ASBURY PARK, NJ—The night was Dec. 28, one more Friday night show to get under my belt before 2013. I was more than excited to see one of my favorite bands, Toothgrinder, celebrate their CD release at The Saint. It’s always been one of my favorite venues; the venue not only dictates how many people can see the show, but it also plays a role in the sound and your proximity to the stage, and at The Saint, you’re always in the front. It was clear from the very beginning that the crowd was ready for Toothgrinder, getting warmed up with bands such as Roseld, Cognitive, and Old Wounds. Each one of those bands was heavy in their own aspect, bringing all different eclectic types of metal to the table. The place was packed, the hair was long, the drinks were flowing, and it was clearly time to shred.
As Toothgrinder hit the stage, they immediately erupted into a disastrous sonic outburst, with lead singer Justin diving off the stage upon his first scream. It almost felt as if time had stopped, for it all happened so fast, as he jumped back up immediately to start the set. The primate rawness of Justin’s vocals served as no surprise, however, they did open the show with a never before heard Toothgrinder track. I could see people in the crowd acknowledging one another, nodding their ends, almost as if giving approval of the new track without using words. The band stuck to their outrageous output during their almost 60-minute set. Have you ever been to a show where certain instruments seem almost lost in the mix? That is the complete opposite of what the crowd saw here. Matt, Wills, Jason, and Mielke cause the most controlled chaos I have ever seen. They were top-notch on the instrumental front, almost as if they were standing in a studio and not on a stage. The mystery man behind the scenes, otherwise known as the sound guy, was damn good at his job as well, making the result nearly as crystal clear as their studio recordings. Toothgrinder are clearly one of those bands that spend the most time making sure their live sound is perfect, and they are that band that you will go back and see. This statement reigns true, for I always see familiar faces in the crowd at each one of their shows. In fact, the more and more I analyze things, almost half of the people in the crowd were even rocking Toothgrinder merchandise, contrary to that whole “don’t be the guy who wears the shirt theory.” Don’t worry guys, I don’t care what people say, it looked cool.
The ripped new tracks off of Vibration/Colour/Frequency, which was fully produced by Paul Ritchie, whose name you may recognize from a little band called The Parlor Mob. Then, out of nowhere, they had a surprise up their sleeves. I almost fell off my non-existent chair when they started playing “Money” by Pink Floyd. As if it wasn’t cool enough hearing Justin actually sing, they invited local legend Scott Liss to join the party on saxophone. It was a wonderful treat for everyone in the crowd, and it sure left a long-lasting impression.
I thoroughly enjoyed this show and by the time midnight rolled around, I almost felt as if I had run a marathon. I did stand in the back, and I will admit that openly, for the pit isn’t for everyone; trust me, it can be carnage down there. However, I do encourage every metalhead to get in the front at least once, so you can experience the thrill. Better yet, make your first time at a Toothgrinder show. Singing along is only acceptable if you manage to sing louder than them, which will be a very hard task to accomplish. This show was definitely one of the best I have been to in 2012, literally sending the year off with a bang.