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  HYDROZEEN w/ Devour and Face Pilot  
  Arnada Café  
  Vancouver, WA  
Reviewed by:
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:

I was met at the bar by Dave, the assigned doorman. Five dollars was the price of admission this Saturday night. I asked if the entertainment would be worth it. I don't remember what Dave's response was. I then asked how much of the money the bands would receive. The answer given was "Hopefully most of it." I am not sure what to make of this. But I paid Dave, was stamped, and found a seat at the bar.

I like the Arnada Café. For the most part, it's a very comfortable place to go because of its style of venue. The art on the walls is captivating and the high ceilings add to the ambiance. The Arnada is a magnet for local entertainment. I was surprised to notice the tiny sign located high on the south wall that stated "HEARING PROTECTION REQUIRED". I think they could get a bigger sign. Always take your earplugs to the Arnada. Be comfortable while getting your live music fix and respect your hearing.

Michelle was the bartender this night. She was cordial and prompt. When asked what was available on the menu, the response was that the kitchen was closed. Only cookies and chips were available. I was hungry and preferred not to drink on an empty stomach, so the early closing of the kitchen is an area that could use improvement. I ordered a Corona and a glass of ice-water and headed for the bathroom.

There were two bathrooms. Both bathrooms smelled nice and were decent with not too many holes in the walls. The walls were painted pleasant colors and, overall, it didn't seem dirty. The toilets worked and there was adequate TP, paper towels, and soap. I like a good bathroom. It was reported to me later, however, that there was blood on the toilet in one of the two johns. I would give the Arnada bathrooms a score of 7.5 (would have been an 8, but I had to take back 0.5 considering the blood), out of a possible 10. Additional pluses for the Arnada are good ventilation and a good sound system. I don't know if the same person runs the sound each night. A specific minus would be the warm glass of Hefewiesen that was served to a friend. I prefer mine cold, as does my friend.

Looking out at the crowd, there were anywhere from 12 to maybe 35 people in the Arnada this night, including the ever-present Twirling Man.

Ok, I'll avoid the overly descriptive narrative of my whole night.

The first band to take the stage was Face Pilot. I knew nothing about this band at this point. As they began, they seemed to be somewhat speed-metalish with screaming vocals. But, there seemed to be a unique sound in there somewhere. I would be interested in hearing more by this band. Overall, the dynamics were limited, but improved on one or two songs in the latter part of the set. The instrumentation was tight and had psychedelic elements that caught my attention. I didn't notice how these were produced, but they added to the sound that may be signature for Face Pilot. The mix was loud but complimentary.

I would like to say that Face Pilot had a unique stage presence but I can not. For them, the tried and true "Just Play" mode seemed to work. But, they were apparently having a good time and the crowd responded more favorably than not. I believe Face Pilot played 6 songs. During one later, more dynamic song I felt that the screaming vocals really detracted from what could have been a far more interesting song. It brought the mood of the music down, which may have been the intention. I wonder sometimes if the screams are there for lack of other vocal solutions. Still, I would be interested in hearing more from Face Pilot to see how their sound evolves.

Up next with the audio-assault was a five-piece group with the title of Devour. Devour is what I would refer to as speed death metal. The drummer was a machine who enjoyed his light-speed timekeeping duties. The instrumentation was tight, but did not contain anything terribly distinct or ear-catching. Some of the songs seemed pretty short. All of the vocalizations I remember were low monotone growls with nearly unintelligible lyrics. I read someone describe this as "Cookie Monster" vocals and find that terminology to be a sufficient description.

Devour's performance included some spoken word and comments between songs that were sometimes interesting and sometimes confusing. Still, the members of Devour seemed to enjoy themselves while performing, although there was nothing unique about their stage presentation. They had great stage presence and the audience was very responsive. Devour is not necessarily my style of music, but it is obvious there are people into it. Keep up the good hard work, Devour. We'll be listening.

The last band on the docket was Hydrozeen. Hydrozeen is a three piece group with a more traditional feel to their music. The sounds I heard were somewhere on their way to metal but got sidetracked at the ranch. There may have been a biker element effecting the presentation as well. It seemed that the lead vocals had been turned down for Hydrozeen as they were not in the forefront of the music, unlike earlier in the night. The lyrics were indistinguishable.

The fourth song had more of a catchy riff that I feel was mention-worthy. But, in general, there was too much drumstick-bowing on the guitar towards the latter part of Hydrozeen's set. At one point it was announced that what we were hearing was a simultaneous solo between the bass and drums. Some things are better left unsaid.

The instrumentation was relatively tight and the members were having a good time on stage. Hydrozeen did have an eager energy, and an eagerness to drink, which is a prerequisite for any barely mediocre local act. The audience of 6 was responsive and stayed to the conclusion of the six or seven song set. We'll see these aggressive musicians again, no doubt, and will be anticipating their evolution. Thank you gentlemen!

I had a good night all in all and thank all involved parties. It was worth the five dollars to experience and relate the night as I have here. Do support local efforts by going and checking out these and other groups and venues.

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