Last week, the Pabst paladins of Red Fang hit the road with the other other excellent sludge band to come out of Savannah, GA, Black Tusk and fellow Portlandians Lord Dying. Needless to say, this tour is as much of a must-see as Hulk Hogan’s sextape isn’t. Both groups bring a certain rock ‘n’ fuckin’ roll vibe to their live performances that simply never gets old, even for that one lame Opeth fan in the crowd, and both are quickly becoming standard bearers for the muckier side of heavy music.
I made my way up to San Francisco for the date at Slim’s on Saturday, and despite feeling fully prepared for both bands to thoroughly expand the circumference of my rear end, I left with my jaw hanging. No disrespect meant to a pleasantly surprising Lord Dying or the beer guzzling heathens of Red Fang, but a lot of it had to do with the show put on by Black Tusk.
Let’s get this out of the way first; these peaches just look the part of the music they play. Whether most admit it or not, aesthetic has a lot to do with how enjoyable a band is to watch live, and Black Tusk physically personify their sound. Monotone black inked skin, greasy hair and beards and pentagram belt buckles are all easy ways into the hearts of an audience who is already chanting “Six! Six! Six!” along with the band.
The look is simply complementary to the talent and energy Black Tusk are able to convey in their live show. Their movements are effortless, and their emotion is raw. They have fun, become furious, laugh hysterically and stare maniacally all at the same time. When you play a breakneck style of southern-fried sludge metal that features three distinctly different vocal approaches (in case you didn’t know, guitarist Andrew Fidler, bassist Jonathan Athon and drummer Jamie May all contribute vocally), its important to fit the visceral nature of the sound at hand, and Black Tusk do just that in spades.
With all this being said, Black Tusk’s set got me thinking; who puts on the best live show and gets the least amount of press about it? As I said before, I was fully expecting to be wowed, but not to the level at which I was. So I want to hear it from you guys… Which bands have put on a show that completely exceeded your expectations? Why was this the case, and how did it affect your connection with that band in the wake of their set? I know I’ve become a bigger Black Tusk fan since seeing them on Saturday, so it begs the question; is a great live show the key to fanhood?
Sound off in the comments!