SAN ANTONIO — There is a certain calm as you enter a heavy metal concert, you know what is about to happen and what to expect, but Chelsea Grin and Born of Osiris were a sinister yin-yang of frantic angst that hyped up a large San Antonio crowd.
Joining Born of Osiris on their “The Simulation Tour” was Chelsea Grin and Make Them Suffer. The bands played at one of San Antonio’s premier venues for live music, The Vibes Event Center.
VIBES Event Center has the best sound for a live concert in San Antonio, in my humble opinion of course. The large open area venue has the main stage front and center, with its stacks of speakers and set up toward the crowd. In short, it’s loud, energetic, fun, open, spacious, and LOUD.
“We actually have the same audio setup as the Carnegie Hall, it’s pretty legit,” said audio engineer Jozef Rodriguez.
On top of that, the floor area is large enough to be comfortable where you don’t need to be elbow-to-elbow unless you’re chasing the front stage view mixed with mosh pits and surfers of the San Antonio Crowd Surfing Association (just made that up).
“San Antonio! What’s up? We always have a good time coming to SA,” shouted Chelsea Grin lead singer Tom Barber.
I made my way through the moshing crowd and to the front of the stage where I could see a row of headbangers and fans trying to reach out to the band from behind the barrier. Immediately felt the energy as the band began to blast their song, “Playing with Fire.”
Concertgoers began to crowd surf and were coming down the front lines as if there was assembly line belt operating. They were riding the assembly line to crowd surf, instead of an assembly line, it was the hands of hundreds of concertgoers supporting their right to mosh.
It was so loud in there, the sounds of kicks, punches, roundabouts, and fists flying in the mosh pit were drowned out by the blaring and pulsing guitars and heavy drums.
I did my best to hoist over my head, the two Lone Star beers as I made my way to the back of the venue to scope the entire show from the front to back. It was fun, Lone Star is the beer you drink when going to a metal show, it’s just a metal libation, in my experience.
“Jesus,” I thought for a second, this night is not over, Born of Osiris had not taken the stage yet, but we were all ready. Well, I was at least.
As we were all headbanging in unison at one point, Chelsea Grin called for the infamous “Wall of Death.” As it is so aptly named, you better have gotten out of the way at that point, because chaos was about to entrap the hundreds of poor souls who finally found the “wall” that President Trump said worked perfectly in San Antonio. Except, this wall was about frenetic moshing and certain death. Just kidding about the death part, well maybe.
As Chelsea Grin closed out their set, the quiet calm of fans rushing to get a last-minute drink and a last-minute trip to the restroom began. Luckily, I prepared mid-set to restock on my libations whilst taking a trip to the restroom. I was ready for the next show.
Pitch black the stage went as and audio distortion of otherworldly sounds began to play, the crowd was chanting, the crowd was pushing, and they were yelling loudly because it was time.
Born of Osiris took to the stage and immediately began to play “The Accursed,” a great track to kick off an opening set.
The dual vocal dynamic of BOO lead singer Ronnie Canizaro and keyboardist and co-vocalist Joe Buras were a treat. Crisp, clear vocals alongside heavy synths, shredding guitars, and gnashing beats of the double peddling drummer.
At one point, you see the pitch-black unison of bright blues and deep purples behind Buras, you feel entranced as he masterfully laid out synth beats while screaming at the top of his lungs while head-banging. A bravado performance that you’d see him at the stage, look to Ronnie, as Ronnie himself is pointing at the crowd and feeling the energy flow through him.
I turned around for a second then looked at these fans, they were seeing their favorite band live, and you could see it in their crooked and twisted smiles. Their night and my night was made.
It did not get any better than that. I silently cheered the band with my beer and rose my hand in salute.
The Simulation was complete and Born of Osiris plotted the rest of the evening.
As the night went on, I knew next door at The Rock Box a reggae show was happening. The reggae band The Expendables were playing. Naturally, it piqued my curiosity.
SURPRISE. I was going to that show too, so how do you prepare yourself for reggae after just being blasted and having your head spun around by glaring metal music? Easy. Just walk into the room and recalibrate your chakras and energy.
“You know it makes me feel good inside,” sang Geoff Weers, lead singer of The Expendables. I stood near the band and looked toward the crowd. Two visually and energetically different crowds, this time it was passionate reggae fans. I was feeling good both inside and out.
Right before the sound engineer motioned toward me to move into the general admission area, you could see the haze and a legitimate cloud in the venue.
That coupled with members of the San Antonio Police Department vehemently trying to find the source of the “cloud,” a sight to inspire laughter.
It was like a game of cat and mouse but funnier because it was inevitable that these chill and calm concertgoers were embarking on a ganja journey while listening to a classic reggae band.
My energy was finally balanced. Metal then reggae is the way to balance the energy for a night of surreal bacchanalia.
While no moshing took place, it was a calmer and collected experience. Classic reggae sounds alongside concertgoers who were swaying back and forth, while trying to concentrate on the sounds, had you in a calm and soothing trance.
I had the unfortunate pleasure of being in the clouds without being a passenger on a plane. The Expendables do that live. Giving the crowd such a raw and clean performance, you would think you were hearing a vinyl record back at your buddy’s house in high school. You get the idea.
To me, the experience was going to two entirely different worlds. Two shows, one metal and one reggae.
You just don’t think you’re going to one show, no, it’s two or three sometime. I wanted a slice of pizza with ice cream. That’s how I would describe this experience.
What made the night complete was hearing The Expendables bust out a cover of “Nothin’ But A G Thang” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. That happened and we all sang loudly to match the chorus and verses.
Metal and reggae, two polar opposites but one hell of a night.