By: James Ballinger
Photographs by: Melissa Bird
In case you're not an everyday reader of the blog over at VH1, recently they've put up a poll of 13 of the most metal cities in the United States. Seattle made the list, and in the article they specifically mention the Highline Bar as the metal Mecca in our town. It's fair to say that it's known as such in part thanks to owner and manager Dylan Desmond (Bell Witch, ex-Samothrace), while also being a home to so many other heavy bands both in and out of town. And while there are plenty of other places to see live metal in Seattle, the Highline was the absolute best spot to be tonight for the Fight Amp and Kowloon Walled City tour that rolled in town.
Part of a joint booked Ladies' Choice and 1000 Knives production, the bill seemed to have most of the genres of all things heavy represented, thanks to a pair of well-rounded local openers.
Seattle's Glose and Mercy Ties don't have much in common musically (other than being both great heavy bands around town); the one common bond between them is they both have recorded with Kowloon Walled City frontman/guitarist Scott Evans. This added a great dynamic early on in the evening adding some diversity to really fill out the bill.
Evans produced Glose's ironically titled debut “The Very Best of Glose”, released in 2013, and the band brings that same energy live. Perfectly noisy, and tight, Glose puts their own spin on that AmRep style of thick riffs, and grinding drum and bass breakdowns.
Equally energetic was Mercy Ties, whose show tonight also doubled as the bands record release show for the Evan's produced “Proper Corruption”, their first full length and second for label Glory Kid. Violent and dynamic, Mercy Ties ripped through the punk and hardcore influenced LP in its entirety perfectly, proving that the band is equally intense live as they are on record.
By the time Philadelphia "sludge-punk" band Fight Amp took the stage, the Highline filled up nicely, no doubt with people eager to catch the touring bands. I've seen Fight Amp several times now, and they never cease to blow me away. They get better every single time, and the songs and riffs seem to get wiser with age. The set was full of tracks off their release “Constantly Off” from this past summer, and they come across fantastic live. While slightly more focused and melodic, “Constantly Off” represents what I love the most about the band. That's their impeccable timing, their ability to shift in and out of riffs and grooves so seamlessly that they never quite go on as long as you'd like them, but they follow it up with something just as good. Always a fun set.
Finally, it was time for San Francisco's Kowloon Walled City. The first time I caught the band, they had the daunting but esteemed honor of opening for Sleep here in Seattle. I was instantly blown away by the band, and I've been a huge fan ever since, catching sets by the band in 3 different states. This would also be the first set of shows with new drummer Julia Lancer (The New Trust) replacing longtime drummer Jeff Fagundes, and absolutely crushed it. Their set tonight consisted mainly of the new record “Grievances” played in its entirety, news I was most definitely happy to hear. While the record doesn't necessarily make for the most intense live set, it makes up for it in pure emotion, and I prefer that-especially after getting pummeled by these three other bands.