Concert review and set list: Meshuggah (with Animals as Leaders) galvanize metal fans at Pop’s, Saturday, February 23

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Single file, in darkness, Meshuggah, the titans of metal and originators of djent, seized the stage; en masse, in black, the crowd was baptized.

Open and honest apology for both not seeing Intronaut and therefore for not covering them — Pop’s listed showtime was 8 p.m., unfortunately if one happened to think that was when the actual show started, he or she walked into the venue with Animals as Leaders already onstage and Intronaut done for the night.

Animals as Leaders, not just an excuse to let Tosin Abasi play, spent the night showing off. Melodically adventurous, it was the band’s adherence to technical superiority that progressively won over the crowd with each track. Tosin’s monstrous amalgamation of intertwined pick-sweeps and fingertapping overwhelmed, but the eerie similarity to Pink Floyd — if one could avoid distortion while cranking their rpm — was the appreciated undertone. Tosin took time for a history lesson, letting the fans know that Pop’s actually served as the venue for the band’s third show ever. He then thanked the packed-house crowd, and made way for — his words — “the Lords of Metal.”

Backing up the moniker instantly, Meshuggah thrust into “Swarm.”

The Pop’s audience was graced with Jens Kidman, who had been recovering from the flu and wasn’t sure he’d be able to perform. Kidman spent the night shredding his throat to keep pace with the three guitarists on stage. He took a second towards the end of the show to both thank the crowd and remark on his lack of enjoyment at being cardboard — a cutout of the frontman adorned the stage in his tour absences.

In contrast to the constant menance of Kidman, the four making up the rest of the group — Fredrik Thordendal on lead guitar, Tomas Haake leaving no remnants of a drum kit, Mårten Hagström on rhythm guitar, and Dick Lövgren on bass — remained relatively faceless behind mounds of hair and mountains of talent. Of course, it only helped to prove the utter lack of ego the band collectively shares. In addition to the guys relatively shirking credit the most technical of fans give them — Mårten Hagström admitted years ago, “We’ve never really been into the odd time signatures…Everything we do is based around a 4/4 core…we arrange parts differently around that center” — the band took about five minutes offstage during a two-hour performance. Considering most couldn’t physically stand being in the pit for five consecutive minutes, impressive simply starts the superlatives.

Sign the crowd did it right: Pop’s security outlining the mosh pit as Meshuggah’s set started.

Setlist:

Swarm
Combustion
Transfixion
ObZen
Behind the Sun
Do Not Look Down
The Hurt That Finds You First
I Am Colossus
Catch 33
Shed
Bleed
Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion
Straws Pulled at Random
New Millennium Cyanide Christ
Dancers to a Discordant System

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