Tyler Lavoie ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
In 2005, Misha Mansoor formed Periphery. He had recently appropriated the term “djent,” an onomatopoeia for detuned, muted guitar chords to describe the style of his demos. With this approach, an ever-increasing arsenal of extended range guitars, and consistent posts on a handful of message boards, he built a modest following.
Flash forward to February 2015, and you’ll find a Rolling Stone article about Periphery landing two top 25 LPs in less than a week . In a decade, they have grown from geeky internet producers to a headlining metal band. To my delight, I discovered that their success was bringing them to a show at Paradise Rock Club.
Naturally, I wanted to see if they would live up to the hype.
The first thing I noticed was that Periphery keeps good company. Thank You Scientist primed the venue with acrobatic jazzmeetsR&Bmeetsmetal, featuring a full brass section and an impossibly precise guitarist. Next up was Wovenwar, an As I Lay Dying “spinoff” that ramped up the energy and brought several shout along singles.
Nothing More followed. With DIY props, vocalist Jonny Hawkins’s boundless energy, and a solo played by three band members entirely on one bass , they lit up the crowd with full force. Despite being unfamiliar with the material not to mention totally crushed against the front banister I found myself headbanging in rhythm. At one point, Hawkins stood on a gigantic spinning bass rig, leaned it towards me, and gestured for a photo. To say the least, Nothing More delivered an unforgettable performance.
I wish I could say the same about Periphery. From opening single “Icarus Lives,” the modest venue struggled to render their sound. In addition, the audience lost its collective energy in favor of personal enjoyment or aggression. As I exited the crowd, someone I’d never seen before whirled me around, screamed inaudibly, and pushed me into a man in a wheelchair.
It doesn’t have to be this way; I’ve seen incredible performances from Periphery’s biggest influencer, Meshuggah, as well as their Washington, D.C. companions/coproducers, Animals as Leaders. And, to be fair, there is still some sort of magic in seeing Periphery live and knowing that, almost a decade ago, I was exchanging guitar advice on the same message boards that brought them early fame.
However, the words of a nonmetal head friend sum up the experience perfectly: “I loved Nothing More, but Periphery really disappointed me.” Compared to their high energy openers, Periphery just didn’t stand out.