Concert Review: BTBAM, Animals as Leaders, & Tessract @ The Pageant 11/13/11

Between The Buried And Me with Animals As Leaders and Tesseract at The Pageant

By Matt Albers

            It’s almost always refreshing to see one of your favorite local concert venues take a calculated risk and book a show you wouldn’t expect. Such a show was the St. Louis date of the Saints and Sinners Tour at The Pageant in early November 2011. The lineup featured Raleigh, NC contemporary progressive technical metal heavyweights Between The Buried And Me with support from Animals As Leaders and Tesseract. Initially announced early in the summer, it was surprising to see The Pageant book the show, even though it was clear they anticipated a smaller crowd for their up to 2300 person capacity by announcing that the balcony would be closed for the show, leaving only the lower portion open for a one thousand person maximum capacity.

Though not selling out, the show sold relatively well with most of the concert goers arriving in time for the first opening act. The audience consisted of an unsurprisingly diverse crowd of fans from all walks of life and communities, ranging from hardcore scene kids, open-minded metalheads, stoners, college-aged frat boy “bros,” and even a few hipsters appreciative of these louder bands’ larger-than-life and spacey musical atmospheres and intricate musicianship.

As said before, it was interesting to see that The Pageant would book this show at all, leading one to conclude that perhaps Between The Buried And Me (from now on to be referred to as BTBAM) must have put on a successful performance with a strong crowd response the previous summer at The Pageant on The Cool Tour with As I Lay Dying, Underoath, The Acacia Strain, blessthefall, Cancer Bats and Architects that made the venue’s staff consider booking this show in the first place. Not only is this surprising, but also reassuring to the both the St. Louis fan base of BTBAM as well as the local metal community, as the last time the band stopped in town on a headlining tour in fall 2009 (with opening acts Veil of Maya and Animals As Leaders once again), the show was booked on the side stage at Pop’s.

Speaking of Pop’s, it is interesting, if not crucial, to understand that on the same night that this show was being held at The Pageant, a very similar show was also going on at Pop’s with a lineup consisting of Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Red Fang. One would think that these two shows would have been booked at opposite venues, given each of the headlining acts’ respective popularities. Furthermore, it would seem that the bands on both of these bills would have similar appeals and fan demographics, which seemed to split up fans to the strict die-hards attending the preferred show. Ultimately though, the BTBAM show was booked in St. Louis months before the Mastodon show, leading to the final result.

So, although the crowd for the BTBAM show probably would have been better suited for a venue like Pop’s and the Mastodon show probably more for The Pageant, at least with the BTBAM show at The Pageant, fans were treated to a much cleaner and inviting environment for their show, while the dirtier, more dilapidated club of Pop’s in the shady location of Sauget, IL was probably much more fitting for a sludgy stoner metal band like Mastodon, especially with their very similar opening act of Red Fang.

Back to the lineup and performances of The Pageant that night, that could not have been more perfectly chosen or complimentary to one another. Tesseract from Reading, UK opened the show quite well with their own strong set showcasing their heavy yet ambient stage presence. Although their latest vocalist, former Sky Eats Airplane front man Elliot Coleman, may not possess the same outstanding vocal range and prowess as his predecessor Daniel Tompkins who left the band only a few months prior in August 2011, Coleman did prove to fill the empty shoes rather well, not only in both clean singing and screaming duties but live performance presence as well. Next up was the always impressive jazz-influenced instrumental progressive djent metal group Animals As Leaders from Washington D.C. who, based on musical talent and song writing skills, may have arguably been the best band on the tour. A screen projector on either side of the stage displaying strange geometric patterns and trippy color effects added to the band’s sound, nature and atmosphere. The eight string guitar playing of the virtuosic pair Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes was nothing short of amazing to watch for both fans and newcomers alike. Having headlined the Fubar venue in St. Louis during summer 2011, both the band and fans agreed that The Pageant was a much nicer venue for the band to perform in.

BTBAM took the stage to perform their headlining set, which was decorated only with a single backdrop and an onstage light show of color-shifting L.E.D. lights, a minimalist compliment to the live presentation of the band’s inspiring yet controlled chaotic music. Opening with “Mirrors” and “Obfuscation” from their last full-length album, 2009’s The Great Misdirect, BTBAM delivered the damn near flawlessly precise musicianship and eclectic stage show any and all would expect from the band. Vocalist and keyboardist Tommy Giles Rogers, constantly belting growls while still maintaining clean vocal abilities, jumped back and forth between the keyboard to the front of the stage, emphatically pumping his fist and screaming to the crowd, displaying a perfect combination of death metal and hardcore music stage mannerisms. The band’s set consisted of songs from their latest release, their 2011 EP and Metal Blade Records debut The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, as well as 2007’s Colors (save the epic “Prequel to the Sequel”), and most notably, an eight song medley of select band and fan favorite tracks from their first three albums.

Seeing such incredibly talented and unique metal bands together on the same stage in the same night was unquestionably a rare and one of a kind experience. Even rarer was that fans, whether sitting at tables or moshing in the pit, were able to experience it at such a well-designed and well-kept venue as The Pageant. It is likely that even the most anal nitpickers in the audience had difficulty not feeling that the price of admission was money well spent for a truly fulfilling concert.

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