Concert Review: The Contortionist, Animals as Leaders, and Between the Buried and Me; Nashville, Tennessee August 15th 2015

The Contortionist
The Contortionist

BY: Melody Ryan

The Contortionist, Animals as Leaders, and Between the Buried and Me. Together. In one show. I don’t even know where to begin with this review. Can I just write, “This was the best concert ever!” and be done with it?

These three bands played at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, TN, and I have been to shows here in the past where the wide open space makes attendance look sparse. This was definitely not the case at this show, as the whole venue was filled with hundreds of other people who were probably thinking the same as me: “This show is so freaking awesome!”

I couldn’t have picked three better bands to tour together. First, each has their own individual sound, but they all complement each others’ music in the most impeccable way. Second, there weren’t so many bands on the bill that I felt bored or tired of standing around after a while like I usually do at shows. Lastly, they are all unbelievably talented, technical, and play both beautiful and intense metal music.

Javier Reyes
Javier Reyes

The Contortionist started off the show with their wonderfully ethereal guitar lines, progressive sound, and with Michael Lessard’s spooky smooth vocals. They are a progressive metal band from Indianapolis, IN and have been making music since 2007. Surprisingly, I had not heard of them before this tour was announced, but I am certainly glad I know about them now. Metal is great, but metal that isn’t afraid to slow down and create beautiful sounds is even better. At some points throughout their show, I would close my eyes and feel as if I wanted to float away on a cloud. Then they would bust out some technical, mathy riffs that would bring me back down to Earth, and I would realize I was in fact at a metal show and not levitating in the sky.


Animals as Leaders, an instrumental progressive metal band from D.C. was second to play. When I first began listening to Animals as Leaders, Tosin Abasi was the only member, having released a solo album in 2009 after leaving his previous band Reflux. The first self-titled album blew me away, and I was disappointed when I realized it wasn’t an actual functioning band. But my dreams came true, and Abasi got a band together and began touring. This show was the first time I have been able to see them live, and it was definitely a treat. Abasi and fellow guitarist Javier Reyes both play 8-string guitars, and it is mesmerizing to see them work their magic on stage. Animals as Leaders is such a unique metal band, as they do not have typical instrumentation nor do they have a singer. There are two guitarists and a drummer, and basically they just played non-stop mind-blowing music. It was a great follow-up after The Contortionist and the perfect introduction for Between the Buried and Me. They really kept the energy up and put on a flawless show.

Now for Between the Buried and Me. Ooooh, Between the Buried and Me… where do I begin? They have been my favorite

Tommy Rogers
Tommy Rogers

band since the moment I heard the song “Mordecai” over 10 years ago. I still remember where I was sitting when I heard it, and it remains my favorite song to this day. For those of you who are unfamiliar, BTBAM is a progressive metal band from North Carolina that writes some of the most wonderful music I have ever heard. As I stated above, metal is great, but when you can fuse slow and gorgeous parts into it, you have won me over.

But BTBAM takes it to a whole new level. The main thing that makes them so fantastic is that they fuse pretty much any random thing they want into their music… and flawlessly at that. Whether it is musical styles from jazz to Egyptian, instruments such as gongs, a xylophone, a vibraslap, or even some unexpected whistling and horse neighs… they do what they want, and that wins my respect. I was very pleased when they played “Prequel to the Sequel” which features a polka-esque section, and everyone began dancing the polka.  This is also the only metal show I have ever attended where the mosh pit turned quickly into a gigantic swing dance party. As they played “Ants of the Sky”, we all knew what part was coming up and looked around at each other. As soon as they started playing the little country jig at the end, we all immediately started linking arms, swinging around, and laughing hysterically. Something I loved about the crowd at this show was that although we were strangers, it seemed like family. We all felt the same emotions with each song, and we were all in metal heaven. I could go on and on about how much I loved BTBAM’s set, but I will end it here. They exited the stage after their final song, and the typical “One more song!” chant began.  Back out they came, and the anticipation was killing me. I was dying to hear “Mordecai” which they unfortunately did not play, but I never expected what was coming. 

dan briggs
Dan Briggs

“…Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?…” 

Um… what?! Between the Buried and Me came out and played the most ridiculously amazing cover of Bohemian Rhapsody. Needless to say, the crowd went wild- Everyone was singing along and dancing, everyone joined the band on stage, and it was the most exceptional ending to the night.

I really have absolutely nothing negative to say about this concert. My mind is blown, and my metal-craving soul is ultimately satisfied.


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