The Ocean, Behold...the Arctopus, Genghis Tron - November 18, 2008 - Vicar Street & Whelans, Dublin, IR
By: Ken McGrath
You know the old story about there being no bus for ages and then loads show up at once? Well, gigs are like that too. Not that things had been parched in Dublin recently what with Torche, Pelican and Airbourne all making appearances in the last few weeks, but when Opeth announced they were playing and bringing along Cynic and the mighty The Ocean with them, pulses started racing. The forehead veins started popping when it hit that Genghis Tron were also playing the same night. Sacrifices, it would seem, sometimes have to be made in the name of metal. And so, sacrilegious as it may seem, Opeth and Cynic were cast off in favor of Genghis Tron. First things first though, and a quick trip over to Vicar Street to catch openers The Ocean.
Getting in the door just as the band is coming onto the cramped stage (there’s two other bands gear behind them at this point) they lure the already tightly packed crowd in closer. As openers they put the foot down hard to get as much punch in as possible, but they’re hampered by an initially poor sound, plus the fact that there’s only one vocalist present tonight. Having witnessed The Ocean at full force during this years Hellfest, it’s a bit of a let down to see them at half strength, knowing what they can achieve when working at total tidal force. Thankfully there’s a nice sized crowd in to see them, which seems to egg them on and you’d like to hope that when they return they’ll be blow the place wide open as headliners (although in a smaller venue clearly). When they finally hit their stride though, during “Orosirian/For The Great Blue Cold Now Reigns,” it’s fantastic and of course, when they finish up with the belting “The City In The Sea” you wish they could play a full set. Unfortunately it’s not to be, and it’s out the door and down the road to Whelan’s the chords of one of the best modern metal songs still ringing around our heads.
Then on to the infinitely smaller and much less crowded Whelan’s, where it’s a whole different prospect. With all the “true” metal fans up the way it’s the chance for those of a more odd persuasion to get their kicks. And odd is exactly what you get when Behold… The Arctopus explode onto the stage bearing what looks like a massive plank of wood with strings attached. It turns out to be a Warr guitar, which player Colin Marston plays with a two-handed tapping technique that leaves the entire venue stunned. A super tight mix of all out schizometal and classical influences this is not what was expected. “We are Opeth from Sweden and simultaneously Cynic from Florida”, they announce half-way through warping minds that thought Genghis Tron were going to be the strangest thing on the bill.
But thankfully Behold… don’t pull the rug out from under the headliners feet completely, because once Tron take the stage, long, thin lights flashing in the background and the chattering teeth drumming of “Board Up The House” begins it’s all about them. With so much of their techno-babble metal depending on machines, it’s always okay to be a little worried before hand, but with the stage stripped almost bare (apart from an array of keyboards on the left and a big guitar effects board stage right) it’s straight into their frantic cyber-grind world, where you get so caught up you forget much of it’s programmed. And it’s a very willing journey.
Minor technical problems with the mic aside it’s a perfect performance from the boys who lean heavily on Board Up The House material. So with the opening onslaught of the title track you get the small, but crushed close to the stage crowd howling back “Noone comes! And the boards! Stay! Up!” while shaking their bodies. It certainly doesn’t take long to get the audience moving and dancing. Following up with “City On A Hill,” the downbeat, yet groove-laden “Things Don’t Look Good” and “I Won’t Come Back Alive,” then dipping back a bit with the hyper “Arms” and an unexpectedly gruff cover of Big Black’s “Bad Penny” it’s explosive song after explosive song. Is it grind? Is it dance? Is it fuck? Who cares, just throw yourself around as best you can and enjoy the madness.
Apparently Opeth also played a great gig, but clearly no-one here cares. This was the gig choice of the night. Good times.