SUPPORT THIS: Converge Hammer Hammerstein, Receive a Bunch of Blank Stares In Return

Words and Photos by Andrew Parks

The Artist: One of the most genuinely intense–and absolutely essential–live acts of our time. The band’s new record is also the best metal album of the year, hands down.

Their Latest Release: Axe to Fall (Epitaph/Deathwish)

Who They Opened For: Mastodon and the stars of Metalocalypse @ Hammerstein Ballroom, 10.29.09

Why the Bill Should Have Been the Other Way Around: Here’s the thing: Converge shouldn’t headline over the aforementioned acts, as they’re both custom built for big crowds and flashy backdrops. However, they shouldn’t be playing a venue like Hammerstein Ballroom either. We know why they need to from time to time–to expose their uncompromising sound to a vast new audience–but the fact of the matter is very few people had the patience for songs like “Eagles Become Vultures,” “Concubine” or a sludge-dipped “Worms Will Feed” last night. Skipping right to the Gorillaz portion of the evening seemed way more important. Or as one girl said with a scowl when singer Jacob Bannon promised four more songs: “Are you SERIOUS?”

Not that Converge didn’t give it their all, plowing the apathetic room over in the same way they would a rabid club crowd. Bannon was especially unhinged, using the extra breathing room of Hammerstein’s huge stage as his very own treadmill. He was also as appreciative as ever, thanking every blank stare for sticking around and reaching out into the void–a massive gap between the stage and a crowd barrier–for something, anything reciprocal.

It’s all good, though. We didn’t fear for our life at a Converge show for a change, the “this is for the hearts still beating” part of “Last Light” still gave us goosebumps, and hey, at least we’ll always have Europa.

And now, for some photos. An alternate color set is available here.