Periphery – Sonic Unrest Tour
with SikTh, CHON, and Toothgrinder
Thursday, August 4th, 2016 – Lincoln Theatre
Opening night of Periphery’s Sonic Unrest Tour was hosted by Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre and RDU Music was on the scene: two mid-30s curmudgeons awash in a sea of hip young people. While that thought would normally give the pair of us nightmares, I was able to find solace in Periphery’s outstanding performance.
Photog extraordinaire Lan and myself hit the Lincoln Theatre in time to stand in a sweaty line half a block away from the venue doors amid a young crowd bursting at the seams with excitement for the night’s festivities. We knew we were a bit out of place as a Lincoln staffer came out to announce to the patrons in line that there would be an $2 surcharge for those under 21 years of age. We scoffed but the rest of the line audibly groaned. That’s how I knew I had become the creepy old guy at shows, standing at the bar downing beers and leering at the barely-legal ladies while simultaneously wondering how their fathers let them out of the house looking like that. It’s the circle of life. One day, I am scoffing at the old guy trying too hard to be “cool.” The next, I am discovering how it feels to walk a mile in his shoes.
Kicking off the night was Jersey’s Toothgrinder. Unfortunately, they played their set while we were standing in line sweating. Sorry, fellas. We’ll catch you next time.
Between sets, the guy playing the house music admirably decided that he wanted to spin Now That’s What I Call 80s, Vol. 3 because all these kids had never heard Robert Palmer or the J. Geils Band. Kudos, sir. I too am addicted to love because my angel is the centerfold.
Next up was San Diego’s chilled-out instrumental weirdos, CHON. Sporting dual guitar virtuosos, CHON finger-tapped their dank grooves into the hearts of the dense Lincoln Theater crowd. For two such obviously adept guitarists, there was nary a riff to be found between the pair of them. CHON is simply too laid-back and tripped-out to be bothered by such trivialities. I guess that is just how they do it in the land of whale vaginas, San Diego. CHON did prove that the kids will mosh to literally anything if they put their mind to it. I don’t know how they managed to mosh to CHON’s psychedelic guitar wanking but life, uh…finds a way. It was a light and respectful mosh, if that is any consolation.
The final opening slot of the night belonged to Watford prog-djent fore-bearers SikTh who were embarking on their first ever tour of our United States. I feel like America could have at least tried to put on a nice shirt for SikTh’s inaugural visit. Instead, these Brits were likely barraged by 24-hour “news” cycles of whatever idiotic drivel was gracelessly falling out of The Donald’s imbecilic mouth. The kind of hate-filled soundbites that play well among closet racists and those too dumb to know what qualities would make for a good leader of the free world. Oh well. America is who she is, scars and all.
I will say that SikTh’s dual vocal shenanigans distracted a bit from the overall efficacy of the SikTh’s sound but I think they intend for the vocal trade-offs to be the focal point. Either way, SikTh greeted their first US performance with the energy of a much younger band. I was perplexed at their drummer’s rig though. He had about 15 cymbals, 6 of which were splashes. Dude, in a live setting, no one can tell the difference. Leave the other 4 at home in England so that some poor bastard can lug around two less stands every night.
At this point in the evening, I found myself losing steam. It was a school night, the Lincoln was as packed and as hot as I ever remembered her, and I hadn’t yet heard anything that tickled my musical funny-bone. That was all about to change as Periphery took the stage and (figuratively) knocked me on my ass.
I had heard some various Periphery jams over the years but I always preferred that my djent-y prog-metal minimize the use of clean vocals. [Editor’s Note: I’ve always been more of a Meshuggah sort of fella, likely due to my age.] I had spun Periphery’s latest offering, Periphery III: Select Difficulty, a few times in anticipation of their set and while I indeed enjoyed it, I found it a little too clean, too polished. I thought it might be too sterile to give me a musical hard-on. Then I saw them play 6 of its songs live.
The air was electric as it coalesced around the Lincoln’s capacity crowd while they waited for Periphery to take the stage. I was hanging out up front with Lan around the photo barricade. [Editor’s Note: Thank you, Lincoln Theatre. While we could have used an extra 12 inches, we always appreciate a decent barricade. It allows Lan to capture the phenomenal shots you see scattered around this page.] We were a few beers deep and beginning to look at our watches. (Okay, phones.) I knew I had a full and trying day ahead of me at my soul-crushing office job so I was hoping we could get a few choice shots then make like a tree and get outta there before midnight. Then Periphery kicked the door in with 2 songs off of P-II and I had a hard time keeping my jaw off the floor for the rest of the set.
Periphery’s 3-guitar assault had me transfixed. They effortlessly passed the metaphorical baton among themselves all night, stepping into the spotlight for a fleeting solo or series of riffs, only to step immediately back and let the next man get up on the riser to do the same, all while a barrage of strobes and other futuristic-looking lighting pummeled those within firing range.
Fontman Spencer Sotelo had the audience in the palm of his hand for the entire set as everyone in the pit sang along and crowd surfed. His vocal delivery was rather impressive in a live setting. [Editor’s Note: Even if his pants were too tight.] He packed as much feeling and intensity into every line as he possibly could and the crowd loved him for it.
After shredding through a 10-song set ending with P-III’s crushing opener, “The Price is Wrong”, Periphery graced the crowd with a 4-song encore, concluding the night on a bittersweet note with the closest thing P-III has to a ballad, its breathtaking album closer, “Lune”.
5/5 Stars = Excellent
If only Periphery could also end the tour where it began: in our fine City of Oaks.
Do yourself a favor and catch them on tour immediately.
Periphery 8/4/16 setlist