(KevinP reviews two Florida shows this week by Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris as part of their in-progress U.S. tour.)
I always bemoan the fact that Florida gets the shaft when it comes to tours, whether it’s from US bands or groups from the rest of the world. So when Ne Obliviscaris announced they were coming to Florida, for not 1 but 2 shows, I was tickled pink (to say the least).
Anyone who has known me for more than 5 seconds is aware I have no interest in Butcher Babies or Cradle of Filth, but hey, you can’t really expect a new band on their first US tour flying over from Australia to do a headline jaunt right off the bat.
Upon further inspection of the tour dates, there was a gap in the schedule, conveniently due to the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise leaving out of Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, February 4th, and returning on Monday, February 8th.
I’ll admit to initially being bummed out thinking NeO would be on the boat (and I wouldn’t) and I’d miss two sets of theirs, even though I had the ability to see them on back-to-back nights in Orlando and Tampa on February 2nd and 3rd (yes, I’m a greedy fucker). But as my luck would have it, they were never booked for the cruise, so the band had five days on their hands while they waited for Cradle of Filth to return and begin again in Memphis, TN, on February 9th. Instead of sitting around eating Vegemite and Chicken Twisties, they booked several headlining dates: Tallahassee, FL; Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN; and St. Louis, MO.
Then suddenly, in what seems to happen too many times for bands trying to tour the “Land of the Free”, Cradle had visa issues and NeO was left wondering if the tour was going to be cancelled. Should they make the trip over here or simply cut their losses ahead of time? Long story short, the band said, let’s fly to the USA and figure it out.
It was a gamble and it paid off. Cradle wasn’t able to make the first three dates of the tour, so they booked an additional three more headlining shows on the fly: Philadelphia, PA; Providence, RI; and Baltimore, MD. This is just as good as it gets in making lemons into lemonade for fans of the band (though I prefer Arnold Palmers these days myself).
Tuesday, February 2th, 2016 – Orlando, FL – Venue 578
Set time was 35 minutes, which equates to three songs. Don’t ask me which ones, as I’ve gotten to a stage in my life where it’s hard enough to even know titles, let alone remember what was played after the fact.
As an opening band, you know their sound isn’t going to be picture-perfect, but the venue was running late and they didn’t even get an actual soundcheck. For a band who have a very precise and clear sound on record, seeing them live with a lot of dirt and noise was different, yet also fun.
No one associates NeO’s brand of progressive death metal as being brutal and pummeling, but that’s exactly what they felt like at times. During a few sections of thundering double bass drumming, they sounded as viscious as any grindcore band.
What surprised me most, though, was the turnout. For a relatively new band from the other side of the world, I had no idea how many people knew of them, would turn out for them, or how any of the Cradle of Filth fans would react to them. Conservatively, there were at least 50 people who were cheering for each song, singing along, and creating a mosh pit (as strange as that seems). Must have been encouraging for the band. Add in the fact of how many new people were exposed to them that night and I’d say it was a home run (solo shot, not a grand slam).
Thursday, February 4th, 2016 – Tallahassee, FL – The Side Bar Theatre
Since I moved to Florida 14 years ago, I’d never been to Tallahassee. No disrespect, but what’s there to do there? Plus, it’s a four-hour drive each way from Orlando (that’s eight hours round trip for you math wizards). But since it was too hard to resist a 90-minute headlining set, fellow NCS contributor, Dan Barkasi, his fiancee, and I made the trek.
I had no idea about the Tallahassee metal scene or if one even existed, but I figured somewhere off the beaten path couldn’t generate more than, say, 50 people, right? Well, if you count the three opening bands and employees of the venue, that’s about how many people were there. Still, like the consummate professionals they already are, NeO played like it was a packed venue.
Drummer Daniel Presland (remember, he was the guy who gave up that nice paying job as a train engineer to pursue music) is really a monster behind the kit, yet it flows out of him so effortlessly. Being much closer to the stage this time (in a much smaller venue), I could feel his bass drum rumbling through my chest.
Bassist Brendan Brown and rhythm guitarist Matt Klavins were very workmanlike in their performance. Nothing fancy or “showy”, but spot-on. Lead guitarist Benjamin Baret is extremely focused and has a unique and unorthodox style. As a non-musician I have no idea how to describe the specifics, but I found it fascinating to watch his hand motions and how he transitioned between parts (something that normally NEVER interests me).
Finally there’s the dual vocal combination of Xenoyr (harsh) and Tim Charles (clean, and violin). Xenoyr likes to remain the mysterious member of the band (or so I think). He does his parts and defers to Tim to handle all the interludes and crowd banter.
Tim is easily the most excitable member of the band on stage. When he’s not laying into the silky tones to make the ladies go crazy or working the violin, he’s jumping around, riling up the crowd, and leading the charge. (Note – if you didn’t catch my interview with him back in Oct 2014, here’s another chance.)
Overall, they sounded excellent. Obviously, being a headliner they had a proper soundcheck and there was a far better balance between all aspects of their sound (compared to the Orlando show). Those in attendance were a very enthusiastic bunch. So even if there weren’t many people, I’d still say it was a WIN for the band.
For you lucky people in the Columbus, Indianapolis, and St Louis areas, do yourself (and the band) a favor and get to the shows (you’ll get six songs). The rest of the country will have to be satisfied with three.