Lights: HELLA brightBellingham power trio Dog Shredder has somewhat of a cult

Lights: HELLA brightBellingham power trio Dog Shredder has somewhat of a cult following (including a few national voices), which usually amounts to a small, but intensely dedicated crowd, and that’s exactly what they drew at Chop Suey last night. They can be a lot to take in – especially if you’re not already familiar with their approach, but really, regardless – which is why they make such great headphone music, so I was anxious to see their live presentation. At times, their songs – which adamantly, and forcefully, push against traditional song structure/progressions – can sound like they are overloaded with ideas, which can feel overstimulating and down right intimidating to some, but for me, that’s the appeal. Their mission is exploratory, and they entertain (then follow, elaborate upon, and finally, dominate) nearly every possibility surrounding the central, and subsequent sub-themes that they encounter. The translation to the stage was pretty mind-blowing. A few of Caligula’s ampsI arrived after Old Iron’s opening set, but caught the entirety of what local rockers Caligula offered up. Some surface-level observations: 1. Their bass player had his rock stance DOWN; 2. Their collection of amps was spectacular, and made them sound fantastically loud. They were sludgy and groove-based with well-timed break-downs, and very relatable riffage. The guitarist/lead singer was way laid back for a metal guy, which was kind of a fun change. He was all business, and kindly/casually moved his mic stand aside when it came time for his solo so we could properly see him shred. One song had a “Love Buzz”-ish guitar line, but more understated, and in a supporting role rather than up front, which says a lot about their depth of songwriting. They were easy to get into: their heaviness, shiny gear, likable personalities; and I was really impressed with their sound. Looking forward to hearing more from those guys.Dog Shredder took the stage after a bit, and played like a lightning storm. Singer/guitarist Josh Holland has an especially wild energy about him, and was thrashing all over the stage. The fact that the attendance was light, coupled with the fact it’s almost impossible to get a beat on a discernible rhythm for more than a measure or two, made a proper moshpit impractical, so we all stood around and watched in awe (some threw out a few random head-bangs) as they played with an impressive sense of urgency. My Red Bull rattled visibly, and danced across the table-top. They played material from Brass Tactics, and a couple of killer new ones. Technical things I have to mention: The extra light stands they brought in were way too bright/concentrated (people covered their eyes or looked away when they came on); and the massive reverb on Holland’s vocal mic worked great during loud sections, allowing him to be better heard, but I felt like it could have been pulled back during (the admittedly rare) quieter segments (I don’t know if that’s something future venue soundpeople can swing, or they can control from the stage). These, though, were pretty minor faults, and far from overshadowed their frantic awesomeness. Ears ringing, I left more than happy.