After 2 long years of sitting at home in a concert-less world, every band is absolutely itching to get back on the road. While there are definitely still too many people who aren’t concerned by COVID, there are a lot more of us who are, have taken steps to protect ourselves, and are ready to get back to the theater for a good show. That was what I thought while standing in line with my wife to get into the Marquis Theater to see YOB.

I was particularly excited for this show. Not just because of YOB, but because I was going to see YOB in one of my favorite venues in Denver. The Marquis Theater is a small and intimate venue, and I have very desperately missed shows in this kind of space. There is no experience quite like it. It doesn’t feel like the band is “on stage” or separate from the crowd. There’s basically no separation between the performers and the audience. The stage is more like a section of the venue that attendees just aren’t allowed to go to. It feels more like a raucous basement party but with bands you’ve heard of instead of your buddy’s first band in high school.

Once we got in, we grabbed a nourishing slice of Marquis pepperoni pizza and a refreshing adult beverage to ready ourselves for opener Glacial Tomb. Another group to mention in the increasing length of rad Denver metal bands, the sludgy blackened death metal band was an excellent way to start the show with their brutal onslaught of disgusting riffs. I only had a passing familiarity with them, and it seemed like an odd choice for opening a YOB show. But I also didn’t care about the homogeneity of the bill as long as a metal band was playing on stage so my mind was open for it.

I was delightfully impressed with them! Glacial Tomb makes some dirty damn death metal that incorporates a lot of ideas across the spectrum of extreme metal. I could feel every blast beat, each pounding bass rhythm, and all the furiously pounded riffs. I miss this feeling from small venues. You just don’t feel grooves like this the same way in a theater or arena, so Glacial Tomb is perfectly suited for a venue of Marquis’s size.

After getting blasted by some super dirty stuff, True Widow was up next. I had even less awareness of them so I hadn’t a clue what we were in for with this second act. Second acts are often a tough spot to be in. The opener sets a certain mood while the closing end is the grand finale. So what does the show’s middle kid do? I think the best idea is to take the established energy in a new direction. True Widow fit that slot very well for the evening’s show.

The best way to describe True Widow in my mind is gloomy and atmospheric. I was talking to my wife when I thought this band was like the house band for a ghost town saloon. There’s a heavy shoegaze vibe with them but with a kind of 90s alternative twist. It’s like if Garbage started copying Portishead. Having this follow a blackened death metal band is quite jarring, but it is extremely suiting in the overall scheme of the evening.

And finally, the moment you and I have been waiting for! As soon as True Widow wrapped up, we bulldozed our way to the front. While everybody else went for their bathroom breaks and another round, we set up shop right in front on stage right. Only a few minutes later, guitarist and vocalist Mike Scheidt finished setting up his rig and we were ready for liftoff.

Up first, “Prepare the Ground”. I may have come to the show with slightly different expectations, but I soon forgot them the moment the pummeling riff of “Prepare” began. It became readily apparent to me that the trio had been ready to rock for some time. These dudes were absolutely psyched to be here. They had worked damn hard to make their show good, and it was obvious even from setting up their gear that they were elated to play music live again.

By the time “Prepare” moved into “Atma”, it hit me: this band is LOUD. That isn’t a complaint by any means. It’s simply a fact. With the first two bands, you could feel the drums and bass reverberating through the floorboards. YOB, on the other hand, can actually physically attack you with the power of their amplifiers. As we all know, doom metal is best played at loud volumes like a freight train of fuzz and riffs. It just hits even harder when you’re in a venue built for maybe 200 people with low ceilings. After 2 years of only being able to enjoy YOB through headphones, this onslaught is a dream come true.

Before jumping into “The Lie That Is Sin”, Mike took a minute to have a moment of connection with everyone at the show. I’d always heard Mike Scheidt was a positive person and a real sweetheart, but those were just stories to me. It wasn’t until I saw Mike bowing to the crowd and thanking everyone for being there that I knew what everyone meant. He took a moment to praise Glacial Tomb for their talent and grit, and he also had tremendous things to say about True Widow. Anybody can say that kind of thing on stage about other bands on the bill, but the way Mike delivers it makes it seem so much more genuine.

While there was that focus on Mike for a few minutes, let’s not forget about bassist Aaron Rieseburg and drummer Travis Foster. Metal fans can get hyper focused on the guitars and forget that songs wouldn’t be what they are if it wasn’t for bass and drums. I was watching them both during “Upon the Sight of the Other Shore”. Much of the melodrama in YOB tracks does come from Mike’s guitars, but you can see just how reliant he is upon Aaron and Travis when they play live. He’d be nowhere without them. The tracks wouldn’t have the depth they do without the thunderous rhythm from Aaron and Travis’s percussive accents driving things along. Trios like YOB need everyone working together and on the same page, and there is a palpable chemistry between those three you only see live.

To give us all a moment’s rest from the pummeling, the band segued into “Adrift in the Ocean”. I find this track to be the epitome of what YOB does. It’s a quiet moment of introspection and deep thought while Mike finger picks a soft rhythmic melody accompanied by Travis’s quiet cymbal rolls. The intro gives you that floating feeling the title suggests. It’s a lulling white noise to help you process what you have witnessed so far and just be in the moment. So much of YOB’s music is ironically meditative, and “Adrift” takes the cake. It has this same power live. There’s even more of that quiet moment feeling, too, as the rest of the audience is equally aware of the power of this song.

We wrap up the evening with “Burning the Altar”. Mike guides us to our evening’s conclusion with a final passing of sage advice: “Take good care. Drink lots of water. Love each other.” As we move into the track, it occurs to me that there has been a whole lot of love shared between us all this evening. Everyone in line was eagerly showing their COVID vaccination proof to get in and were super respectful of others. All I heard all night was, “Excuse me, sorry to bump” while attendees passed by each other in the crowd. Bartenders were nice and polite to every single person they waited on, and I saw more than one excessive tip from a customer. Everyone in that crowd was just grateful to be out of their homes and at a show again. I think it probably wouldn’t have matter what the quality of the performance was as folks were just glad to be there. Thankfully, it lived up to everyone’s expectations of pure quality.

This is my second YOB show, and I’ll be excited for my third whenever that might be. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir when I say you’ll be missing out if you don’t go when they’re in your neck of the woods. YOB concerts are mind-altering experiences. It’s a moment to exorcize your negative thoughts and appreciate life in the moment. I couldn’t possibly recommend this one highly enough.

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