The Zebulon is a perfect place. It’s got everything a person could possibly need, drinks, food, proximity to other drinks and food, and unbelievably extreme music. With the recent shifting of the music world due to streaming, it’s become more and more difficult for an extreme band to gain a foothold. The market is so saturated with more approachable music that there’s little, if any space for groups like Uniform and The Body to find an audience. The plus side to this is that they found each other. The other upside is that Zebulon will always be a place to celebrate artists of this sound, style and level of fame.
While Uniform and The Body are exceedingly brutal, their opening band, Dreamdecay, was decidedly approachable by comparison. Though Dreamdecay is by no means “chill” their particular brand of music was more recognizable as a genre than anything that Uniform or The Body have ever produced. During their rowdy, punkish set, the Zebulon remained mostly empty, but those in the audience were engaged, bobbing their heads along and dancing when they had enough room.
During Dreamdecay’s set, there was a clear draw to the merch table. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence for most shows, but given the light crowd size it was a bit curious that there were so many people in line to buy the (admittedly very cool) merchandise. It quickly became apparent that the draw wasn’t just a few kickass shirts and a pin that is now attached to a denim jacket of mine, but was in fact the band members themselves. Michael Berden (of Uniform) and Chip King (of The Body) were manning the merch table and casually chatting with audience members in between purchases. Again, this also isn’t uncommon at shows of this size, but these are both men who are largely considered to be pioneers of their respective sounds, so to see them hanging out with fans for lengthy conversations was a highlight of the evening.
When Uniform and The Body finally took the stage the excitement in the room was palpable, and though the crowd was relatively small, each member of the audience was obviously a dedicated fan. Though both collaborations from Uniform and The Body are notoriously noisy and dense, the band was playing tighter than a drum. It was easy to delineate tracks from one another and both Berden and King sounded identical to their album performances. The crowd clearly knew every song and headbanging and dancing abounded, which was a bit hilarious given the unclassifiable nature of the collaboration. Speaking of hilarity, Berden is an underrated comedian, and often leaned towards self-deprecating humour in between sets as he mocked his own age and neck tattoos. The juxtaposition between the funny asides and the ear splitting performances worked wonderfully, and left everyone with higher spirits than they would have expected coming out of this type of concert.
Following the show both bands stuck around at the merch table for a little. Unfortunately we all had to leave the venue fairly quickly so they could reset the venue for the second show that would take place in a few hours. Luckily, fans who stuck around were able to have conversations with Berden, King and Lee Buford (also of The Body) before being asked to leave so the bands could reset.
Experimental music shows are often a bit of a crap shoot. Some of the music is so underground or so out there that there is little if any joy that can be gleaned from the performances. Uniform and The Body certainly could have put on a show like that had they wanted. Each band is full of off the wall ideas and blistering sounds that are more than capable of alienating just about everyone. This show proved that they’re more than capable of pleasing crowds too, and for two separate bands, they certainly play as if they are a single group. If Uniform and The Body swing through a spot in your city, it’s a must see show for the merch and conversations alone. But it certainly doesn’t hurt that the show is one of the best we’ve seen this year.