorten Archspire’s set because they were behind schedule, which meant they had to cut tracks, including my favorite, ‘Rapid Elemental Dissolve’.
When Archspire came on, the sun had gone down and the crisp fall air had moved in, which meant the outdoor stage was chilly, while the indoor stage was hot and humid. The crowd was nice and baked by this point, so I could tell it was going to be an interesting set. As soon as Oliver Aleron started his signature shotgun vocals on ‘Fathom Infinite Depth’ all the eyes went wide and the jaws dropped. It was safe to assume most of the crowd had never listened to the band, given the stunned expressions on their faces. I have to give credit to Oliver for being one of the funniest frontmen I’ve seen in a long time. Instead of doing the classic frontman routine of calling the crowd a bunch of motherfuckers and asking how everyone is doing a dozen times in the set, he was making jokes and bantering with the crowd in between songs, which went a long way to loosen up the stunned stoners. Thankfully a handful of guys were also fans and they opened up a pit in the middle of the parking lot. Naturally I felt obliged to join in. Archspire didn’t relent for a moment and absolutely stole the show with how intense and tight their performance was. As it was put by Oliver, their set was like finding a little bit of meth in your joint, which is honestly the best way I can think to succinctly sum up their set as a whole. They lit the crowd up and pumped a lot of much needed energy back into the festival.
As there was about half the bands left after Archspire, there was a lot of mixed emotions on my part. After their set, I had to take a break for a beer and a smoke. There was an almost overwhelming feeling of post-coital bliss that lasted through the following few bands. It was really difficult to go back to mellow stoner tunes after such a fast and heavy set. Thankfully Disenchanter brought me back with a more energetic set and got me back in the doomy mindframe. Bongzilla closed the night with a great set that gave the night a nice feeling of closure.
All in all, I had a great time at Stoned Meadow of Doom and recommend any stoners and doom fans alike check it out. It was nothing but great people, good tunes, and chill vibes. As far as Archspire is concerned, I feel comfortable in saying they definitely stole the show. Few people were actually ready for their onslaught and the novelty of getting to watch an entire crowd get exposed to such intense music was a great novelty in and of itself. They’re definitely one of the tightest live bands I’ve seen, which wasn’t terribly surprising given that they’re from the land of top notch tech-death. So if you get the chance to see Archspire, you definitely need to take it, end of story. They’re fantastic guys that put on an impeccable show.