Pelican has become quite prolific since their humble beginnings, partly thanks to signing with Hydra Head Records, and their associations with ISIS. It's funny to me that Pelican started as a side-project to another band, Tusk, however it makes sense that the Pelican project would have a bit more success. This was the third time I've seen Pelican, and as usual, it was excellent. While I rarely listen to their studio material in my free time, I tend to enjoy the bands they tour with, as well as their own live set, so I always try to see them when they come through. I wasn't disappointed, and this was actually one of the better shows of theirs which I've seen. I figured being berated at the door for several minutes in order to get into the show was my rite of passage, and the built tension from it certainly called for some booze and rock and roll.
We were able to secure a table and some drinks to whet our whistle. The first band, Your Black Star, began to play and was probably the surprise of the evening. It only took a song and a half of their set before a good portion of the crowd was won over, many made it toward the floor in front of the stage to watch closer. The lad behind the drum kit for Your Black Star pretty much outranked any other drummer in the building as far as I'm concerned, and definitely was the highlight of their performance for me. Not to say the rest of the band was any less excellent, as the three really put on an incredibly tight display throughout their set. It was over as quickly as it had started, but I certainly look forward to seeing this young band from Louisville, Kentucky again.
Clouds were up next. Even before hearing them, I assumed there would be a bit of 1970’s influence just by spotting the “70s progressive-rock” styled artwork on their t-shirts. Turns out I was right, and “a bit” is an understatement. I was not disappointed, and there were influences ranging Motorhead to The Stooges to The Rolling Stones. These guys fucking rocked. They tore up the stage for around 45 minutes and most anyone there with half of a brain was likely transported back 30 years ago, before heavy metal was split off into 666 sub-genres and talking shit about Gerald Ford was the right thing to do. Dueling blues riffs, Pentecostal vocals, jazzy drumming and bass… despite being the “odd” band on the bill, it certainly suited my mood. More booze was consumed, glasses were raised, and the crowd was very clearly won over by this performance.
Pelican, despite thinking they can fool everyone with their freshly grown beards, still appear to be a mess of 16-year-old kids with hair taped to their faces. This was an unfortunate realization toward my own illusion of having facial hair as well. Damn you, Pelican!
Standing with knees against the stage the crowd was ready for a low-tuned display of creative progressions, spacey drum fills and no vocal intrusion. The fun thing about seeing Pelican, is that I enjoy their show a little bit more each time, and they seem to be improving greatly as the years progress. This show was the tightest I’ve seen them play, and each band member seemed to be in their own world, yet connected to each other through each and every swell of the crescendos they performed.
As a testament to Utah concert crowds thinking they can mosh to just about anything with a distorted guitar, the slam dancing began around the third song into the set. I suppose it was worth putting up with because the majority of the people on the floor cheered and clapped as the culprits were dragged out of the building courtesy of the bouncer staff. I made sure to thank him for that as I left. Shortly after the knuckle draggers were removed from the premises, the focus was back to the stage where it belonged.
Through the eight or nine songs in their set, Pelican showcased their professionalism and skill without a single hitch. Between each song one member would interject a short “thanks.” to the crowd, but always kept communication minimal so as not to upset the desired effect of their actual stage presence, which is their music. As always, I look forward to their imminent return.