Who: GridLink, Phobia, and Maruta
Where: The Roxy
When: Sunday, August 14, 2011
The Crowd: Dozens of metalheads shaking off a hangover from Saturday, including some familiar faces braving this show after spending all of the previous day at The Power Of The Riff.
Better Than: Being hyped for pre-season football, considering that none of the games matter.
"3 days left before GridLink vertical panzers drop into enemy-held territory and begin preparations for invasion," grindcore gods GridLink posted on Facebook a few days ago.
Well, Los Angeles is still standing after this invasion, but, as the headliners yesterday for the latest installment of Scion's Metal Matinee series, GridLink tried their hardest to completely decimate it all.
Miami quartet Maruta opened with a pulverizing set, mainly featuring tracks from their new album Forward Into Regression, including "Strain," "Salient," and "Conform To Deform." They also sprinkled in favorites from their 2008 debut In Narcosis. The band encountered technical difficulties at the beginning, and also had to overcome a crowd that did not seem familiar with them. Fortunately, only two songs in, the band began whipping the kids into a frenzy and the circle pit opened up. The manic vocals of Mitchell Luna complimented ferocious riffs provided by Eduardo Borja on guitar.
Local favorites Phobia took the stage next. Shane McLachlan's abrasive vocals on tracks like "Beers, Bitches, & Bulletbelts" and "So Full Of Hate" -- as well as tight musicianship anchored by drummer Danny Walker -- incited the crowd into its greatest intensity of the evening. Everyone was intoxicated by the band's wicked death/grind/punk brew, and expanded the circle pit all the way across the room. (Even bystanders in front of the back bar couldn't escape moshers barreling through the room.) When Phobia's set ended, the crowd thinned out slightly. While they were not technically the headliners, the band's 20-year history in the SoCal metal scene ensured they were the main draw for the day.
With their entire catalog -- Amber Grey and Orphan -- consisting of only 22 minutes of music, GridLink went straight for the kill when they took the stage. Forgoing stage banter in favor of a blistering hit-and-run approach, the fact that some people had already left (and those who remained were exhausted) did not deter GridLink from putting on one of the most entertaining metal sets of 2011. This show was the band's first performance in Los Angeles, and one of only two U.S. performances they've done in 2011, so they made sure to make it memorable.
Vocalist Jon Chang put on a karate-like display of stage acrobatics that would have had lesser men huffing and puffing after one song. Yet, at no point during his set did his high-pitched shrieking lose any intensity. The rest of the band deserves praise as well; GridLink keeps an incredibly fast pace even for this style of music, and the guitar work of Takafumi Matsubara and Steve Procopio lived up to the high standards they set for themselves on their recordings. It was awe-inspiring to watch the finger work of bassist Ted Patterson, rocking out on a seven-string bass and utilizing every single one within the manic structure of GridLink's brand of grindcore.
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GridLink's Set List: We got so overwhelmed by GridLink's stage antics that we forgot to grab the set list, but you can basically put their two albums on shuffle to replicate the experience.
Personal Bias: GridLink is one of two current projects featuring ex-Discordance Axis vocalist Jon Chang. GridLink are pretty awesome, but we're even bigger fans of Hayaino Daisuki, his Slayer-at-Ludicrous Speed thrash project. Maybe next time, Jon?
Scion continues to put together unique line-ups for their Scion Metal Matinee series. No idea if they'll sell any cars through their involvement in the heavy metal scene, but we are all for them bringing bands like GridLink to Los Angeles.
Notebook Dump: Shame on the kids that left after Phobia's set.