Dredg at Great American Music Hall, 5/19/09

by Gordon Elgart on May 21, 2009

This photo from a different show pictures the agressive cellist.  Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/drop_dead_ed/ for the photo.

This photo from a different show pictures the agressive cellist. Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/drop_dead_ed/ for the photo.

Dredg was nice enough to schedule two hometown shows on their tour with Torche and Judgement Day.  Because of this, neither one sold out and I was able to go to the show at the Great American Music Hall.  Hometown shows are usually great because the band will play longer and bring a lot more energy into it.  So how did this one stack up?

The first band on stage was Judgement Day, a local string metal band, who were absolutely amazing.  They are a violin, a cello player and a drummer, and they play this intense instrumental metal.  All of it sounds like it comes from the coolest movie soundtrack in history.  I bought their EP, ran home and checked out many Youtube clips.  Here’s one:

After they were done, Torche took the stage.  They were loud and obnoxious.  If you like obnoxious music, you’d like Torche.  They are very good at it.  I found them to be the wrong band for the room, and after the greatness of Judgement Day, they sounded crass and misplaced.  Others in the room really liked them, though, so your mileage may vary.

Finally, there was Dredg (I know it’s “dredg” but it’s “Dredg,” ok?) who came on, and immediately started in with a great mix of new material and old.  Plenty of people were singing along to songs from the new album, even though they kept telling us it comes out on June 9th.  We know better.  They added extra musicians to a bunch of the new material:  a couple of extra guitarists, a rapper, and Judgement Day on strings.  For the most part, the new songs sound great.

Gavin Hayes sounded the best he’s ever sounded on stage; his voice has been getting better with every album, and tonight was no exception.  His stage presence makes him look like he’s going to have some rough voice, but it’s just so smooth and pretty.  He’s what makes the band special.

Unfortunately, Dredg have a serious problem as a live band.  It’s the drummer, Dino Campanella.  He’s great on record; he plays intricate rhythms with grace and power, and he lays down a nice groove, and can even swing.   Live, he’s a trainwreck.  He winds up for every snare drum beat and slams down on the drum as if he’s showing off how hard he hits it.  He plays with absolutely no dynamic; everything is just loud.  He can’t keep a beat, often coming in early on the downbeat or finishing a fill too early.  There are times when he absolutely ruins songs.  I can’t believe no one ever told him that he needs to just relax and play.  It doesn’t serve the band well to have him playing like this during a live show.  This is the third time I’ve seen them, and it happens every time, so it’s not just an isolated incident.  If you listen to recordings of the band, you can hear it for yourself.

That said, everything else that the band does sounds amazing.  The guitar and bass mix in a wonderful soundscape, and every riff is played with intensity.  The music itself is dynamic and somewhat theatrical, so a live show is just how you’d want to hear it.  They really just need to rein in their drummer.  By rushing through the songs, he’s holding them back.  See Dredg if you want, but they’re a flawed gem.  I suggest sticking to the albums; they’ll serve you better.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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