Devin Townsend Project
Live at The El Rey Theatre
Los Angeles, California
September 8th, 2012
Review and Photos by Travis Baumann
Devin Townsend is an interesting man with a varied recording career and an even more interesting style of musical output. He has put out dozens of albums under a number of different monikers, everything from Strapping Young Ladd, to Biomech, to using his own name.
I first came into contact with him when he recorded the guitar parts for two albums for the legendary electronic industrial band Frontline Assembly in the mid-nineties. These were seminal albums for that band that layered in intense guitar tracks with their predominantly synthesizer and sample based music.
Years later I got back into his solo work and now have the opportunity to see him performing under his own namesake project for the latest album "Epicloud".
Devin's solo projects are varied in sound and that is putting it mildly. He ranges from heavy rifts to soaring atmospherics and his vocal delivery is every bit as diverse going anywhere from operatic melodic pieces to screamed and growled throat tearing efforts.
"Epicloud" is very accessible, predominantly melodic but has its edgy passages as well. Seeing him live though, no one can tell where he will go.
The Devin Townsend Project was the headlining act for the "Epic Kings and Idols" tour featuring Katatonia and the awesome Paradise Lost as supporting bands. Obviously with a line up like that, it was an amazing event.
After two doom filled dark Gothic style metal acts, Devin was taking on an excited but somber crowd. Devin is wholly entertaining however, and just his facial expressions take on a cartoon like caricature while he sings his varied styles.
Before the band appeared, the stage went dark and odd projections started to appear on the screen at the back of the theater. Weird things like marching cartoon badgers followed by equally cartoony hissing snakes inter-cut with odd spacial shapes and nebula type astronomical imagery.
The band eventually took the stage but only after the crowd began chanting different things from "Devin", to "Badger, Badger, Badger, Snaaake". As Devin moved to the forefront they quieted down and he gestured thematically which signaled the band to break into the first song, "Supercrush!".
They continued with "More!" and "Kingdom". With each song, Devin sang and played guitar but also found time in between his fretting to make animated gestures matching his range of facial expressions. At points he would be fierce and angry then gentle and emotional, moving to scared, to goofy, and then outright crazy.
"Planet of the Apes" was up next leading into "Where We Belong" and "War". Some of these songs were released just as Devin Townsend, some as Devin Townsend Band, and some as Devin Townsend Project.
I sort of always considered this his material even though supporting band members have varied over the years, but overall this set list shows it is all fair game when he takes the stage (although he did not do any Strapping Young Ladd material).
The manic set did not let up there, "Vampira" and "Juuler" lead into "Lucky Animals" off of the new album. They completed the main set with "Liberation" and "Grace" before things came to a semi-rest.
Bizarre imagery still cycled on the screen and weird ambiant music never ceased. The band re-emerged after some chanting from the crowd and they played "Bad Devil" before throwing in the towel for the night.
It was a crazy entertaining show to say the least. Devin is quite a showman, he could have been an actor and maybe still should be. His manic personality really deserves center stage, the rest of his band are quite stoic and kind of off in the shadows to the sides and back of stage but it is called the Devin Townsend Project after all.
It was a great evening, filled with original, talented bands that each offered something different. I highly recommend seeing Devin live if you have the opportunity.
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