2.17.12: Machine Head x Suicide Silence x Darkest Hour

If you asked me what kind of event would result in my clothing being soaked in beer, sweat, and floor grime I’d say a Mardi Gras titty flash fest, or a Monster (truck) Jam parking lot fight — not a Machine Head show. See, I forgot that Machine Head fans are cut from the Pantera, Lamb of God, post-91 Metallica cloth. Plus, the band seems to have picked up plenty of Neo-Nazi skinhead fans from the nu-metal years.* Put those two types together, and your floor area and pit are going to be pretty rough places to be in. Still, I gave moshing the ol’ college try because at the worst, I’d have a story to tell… or a brain hemorrhage.

The Avalon is one of my favorite venues in Los Angeles. It’s decor is dark, and sort of goth. The sound system is top notch. There’s practically a good view from anywhere. There’s always beautiful people there for some reason. The bartenders are lovely, and smile at you when they fuck your wallet over for drinks, and so on. It’d be my first time seeing a metal band there, so I wondered if there would ever be another metal show booked after the miscreants in attendance tore the place apart. Naturally, thanks to the Friday afternoon traffic on the 101, I arrived late and missed Darkest Hour and a lot of Suicide Silence’s set. Still, I think I caught enough of Suicide Silence to be impressed with how far they’ve come. I’d seen them around town during their early years. From playing the small clubs, to the early sets in all-day festivals, and now packing hundreds into a theater in support of one of the biggest American heavy metal bands around. I think it has to do with them gradually removing themselves from the oft-redundant deathcore sound, and writing songs in a more straight-forward death metal style. I’m looking forward to see how much Suicide Silence will progress in the coming years.

What can I even say about Machine Head? They gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen few bands as precise, as energetic, as charismatic as Machine Head. The crowd was all in from start to finish, head banging their way through 17 years worth of songs. From Burn My Eyes, to Unto the Locust, Machine Head probably played a few songs from every album… minus those that were created during the nu-metal era. Part of me wishes I paid more attention to the setlist instead of moshing, but it was too fun to not jump in. I spent a majority of the set getting tossed around, and doused with beer before I had finally received the clothesline from hell. Once I decided I couldn’t take any more elbows to the throat, I pulled out my flip cam to capture a pretty special moment. Rob Flynn told the crowd an awesome story about the late Dimebag Darrell that had folks in stitches. Eventually, this led to a ‘Dimebag’ chant before the band jumped into “Aesthetics of Hate.”

Watch that video here: Machine Head – Dimebag Darrell story + Aesthetics of Hate

As the night progressed, so did the rowdiness. The pinnacle of the pit was during “Halo.” Flynn’s chants of “Headbang, motherfuckers” between verses worsened the violence.

Footage of this mess can be seen here: Machine Head – Halo

That was the closer for me. I walked away as one more song was being played, sort of in shock to what I had just witnessed. I caught up with some pals just outside the floor area to talk to them about how epic it all was. The show finally ended when people started pouring out into the lobby, and out the front doors to where fancily dressed people were waiting in line to start clubbing. I got this sense of pride as I walked past all these “normal” people who were staring at all the long hairs, and black shirts that were oozing out of the venue. I felt like no matter how much fun they’d end up having, they all missed out on the best event that The Avalon would see that night.

* – there is no actual proof neo-nazi skinheads are fans of nu-metal, but it’s the closest thing to rap that they could openly enjoy.

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