Chuck Schuldiner Project

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Haken, Next To None, Tungsten and In The Presence of Wolves in Philadelphia

Rolling up to the venue two hours early to load in your friends band is honestly one of the best ways to experience live music. Not only do you get the satisfaction of helping out a friend but you also get a chance to watch the night evolve If you hang out in a venue for seven hours you get a sense of who's a regular, whose trying to break into the scene, and, at this kind of show, whose a prog dork. And let me just say, the prog dorks were out in full force last night at the Bullshooters Saloon and it was actually kind of glorious to watch them try so hard to look cool. The point being, the bands were rad, the crowd primarily nerds, and some of the memories timeless.

First up were the Rush-inspired In The Presence of Wolves. There sound was surprisingly heavy and they were a lot of fun to watch play. The band clearly has a good time up on stage, with lots of stage moves being thrown ad heads being whipped around. There is something distinctly charming about this band, through their multilayered sound and strong songwriting they are able to entrance the listener with something fairly different than what most Philly bands offer. They were a blast to watch and seem to be on the rise in what is traditionally a very tough scene to break in to.

Tungsten took the stage next, and while their six piece lineup had a hard time fitting on stage they were a lot of fun to watch. Replacement keyboardist Renée fit in perfectly to the finely crafted and exquisitely honed sounds that Tungsten are known for. Though the band had one or two minor mixing issues they put on a highly entertaining show with flawless execution. The bands vocalist, the indomitable Titi was charming as usual, her powerful voice ringing out over the crowd and entrapping them in an exquisitely crafted soundworld that I just want to visit again and again. These guys have a lot of really exciting ideas, and judging by how their new song went down I feel that soon they'll really be going places.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Next To None, sure they're all like 14, but their drummer is Mike Portnoy's son and they're still a touring band. There's got to be at least some level of tightness and musical interest going on here right? I was actually pretty impressed with the bands entire presentation and music. They seemed distinctly aware of their own limitations and managed to play some very solid metalcore that had a couple unique twists of its own. Max Portnoy's drumming is fucking phenomenal too, even if Next To None doesn't work out, he certainly already has a career lined up for himself as a session musician if nothing else. The band had a fun youthful stage presence and it was hard not to be charmed by their youth, as they closed out, I couldn't help but smile at this next generation act who threaten to one day break the mainstream.

And finally it was time for the almighty Haken (Sounds like bacon, as evidenced by their Kevin Bacon/Haken crossover t-shirts. Despite not having multi-instrumentalist Richard Henshall they put on a great show and mnaged to build on the sounds they have on the record. Though they did drag on a little bit towards the end they were still abe to mix in some more classic tracks to keep things interesting. One thing that really struck me about these guys is that even though I haven't really listened to their music in a couple of years I still recognized most of the songs. Given the amount of music I listen too on a daily basis that's really saying something. The point being, these guys, though their presentation is a little corny (Lots of hand waving and the like) these guys are a lot of fun to watch and seem destined to be able to have much greater success in America as time goes on..

As the night closed after Haken's two hour (!) set, I could'nt help but smile at all that had ensued. Sure, Haken played for a realy long time, but in a lot of ways it was worth it. Theband ha sa very deep discography that is easy to dig in to. Beyond that Tungsten and In The Presence of Wolves porudly repped their scene and gave evidence that Philly prog will never die. With the next generation also very preset at the show in the form of Next To None it seemed like this was one of those nights that encapsulated the love, majesty, and simple joy of progressive music.

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