Thursday, October 17, 2013

Concert Review - Primitivity - 10/16/13 at The Mansion (Strathmore), Bethesda, MD

I was not sure about going to this show, but after listening to Primitivity's new songs on their website, I made up my mind. I was mainly amazed by how closely they were able to mimic the sounds of electric guitar riffs and shredding on the cello, and the parts that actually sounded like cellos added a symphonic element, which I always love to hear in metal. I didn't want to miss seeing them live.

They played at the Mansion at Strathmore, which in case you don't know is not a usual metal venue ;) It's a small concert hall in what seems to be an old mansion, with ancient wood paneling and a fireplace behind the stage. There were about 100 chairs set up, and most of them were occupied when we got there right around 7:30 (advertised start time).

The band came out a few minutes after 7:30, and after a bit of tuning and fidgeting, launched into the first song of their new album. They announced at the start of the set that they would play the new album from start to finish, all original songs, no covers. It was nice that we got to hear all the new songs but "Symphony of Destruction" would have been cool as an encore! ;)

Live, they did not sound as much like electric guitars as on their recordings, perhaps because in a live environment, the textured sound of the cello is unavoidable. Quick staccato notes on the lowest string did sound like bass guitar riffs, there was a pizzicato part that was a bit guitar-like and some of the higher bowed notes did sound electronic, but not really like electronic guitar, but more like some other spacier instrument. For the most part it sounded like cellos played in a rock or metal style, which was still pretty cool.

I most enjoyed "Convergence" with its beautiful melody over a heavy background. "Pyscho Logic" was very riffy and got me nodding vigorously, almost really headbanging. "Emergence" also got very wild near the end. There were a few discordant moments during the set, and I was not sure if that was how it was supposed to be, or someone messed up. The musicians also hesitated a bit at the start of each song, as though not sure who should start - I suppose they might not be used to playing live, since I haven't heard of their shows before. At the end of the set, they played a "surprise" last song, "Prayer," the last track off their album, which was introduced as "acoustic." That didn't make sense until I realized they were playing without amplification, straight up chamber music style. All pretense at rock, metal or imitating electric guitars was gone; it was simply a cello triad, with the drummer beating on something that I couldn't see. "Prayer" was a very calming and mesmerizing piece - at first I thought I was getting sleepy, but what ended up happening is that I got sucked into the music.

Overall, I enjoyed the show. It was cool to see the dynamic between the band members - there seemed to be some competition between Loren and Devree (hope I'm getting the names right) in the fiercer moments -  and how they alternated leads - it seemed that Loren had most of the melodic leads, while a lot of the fierce ones and also a lot of the "bass guitar" like parts went to Devree. The drums seemed too loud at first, but when the cellos really got going it was fine. No one else was really moving. I saw a couple people slightly bobbing their heads, but I couldn't help bobbing energetically and even threw the horns a couple times (I mean, I'm sure the band wants us to show our appreciation, right?) and jostled Steve a few times. Everyone else seemed cowed by the proportion of old people and the formal surroundings. Still, it was a good turnout and very appreciative crowd, with vigorous clapping and cheering after each song and two standing ovations. I hope it encourages the band to perform more and keep going with original, metal compositions - hopefully next time to be aired somewhere we can move around a bit more ;)

I was also fortunate to have the chance to review the new album that they played at this show for DC Heavy Metal, so if you want to know more about what their songs sound like, go check it out!

Next show: Coheed and Cambria, for S's birthday, Monday


  1. yeah it was a kind of an odd vibe, they def seemed nervous. But that was odd, cause looking at yubtub they have preformed live more than a few times

    1. Hm. And I suppose as trained musicians they should be used to performing in front of people..yeah, dunno.