On Wednesday, May 2nd in Mesa, AZ, at the familiar Club Red, Progressive Metal fans gathered to celebrate the release of one of Djent's most famous bands: TesseracT. At the venue that night, it was a double show, but it wasn't difficult to pick out the Progressive Metal fans from the Rap fans. As guests filtered into the venue, playing over the sound system, Leprous enhanced the mood. As with any Progressive Metal event, everyone knows everyone, almost like a sort of extended family reunion. As everyone caught up and drinks were being passed around, the house lights dimmed, and the show was about to commence.
Opening up for the tour, Astronoid takes the stage. While they might be lesser-known to some, they've been around since 2012. Their frontman Brett Boland came in with killer highs, giving a more Progressive Dance Gavin Dance-style performance, reminiscent of even Circa Survive. "I didn't expect their vocalist to be Cynic-y, but I actually was captivated by it. Musically, I thought that they had loads to talent," Guy Elliot recounted. Astronoid is a perfect fit for this lineup. Unique enough to stand out, but not too far outside of what the genre is known for, either. "I think they're a good fit with TesseracT and Plini because they're far from just another cookie-cutter Prog/Djent band that you're used to seeing on a TesseracT tour, but their sound should still be accessible to fans of those bands," recalled Trent Bos. They played a healthy selection from their 2016 release Air, which is their latest release through Fly South Music Group. It's easy for bands like Plini and TesseracT to overshadow an opening band like Astronoid, but with stage presence like that, they definitely held their own and gained some new fans that night.
Plini (an Australian instrumental solo artist) and the supporting band were incredibly technically tight right out of the gate. Even new fans were incredibly impressed, "Plini blew me away. The talent of each individual was showcased brilliantly and timely," beamed Guy Elliot, "I ended up going home to listen to their discography a few days after the show." With Simon Grove grooving on bass, Jake Howsam Lowe keeping it real on rhythm guitar, Chris Allison keeping time on drums, and Plini at the helm, the performance seemed effortless. The crowd ate up every last note. Plini is always on top of his game. After a few songs, Plini paused and took the mic. With a slight comedic air, he addressed the crowd. "I always feel like I have to say something," he chuckled, "I get anxiety about it. So, I'll wait a few songs, and then I feel the need to talk." He joked with the fans about possible last-minute set list changes, and then the band jumped right back into playing. Chris McConnell, singer for the local band Moon Haven, reported, "The way Plini weaves his passages and songs together is just out of this world. I truly feel that his band is one that everyone should see at least once." Not to be missed, Plini's latest single, released March of this year, "Salt and Charcoal" was among the setlist. The band closed out with "Electric Sunrise," another fan staple.
The familiar drone noise proceeded the set, while anticipation grew as lights were placed, the stage was set. Ah, the moment we'd all been waiting for. Dan Tompkins graced the stage. Interesting, the rest of the band didn't appear, and the lights stayed powered down. Fans still cheered, excited to see him. Gingerly, he approached the microphone. As soon as he mustered his first word, we knew what was wrong. With his greatest apologies, Dan told the audience that he could not perform that night with the rest of the band as expected. The dreaded laryngitis had decimated his voice. The quintet was temporarily a quartet.
With that being said, TesseracT continued to perform that night as an instrumental set. They didn't shy away from playing old favorites off of Altered State and Polaris. TesseracT also played several new songs off of their latest album Sonder (released April of this year) including "Smile" and "King" through Kscope Records. While it was certainly disappointing that Arizona hasn't had the privilege of seeing Dan perform with TesseracT in quite some time, we were in for a rare treat. TesseracT's instrumentals are nothing short of powerful. The band's prowess easily overlooks the lack of a vocalist. Quickly, the rest of the band took the stage with Amos Williams (bassist) acting as the frontman. "Amos came right up and ensured the crowd they'd still play their faces off, which he did," noted Devon Allen. The crowd wasn't too shy to fill in for Dan's absence, either. They sang every single word, albeit sometimes off-key and with imperfect timing. Coupled with their aggressive stage presence was a beautifully choreographed light show. Make no mistake, the crowd was only left with positive memories. Each left the venue having contributed to TesseracT's set in their own way.
TesseracT is the quintessential Djent band for any Progressive fan's playlist, and they prove that with their live performance of this record. Astronoid, Plini, and TesseracT didn't leave the crowd disappointed, even with a major mishap of missing out on Dan Tompkins' vocals. The tour isn't set to conclude until late this month on May 24th, ending in New York City before the band starts a European festival circuit (tickets can be purchased here). This lineup is simply too good to pass up!
Watch TesseracT's latest music video for "King" off of Sonder below.