We’ve all heard the maxim: “If the music is too loud, you’re too old.” In the case of the Grasshopper Lies Heavy, “loud” defines the music while the old are left bleeding from the ears. Now, I haven’t witnessed many three-pieces able to achieve such astounding heights of amplification outside of an amphitheater or Giants Stadium, but TGLH actually manages to push their sound to the very brink of sonic insanity. Volume aside, the band sounds like something between Jesu and Austin’s own Super Heavy Goat Ass (look ‘em up), though TGLH leaves the singer at home. The lack of a vocalist doesn’t necessarily keep their music from being catchy (I’m still humming a few of the themes), but I can’t help but feel a majority of guitarist James Woodard’s riffs could be accompanied easily by vocals.
TGLH is a bit different from most instrumental bands with a rock/metal slant, in that Woodard’s technical showmanship is subdued and sparing, giving the songs a more structured feel. TGLH’s brand of metal shoegaze is more accessible for the average concertgoer, nearly absent of the genre’s prototypical drone and sludge. Woodard does something special with his guitar, and he maneuvers across his ludicrously large pedal boards through opener “The Golden Road” like a church organist during the Rapture.
Bassist Mario Trejo proves himself a master of consistency, never once deviating from the driving thump that creates the band’s backbone. Such a role is typically reserved for percussion, but drummer Mike Engle is too busy playing like he needs an exorcist. Engle may lose a stick every now and again, like he did during “Every Man For Himself and God Against All (Part One),” but it doesn’t affect the band a bit, as he seems happy enough hitting his toms barehanded. By part two, the band’s music began to feel almost sentient. No longer heavy in just the traditional sense, the combination of crushing, albeit brilliantly distorted chord progressions and sheer earth-shaking volume actually made me feel a bit weighed down.
My only real complaint is that the band played just three songs. Electrical issues delayed the show about an hour, which forced them to cut their set short. Though you could blame bad wiring, I’d like to believe that the building found out Grasshopper was coming and decided to blackout in fear of the aural insurrection it was about to house. I’d tell you to keep an eye out for this band, but I’m sure you’ll hear them coming.
The Grasshopper Lies Heavy
Thursday, June 26
The Ten Eleven
1011 Ave. B