BY NICOLAS GRIZZLE
I can best describe the experience of a Yob concert as a sort of electrolysis bath for the soul. The sonic intensity of the low frequency barrage runs through your body, entering through the chest, vibrating the ribcage and shaking off the caked-on crap of life’s eternal suffering from your bones to refresh your soul. With so many bathers at their packed show Saturday night at the Metro Opera House in Oakland, California, the hanger-like warehouse felt more like a public pool buzzing with energy.
This is a loud band. Earplugs are a definite must. There are more amps than people onstage in this trio. The cymbals — the loudest part of a drum set — are enormous. Singer Mike Scheidt’s vocals are huge too, though on this night he was on the brink of losing his voice. The previous two shows on the tour had been cancelled, but on this night Scheidt mostly carried through, with the end being noticeably a little rougher on his vocal chords. For the most part, a healthy and delicious dollop of reverb and delay on the microphone helped smooth over most imperfections.
The set swelled and crashed with the intensity of the open ocean. Aaron Rieseberg’s bass anchored the band in the midst of the music’s tidal swells with the perfect notes at the perfect time, with melodic runs coated in tasty fuzz cracking through the density of Scheidt’s guitar tones like distant flashes of bioluminescence. Massive waves of sonic energy brought forth through Travis Foster’s ferocious, relentless pounding on his piano black INDe four-piece kit drove the 30-something crowd into a mosh pit during a couple of the heavier songs in the set. The same energy carried through on a slower version of the 16-minute epic “Our Raw Heart” and the even epic-er 20-minute set closer “Marrow.”
Despite the vocal difficulties, and having to restart a song twice due to guitar malfunctions — a broken string in the first minute lead Scheidt to stop, declaring, rightfully so, that “this song is too long to push through with this” before donning a fully-stringed backup — the set flowed with an emotional arc reminiscent of a great film. It was exciting, intense, then complete and satisfying in the end.
Scheidt thanked the audience several times during and after the set for “hanging with us,” capacity crowd returned his appreciation each time with enthusiasm. The band stuck around after the set to meet fans, sign records, and discuss tattoo artists. Though their heavy, slow sound may lead listeners and critics to label the band as “doom” metal, that wording feels inappropriate. Their empowering music is thick with contemplative, uplifting chords sustained in heavy overdrive and distortion that evokes more a feeling of perseverance than dread. There’s no doom in that — more like the opposite.