Recap: Animals As Leaders, BTBAM at Northern Lights

This past Friday, Step Up Presents brought the 2011 Saints & Sinners tour featuring Between The Buried And Me, Animals As Leaders and Tesseract to Northern Lights for a night of melodic debauchery much to the delight a packed, sweaty venue. The tour’s pit stop in Albany marked the second-to-last show in a 30+ day run, during which Animals As Leaders released their sophomore album, Weightless.


photo by kc orcutt

Tesserect, BTBAM and Animals As Leaders made for a complimentary show billing – although I did just catch the tail end of Tesserect kicking off the evening. Tesserect was followed by Animals As Leaders who stirred up a progressive melting pot of an influx of metal-based instrumentals with BTBAM turning up the heat and consequential aggression as headliners.

My friend described Animals As Leaders as “music to get lost in the jungle to” and I couldn’t agree more. Multi-layered compositions paired with passion and Tosin Abasi – sign me up. Abasi is their guitar player and could probably lead an army with his guitar alone, he’s that good. The other two members of the band help build the sound as stemmed from his guitar riffs, in a way that makes the music approachable and not just all about getting lost in endless guitar shredding.

Animals As Leaders is definitely a precise, technical band but their musical delivery still maintains a solid organic feel with high energy when performed live instead of just going through a set of dictacted motions. Their music could be considered a compromise of genres and influences in that they balance being heavy, dark, jazzy and progressive with an electronic flair, but they do so without doing any horrible injustices to any given direction. I pictured their set being more enjoyable in a larger space, but regardless their set was absolutely still the highlight of my night.

When you really think about it, being an active band for over a decade really is quite the accomplishment. BTBAM formed back in 2000, have put out 5 studio albums, swapped members of their line-up several times, toured with handfuls of bands in hundreds of places and dozens of countries (including returning to Northern Lights 3 times or so in their career) and still have an audience held captive. BTAM, statistics aside, made for quite the live performance from veteran musicians who have more than put in their dues but aren’t quite tired yet.

The crowd wasn’t as aggressive as it could have been but it also was shoulder to shoulder for majority of the standing room space. Highlights from their set included tracks “Mirrors”, “Obfuscation” “Disease, Injury, Madness” (all off 2009’s The Great Misdirect) and capping off the evening with “Mordecai” as their encore. Overall, I’d say it was a good performance (not amazing) as Animals As Leaders stole the night for me.

If you were there, what did you think?

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