September 12, 2016 Periphery Sell Out Irving Plaza, NYC 8-31-16 w/ SiKth CHON, & Toothgrinder
Following the epic January 2015 Double LP release of Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega, one would think Washington DC based Progressive band Periphery would take a much deserved break. Think again, because, wasting no time, Periphery quickly returned to the drawing board to etch out their newest record, Periphery III: Select Difficulty. Announced back in the spring of 2016, Periphery III: Select Difficulty hit stores on July 22nd and, just two short weeks later, Periphery returned to the road for their headlining Sonic Unrest Tour.
A month long trek, sponsored by D’Addario and Guitar Center, while presented by The Noise, Periphery teamed up with a killer lineup featuring SikTh, CHON, and Toothgrinder to visit cities across the USA. Then, on the tail-end of the run, before heading up, the Sonic Unrest Tour sold out Irving Plaza on Wednesday, August 31st, in New York City. A wonderful way to wind down a tour, fans were lined up outside the venue early on as members of Periphery and SikTh could be seen walking outside near their tour buses, causing a stir of excited whispers and shout outs. Then, when the doors opened at Irving Plaza, fans rushed in and made beelines to secure spots by the stage barricade, where they would stay all night to get the full concert experience. Others congregated by the merchandise tables or made their way up to Irving Plaza’s second level with VIP passes. Already exciting, every now and then, concertgoers were able to say a brief hello to some of the band members casually hanging around the venue, assuring this was going to be one hell of a night.
Opening the tour bill were Toothgrinder, an American Metal band from Asbury Park, New Jersey. The members of Toothgrinder met and formed the act together in high school, and have been performing together even through their attendance of different colleges and other conflicting obligations. Consisting of Justin Matthews (vocals), Jason Goss (guitar), Matt Arensdorf (bass/vocals), Wills Weller (drums), and John Hasney (guitar), Toothgrinder were ready to ignite fury.
Currently supporting their 2016 album, Nocturnal Masquerade, they opened the show with the heavy and searing “The Hour Angle,” followed by the aptly titled “Schizophrenic Jubilee.” Much of their set was dedicated to the aforementioned Nocturnal Masquerade with Matthews regularly jumping off the Weller’s kick and crowd-surfing over the barricade. Keeping a energetic stage presence, he moved from front of the stage and went as far as the center of the general admission area at points. In addition, a second stage dive from a much higher platform proved ballsy and borderline insane, but in a good way. Quite entertaining already, a rather raggedly-dressed Spencer Sotelo from Periphery even joined Toothgrinder on stage for their sixth and next-to-last song, “Diamonds for Gold.” Then, closing with “Blue,” Toothgrinder proved they were the fitting opening support for their friends in Periphery.
Next up was the San Diego, California based mostly Progressive Instrumental Rock band CHON. With their own unique blend of beautiful and thoughtful riffs as well as melodies and heavy instrumentation, they were a nice touch to an otherwise mostly heavy night at Irving Plaza. Headed for big things, CHON is currently riding high off the release of their 2015 debut full-length album, Grow.
With elemental jams like “Dew,” “Story,” and “Splash,” it seems obvious their namesake would be reflected in four of the most basic building blocks of life itself (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen). The sound, lighting, and vibes helped create the perfect mood, as Guitarists Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel regularly switched off between rhythm and lead, all while bouncing entire sections or just pieces of riffs back and forth off one another and the band’s rhythm section. Then there was Nathan Camarena who stayed true to album form with his heavy-hitting drumming, providing the energy needed to draw in even the heaviest of Metal fans. Closing out with “Puddle” and “Perfect Pillow,” CHON were a nice breath of fresh air for the more chill, Progressive music listener before setting the stage for SikTh.
Speaking of which, UK Progressive Metal act SikTh took the stage third as direct openers for Periphery on the Sonic Unrest Tour. Initially formed back in 1999, SikTh are considered one of the most influential bands in the sub-genre known as Djent. Having only released two full-length studio albums through the years, SikTh returned in 2015 with the EP Opacities, their first release since reuniting in 2014.
Possessing a sound that is more along the lines of the headliners, Periphery, in terms of heaviness, with strong vocal screams as well as soaring sung melodies, and heavy technical guitar riffing, SikTh’s main quality is good songwriting. Catching the attention of all, they primarily performed material from Opacities and 2006’s Death of a Dead Day. A fitting mix of old and new, their set moved from “Philistine Prophecies” to “Hold My Finger,” and then on to other dynamic jams like “Flogging the Horses,” “When Will the Forest Speak,” and “Sanguine Seas of Bigotry.” Full of emotion and technicality, SikTh wrapped up their intense performance with “Bland Street Bloom.” Now set to re-release their 2006 full-length, Death Of A Dead Day, to honor if its tenth anniversary, SikTH are a band who deserve a look from a younger generation of Prog Metalheads.
Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for was moments away, the arrival of Periphery. Eagerly awaiting the band all night, this touring cycle could have the most buzz surrounding Periphery since their formation in 2005. Initially brought together by Lead Guitarist Misha Mansoor, Periphery is completed by a plethora of exceedingly talented musicians including Drummer Matt Halpern, Bassist Adam “Nolly” Getgood, Guitarists Jake Bowen and Mark Holcomb, as well as Sotelo. Releasing five overall studio albums in the span of about six years, they are now playing to some of their largest audiences ever, and it showed as the rabid crowd swelled with anticipation.
Cutting the tension, Halpern took the stage first, snapping a quick little cell phone video of the crowd for keepsake from the drum kit. Then, quickly thereafter, the rest of Periphery entered the stage and gave high fives to fans up front before starting a set with 2012 tracks “Scarlet” and ”Make Total Destroy.” A grand start, they would go on to a heavy hand of Periphery III: Select Difficulty, including “The Way the News Goes…,” single “Marigold,” “Remain Indoors,” and “Flatline.” The dosage of new songs did not seem to deter any fans as they clearly did their homework, listening to the latest record perhaps a few times over, proving soon by their movement on the floor.
Matching the adrenaline of the room, Periphery worked the entire stage with proper heaviness and dynamics, complemented by a phenomenal light show. Amidst it all, Holcomb and Mansoor playfully blew kisses to one another throughout, and Sotelo, at one point, climbed to the upstairs balcony platform to perform above the crowd. Mixing in “Memento,” a song from Holcomb and Mansoor’s Haunted Shores’ project, their main set was summed up with “Make Total Destroy” and “The Price Is Wrong.”
Truly impressive, the crowd remained visibly charged as they cheered for an encore which soon followed when Periphery returned with “Four Lights,” “Stranger Things,” and “Lune.” Full of a variety of layers of Progressive Metal and Rock stylings, Periphery showed why they are one of the few bands that can bridge the gap between the sub-genres and the main stream. While the Sonic Unrest Tour is not complete, Periphery are scheduled to perform at Krank’d Up Music Festival in South Africa on September 24th before a much deserved rest for the remainder of 2016. Never one to sit in one place for too long, they plot to hit Australia come February of 2017, and more than likely will have big plans in place for North America sometime after.Written by Harun Gadol