Saturday, August 13, 2011

LIVE REVIEW: GridLink, Phobia and Maruta; August 13, 2011

(Pictures are coming soon)

Scion’s Metal Matinee shows have become a permanent fixture in Chicago.  Magrudergrind and Gaza, among others, have taken stage at no cost to fans.  That no cost part proves especially vital given that America is in the midst of a recession and metal fans, mostly comprised of the working class, are among the hardest hit.

This somewhat paradoxical marriage of band and brand, clashing the DIY aesthetic so beholden to punk with what amounts to car advertisements, helps to ensure that poor and unemployed fans have a much better chance at seeing high-quality grindcore bands from across the nation outside their audio players.

Even if the bands suck (and they haven’t so far), a free show is a free show, and most of the attendees I spoke to acknowledged that they were only present due to it costing nothing.

In the past these events have taken long past the posted time to begin, leaving fans standing outside smoking cigarettes, drumming their fingers against the stage and drinking the minutes away.  Indeed, it was a blessing that it even started at 4:45 p.m., when Maruta took the stage.

Maruta, Phobia and GridLink all played with the kind of wham factor that fans of the genre have delighted in.

Maruta, who hails from Orlando, took the longer approach, letting their songs build up with Danny Morris’ bursting, calculating drum assault and technical guitar fret fest by Eduardo Borja, held together with the adhesive of Mitchell Luna’s vocals.

More than any other band that played, Maruta’s sonic waves awakened the primal berserkers of the circle pit, and they wasted no time in flying their bodies at the front of the crowd as much as possible.  The band in turn fed off the crowd, playing with mounting delight and even exchanging banter with the crowd in a dance of sound and fury that the madness-inducing wine god Dionysus would smile on.

After a smoke break, I stepped in to watch Phobia.

For its part, Orange County natives Phobia took the well-traveled path, sticking to their guns with the typical yet satisfying elements of grindcore – short burst of masculinity powered by unintelligible words, lightning fingers and rattling drums.

Nonetheless, despite their sound performance, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat underwhelmed given the excellent performance by Maruta beforehand.

Apparently the crowd felt that way as well – there was less moshing and a more tepid, almost quaint mood throughout their act.  Their set finished as fast as their songs did, and took off to kind applause, though it was not as unrelenting as I’d hoped. 

I was surprised to find GridLink headlining, for by all accounts Phobia is the more established, veteran band.  I hadn’t even heard of GridLink before I saw the Scion poster for it.  Yet I found myself quite satisfied.

GridLink’s entire set was the aural equivalent of jungle juice – Jon Chang’s breathes of rage, Takafumi Matsubara’s ear violating riffs and Teddy Patterson and Brian Fajardo’s primitive rhythm foundation fit ill together to my ears.

Yet defying all that I hold holy on music structure, they managed to emerge from the chaos into a cohesive polymerization of raw bliss. They brought forth energy from boundless reserves and not only worked the crowd into excitement but also got me to both think less and join the flow of emotions smashing against the walls of the venue.

It was an excellent ending to an excellent performance by all bands involved.

For more information about Scion Metal Matinee and the free concerts they sponsor, check their Facebook page, located here.

-Shane D

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