The three-day Gilead Fest organized by Gilead Media began yesterday in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, at one of the three locations pictured above.
The first night was indeed loaded with power, and by the end of the evening there was certainly plenty of work available for a coroner, but if you guessed the Oshkosh Masonic Center, give yourself a pat on the back.
Holding an extreme metal festival at the home of a Masonic Lodge may seem kind of incongruous, but it’s really a great venue. The building, constructed in 1924, is an imposing structure from the outside, and the ballroom on the second floor turns out to be a fine space for live metal. It’s unostentatiously elegant, which is not a phrase I would utter about most metal venues (to say the least), and spacious enough that it didn’t feel crowded even by the time the audience had turned out in full force.
I took the above photos not long after doors opened around 4:00 on Friday, and the space filled up by the time the music started. In the hallway right outside the ballroom, beer could be purchased and bottles of water were always available for free. The weather in Oshkosh has been perfect, and it never got hot inside the ballroom, but free water was a very nice touch. And everything about the festival so far has run very smoothly.
I enjoyed all the bands last night, who appeared in this order: Oozing Wound (Chicago), Thou (Baton Rouge) and The Body (Portland, OR) playing together, Anagnorisis (Louisville), Hell (Salem, OR), and Ash Borer (Arcata, CA). But I have to give special praise to these performances:
The joint performance by Thou and The Body was obliterating, and fascinating to watch. All five members of Thou were on stage with both members of The Body — so there were two drummers, three guitarists, a lone bass player, three screamers, and some kind of electronic demon in a metal suitcase, all packed together in close quarters, intently watching each other, and producing some amazing sounds.
Thou and The Body have not only been touring together recently, they also recorded a four-song, vinyl-only collaborative effort entitled Released From Love, which provided source material for last night’s show — in addition to new collaborative material that will presumably be seeing the light of day before the year is out. The whole of Released From Love is streaming here, and one song is below.
I had never heard Hell before last night, either live or on a recording. I thought they were fantastic. Massively heavy riffs, nerve-shattering vocals, bereft melodies, and fun to watch, too. Here’s a long taste of their music:
I missed Ash Borer when they were in Seattle not long ago, and I’m lucky I got the chance to see them despite that egregious failure. Their set last night was overpowering. The songs all followed a similar pattern, transitioning from passages of slow, heavy, doom-like weight to ravaging storm-fronts of lashing guitars and flesh-raking vocal assaults. It was intense, to say the least.
My smartphone died before Hell and Ash Borer started playing, but I’m expecting a few pics from a friend and I’ll add those when I get them — though a number of professional-looking photographers were present, and I’m assuming other sites are going to have quality photos (I’ll link to those when they surface).
In the meantime, here’s an Ash Borer cut for your listening pleasure; there are two full days left of this festival, and it’s off to an excellent start.