I roll into Oakland Metro just as Exist finish their last song. Like every other building in this area of Oakland, it appears to have been a warehouse at some point in its lifetime, and ditto, it’s crowded. I’m surprised so many people are there early enough to see Exist, especially given that the show started at seven. Presumably, I also missed Anisoptera before them, since I will later find one of their shirts in the pit during Obscura‘s set. That doesn’t matter so much to me; I’m here for the first show of what is likely the best tech death tour that the US will see for a decade, hand picked by the big shots in Obscura. Beyond Creation, Inferi, and tucked into the middle, Archspire. What a time to be alive.
I get a bit of time to size up the place before Inferi go on. It’s one of the bigger concert spaces I’ve seen and is filled with people wearing Archspire shirts despite that being absolutely inappropriate. Hey, maybe they just got them at Archspire‘s merch booth, but I’m not feeling that generous, so I make note of the people whose lack of cred makes them prime targets for pit punishment. God knows I’m one of them as my aging Dillinger shirt is printed on 40% grey. The back bar has a chandelier made out of moose antlers and what I assume is a fake warthog mounted on the wall behind it. Drinks are cheap-ish, for the Bay at least. The place checks out.
Inferi are bearded (except for the stage left guitarist) and play fast. Like god damn, that’s fast. “The Dead Horizon” sees the crowd already breaking out into a pit and half a dozen fans crowd around Steve Boiser as he shrieks and scowls. My roommate shows up during “Condemned Assailant” and we dive into the crowd just in front of the pit. Despite its size and shape, the Metro has great sound, and close to the stage, you can hear nearly everything clearly without blowing out your precious eardrums. Inferi‘s set covers a lot of material from Revenant and even a few deep cuts from The Path of Apotheosis, and the crowd eats it up. Their thrashy and grandiose brand of tech death isn’t the most pit-conducive of the night’s offerings but I get pummeled anyway.
It’s nothing compared to what happens next. As is both expected and moral, everyone here seems to be in anticipation for Archspire, and when the set kicks off with a sample offering the advice—”Don’t fire the gun when you’re talking!”—the crowd is suddenly animated by calamus. Simply put, Archspire drive the place bonkers. Cuts from Relentless Mutation stir up the shit-kickingest, stage-divingest, ribcage-crushingest pit I’ve seen in years. A succession of divers throw themselves into the crowd, though I find I’m a bit less buoyant than the rather petite woman who jumps off before me. At some point during “The Mimic Well,” I go after a guy in the pit and he ruins me, sending me sprawling back to the front with what feels like a pulled trapezius. My roommate’s glasses escape into the pit, presumably to a violent death.1 Archspire loom above like gods, each one of them impossibly fast, and Oli guiding a crowd eager to scream “Remote Tumor Seeker” with him. Bodies fly. When Archspire play deeper cuts like “Lucid Collective Somnambulation,” I realize just what a huge leap the band have taken from one album to the next. People are going to be talking about Relentless Mutation the same way they talk about Incurso in a few years, but I doubt Spawn Of Possession ever conjured a pit like this.
For Beyond Creation, things calm down a bit. When I saw them play in Chicago with Rivers of Nihil and The Zenith Passage supporting, they made all of the other bands look like amateurs. That certainly won’t happen tonight, as the band’s new material for Algorhythm isn’t quite so flashy. Nevertheless, older cuts like “Omnipresent Perception” throw the crowd into a rage and I pick up some new bruises. The man next to me is very tall and very intent on protecting a battered 24 ounce can of Tecate from the pit and a few particularly truculent women to our left. He ultimately fails, but the can is mostly drained before it hits the floor and is crushed underfoot to the sound of “Earthborn Evolution.” Meanwhile, one particular drunkard decides he’s the King of Stage Diving.
After a brief respite and second round of hopeless glasses-searching, Obscura take the stage and launch into a few songs from Diluvium. I feel like the sole person in the room that isn’t a massive Obscura fan, and though I can’t sing along with the deep cuts from Akróasis and Cosmogenesis, it’s still a great show. The band might not pack in the intensity of Archspire, but their showmanship and skill are undeniable and the crowd gets nearly as rowdy as they did listening to those Vancouverites. The King of Stage Diving foists himself on the public almost continuously, and we’re none too pleased with his tyranny given his size and inebriation. During “Sermon of the Seven Suns” I feel a tap on my shoulder and see a finger pointing upwards. Since it’s not the King of Stage Diving I’m happy to oblige, and my neighbor joyously spends the next four minutes aloft. Suddenly, The King gazes upon me and those to my left, and as he gracelessly propels himself towards us, we graciously part to expedite his passage to the floor. Unbroken but bowed, the King is defeated, and we’re left to enjoy “Diluvium” and plenty of other cuts as much as the band do. When Obscura finally take their bow, I’m more than ready to chant their name; if the band keep setting up tours like this, I will be a lifelong supporter.
Thanks go out to Oakland Metro, Anisoptera, Exist, Inferi, Archspire, Beyond Creation, and Obscura for coming together for the first show in the world’s greatest tech death tour. Go see this bill if at all possible.