Neurosis and Converge at Emo’s, Austin, TX 7/21/2018

This bill was a contrast of both musical styles and performance, but for some reason it ended up blending really well.  On the one hand, you had the hyperkinetic in-you-face bashings of hard core Converge to get the evening off to a bang.  And on the other, you had the slow-building dirge of Neurosis’ sludge to send the evening off into a wash of despair.  The whole evening just reminded me of my dog Ruby getting a case of the zoomies and going apeshit for 20 or so minutes and then just passing out for the rest of the evening.  To fully illustrate the styles of the two bands:  Converge played a total of 20 songs over an hour long set.  Neurosis played a total of nine songs over an hour and a half long set.  Hardcore vs. Metal in a nutshell.

So, Converge started the evening off.  I have to admit that I’m kind of a lukewarm fan of Converge overall.  I understand the appeal, but their brand of hardcore isn’t firmly in my wheelhouse.  However, their live show is something to see.  It’s all frenetic energy and cathartic exorcising of demons.  Vocalist Jacob Bannon’s screaming style is just painful to watch.  It really hurts to hear the rage and disillusion coming through his incomprehensible shrieks.  At one point, he doubled-over near to the side of the drum kit and looked as if he was going to vomit.  To counter Bannon’s painful performance, you’ve got a near manic, almost Robin Williams-esque performance out of drummer, Ben Koller.  Dude has got some of the tightest drumming chops going today and he just couples it with some of the goofiest facial expressions.  I don’t think there is anyone in the metal world today having as much fun as Koller is.

After having Converge whip everyone into a frenzy, everyone was able to take a breath, grab a drink and exhale while waiting for Neurosis.  For many years, Neurosis was known for bringing an immersive visual stage show with them.  However, this has been dropped by the band in recent years and the band simply come out to a no-frills stage.  No backdrop.  No fancy light displays.  No stage props.  Just the band with minimal lighting.  It’s a live performance in its basic element.  Neurosis is not a band that is going to make you jump or dance.  It’s hypnotic.  They are one of those band in which you really have to leave all of your personal shit at the door and just allow yourself to get sucked in by the music.  Honestly, it’s not the most pleasant experience.  This isn’t Van Halen.  It’s dark and murky.  It’s pain and not much salvation.  But, it is powerful.  Not for the faint of heart these guys are.

Neurosis-The Last You’ll Know

Converge-Arkhipov Calm

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