It seems that Jason Reece, of Austin based prog-metal lifers …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, has momentarily lost his cool and spends what seems like the first half of tonight’s show berating the unfortunate sound engineers for a multitude of technical problems the band appear to be having with their monitors. The location they’re playing in, Patterns, it has to be said is only a small venue with a diminutive stage and slightly impractical viewing angles. It’s not one of the enormous stadiums, amphitheatres or concert halls that the band once filled, when they were critical darlings 20 years ago, and therefore should have been easier to get their levels set up in.
The band open with the fittingly titled Opening Crescendo from 10th and most recent album X: The Godless Void & Other Stories. On vinyl, it mixes those early slasher film synth scores that have found favour again with more traditional dervish chants to potent effect but due to the aforementioned sound problems, tonight it becomes a whirling soup of impenetrable dissonance. They follow it with All Who Wander from the same album, and it’s more of the same churning guitars and deafening drums, only this time much louder.
Reece isn’t the only band member having issues and the group seems irked by it all. In such a claustrophobic environment, with the crowd feet away from the instruments, these difficulties could have resulted in riotous mischief, but instead the band come across as petulant. Not that the predominantly male crowd seem all that phased, they just want to hear a hit from the good ol’ days (and maybe buy a new t-shirt to replace the faded one they’ve worn tonight). One comes along soon enough with It Was There That I Saw You from the bands 2002 opus Source Tags & Codes. Filled with the combination of euphoric guitar shredding, sudden tempo changes and honey-throated furies, courtesy of vocalist Conrad Keely that first drew them attention, it manages to rise above the muddy compression and find the band starting to sound like we remember them.
That relief is short lived, as from there it descends into a somewhat repetitive middle section of the show, where it’s hard to tell what the band want to do, torn as they are between the impulse to let loose some Motörhead style speed thrashing or go the opposite direction with some Oasis inflected pop anthems. They claw through the new record and selections from their back catalogue, playing obvious numbers such as Let It Dive and How Near, How Far, seeking to build a connection with a crowd who are starting to fidget and disperse. It comes as no surprise that two of their albums are called Worlds Apart and So Divided. The band seems painfully aware of this opposition but it’s a shame that they’re still not able to reconcile these parts.
At the end of the night they manage to muster a small mosh pit for their finale of Mistakes & Regrets but for all the grace that it brings, the moment is soured once more as we’re subjected to another scree from the band, this time about the fact that the music has to end earlier than they would have appreciated, because the venue is multipurpose and will be hosting a different event for the rest of the evening. It’s disheartening to see such bolshy displays of ingratitude after such a middling performance. Mistakes and Regrets? They’ve certainly made a few tonight.