CHEVELLE at the Orbit Room in Grand Rapids 02.25.12

I know this review may be a bit late, but for that I blame no one but Chevelle.

Every day since that one cold, frozen, February night of the 25th I have been living.  Something woke up inside of me that night.  Something that I had somehow, in someway, forgotten and it was like 2002 all over again when “Wonder What’s Next” was the only CD in my car’s 6-disc Disc changer.  I’ve been made alive…once again.  Parties, dating, creating, art; A sleeping giant awoke and he wanted more…and more…and more…of everything.

So forgive me…but blame Chevelle.  It’s their fault.  They were just that kind of awesome.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the show so given my usual M.O. I convinced my friend and I to pre-game.  A few drinks in we arrive at the show just as ‘Middle Class Rut’ were a few songs into their pretty impressive set.  I wish I had been more familiar with them beforehand, but its through experiences like this that you become, so I’m sure the next time I will be…  However, for me, this night was all about just one band: Chevelle.  A band I have loved longer than most girlfriends.  Significantly longer actually.  Maybe too long…now that I think about it…hmm… maybe I should look into that.

Another time, another review.

While distracted by a handful of guys being forcefully escorted from the building as a drunkard at a booth asks me a bunch of questions before he passes out and he is too escorted from the building, I had missed Chevelle coming onto the stage.  It wasn’t until I heard the shredding bass licks of “Antisaint’” that I realized, “Holy Expletive, Batman!” Chevelle is playing!  I drag my friend over, we find a spot, and then we proceed to rock the “Holy Expletive, Batman!” out.

It had been too long since I’ve seen them live.  Not since they had opened for Korn back in 2004 and that itself is a crime.  Eight years between seeing a live show, with this band, is just too long.

Right from the explosive open we’re treated with “Letters From a Thief”, the first of the many gems from off their hallmark (IMHO) fifth album “Sci-fi Crimes”.  From that they take us into “Another Know it All” before sliding right into a track from their latest release, “Same Old Trip”, however the song was anything but.  I admittedly had not been as versed in the new album as I wished I was before walking into the Orbit Room that night.  That said I AM now and “Holy Expletive, Batman!” is that song a beast!  But nothing, not even that, could have prepped me for what was coming up next.  Throughout the night I’d lean over to my friend and say, “I hope they play “Sleep Apnea” but then song after song they didn’t…

Until…

Mangasm is the only made up word I can think of to effectively express just how I felt when I heard Pete rip open into that opening guitar chord.  It was “Sleep Apnea”.  Easily the single best rock song I have heard in the last decade — and EVEN better live, seriously.  These guys were having fun with it and you could tell; Pete even threw in a guitar freestyle toward the end before the last chorus hit and it was killer!

As Pete addresses the town before they go into their next song, I pull out my iPhone to start taking notes.  This night needed to be chronicled.  “Hats off to the Bull” lead way into “Closure”, “Closure” took us into “Jars”, and it was during that song I had learned that the set list was sitting right in front of us the whole time on the lighting control rig.  After that it was like seeing the next bite of dessert before you’ve even swallowed the last.  “Send the Pain Below” was as awesome as always, but it was their take on “Forfeit” that really took me by surprise.  Dean killed the baseline, Sam pounded at the skins, and just like with “Sleep Apnea” Pete added in another bitching guitar freestyle.  However the highlight of the song had to be when Pete got SO into his freestyle that he accidentally kicked over the mic stand and the crowd had to finish out the chants of “Forfeit!” for him.  Classic.

At this point we were only half-way through the show and I was reveling.  A cornucopia of oldies, not so oldies, and a mix of new songs fanned over us.  Me being partial to their third album, “This Type of Thinking”, “Vitamin R” and “The Clincher” were real treats for me, but it was a song I had never heard before (till that night and every night after) that literally subdued me into a trance.  “Envy”, a track off their latest album was just pitch perfect and perfect at the right time.  Up till then we had been practically massacred by a litany of the heavy, bombastic, and engagingly raucous — the tempered enchanting tempo of “Envy” was just what the crowd needed before we all gave ourselves whiplash from head banging…or so I thought.  Just when the song sounded like it was tapering, it kicks up like a lighter waving, arena rock, enchantress.  Outside “Sleep Apnea” “Envy” was an absolute and genuine highlight.

And then they decide to rip our heads right off once again with their most rousing rendition of “Wonder What’s Next I have heard yet.  How seriously awesome was that album?  Not a question, I’m just making a statement.

After closing on a sure-fire crowd pleaser “Clones”, Chevelle escaped away for the usual concert/band “Make you beg for it” interim before the eventual encore.  Thankfully they didn’t make us sweat too long because not a single person in the building were fooled by it for one second (Especially the handful of us who were following the setlist all night).  None of us budged, not a bit.  We waited and screamed for more with baited breath…

And then it all went red…literally…

Pete came back alone, plucking away gently at his guitar as he sang the first half of “the Red” over feather struck chords.  Sam and Dean made their return later and kicked up the song into full gear with the second chorus on as the red really did filter through.  I could’ve been perfectly satisfied right there.  With just that.  Short of some personal faves not getting a nod (This Circus, Don’t Fake This, Until You’re Reformed, Emotional Drought, and Still Running to name a few, but I could listen to this band do a 2 hour show as far as I’m concerned) I was good.  But still they gave us one more.  Their latest single, “Face to the Floor”.  Unexpected, but completely welcomed.

Still, I wanted more.

Just one more (or ten), but I guess that’s why you don’t let 8 years pass before you see a band like this live again.  With as many GREAT songs as these guys have?  “Holy Expletive, Batman!” I will definitely not  be making that mistake again.