You can be the most amazing band in history, but if you can’t perform on stage, no one will ever know you existed. It takes more than playing guitar to make a live performance. Two bands in particular I am speaking of is Intronaut and Animals As Leaders. These bands opened for Meshuggah at Center Stage on Tuesday February 12. Meshuggah was great, but I was bored to tears by the openers.

Intronaut took the stage first that night. Wikipedia describes Intornauts style as: “Their style, while rooted in metal, is extremely forward-thinking and psychedelic, complete with complex polyrhythms, intense, haunting melodies, and vocal harmonies, combined with progressive and jazzy instrumental breaks. Their sound incorporates traits from prog rock, psychedelic/stoner rock, Indian, African, and Afro-Latin rhythms, as well as a heavy jazz influence.”

Ok, great lets see how this band interprets this on stage. Well, the band interpreted it as boring because the only one that moved was the drummer. Don’t get me wrong, they had great musicianship, but it was like watching paint dry. I was allowed to photograph two songs, I photographed one and went out to watch the rest on the TV’s out in the lobby. Play the music and express your passion for it.

Second to perform was Animals As Leaders. This instrumental progressive band features great some great musicians. Their music is heavily influenced by jazz and very technical. Some say their album “Weightless” is a masterpiece. Guitarist Tosin Abasi is sought after by many as being one the best players around today. Guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Matt Garstka blew my mind when they played. On the other hand, not expressing that awesomeness on stage is just sad. Again, it was great to see some amazing playing, but it quickly became like watching paint dry. Move your head, jump around, sway back and forth…. Do something to not make me not just want to listen to your album in the car on my way home!

Headliners Meshuggah played third that night at Center Stage. When I arrived at the venue, I noticed a note at the box office that said singer Jens Kidman would not be performing due to an illness. Of course, I was like “uh oh” what are they going to do… Maybe play instrumental, have a fill in singer…. Nooo, they put a cardboard cutout of the singer on the stage and used live recorded tracks from their European tour. It was classic!! The crowd cheered loudly for Jens and the show went over great. The lighting Meshuggah used made it very hard to photograph, but it was clear the band wanted to create the show to their standards. Red to blue back lighting, twirling white lights, and strobes and to the intensity of this bands music. The band played great despite the absence of their lead singer. Their presence on stage was a little different then I was used to, but it got the “extreme” metal feel across to the crowd. Each musician had their own spot on the stage and they didn’t move from that spot. They all kinda did their own thing while playing. One guy flung his hair around, while another jumped back and forth in his spot. It was interesting to see the movement and then the strobe lights go off during a intense solo. Very hard to photograph, but I really liked the show!!