Convergence of Modern Prog Greats: Animals As Leaders & Periphery bring co-headline tour to Nashville

By Rosie Walker
(photos by Brian Wyner)

November 15th 2017, Marathon Music Works, Nashville TN: At the turn of the twentieth century, Marathon Motor Works opened its largest factory in Nashville, Tennessee. The car-making company only lasted a short time and their impressive, industrial complex was left to rot. Yet, the Music City came to the rescue, and these old, interesting brick buildings have become homes to various shops, studios, and even a music venue. Happily residing in this historic four-block art haven is Marathon Music Works. Going to a show here is always a treat. Rich in character and sound, this venue’s main perk is its aesthetics of exposed brick walls and tall steel beam ceilings. On Wednesday, Nashville was graced with the presence of The Convergence Tour. As eager devotees filled in the warehouse-sized venue, their faces beamed with anticipation for Animals As Leaders, Periphery, and Car Bomb.

The show was starting in 10 minutes and the line to get in was still impressively long. The rainy weather had everyone wrapped in black hoodies and shifting weight in their soaked Converse shoes. Folks thawed as they trickled in to hear the Long Island based band, Car Bomb. They came out with guns blazing in their militant perfection and force. Due to a family emergency, frontman Mike Dafferner was not present. Though a major piece was missing, the rest of the band made a valiant effort to replace his absence. And they did a damn good job of it. This experimental group had jaws dropping from their unconventional tempos and unusual riffs.

Car Bomb

The three-piece carried the room to a world filled with full, fierce sounds that invigorated each person there. They hypnotized with their honest, straightforward heaviness that never let up. They are djent on steroids. Their song, ‘From the Dust of This Planet’, opening track off of their newest album, ‘Meta’, was a crowd favorite. With clever elements of punk and metalcore mixed in to their already such sweet layers of complexity, they add so much to their overall vicious approach. Missing a band member is hard, pulling off an excellent set without your frontman is even harder, the crowd roared with respect when this talented act left that stage.

As the dust settled from Car Bomb’s explosive set, the changeover for the next band seemed to happen pretty quickly. Yet that was just wishful thinking, the stage sat silent for over 30 minutes before Periphery came out. The patient fans twiddled their thumbs and slammed another Bud Light while they waited. So by the time the progressive East Coast band took the stage, the crowd was near ravenous and more than ready to devour Periphery’s set. The frenzy of their sound was unleashed as they jumped into their first number, ‘Icarus Lives!’. Booming their signature djent sound, their energy and overall presence was deeply felt. Kids jumped and heads banged as the band’s unique, constant chaotic sound filled the room. The venue’s acoustics cater well to a variety of artists, but it being a giant warehouse, when a band has a lot of synths with backing tracks, things can get muddy. Though their performance was on point, their overall sound suffered a bit from the room’s inability to distinguish so many different channels of sound.  Well known for their elaborate and dynamic songs, there is a lot happening when Periphery perform them live.

Spencer Sotelo – Periphery

Vocalist Spencer Sotelo, gave his all in his deliverance and it’s not a hidden fact that he uses backing tracks. Yet when you hear vocals coming out of the speakers and no one is near a mic, including the main singer, it looks a little weird. The crowd sang along loudly to the band’s single, ‘Marigold’, that came out last year so no backing tracks were noticeable then. These five, good-looking, gracious guys give such a heavy upheaval of raw riffs and intelligent tones that you don’t even notice that they don’t have a bass player. Their unorthodox, vibrant perspective on song writing is entertaining and quite outstanding. The kids who waited out in the rain to hear them definitely thought it was worth it.

More Periphery photos:

Periphery set list:
01. Icarus Lives!
02. Motormouth
03. Remain Indoors
04. Prayer Position
05. Graveless
06. The Way the News Goes…
07. Marigold
08. Mile Zero
09. Omega
10. Lune

Well after they left the stage, the audience was still simmering on the sounds of Periphery. Buzzed and happy, everyone was ready for the final act of the evening. Just after 10 PM, Animals As Leaders graced us with their powerful presence. This LA/Washington DC instrumental band has captured many metalhead hearts over the last few years. Founder Tosin Abasi astounds his fans with his merciless ability to sing through his 7/8 string guitars. Though they made their name in the djent scene, their fan base has grown into various other genres since they hit so many different influences in their music. They experiment with everything from jazz to metalcore to mathcore. There is no limits to where this trio goes. Their no-nonsense approach keeps their music pure, complex, but approachable and digestible. The back-and-forth dance that Tosin and Javier Reyes do so gallantly together on their guitars is bewitching and delightful.

Javier Reyes – Animals As Leaders

The song ‘Physical Education’ had the enraptured crowd cheering and the performers radiated with satisfaction when they saw so many happy faces in the crowd. The weight and emotion of their music is felt all the more with the incredible light show they play along side their set. The colors and brightness guide you through their hypnotic, palm-muted guitar tones. They reach such intricate and exotic layers of distortion that you get lost in a sea of heaviness. The room swayed together as the band led their followers with playing numbers like ‘Tooth and Claw’ and ‘Kascade’. Seeing Animals As Leaders is an experience. Every sense is stricken and dazzled by their stage show. Their lights, their convicted presentation, and their cohesive playing reminds you why you go to live shows.

This was a memorable night and a tour everyone should try to catch.

Animals As Leaders set list:
01. Arithmophobia
02. Tempting Time
03. Ectogenesis
04. Cognitive Contortions
05. Tooth and Claw
06. Nephele
07. Physical Education
08. The Brain Dance
09. Private Visions of the World
10. Ka$cade
11. Inner Assassins
12. Backpfeifengesicht
13. The Woven Web
14. CAFO

Animals As Leaders + Periphery remaining tour dates (w/ opening act Astronoid):
11/19/2017 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
11/21/2017 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Marquee
11/22/2017 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl
11/24/2017 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/25/2017 – San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom
11/27/2017 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
11/28/2017 – Vancouver, BC @ The Commodore Ballroom
11/29/2017 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
12/01/2017 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
12/02/2017 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre

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