Early Bird Metal Show with Devil Driver and Death Angel
The Regency Ballroom
March 3, 2017
All photos by Raymond Ahner.
The space-time continuum was torn at the Regency Theater in San Francisco to accommodate raucous California metal bands DevilDriver and Death Angel. The thought of a show with this proportion of these bigger than life metal merchants evokes images of late night debauchery on a heralded stage. What occurred for this edition of the Bound by the Road Tour was a show that started early and ended early, on a stage that was different than what most had anticipated.
It was a rather surreal circumstance that was evident upon entering the Regency. The entrance on Van Ness was closed and signs directed show goers around the corner to the Sutter entrance, where fans were led to the smaller Regency.
Friday night metal shows in SF usually are the type of happening where the plug needs to be pulled to get the evening to stop. This night flipped that notion on its head…it was almost as if everyone had to wake up early Saturday to do something other than recuperate from an immense rock show the night before.
This Friday night scene was set to kickoff at 6:30 on a Friday night to showcase extreme metal from five bands. 6:30 on a Friday night in SF?!!….Yikes!! Throwing an extra curve into the mix was the fact that one of the bands on the bill (Winds of Plague) did not appear.
What this meant to the show is that not only did it start early, but the sets for the bands that did play also started a bit earlier than anticipated. For local heroes Death Angel, their set as main support started just after 8 pm!! It was strange enough to see them as anything but the headliner, particularly as their last SF shows this past Christmas were so out of control, but playing a set this early was bizarre.
Despite the odd situation Death Angel rocked with a furor. They kicked off with the intro to ‘The Ulta-Violence’ and then launched into ‘Evil Priest’ (both from their debut recording). This set the crowd into a sweaty frenzy, and suddenly all seemed normal again with vocalist Mark Osegueda, guitarists Ted Aguilar and Rob Cavestany, drummer Will Carroll, and bassist Damien Sisson demonstrating the pummeling precision that has made them a metal juggernaut for the past 30+ years.
However soon the strangeness of the evening would again raise its head. Though Death Angel beat it back and seemed to banish it for good with the trifecta of ‘Caster of Shame’ (The Dream Calls for Blood – 2013), ‘Thrown to the Wolves’ (The Art of Dying – 2004), and ‘The Moth’ (The Evil Divide – 2016), suddenly Mark and the boys were thanking the crowd and waving as Death Angel’s set ended……right at 9 pm. Strange reality slapped the crowd in the face, as many stood in disbelief that Death Angel was done.
The off-kilter rhythm of the evening then continued. There was a lengthy break to reset the stage for DevilDriver from Santa Barbara (Dez Fafara – vox, Austin D’Amond – drums, guitarists Mike Spreitzer and Neal Tiemann, and ‘Ashes’ Ibarra – bass), which had people asking why there was a rush to end Death Angel.
Purveyors of their proclaimed style of California groove metal, DevilDriver (whose name is derived from the bells used by Italian witches to drive away evil) re-ignited the crowd by taking over the stage and dealing out choice cuts from their arsenal. Balancing older material with selections like the grinding groove of ‘Daybreak’ and the brutally atmospheric ‘My Night Sky’ from the 2016 record Trust No One (Napalm Records), DevilDriver moved the crowd into a swirling mess.
Replacing incessant, out-front guitar solos with syncopated battering ram beats and layers of more melodic guitar leads to give a symphonic texture over the growl of Fafara’s vocals, DevilDriver delivered what their crowd wanted. This was never more apparent in the set than when they answered calls from the crowd to play their version of AWOLNATION’s hit ‘Sail’ (Winter Kills – 2013).
It was an epic cover that caused different folks in the audience to head bang, mosh, and grind on each other during the same song…..an odd mix indeed. But then again on this night the odd qualified as the ordinary. Did I mention that the whole show was done by 10:30?…yeah that odd. The early bird may get the worm, but I think the rockers in the house would have rather taken more metal.
Opener The Agonist set the stage for the headliners while bringing their own fans for the female-fronted band. Vocalist Vicky Psarakis mixes growls and clean vocals with the hard metal backdrop of the band.
Setlist: End of the Line | Not All Who Wander Are Lost | Grinfucked | Cry for Me Sky (Eulogy of the Scorned) | Daybreak | I Could Care Less | My Night Sky | Hold Back the Day | Sail (AWOLNATION cover) | Before the Hangman’s Noose | Clouds Over California | Ruthless | Meet the Wretched
Find out more about DevilDriver on their website.
Setlist: The Ultra-Violence (Intro) | Evil Priest | Claws in So Deep | Left for Dead | Son of the Morning | Father of Lies | Caster of Shame | Thrown to the Wolves | The Moth
For more information about Death Angel, check out their website.