What better way to exorcise the demon of 2016 than to go see Neurosis? Personally, my year wasn’t that bad, but I don’t live in a vacuum or under a rock, so I’ve absorbed a bit of the angst of others. After all, socially and politically, this year was an overflowing cesspool of malignancy. Neurosis shows are all about expelling angst and emerging cleansed. This one was no exception.
Arriving in the city later than I would have liked, I found all of the left turn lanes on Van Ness blocked off due to some construction project (new condos, I believe), which combined with the lateness of the hour made finding parking a bit of a shitshow. I listened to a whole CD (this one) while circling, but when I did find parking, it was literally right across the street from the Regency. I could have stepped from my car, picked up a rock, and hit the façade of the building. Thinking carefully, I left the rocks where they were, and instead crossed the street, showed my ticket, and entered to the sweet strains of Kowloon Walled City.
After detouring past the merch table, I entered the main hall and caught the last 10 or 15 minutes of the set. I’ve seen Kowloon Walled City before, so I knew more or less what to expect. They sound like they share DNA with Neurosis. All of the elements are there, from the dirge-like tempos, to the elegiac song structures and venomous delivery. They don’t impress me on the level that Neurosis does, but they aren’t bad either. In other words, they’re an appropriate warm-up act.
Between Kowloon and Yob, I ran into Ryan, who owns this fine establishment, and Steve Von Till. We caught up a bit until we were interrupted by Yob, and then drifted into the crowd to witness what was the best Yob set I’ve seen so far (out of the four or five I’ve seen). The groovy, massively heavy riffs propelled the songs forward, and the more introspective moments kept things interesting. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt varies his vocal delivery from a full throated roar to a more restrained, melodic style, which gives the songs more depth.
I enjoy Yob live much more than I do their recordings, maybe because live, the proper volume can be achieved. Their riffs are like runaway construction equipment, transforming landscapes and leaving all in ruin.
I was expecting Neurosis to have once again jettisoned their older material from the set list (I didn’t ask Steve earlier because I wanted to be surprised), but it turned out that their set was a mixture of old and new. They started the set with Lost, from “Enemy of the Sun”, which set the tone nicely. See the entire set list here.
There was an unfortunate oversight in that somebody forgot to ensure that Steve’s mic was turned on, so the first couple of vocal lines were completely inaudible, but once the issue was remedied, I noticed no further sound problems.
After chronicling a number of Neurosis shows here, I feel that I don’t really have anything new to say. This was my first time hearing the songs from “Fires Within Fires” live, and they were great, but I don’t feel like the album has really sunk in yet. My favorite song from the album (at the moment, at least) is the quiet one, Reach, and that was the only one that they didn’t play.
My favorite moment from the set was Takeahnase, from “Souls At Zero”, which truth be told, is high on my list of all time favorite records. When Scott howls, “we tried to tell you, now let us show you”, it sends shivers up my spine.
During the show, I tried to wrap my head around how many times I’ve seen the band. Lately, they seem to be playing the Bay Area pretty regularly. This is the third time I’ve seen them this year, and I’d definitely go see them again if they played tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out I’d seen them 30 or even 40 times over the course of their existence.
This is healing music for troubled times. Long live Neurosis.