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Review/Photos By Jake Rabin

The metal scene in Austin is doing something right because it was clear as soon as I was walking up to Emo’s that the evening’s show was going to be crazy. On the bill are Arch Echo, Plini, and the almighty Periphery. The list of adjectives to describe these bands and their corresponding “genre” can be limitless: instrumental, progressive, djent, metal, metalcore, rock, jazz-fusion, math metal, etc. But the one non-negotiable is that each of these bands put on an incredible set that easily kept the nearly sold-out Emo’s crowd hyped and energized the entire evening.

Arch Echo opened the night with a truly impressive instrumental performance. As a drummer, all the drummers on the evening’s bill are absolutely incredible, and Richie Martinez from Arch Echo was no exception. The rest of the band, made up by Joey Izzo, Adam Rafowitz, Adam Bentley, and Joe Calderone, were on fire as well, blistering through incredibly technical songs and structures with the ease of children at a playground. Arch Echo is clearly at the top of their game in terms of technical skill, and performing with bands such as Plini and Periphery is exactly where they should be.

Up next was Plini. I absolutely adore this band, and every time I see them perform, they put on an incredible show that for some reason always leaves me feeling….. happy. Perhaps it’s Plini’s constant smirk as he rips through guitar parts that should be rendering his hands useless, or the friendly back and forth between Plini and second guitarist Jake Lowe. (Or the fact that drummer Chris Allison is just an absolute monster behind the kit). The sheer technicality of Plini songs (and overall performance) is something to truly behold, but the fact that their faces all belie a sense of ease, of calm, of having fun, is both highly entertaining and (as a musician myself) a little infuriating! HOW ARE YOU SO GOOD?! I find myself getting lost down this rabbit hole before quickly realizing the first three songs are almost done and I better pick up my jaw up from the floor and start taking some photos. This band is….just too good.

Headlining the tour and closing out the evening is Periphery, absolute legends in the progressive metal scene, and the rock music scene more generally. Not many bands that include screaming vocals or heavily technical instrumentals are able to garner a following as large or rabid as Periphery’s, but whatever the secret sauce is, Periphery clearly has it.

Opening the set with the first track of their most recent record, “Periphery IV: HAIL STAN,” “Reptile” was the perfect song to immediately get the crowd excited and jumping. Vocalist Spencer Sotelo was on fire the second he took the stage, easily navigating his way through shining clean vocals and dirty as hell screams. Matt Halpern provided his signature muscle and precision behind the drums, while Misha Mansoor, Mark Holcomb, and Jake Bowen all traded laughs and smiles while expertly nailing their incredibly difficult parts.

Musicians on stage that are clearly having fun is a tried and true way to make sure the audience is having fun too, but when you factor in the undeniable technical skill and overall musicianship of each individual player, it becomes awe-inspiring. You don’t have to be a musician to be floored by Periphery’s musicianship; they make it look and sound all too easy, and really, really fun.

After about an hour set, the band exited the stage, leaving the crowd desperate for just one more piece of prog/djent/metalcore goodness. Periphery would oblige. Taking the stage one last time, the band closed the set with one of their most popular tracks, Lune, sending all of Emo’s into a jumping bundle of madness and screaming and singing and smiles. A thousand different kinds of people all collectively standing at the Periphery altar, their worries washing away, soaking up every ounce the band has to give. 

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