Fubar St. Louis – November 9, 2015
Say what you want about instrumental rock & heavy metal music being boring, overdone, or a desperate ploy for individual fame; I’m sure metal elitists have already beaten you to it. For some it’s an enjoyable, refreshing break from the cookie monster vocals and superficial egos that often plague a band’s evolution withing the genre. For others, it forces too much of their attention towards individual instruments and the talent of the musician(s) rather than the brutal, raw passion that vocalists bring to the music. Some listeners prefer verses and a chorus to portray a song’s structure, while others simply allow harmonic chords and arpeggios do the talking. In any case, those who’ve chosen instrumental expression as their musical path must spark an interest in many music lovers’ ears today, because there are plenty of touring musicians still catering to that crowd.
Personally, I am a huge fan of instrumental music. It’s nice to have a mellow, soothing alternative when I’m not in the mood for the heavier in-your-face, scream-at-the-sky, or doom-and-gloom styles of metal. Luckily for me, Saint Louis, Missouri played host to several outstanding instrumental acts in 2015, including Venezuelan guitar prodigy Felix Martin, famous for his signature 14-string guitars; John 5, known for his work with heavy metal legends David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie; former Megadeth and current solo-guitarist Marty Friedman; the dynamic acoustic guitar-wielding duo Rodrigo Y Gabriella; and most recently, Russian Circles, an Explosions In the Sky-style ambient trio from Chicago.
It was on a crisp November evening when Angel Vivaldi graced Fubar with his presence as he wound down his first U.S. tour. Black metal band Necronomicon was headlining on one side of the venue alongside several local bands, with Vivaldi on the other side. When I looked around and found myself on surrounded by burly men with long hair, corpse paint and spiked leather armbands, I knew I was on the wrong side of the venue on this particular evening. Once in the correct room, I went to check out the merchandise on display toward the back of the room, and noticed Vivaldi standing next to the table, listening to one of the local openers. I casually went up to him, shook his hand and thanked him for coming to St. Louis to entertain us. He humbly appreciated the kind words and thanked me for making it to the show.
In addition to booking, managing and promoting the Touring You Apart Tour himself, Vivaldi also programmed all of the lighting & visual effects present during his set, synching them with each song so that his whole performance flowed together seamlessly. Epic facial expressions and boisterous mannerisms indicated he was having a blast as he cruised through frenzied guitar riffs, feeding off of the crowd’s response throughout the set. He plucked and strummed his way through so many groovy riffs at break-neck speed that I eventually just zoned out for a bit, focusing on the sound of the guitar as it blended in with the rest of the band. Towards the end of the set, the second guitarist, the bassist (boasting a double-necked bass guitar), and Vivaldi came together at stage right and head-banged simultaneously as they cruised towards the end of the last song.
The musical talent of Vivaldi and his touring band was evident in the tightness of the live performance throughout the evening, both visually and audibly. It’s too bad that The Algorithm was unable to make the tour due to visa issues. Regardless, I hope I have the privilege to see Angel Vivaldi again soon.
The songs performed that night (not in setlist order):
- An Angel’s Poem On a Grave
- Sea of Heartbreak
- A Venutian Spring
- A Mercurian Summer
- An Erisian Autumn
- A Martian Winter
- Tracks 1, 2, 3, and 5 from Away With Words, Part 1
The following pictures were taken with my iPhone during Angel Vivaldi’s set at Fubar. I’m not one to stand near the stage with my phone out the whole time, but when one of my favorite metal guitarists is in town I like to remember the occasion by snapping some shots here and there. For the most part, I leave the photography to Nick Licata and Matt Albers.