My thoughts after the Trail Of Tears show
|Written by:||Jason W.|
A lot of you probably do not know much about me, except for my forum posts, so I think it is time I added something more personal to the site that I've been a member for over 3 years now. This past Saturday, the 19th, I had a chance to see a band I've been following since the year 2000. A little more than 2 hours away from where I live at a venue called Mark's Place, Trail Of Tears made a stop for their first ever tour here in the U.S., something that back in 2000 I'd have never thought would happen here! They arrived with not only Unexpect, but also Echoes Of Eternity, the latter of which I had pre-ordered their debut even before it was released, that's how much I enjoyed their demo. This was certainly something I'd been excited about for months; and I can be a hard person to get excited.
So, I made the long journey with one of my closest friends, a friend I met specifically because of our interest in similar metal bands. While we were talking about events of the past week over the usual random metal mixes we end up making, I kept reflecting in the back of my mind about my experiences with metal over the past 10 years, and how it's changed me, and how getting a chance to see a band like Trail Of Tears must mean that all that promotion I do for them and other lesser known bands must at least be working, and that it's all worth it for a few hours to see those bands live.
While some bands enjoy a great following now in the U.S., such at Nightwish or Amon Amarth, bands like Trail Of Tears continue to not be followed by the mainstream metal fans here. Considering the last 2 shows I saw at this venue had about 100 people (After Forever) and maybe 75 (Enslaved), my friend and I did not expect too many people at this show either. And it's actually a great venue to see a band; very small, and as an added bonus for those interested, it's attached directly to a strip club, which is owned by the same people. So even if the band was terrible, at least there was something else to entertain yourself with next door (as many bands do while they wait to go on stage!).
I've done a radio show at a local university for nearly 7 years now, and Trail Of Tears was a band I played on my first show. At the time, I was pretty much on my own with metal; my friends had long since forsaken underground music or never liked it to begin with. And I had long since forsaken the U.S. metal scene, save for a few bands like Iced Earth or Nevermore. I can recall several phone calls from random university students to even a few crazy dudes at the local jail, who for some reason can listen to the show, about Trail Of Tears. In fact, my playing their song "In Frustration's Web" from their "Profoundemonium" album earned me a date with a fellow listener!
At the time, 2000-2001 was a difficult time for me, and the deeply emotional lyrics from the "Profoundemonium" album were (and still are) very personal to me. The same could be said for their song "Ecstatic" off their 2002 album "A New Dimension Of Might." Ronny's vocals in that first verse have such intensity to me, and Cathrine's vocals a few minutes into the song have bewitched me for nearly 6 years now. And with last year's major changes in Trail Of Tears's membership, and Cathrine returning to the band, I really came into this show ready to sing along to as many songs as I know, all while enjoying several beers of course!
My friend and I arrived as a band playing lots of Iron Maiden songs was up on stage. And as I assumed, there were very few cars in the parking lot. In fact, I think I could have known everyone at the gig by their first name if I introduced myself to them all. By the time Trail Of Tears was on the stage, I was certain that there were really only 25 people there who were not part of a band or staff. I was a bit concerned that some of the bands would be a bit letdown due to the poor turnout, since that has been the case with many bands I've seen in the past. However, Unexpect, Echoes Of Eternity, and Trail Of Tears all played with a high professionalism, and also with a more intimate interaction with the crowd.
I'm not going to review specifically the whole performance of the 3 bands, but I can say that I came away impressed with each. Unexpect is a band I really enjoyed watching live; I had only listened to their most recent disc a few times, but their live performance more than outshines their studio performance. Perhaps because this type of music is so complicated that I really needed the visual experience to understand it. Leïlindel had some of the best dance moves I've seen for a metal vocalist and they fit the music perfectly. Her attitude was so upbeat, that even when her (very) long hair became entangled in Artagoth's guitar, she managed to laugh about it.
Echoes Of Eternity's sound was exactly like that on the CD, and it seemed they never missed a note. Francine's vocals didn't have the odd effects that are on their studio album, so they sounded much more natural - and therefore better. And their new material sounded great; I know several of the people there are looking forward to their upcoming 2008 release! The two bands really set a strong foundation for Trail Of Tears to stand on, and they came on to play with equal success.
It was an interesting experience to see a band with an entirely new lineup play. They play all the synth melodies with a laptop, and are also without a clean male vocalist. The sound on the first song was a bit off, but by now I'd already stopped paying attention to the technical details and decided to enjoy my first time being an audience to the commanding performance Ronny has on stage. He seemed most comfortable when someone was screaming the words right back at him, something that looking back on the music and his lyrics makes complete sense.
Cathrine seemed to smile through the entire performance, and sang all the clean male vocal parts along with the female vocal lines. It took a few songs to get used to the idea of there only being two vocalists, but Cathrine made it obvious that she's more than capable of singing the extra parts. The new members of the band gained more and more intensity throughout the performance too, and they really felt like the new face of Trail Of Tears by the end of the set. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they have to offer in terms of songwriting in the future!
Now, I've actually had some contact with Ronny and Cathrine in the past year, through their myspace pages. Cathrine and I traded a few messages when I found out that she was back in the band, and I complimented her singing techniques and how much I'd missed hearing her sing on the past 2 releases. So, once the band was offstage, I figured that I at least would have something to talk about if I got that chance to say hello by the merchandise table.
Of course, considering there were only 20 people mingling after their set, it was pretty easy to say hello! In fact, I wasn't even up to the table yet when Cathrine began talking to me. She recognized my face from my myspace picture and messages, and said "I know you from the internet!" I have to say, while I do know I'm easy to recognize if you meet me, I really never expected someone from any band, let alone one I'd had such a strong interest in for so long to recognize me that quickly. My friend had kept saying "I wonder if she'll remember your messages or picture" whenever we talked about the show in the preceeding weeks, but I never expected such a personal greeting.
I asked her a few questions about the band, and of course complimented her on her performance, which she was genuinely appreciative. If you have ever met someone for the first time but felt you'd become instant friends, or that you'd met in them in some past life, that's sort of what my conversations with Cathrine and Ronny were like, even if they were only 5 or 10 minutes. Cathrine was very insistant that we'd all meet again sometime in the future, and get a chance to talk more. The venue unfortunately wanted to close, so we all had to leave - even the band!
My conversations with Ronny were the same pleasant experience, as he also knew who I was from some messages I'd sent - in fact he even knew my screen name as you all know it here on MS, since it's the same for any networking site I'm on. My friend gave a valiant effort to take a picture of us, but of course we'd both had our share of alcohol that night in celebration of such a good gig, that his picture is... well, blurred a bit. But good enough for remembering in the future. So, yes, it was a great experience to say the least!
I have to say, that its times like those that remind me why I put such an effort into metal in general, and spend way too much time listening to it and all the time I spend with the radio show I do. Music for me is mostly a solitary experience, except when I see my friends a few times a month, because really, I don't come across too many people who even know any of the bands that played this past Saturday in my regular travels. Obviously you can see why I love MS so much since it's a place to talk!
The reason why I consider certain bands my favorites has always been because of the emotional content of their music, and particularly the lyrics and vocals. I've always searched out for those rare bands that see the world the same way I do, which I've found is often a bit offbeat, complex, and intensely driven around interpersonal relationships. And getting a chance to meet two vocalists who write and sing in a very similar way to my thoughts was a rare treat that I know can come only so often considering where my favorite bands are from. I've met a few other band members in the past year who I enjoyed talking to very much, but not like this time. I can only look forward to a future meeting with the band to continue the conversations. Metal can be a very big community at times, but it can also be very small, even with several thousand miles separating fans from bands and other fans most of the time.
Hopefully I've given some of you at least a little insight into my thoughts and my relationship with metal
||Written on 21.01.2008 by Music and the written word are two of my passions in life, so I figured, why not combine the two?|
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