When people describe a Lightning Bolt show, they chalk it up to almost a religious experience. I've seen firsthand the absolute look of enrapture on people's faces in the front of one of their performances.
This is also how I would describe being in the front row of a These Arms Are Snakes show; looking around at the frenzied dancing taking place, talking to fellow front liners, I believe I'm not alone in this opinion.
Yes, I did just compare TAAS's performances to the legendary Lightning Bolt shows. As one of the most energetic, entertaining bands performing in the music world today, TAAS make it hard to leave their show disappointed*. They play hard, pouring buckets of sweat, obvious hours of practice displayed as their songs are down pat, constant interaction with the crowd — you won't see these guys standing still when playing. They still pulled this off even after hardly being home for three days from 10-months of non-stop globe spanning tours, a less-than-healthy drummer, and reported equipment malfunctioning, last Thursday at Neumo's for a free 21+ show.
As the front man for such a dynamic group, Steve Snere does not let up for even a moment once he takes the stage. Hardly was half of the opening song played, yet he had already thrown himself atop the crowd. This move repeated would prove to be quite risky — he was tossed back on to the stage vigorously by the convulsive show goers, and at one point was flung into the keyboard, knocking both it and him to the floor. One would think this constant beating would slow a person down, they'd show signs of pain. But Snere just kept on going, not flittering about the stage like many performers do, but actually legitimately dancing and rocking out. There was even still enough left in him to retrieve the stage ladder to climb up and drop from. He's seriously like the fucking Energizer Bunny. Perhaps this has to do with his incoherent mention of mushrooms earlier in the show.
Door security almost held up the spry singer. I was entering the door myself behind Steve, overhearing the guard denying him access because of an expired ID. Of course he wouldn't listen to me explain that this was the singer of the headlining band, so fortunately another guard came to clear things up and administer a wrist band. This happened during the opening band, for which I didn't stick around, but I did catch the middle band, the Sound Team. This band played very intelligible rock, the kind inducing deeper trains of thought. My thinking during their set starting resting on the decor set-up around Neumos; there seemed to be something fishy going on. What was this "Fresh Picked Music" campaign being advertised all over the place? How come I had to agree to take a pack of free cigarettes from a Camel peon in order to stand on the upper balcony of Neumo's? Venturing downstairs to take a closer look at The Sound Team, I noticed a image screen displayed to the side of the stage. At first I thought it was part of their set, although it was quite an out of the way place to put it — until I saw the big camel logo flash across the screen. If it wasn't obvious to me before, it was disgustingly blaring to me then; we were in one giant cigarette advertisement. Everywhere cigarettes were being given out like candy, Camel was trying to hand out it's revamped hip looking merchandise such as buttons. The cancer industry had fully infiltrated the music industry, and for one of my favorite band's shows!
These Arms Are Snakes set included songs from all three of their releases, among others there was "Idaho," "Horse Girl," "Angela's Secret," as well as "Riding the Grape Dragon" off of EP and first release, This Was Meant to Hurt You. My favorite, "Shit Sisters," was played second in the set, although it was unfortunately half as long. Surprise song of the night was a song from their rare split disc with Harkonen, Like a Virgin. I requested "Drinking From the Necks of the Ones You Love" from bassist/keyboardist Brian Cook, but he said they were out of practice on the song, which used to be a show staple. He said they could try to play it at their upcoming show.
My stance during their set was right in front of Brian, who also was very animated like Steve. The next day, however, I really regretted having my left ear positioned over the bass monitor. Everyone around me was not quite moshing, more so dancing with a collective sway and push, which seems to be the respectful protocol at all the TAAS shows I've attended. Knowing the lyrics helps too, as singing along takes place frequently. Many high fives were exchanged between audience members; no matter how aggressive These Arms' music is, there's still positivity in the listeners.
If you were under 21 and peeved you couldn't attend the free show, the local boys are playing for the 15th anniversary of the Old Firehouse in Redmond, with Akimbo.
*I can't speak for those who attended the Can Can show, as I heard guitarist Ryan Frederikson was completely intoxicated to the point where his parts weren't even played, just random notes.