Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist, Nick Johnston at Toad's Place July 25th, 2019
This past Thursday, I had the pleasure of catching Between the Buried and Me on their North American Summer Tour. It was supported by fellow proggressive metal artists The Contortionist and Nick Johnston. The show took place on July 25th at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Connecticut, and by the feel of the crowd, I could tell that it was definitely a heavily anticipated event that was not to be missed. The tour package was very well rounded, it kept up with the prog theme while also adding subtle bits of jazz influence which could be seen in Nick Johnston’s work. Johnston opened up the night with several tracks from his latest album, Wide Eyes in the Dark, which was released this past April. It presented a unique combination of progressive jazz-rock with the same prog metal vibe of his older works and was a nice preface to the heavier themes heard throughout the rest of the night.
I could feel the excitement in the room as The Contortionist, Indiana based prog metal band, finished setting up their gear. I could tell Johnston’s set succeeded in getting the crowd hyped up for the rest of the show as everyone was already congregating around the barrier before The Contortionist had even taken the stage. Their set opened with the song “Clairvoyant”, the title track of their 2017 album. This was a very tasteful choice as an opener, it’s ominous intro and drawn out spooky vocals did the trick of getting the audience charged up for the rest of the set. “Flourish”, one of their earlier songs from their 2010 album Exoplanet followed, and almost immediately I could see bodies moving about in every corner of the room. Even the band’s more technical pieces still managed to get everyone dancing as vocalist Mike Lessard interacted with the audience. The bands’ spectacular stage presence combined with synchronized lighting effects made for an overall stellar performance. Their set continued on with a good mix of songs spanning their discography, while also featuring their newest single, “Early Grave”.
It seemed nearly impossible to match the energy of The Contortionist’s set, but Between the Buried and Me really came through. This was actually my first time seeing these guys live and I definitely was not disappointed. Their set opened with the song “House Organ” off of one of their more recent albums Automata I. The driving kick drum paired with the distorted drones of the guitars really set the mood for the last set of the night. After witnessing the sheer energy of the crowd during The Contortionist’s set, I wasn’t sure that anyone had any steam left for BTBAM, but man, was I wrong! The band threw it back to their 2015 album Coma Ecliptic for their second song of the night “The Coma Machine”. I could tell by the crowd’s reaction that this was a drip of nostalgia for many. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the show in their own way, whether it be causing a ruckus in the pits or standing off to the side soaking in the technical melodies that filled the room. I even caught a glimpse of a couple guys up against the barrier, enthusiastically air-guitaring along with the guys on stage. It was a fun night to be had overall, between the engaging performances from all three band’s along with the unmatched energy from the crowd. The first time seeing any band live is always unforgettable, but this show was truly an experience in itself.