Between The Buried And Me at El Rey Theater, Los Angeles - live review

BTBAM celebrate the 10th anniversary of Colors in style

live shot
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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Tonight is an opportunity to wish a fond happy 10th birthday to Colors, the fourth album from North Carolinian prog metallers Between The Buried And Me. It was the band’s breakout album, the one that put them on the US chart for the first time. And those who fell in love with the record then – or indeed at some point since its release – are ready to celebrate a decade of this already-classic album here at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles.

Under the crystal chandeliers of this 750-capacity hall, the crowd is already chanting “BEE TEE BAM” over and over in anticipation of tonight’s show, as The Dark Side Of The Moon plays over the PA. And after walking onstage without any backdrop or additional fanfare, BTBAM are clearly happy to carry on letting the music speak for itself.

The band ease everyone in with the familiar gentle pianos of Foam Born (A) The Backtrack, building into all of its glorious arpeggios, before launching into the shrieking power of (B) The Decade Of Statues. This particular change in tempo allows the slender figure of Thomas Giles to emerge from behind his keyboard and join guitarist Paul Waggoner at the front of the stage, with his foot on the monitor, to help make stage right a flurry of hair and rhythmic kinesis.

There are no surprises in terms of the setlist tonight – they play through the eight tracks from the album in order. However, they also include all the quirky little flourishes that made this record so darned good in the first place – everyone here knows exactly what they are and they’re all in place and performed with ease.

There’s the accuracy of the time signature changes, and the angry, almost childishly juxtaposed growling and staged anger, as well as the slightly incongruously inserted country melodies that eventually make perfect sense. And the culmination of all these things during White Walls proves that even after all this time, Colors has not faded in the slightest in the years since its release.

BTBAM take a brief break backstage after the main set. And the inevitable encore they emerge for sees them brazenly doubling down on the retrospective nature of the evening, as Waggoner announces the mighty Mordecai from 2003’s The Silent Circus. An altogether more frantic and brutal affair, it’s a stark reminder after the past few albums – both from BTBAM and Giles as a solo artist – of this band’s much more aggressive roots.

In the week of this show, the band released news of a new album that’s already recorded and fully in the bag, so we can definitely expect a gentler, proggier offering from BTBAM in the near future. Still, we’ll see you back here for the 20th-anniversary shows.