Meshuggah at the Showbox

Meshuggah at the Showbox

I got to see Meshuggah play the Showbox this week. There was a time when I couldn’t listen to Meshuggah. Their music made me seasick; I would literally get nauseated. Over time my taste grew heavier, and then they released Koloss (arguably their most accessible album). I was finally able to appreciate their music on more than an academic level.

My First Meshuggah

The first time I heard them live was at Eistnaflug in 2016. I can’t say I “saw” them, because people in Iceland are tall. If I’m not in the front row, the view is not much better than when you’re not the lead dog. It was still amazing to experience such a visceral groove buried in such complicated music. One of my companions dislocated his shoulder in the mosh pit, which filled the space between the stage and the sound station in the middle of the high school gym-cum-concert-venue. My other companion insisted on shaking hands with the sound guy for pulling off the impossible.

Meshuggah concert

So yeah, we bought Meshuggah tickets the day they went on sale.

Opening Acts

For some reason, I am often more interested in the opening bands than the headliners. Even when that isn’t the case, I am pretty uptight about not missing them. I’m old enough to have seen lots of now-famous bands open up for now-forgotten ones, and I’ve had enough musician friends to at least want to show respect for the folks who are still paying their dues. I remember the heartfelt thanks Chvrches offered to the smattering of people in a nearly empty stadium at 3 o’clock in the afternoon of a festival lineup.


Sliding between some Meshuggah-like chugging and melodeath, I expected Toothgrinder to be more my style when I listened to their album in preparation for the concert. The actual experience, though, was a little bit frustrating. They did so many things I really liked. I kept starting to get really into it, and then a few minutes later would realize my attention had wandered. I’m not sure if it’s a sign of a young band with unfulfilled promise. It might have been my first clue that I was coming down with a cold.

(Not to objectify, but my friend and I did have to agree their frontman was very … fit.)

Toothgrinder concert

Code Orange

I saw Code Orange on a bunch of year-end lists, so I had at least checked them out before. Except for the very death metal opening, the punk aesthetic on their album is a bit out of my wheelhouse, though. But live, I liked them more than I expected. I’m a sucker for atypical instrumentation, and the singing drummer with like fifteen guitarists was definitely unexpected. Sometimes the abrupt changes felt more sudden than powerful, but overall I dug it.

Code Orange live show


Meshuggah at the Showbox

The sound from the bar was okay, but we wanted the best sound for Meshuggah, and went down to the main floor. So for the second time, all I saw of the band was this.

what i saw at meshuggahUnfortunately, the jerks at the door just took our tickets and didn’t even return the stubs, so I have absolutely nothing to use for a primary image for this post. But the sound was incredible. As at Eistnaflug, I hovered at the edge of the pit where the sound was best and the risk should be minimal. But at Showbox the pit filled the whole main floor, and even backed up to the bar, I took a beating. People acted like fish disoriented by navy sonar, and my years of experience swimming through crowd gaps was useless in this gnarly pit. Or maybe it was my second clue that I was coming down with a cold.

I kept getting stuck in places I didn’t want to be and had a hard time getting out when I’d had enough. I finally ended up standing by coat check, where sound quality was myseriously crystalline and a cool breeze from the open front door reached us. It’s not like I could see less from there than I could see in the pit, right?

The next day I woke up with a cold, in more pain than I’ve felt since I quit going to open sparring at the kwoon. My face exploded in fever blisters and I had an earache that still hasn’t quite disappeared. (What is it with this band and my inner ear?)

The Verdict

Next time I have a chance to see Meshuggah, I’m going to buy tickets the day they go on sale. Then I’m going to find a place up high where I can see the stage and find out what their shows are like. Even if the sound isn’t perfect, I’m sure the performance will be.

Got something to say?

%d bloggers like this: