It’s easy for The Vols to eclipse everything going on in town on gamedays, but an event louder than a football game happened just miles from Neyland Stadium. Last Saturday, Sept. 9, Pallbearer finally came to Knoxville and brought loud riffs and some Hulkamania antics to The Concourse.
The band have just wrapped up their most recent American tour in support of their third album, Heartless, released earlier this year.
I was looking forward to seeing their openers, Asheville’s Bask and Brooklyn’s Kayo Dot, but I only made it to the venue in time for the end of the latter. I’ve been lucky to see Pallbearer a few times, but this show struck me as their heaviest, most entertaining performance yet.
In past experience the band were fairly stern onstage, save for some light banter between songs. That’s not to say they’ve ever been pretentious or standoffish, though. However, their dynamic has completely changed this tour, beginning with them walking on stage to WWE Wrestler Shawn Michaels’s theme song, “Sexy Boy.”
After a minute of pretend-clotheslining each other, they threw off their Saint Vitus t-shirts, picked up their guitars, and set aside the cheesiness as they ripped straight into “Thorns,” the second track from Heartless. It’s clear that the stage antics are a sign of the band’s heightened confidence, and it’s backed up by their musicianship. Pallbearer are easily one of the tightest, best-rehearsed, and most dynamic metal bands of the moment.
They performed a career-spanning set featuring plenty of ten-minute-or-longer masterpieces from their catalog. Frontman Brett Campbell’s melodic voice stayed as clear as the record for the entirety of their set. He and the other guitarist, Devin Holt, bounced soaring, tasteful guitar solos off of each other while Bassist Joseph D. Rowland head banged center stage all night with impressive quick fingerpicking.
The antics continued towards the end of the show when their tour-mates from Bask and Kayo Dot rushed the stage. Dressed as WWE wrestlers, they delivered a heartwarming farewell to their fans and crew, and presented a championship belt to their friends in Pallbearer. Afterwards, frontman Brett Campbell cited endless hours spent watching wrestling on the tour bus as the influence for the show’s theme. The extra wackiness is welcome, as it made an already great live band even more engaging, as well as hilarious.
Photo by Rhiannon Watson
Photo by Rhiannon Watson
Written by Sidney Roy