This show was cancelled then relocated, so a smaller, but grateful audience reveled in the magic that is Cynic.
Everything about this show started weirdly. First of all, right next door to the show was a rave. Whilst crossing the street to join my fellow prog nerds in line, a girl wearing only a tutu, underwear and neon ribbons crossed with me and commented on the line saying, "Why is everyone dressed normal?!" Behind Cynic's tour bus was the line she was looking for. This line featured way more hula hoops and glow sticks than the metal fans brought. Probably more and better drugs too. This was a personal first for a show I attended. Second, the actual Cynic crowd brought out some characters too. One of which was a man with a snake in a bag which he showed to Paul Masvidal before the show. This man was later spotted roaming the venue with the bag under his arm.
We Are The City was the first to take the stage. I didn't preview any of the openers before attending this show, which is rare for me, but I was pleasantly surprised by WATC. They are a trio of a guitarist, drummer and keyboard player and are not a metal band at all, which is fine since Cynic has strayed from the title themselves over the last few releases. I didn't expect them to sound like a cross between White Denim and Autolux though. They were a solid indie shoegaze band. The crowd politely applauded, but the band would have probably fit in a bit better on a stage at Outside Lands or a Pitchfork sponsored event.
Next was Lesser Key. These guys blended a bit better with the prog audience, but in a way that would have been a better blend with The Ocean's brand of progressive metal. The band had a lot of soaring vocals and Tool like atmosphere. They were really great though. I've got them on a long list of bands to explore further now. They were the ideal band for people to light up during as there was an absurd about of puffs of weed smoke elevating during their set. My only complaint was they their entire set sounded pretty muffled, but I'm blaming the house sound on that.
Finally, Cynic took the stage. Their set opened appropriately with the title track of the tour "True Hallucination Speak," which sounded great live. The band then carried on touching on every release in their career. There was a couple from Traced, one from Carbon-Based Anatomy, one from Re-traced, and one from Focus (maybe two, I forget). I reviewed the new album back in January, and my only complaint was the actual recording quality, so I was stoked to hear just how much better the new stuff sounds live. There is added heaviness to songs like "Gitanjali" and "Moon Heart Head Sun" that wasn't there before and I dig them this way more.
Paul was entertaining as always during their set being self-deprecating about the show's location. Until days before the show, it was set to take place at San Francisco's legendary Fillmore. While not explicitly stated to be the cause of the move, it was alluded that poor ticket sales had the show cancelled. "This next song was number 1 on the Billboard charts for 8 weeks. Ha. That's why we're not at The Fillmore. Who needs the Fillmore?" For those in attendance at the Oakland Metro, it was a great intimate experience with an amazing band, but it's a shame that San Francisco wouldn't come out.
While I was thankful to still have a Cynic show, I couldn't help but feel bad for them. The Oakland Metro has two rooms. The big room, which held the rave is the one usually talked about, and the room we were in. This show was essentially in the garage behind the rave. The room itself has a high metal roof, brick walls, and a roll-up metal door as the back wall. All of these are terrible for live sound. While Cynic's stuff sounded good, I couldn't help but be annoyed by a similar poor timbre the room gave the bands. It would have been godlike in the Fillmore. Alas…
I highly recommend hitting the East-Coast leg this August.