Progressive Excellence: Animals as Leaders @ House of Blues Chicago 4/4/2022 (Live Report + Photos)
What better way to cap off a brisk Monday afternoon in Chicago smoking thick sativa joints and shopping for vinyl than to hit up Animals As Leaders' latest tour for an evening of mind-melting instrumental calisthenics? I was resolutely buzzed, fuzzed, and dazed, but this did nothing to stop the band's razor-sharp edge from slicing deep into my cortex and proving that proggy stimulation is a sensation all unto itself.
I've always casually enjoyed Animals As Leaders, but their live set absolutely sold me. Flawlessly professional and in-sync as expected, Tosin Abasi and the rest of the band executed a surprisingly bumping double set. The band relishes in a brand of serious playfulness that kept the crowd alive and moshy for well over an hour, a level of energy we might mentally reserve for more extreme shit but here played out as smooth as butter. And with the help of Intervals opening the evening, the crowd lapped everything up drop after drop.
Abasi quipped between songs as he tuned his guitar: "bear with me, I have a lot of strings." This self-awareness was a nice touch to what can easily be the most talented pair of hands ever to lay hands on a guitar in the prog metal space, and the vibe and energy of his personality help settle the Animals As Leaders brand as both intense and fun as hell.
Photo credit: Juan Ariza
Animals as Leaders - Remaining US Tour 2022 Dates
Apr 5 - Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts
Apr 6 - Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall
Apr 8 - Hampton Beach, NH @ Wally's
Apr 9 - Lititz, PA @ Mickey's Black Box
Apr 10 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
Apr 11 - Philadelphia, PA @ Brooklyn Bowl
Apr 12 - Boston, MA @ Big Night Live
Apr 13 - Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
Apr 15 - Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre
Apr 16 - Orlando, FL @ House of Blues
Apr 18 - Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
Apr 19 - Austin, TX @ Emo's
Apr 21 - Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee Theater
Apr 22 - Los Angeles, CA @ Theater At The Ace Hotel