Concert Review

Kerretta at The Underground

As we've all observed, and discussed, one of the benefits of living in Phoenix is our proximity to other cities and music festivals.

Now that SXSW has officially come to a close, bands are making their way back home while playing a few gigs on the way. Not many have as far to go as Keretta, a progressive metal-core trio from New Zealand, which performed at The Underground in in Mesa last night.

Music editor Martin Cizmar took a trip to New Zealand a few months ago, and was in such awe of the general hospitality and good nature of the people he came across, he was hoping the New Zealanders would have a similar impression of Arizona when they came through. We did our job.

Despite the fact that the show was on a Monday night in the middle of downtown Mesa, the small crowd was dedicated, and genuinely interested in the band's performance. People walked right up to the edge of the stage during the show to take a close look at the hyper-technical playing. Even when the drum kit, borrowed from a local band, had some mechanical snafus, there was always someone nearby to step in, so that Kerretta didn't have to (literally) skip a beat.

And while I must admit that I'm not a fan of "progressive" music these days, nor have I ever been much of a metal head, the show was really enjoyable. The music was driving, and was led by the drums. (The kit even sat front and center on the stage, which is not typical of most non-metal rock setups, obviously.) Even though they were heavy, they weren't overwhelming, and it was really neat to watch the small community interact with one another after the show. It was a reminder of the ways in which music can cross sociocultural lines that otherwise may be difficult to bridge.

Critics' Notebook:

Last Night: New Zealand prog-metal rockers Kerretta at The Underground.

Better Than: Any progressive metal show I've seen. (Though that's not many.)

Personal Bias: I hadn't been to The Underground since it re-opened, and it brought me a huge sense of nostalgia from my younger days. (It was the site of my first mosh pit! Awww...) Even though it's been "cleaned up", nothing was taken away from its overall feel and ambience. While the once-graphic wall mural of a woman bleeding, (or was it giving birth?) has been replaced with a classier tattoo style painting, the venue still maintains the raw, edgy feeling it did before, and stands in my mind as the perfect punk or metal venue. (It could even be situated on the east coast and not seem out of place.) Just don't forget earplugs.

Random Detail: I believe that you could count on one hand the number of people not wearing black at this show. Also, drummer Hamish played barefoot. I'm always in awe of drummers who can play barefoot.

Further Listening/Watching: "The Square Outside"