Die With Your Boots On

The clean-cut young twentysomething stood over a garbage can near La Zona Rosa’s front entrance and heaved pulpy orange liquid in spasmodic waves. No one paid him any heed.

When he was finished, he straightened, wiped his mouth on his tee sleeve, and exhaled as if to say, "There, that’s done." His eyes were clear, his expression blank, and with renewed vigor, he disappeared back into the compact crowd of mostly underage indie youth, nearly 1,000 strong. Clearly, he wasn’t your father’s metal head.

Onstage, Buffalo quartet Every Time I Die, the third of four bands last night, raged against the machine. Opening with "Buffalo Gals," off the band’s battering new LP The Big Dirty, three of the foursome looked frighteningly collegiate, tatts et al. Frontman Keith Buckley’s higher-register peaks could even be considered screamo. ETID is no emo act, though. Nor are they a Christian group, as were the trio of angsters before and after (Advent, Maylene & the Sons of Disaster, and headliner UnderØath). Hellraiser hooks, hammer and tong dual guitars, and a big bottom: ETID clangs as metal as Nigel St. Hubbins.

War torn "Cities and Years" and Big Dirty lycanthrope "We’rewolf" are no joke, however. Neither is Buckley a GWAR disciple. A quarry’s worth of gravel grinds with his every lyric, but where a zombie legion of modern day metallurgists croak like George Romero cast-offs, Buckley bellows intelligible. No baritone he, the singer seeks understanding. A distraught high diver in "Floater," from 2003’s Hot Damn, deserves no less. "Drag the lake," yells Buckley, "you’ll find it’s full of love."

"We love Iggy Pop," grinned ETID guitarist Andy Williams after their set, enveloped by fans at the merch table. (On that score, Christian bands zero, ETID, according to the wad of cash peeled from their merch guy’s billfold, hundreds.) The Stooges pummel you too, he explained, but the singer always comes first. Novel concept that, yet Williams, as jolly as he is imposing, acknowledges his group’s adherence to similar principles. File that with ETID removing their giant, middle-finger banner from their stage backdrop on this tour. They may not pray prior to their shows as do their tour mates, but they’re conscientious nonetheless. That works both ways perhaps in metal’s morphing new/alternate/indie reality. "Norma Jean parties," revealed Williams. Funny, Norma Jean’s wailer Cory Brandan makes himself understood as well. Devout and at Emo’s Oct. 11, good combo.

At 9:15pm, UnderØath comes on and screams bloody murder. Not that you could understand a word they’re saying, so I Ieft, humming Iron Maiden’s "Die With Your Boots On" in honor of the honorable Every Time I Die:

Another Prophet of Disaster
Who says the ship is lost,
Another Prophet of Disaster
Leaving you to count the cost.
Taunting us with visions,
Afflicting us with fear,
Predicting war for millions,
In the hope that one appears.

No point asking when it is,
No point asking who’s to go,
No point asking what’s the game,
No point asking who’s to blame,
’Cos if you’re gonna die,
Die with your boots on.

Bruce Dickinson, coming in loud and clear.

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