By David King
Job for a Cowboy, A Life Once Lost, Despised Icon
hall, Aug. 14
Job for a Cowboy are Metaloca-lypse metal. They are
the sort of band who introduce a song with little regard to
pronunciation. It’s all in the guttural pig growl. It goes
something like: “THIS NEXT SONG IS CALLED BARNCATSINHEAAATMAKEMEFEELFANCYFREEEEE!!”
Of course, none of their songs is actually called that. (They
are not Fall Out Boy.) And while the band’s metal bravado
is admirable in a lot of ways, the youngsters who make up
the band have not been around long enough to deliver much
more than just that—a sussed-up imitation of metal.
On Monday night at Revolution Hall, it became clear early
on that the band’s performance would have been a great one
if played in someone’s parents’ garage. Simply put, Job for
a Cowboy got too big too quickly, before they could earn their
headlining slot. And it was that damned MySpace that did it
to ’em; too many friend requests too quickly for this solid
act who needed time to refine their chops at the bottom of
the bills before sitting atop ones so stacked with metal goodness.
So, instead of finishing off the night with Despised Icon,
Montreal’s finest death- metal-core export, who rallied the
crowd around multilayered technical beatdowns, or with veterans
A Life Once Lost, Philadelphia’s kings of pit implosion, Job
for a Cowboy puttered along with their mishmash guitar work—a
sound too forced to resemble anything more than just kids
in the basement trying to outshred each other.
A Life Once Lost’s maturation process, however, was clearly
on display. The band have become known as metal chameleons.
Their first record was deeply inspired by Dillinger Escape
Plan’s technical jazz metal; their second, A Great Artist,
seemed like a stripped-down homage to Sweden’s polyrhythm
masters, Meshuggah. Unfortunately, their last effort, Hunter,
found the band toying around with the aesthetic of the very
limited Lamb of God. (Let there be only one!) Frankly, A Life
Once Lost are too talented to be a LOG rip-off, and it seems
something may have finally clicked in the band’s collective
conscience to tell them that.
Now assuming a very ’70s Southern-stoner-rock vibe, the band
took the stage to moaning tribal chants with psychedelic images
projected onto a screen behind them. While their last trip
through town saw them awkwardly introducing songs from Hunter,
this time the songs were crisp, delivered with the kind of
emotion that drove the crowd out of their seats and into the
pit. Songs from the band’s new long-player, Iron Gag,
were like listening to Futurama’s Bender the robot
getting drunk on moonshine and tripping on mescaline. Disjointed
hillbilly grooves and twang collided with off-time playing
and rigid beats, creating an entertainingly original sound.
Frontman Robert Meadows, with his sandals, ponytail and frizzy
blond beard, stalked the stage like a feral Jim Jones. (I
drank the Kool Aid.) He ended the set playing Ahab to the
crowd’s Moby Dick, yanking back on the mic cord as the crowd
devoured it in a feeding frenzy, singing, “I will haunt you
till you die!”
Despised Icon proved they have mastered the art of combining
technical metal with hardcore’s tough-guy chants and straightforward
breakdowns to achieve something much more than the individual
parts. Despite their brutality, the band’s music has become
undeniably dancey, something you can’t not move your ass to.
The show could have ended with the band’s floor-obliterating
“In the Arms of Perdition” and I would have been both happy
and lucky to have gotten out alive.
10,000 and 12,000 people turned up to hear the surf-rock sounds
of Los Straitjackets (pictured) and long-running Los
Angelenos Los Lobos at last Thursday’s Alive at Five
concert in Albany’s Riverfront Park. The Lobos were in town
to promote their latest release, The Town and the City,
while the Straitjackets are in the midst of a tour that takes
them around the Northeast and through the Midwest over the
next month. Tonight’s Celtic-themed concert is the final Alive
at Five event of the season; it is, as always, a free show.