Not pictured: Opeth's current lineup playing live at Stubb's in Austin, TX.
I've talked to a lot of parents. Indeed, as I travel down the crusty road of life, it's becoming more and more common for my peers (and even those many years my junior) to be fully grown adult humans with fully functioning genitals. Not only that, but they use them to create little children, who run around and punch you in the balls if you're not paying attention. It's true! I'm still childless in this world (much to my wife's chagrin), and as such I have to learn about what it's like second hand. I'm interested in it, don't get me wrong, but I'm more interested in it like how I like to learn about the day to day lives of Austrolopithicus, or perhaps a corporate shill in a business suit (I've actually learned what that's like firsthand, and I can almost guarantee that I'd prefer to live as an Austrolopithicus). I have my friends with children regale me with anecdotes about the horrors and triumphs of child-rearing while I recline sanguinely and sip on any manner of beverage. They tell me all about the hardships, and then I go home and stay up late playing Xbox 360.
It's not a bad way to live, really.
Most people tell me that having children is exhilarating and painful, disappointing and fulfilling beyond your wildest dreams. Such a dichotomy of emotions is frightening to me, like scorpions or my smartphone (IT KNOWS WHERE I LIVE), and I've never had an opportunity to experience that kind of fulfillment that is coupled with bittersweet sadness.
Until I went and saw Opeth last night.
Before you get all weird and shit, yes, I consider Opeth to be a child of mine, and I believe that my attachment to Opeth is greater than your attachment to your ugly child. Just let me explain.
I rolled in to Stubb's on Red River last night right around 7:30. As a venue, it's a larger outdoor venue that is laid aside for bands exactly like Opeth: indie but popular, underground but widely renowned. That rhymed! In short, it's a big outdoor venue with a great sound system that holds several thousand people, but wouldn't be able to house an act as big as Gorillaz or Electric Light Orchestra. I rolled in wearing my standard metal regalia, which is to say a 3 Inches of Blood shirt and shorts that were filthy from my day at work (we just got some stuff in from Borders that can only be described as "caked in unimaginable filth"). I was ready! The first thing I noticed was that the sound guy was playing a Trap Them song when I walked in (it was one of the doomy tracks from the end of Darker Handcraft). It was going to be a great night.
I had just enough time to grab one beer at the concession stand before openers Katatonia began playing. I'll be short with Katatonia, because I've never been into their brand of goth-y, djent-y, just-slightly-too-heavy-for-radio sound, and though they sounded solid and didn't appear to disappoint their fans who were in attendance, all I could think of was "Well, now I've seen this," while I let out a long, exaggerated string of exasperated sighs.
It was fine, and thankfully they only did about 40 minutes. I was giddy with excitement; when they were unveiling all of the onstage Opeth paraphernalia, the urge and the rhythm of life overtook me and I began to dance, slowly at first, with my arms and legs waving out a divinely serpentine pattern around me. I picked up speed, and was quickly doing a frantic, full-force jig all by myself in the center of a crowd of people. I snapped out of it only after having heard people shouting at me, saying things like "Cool it, dude," and "OPETH!" When my mind returned, I realized that a concerned Samaritan had assumed that I was having some manner of seizure and had jammed their hand in my mouth to make sure that I couldn't swallow my tongue. I thanked him and remarked that he should wash his hands more thoroughly after exiting the restroom, and the show started.
Opeth took the stage and started with "The Devil's Orchard," which I fully expected. They continued through an interested mix of cuts from the new album, including "Slither," as well as some hot tracks from the old albums (namely, "Porcelain Heart" and the chorus to "Harvest"). They even threw in a really obscure track, choosing to play "The Throat of Winter" from the God of War III soundtrack.
Wow. I didn't see that one coming.
Opeth is one of the greatest live bands you'll likely ever encounter. All of the material is impeccably played, and Mikael Akerfeldt's voice is so spot on it'll make you sick for the suckers who need autotune on their albums. And Akerfeldt's legendary onstage banter? It was in full effect, broaching such hot-button issues as Mark Wahlburg, whether or not Houston sucks, how to get six pack abs, and Swedish things. It was worth the price of admission by itself, and I'm not exaggerating.
Now here was my disappointment:
There wasn't a single song, a single moment, with death metal vocals.
As good as the show was, as proud and astonished as I was over Opeth's awesome power, they disappointed me by not playing a single one of my favorite crusty jams. No "Ghost of Perdition." "Deliverance," wherefore art thou?
If I don't hear "Heir Apparent," I'm going to lose my fucking mind!
None of them were played.
Now the issue is, would I recommend that people go to see Opeth on this tour? Fuck yes. It was incredible and ridiculous. But don't be a sucker like me and hope that they're going to play any of their crushing-est joints, and don't expect anything off of Blackwater Park, either (except for maybe one chorus). It was totally worth making the trek out to, and I'd do it again, even if I had to taste that dude's fingers all over again. But like my theoretical child who is in to musical theater or gymnastics, I was disappointed by Opeth's choices. But I hold out hope, because Opeth is possibly the only band in existence that has yet to shit the bed musically. And if they keep going, I'm virtually guaranteed a tour in the future, when I'm old and gray, where they travel around playing what would qualify as their Greatest Hits, and I'll be right there, ready to finally see them play "The Funeral Portrait."
I still love you, Opeth. It's just that your mother and I are a little disappointed.