Neurosis is a band that I’ve been into since I was about 19 or 20 years old, and I found out about them in a rather unconventional way – two members of Fall Out Boy met each other through a mutual love of the band, and after finding that out, I decided to look up some videos on YouTube. The live performance of “Locust Star” from Ozzfest 2000 absolutely blew my mind, proving to be the most soul-crushingly heavy thing I’d ever heard. After that, I was a dedicated fan.
I’ve seen Neurosis once before in 2012, also at the Masquerade, but whereas that show was overwhelming for me (and extremely long), this show was much more compact, lively, and surprisingly fun. I was late arriving to the venue due to work and ended up missing the first opener, Sumac. That was a bummer, but I’m sure they put on a great set. I did arrive just in time for Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, a doom metal outfit from Seattle fronted by legendary TAD mastermind Tad Doyle. I was totally unfamiliar with their music beforehand but was duly impressed by their live set. Brothers are very much a standard, no-frills doom band in the tradition of acts like Cathedral and later acts such as Rwake. Doyle bellowed like a wild man over abysmal riffs, a sound that was a great departure from the pioneering grunge of his younger days.
A very brief (as in 15 minute) setup took place, and then it was time for Neurosis to take the stage. They started their set with “A Sun That Never Sets”, the opening track from the 2001 album of the same name. The previous Neurosis show I saw mainly stuck to tracks from 2007’s Given to the Rising and 2012’s Honor Found in Decay, but this show was like a microcosm of Neurosis’ career. When the opening chords to “Locust Star” began, the crowd stood in shock momentarily before being pummeled with one of the rawest performances I’ve ever seen. It was hard not to cry, because Neurosis is one of those bands that brings that sort of emotion out in me. When the chorus hit, I was a teary mess, and others in the audience (including Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor) cried along with me. Also let it be noted that bassist/vocalist Dave Edwardson still has one of the most terrifying growls in music history – when he shouted out “That which is above/Is that which is below”, the rickety floorboards beneath me shook.
The rest of their set was stellar, and the emotions of the crowd turned from weepy to feeling exhilaration once “The Doorway” (from 1999’s Times of Grace began). A huge mosh pit formed, and being Atlanta, the crowd actually knew how to mosh properly and have fun while doing it. I saw a lot of smiles, a lot of hugs, and a lot of good energy surrounding me while I got lost in the crushing power of “The Doorway’s” outro riff. “Distill (Watching the Swarm)” from Given to the Rising was another personal highlight. By the time the closing song, the classic “Through Silver in Blood” came on, there were hands in the air as if we were all attending some kind of bastardized worship service. Then again, Neurosis’ music is the closest I’ve ever had to a spiritual connection with anything before. “Don’t crawl/Seek his burn of war/When the fallout comes/He’s fire”…those closing lines were screeched by Scott Kelly with the same ferocity as the recorded track. Nobody in the band sounded tired or as if they were “going through the motions”, and the crowd couldn’t have been more content.
Overall, it was a fantastic show, and despite having eaten nothing beforehand and running on very little sleep, I left feeling energized. There’s something about Neurosis’ music, and the wisdom of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till’s words in general, that brings a sense of peace and purpose to my weary head in times of difficulty. I needed that sort of catharsis, and it was evident that many others did, too. One day I hope to meet the band and let them know what their music means to me, but until then, I’ve got the music to find solace in.