(Our man Austin Weber turns in this review, with his photos, of a recent performance by Felix Martin and company in Louisville, Kentucky.)
Beyond it’s aggressive attraction, metal at its core is about evolution and will, a desire to explore experimental and uncharted musical territory. In just the past few years, 14-string guitarist Felix Martin has been wowing audiences and expanding upon his unique blend of genres, playing largely in an eight-finger, two-handed tapping manner, one hand on each neck of a double-necked guitar configuration. His playing spans metal, jazz, blues, traditional Venezualuen music, country, and other genres that you’ll discover as as you delve into his back-catalogue, starting with his first record, Bizarre Rejection, a record that I’m proud to own.
Recently here at NCS, I wrote about his latest video, and also mentioned his most recent tour. Unfortunately for me, though, his tour date in my hometown of Louisville was added at the last minute, so I was unable to request time off work. This meant that I had to rush to the venue after work and missed the set of NCS favorites Barishi, arriving just as Felix Martin and his band were setting up. Really pissed that I missed Barishi because of work, but I tried to make it up to them by having Barishi and Felix Martin and his band stay at my place for the night.
One of the things I love most about Felix’s music is that it’s eclectic, forward-thinking prog, but it still keeps its metallic bite with passages of more traditionally inspired heavy metal riffs and fat, chunky almost Meshuggah-type grooves spread among his typically fierce and fast-paced inclinations.
A large portion of his set consisted of several cuts from The Scenic Album, which I reviewed here at NCS, including “2AM”, “The Triangle Tune”, and “The Tango”, which is a 3-part suite. He also branched out to include some of the ideas and pieces he has recorded for online videos since the release of that album, such as his song “Ferrana”, which was inspired by the Jason Becker piece “Serrana”. He also included “Humanoid”, and a newish song inspired by the character from Futurama called “Robot Devil”, which was incredible to hear live.
From there he performed his playing-drums-on-guitar concept piece that he first showcased in an online video, expertly matching a variety of different drum styles and tempos in an astounding and freaky display of creativity that was very cool to see live. While switching to a second guitar, their bassist filled in the time by performing a very interesting funky solo interspersed with tapping.
The set ended with “High Spirit”, my favorite cut from The Scenic Album, and my favorite of all his songs, ever. This song has so much depth and beauty to it, it’s easy to get lost in, and infinitely rewarding with its many moving parts and smooth transitions.
Giving credit where credit is due, someone of Felix’s caliber would obviously only surround himself with musicians of an equally high caliber, and bassist Kilian Duarte and drummer Phillip Galatioto were equally impressive parts of the experience of seeing this music live. It’s also worth noting that the particular venue where they played doesn’t have very good sound, but Felix and crew squeezed more out of that shitty sound system than any other group I’ve heard there. In spite of a lackluster system, they sounded phenomenal!
Getting to see Felix Martin’s music live was a jaw-dropping experience. I felt myself immersed in beauty and a depth of soulful feeling that mere words (or at least mine) fail to capture, so immense was the sensation and the weight of the experience as a whole.
Oh, and he also had some really sick merch that you should buy if you see him live. Below is the shirt I bought:
After plenty of beer and pizza, a field of multiple snoring voices rose from the many people passed out in my living room, leaving me the only one awake, still giddy from the experience, with thoughts regarding creativity and the purity of passion overloading my idiotic brain. Truth be told (though I kept it to myself), I didn’t have money for the show, or the shirt, or the CD I bought, or the hosting of the bands — but I did all that because life is about more than money and financial security. In its totality, it’s a series of both important and unimportant experiences, and an experience like this one meant more to me than money ever could.
There is still a month left on this tour. If you get the chance, please go and see Felix Martin and crew and whichever national band is supporting them (it changes, depending on the date). It will be an enlightening and dazzling experience that you’ll cherish forever. And if you can, put the band up for the night, or buy some merch, or buy them a drink. Too often, we marginalize the enormous effect that music has on our lives, and it’s important to do what we can for those who sacrifice so much for their passion, to thank and support them for what they’ve contributed to our lives, which we enjoy without having to make the sacrifices that they do to bring it to us.