Lamb of God/GWAR - September 23, 2009 - The Amphitheater @ Station Square, Pittsburgh, PA
By: David E. Gehlke
An ominous cloud hung over this late September night in Pittsburgh, probably because the G20 Summit was set to begin the next day, causing a mass evacuation of the city's tenants. It was literally a ghost town as yours truly drove in from Cleveland (where he was displaced for the week because of the summit), but considering the regular trials and tribulations of navigating the Steel City, it was a welcome surprise.
A wholly reliable source spoke of how subpar a lot of Lamb of God's headlining dates had been (blame the economy, right?), which is a bit of surprise given the one-two punch of the Richmond-based metallers and GWAR. However, a respectable throng filled the Amphitheater @ Station Square and were prepped for Job For A Cowboy, who are just getting the touring cycle started for their new Ruination effort.
Culling from all three of their releases (including their ever-popular Doom EP), JFAC are quite the aural assault in the live setting, in spite of the relative unmemorable nature of their songs. "Constitutional Masturbation," "Entombment of a Machine," and "Embedded" were among set highlights, with drummer Jon Rice cementing his status as one of the scene's best young skin-bashers. He also has marvelous taste in music, wisely trotting around in a Baroness shirt pre-and-post show.
GWAR (who very well could have headlined) opened up with a 10-minute movie, a mockumentary of sorts. Now in their 25th year of existence, the inter-galactic metallers were their usual entertaining selves, as blood (the fake kind) gushed from the various stage props that were hauled out during the band's 45-minute set. As visual as the band is, musically, they've proven their worth, even as they murdered Michael Jackson on stage and proceeded to hit on singer Orderus Orungus’ crack addiction. No surprise here - a good portion of the crowd dissipated once their set concluded.
With God Forbid guitarist Doc Coyle subbing for a temporarily sidelined Mark Morton (he’s expecting; rather, his wife is), Lamb of God had all of the energy of a DMV worker. In essence, they were flat and it showed as “Now You Got Something To Die For” lacked the rash intensity it possesses on record. Sure, frontman Randy Blythe was a perpetual motion machine, but he can’t account for the band’s over-reliance on identical riffs and pseudo-Pantera grooves. Variation has never been one of the band’s strong suits, causing songs like “Set to Fail,” “Redneck,” “Walk With Me in Hell,” and “Ruin” to bleed mercilessly into one another.
When Lamb of God is on, they’re on, that’s no lie, so maybe there was an “enormo-dome” letdown caused by this plush Metallica arena opening gig they’re currently embarking upon. Boos and “fuck the police” chants reigned down from the crowd after Blythe mentioned the fact Pittsburgh had more police in its bounds than any other city in North America. Maybe some of those non-pleasantries could have been directed toward the band…