Between the Buried and Me + CHON + I Built the Sky
170 Russell, Melbourne
29 February 2016
Review by Callum Doig
What is it with prog music these days? How does the genre now hone some of the most amazing bands of all time in its long, epic history? There’s plenty of fresh blood out there that have plenty to show off to the world. Although, Between the Buried and Me (BTBAM) aren’t the ones with fresh blood, but they sure as hell have the strength to be up there as one of the few masters of the genre. BUT, the young ones that joined them on the Aussie leg were none other than instrumental newcomers CHON, who embarked on a five date tour across the country with the North Carolinian prog superstars.
Opening the night were local instrumental four-piece I Built the Sky with quite an eccentric introduction. Guitarist Rohan Stevenson and co. had more than the usual expectations for the opening act with numeral tracks from the Intortus and self-titled EPs. Their progressive instru-metal tunes built up heavier than mellow and technical levels as opposed to a lot of instrumental prog groups. I Built the Sky hadn’t bothered with using up a few seconds by introducing themselves between each song they played. Safe to say that among all the other opening acts I’ve seen support BTBAM, I Built the Sky were my favourite.
I’ve previously heard plenty of great things about the San Diego locals CHON, but I was never prepared for what they had to offer that night. A four-piece of youngsters that looked close to just hitting their twenties jamming out a big collection of progressive jazz licks without the need of whipping out the whole djent movement. As a twenty-three year old, I was stuck between being utterly amazed and having an existential breakdown because of a bunch of young dudes that were ripping out better riffs and solos than I ever could as a guitarist myself. All of that aside, CHON didn’t have a whole lot to say in between songs as they were more than focused on their forty minute performance with a number of songs primarily from their Grow and Newborn Sun records.
The last two times I’ve seen Between the Buried and Me was at the Corner Hotel, specifically for their Parallax II: Future Sequence tours. Seeing them at 170 Russell this time was a good change, despite how much I was used to seeing them in another venue for their last few appearances. Nonetheless, the Bee-Tee Bam boys pulled out a mix of their newer material from Coma Ecliptic with a few classics such as Foam Born B: Decade of Statues, Obfuscation, Telos and Shevanel Cut a Flip.
Throughout the whole set, I couldn’t even see a single sweat break from any of the members. With such difficult rhythmic patterns to execute, especially for drummer Blake Richardson, there was not even a single bit of tension as they performed. Though there was a fair amount of movement in the pit, it wasn’t as intense as I anticipated, being at the front this time. After Famine Wolf, the crowd kept asking for one more as per usual, and BTBAM returned with, Selkies: The Endless Obsession, stating that they had written that song when CHON drummer Nathan Camarena was only nine years old.
To sum it all up, it was two thirds instrumental and one third with lyrical passages. Seeing Between the Buried and Me this time with CHON and I Built the Sky seemed a lot more fitting than when they came down in 2013 with The Contortionist and Ne Obliviscaris. Nothing against those bands, but they didn’t exactly feel like the most fitting choices for BTBAM. Their 2012 tour with Animals As Leaders was absolutely stellar, despite the band that opened for them at the time of the tour. If Between the Buried and Me ever returned, I’d be more than happy to see both of these support acts join them again.