by Klaus Kinski
Meshuggah @ Best Buy Theatre, 6/21/2014 (more by @lllukewilliams)
On Saturday (6/21), Swedish polyrhythmic skull-pummelers Meshuggah brought their bowel-loosening 25th anniversary tour to the very sold out Best Buy Theater in NYC's best kept secret, Times Square. This NYC gig was the final date of the US leg of the tour, called 25 Years of Musical Deviance, which kicked off Wiltern in Los Angeles back on June 6, 2014.
An extremely distressing hangover almost had me sitting this show out. However, being the high-functioning alcoholic that I am, I knew that if I just got my trembling, flabby ass to the venue, a coupla beers and the fellowship of 2099 other metalheads would have me feeling as right as rain. And sure enough, having run the slow-motion gauntlet of touristy congestion that is Times Square, I soon found myself double fisting cups of Bud Light from the comfort of the Best Buy theater's ample birds-eye-view seating area and having a helluva time. Mercifully, Meshuggah had only one opener, Between the Buried and Me, which meant the sooner they were done doing their thing, the sooner Meshuggah would be giving me brain aneurysms with their utterly relentless polymetric opuses.
In a weird way, Meshuggah might be one of the most imposing bands I have ever seen perform live. With his unbelievably brutal vocal styling and minimalist headbanging style and bizarre grimaces, singer Jens Kidman is a very effectively scary front man. Guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, guitarist Mårten Hagström, and bass player Dick Lövgren loom larger than life on stage; they always seem to be in silhouette and barely move from their stations on stage. No corpse paint, no violent mannerisms, no thrashing about... it's their stoicism that I find striking and truly brutal. And drummer Tomas Haake is flat out one of my biggest heroes. He is the backbone of a band whose music is extremely complicated and beat-driven and he absolutely dominates. He's a drummer's drummer; exceedingly graceful and a master of tempo and confusing-as-hell, physically demanding drum structures. For this tour the stage was festooned with five gigantic HR Giger-esque floor-to-ceiling banners as well as a pretty rock solid light rig that, when synched to Tomas Haake's frenetic bass drum patterns, made me feel as though I'd most certainly have a seizure or throw up or both. It was awesome.
Prior to this 25th anniversary tour, Meshuggah enlisted their fans to help curate the setlist by establishing an online poll where fans could vote on songs they would like to hear on the tour. The result was a really fantastic setlist (see below) that featured songs that went as far back as 1989 when the band was still just getting their bearings. The crowd never lost steam, and when classics like "New Millennium Cyanide Christ" and "Bleed" were unleashed, the chaos would reach new levels. From start to finish the show was impeccable. But for me the highlight was the encore which consisted of Catch 33's three-song opus consisting of "Minds Mirrors", "In Death - Is Life" and "In Death - Is Death". As an album, Catch 33 always came off as one singular piece, but isolating these three songs as an extended encore was perfection.
Setlist from Meshuggah's Best Buy Theater show is below...
MESHUGGAH | BEST BUY THEATER, 6/21/14 | SETLIST
Future Breed Machine
The Hurt that Finds You First
Do Not Look Down
Gods of Rapture
New Millennium Cyanide Christ
Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion
Straws Pulled at Random
In Death - Is Life
In Death - Is Death