Diffuser – Boston – The Paradise Club, MA – 2001-05-10

Where: Boston – The Paradise Club, MA.

When: 2001-05-10

“Elliott has respectfully left the Toadies tour due to a disagreement with management decisions that were being made concerning the tour. The band has been told venues were notified and asked to remove the Elliott name from all promotion of the tour and refund tickets of Elliott fans. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this has caused people who care about us and our music and hope you can respect our choice not to be taken advantage of. Sincerely, Chris.”

This was the note I found from Elliott singer/guitarist Chris Higdon, posted on the band’s Web site as I sat at work, anxious to get done at 5 and head to Boston, where I was supposed to see Elliott play, sandwiched between Diffuser and The Toadies. Naturally, I was a little upset, but I had bought the tickets to see The Toadies before I even knew Elliott was opening, so I moved on…

Because of the empty slot on the bill, the opening act, Diffuser, was allowed to stretch their set out a little. If they had been playing a short set, warming up the crowd for two more significant bands, they would have been quite good, but to have them playing for over an hour was stretching it.

Diffuser is touring in support of their new album, Injury Loves Melody. In addition to the newer material, the band mixed in some older tunes, a cover of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out,” as well as a brief pause to bounce between scattered bits and pieces of various metal classics like Dio’s “Holy Diver” and The Scorpions’ “Rock Me Like A Hurricane.” “We know only the beginnings of like 800 songs,” singer/guitarist Tomas Costanza explained.

Guitarist Anthony Cangelosi was complaining of a hangover while Bassist Lawrence Sullivan drank himself into a stupor. At one point, Cangelosi babbled, “I wanna put you all on a plate and cover you in gravy,” to the crowd, which responded quite well to the blend of hard rock and punk, especially the single, “Karma,” during which Costanza swallowed a bug and botched the lyrics, bringing a cynical smile to my face.

Next came The Toadies, a band I have been waiting to see live since their first full-length, Rubberneck, was released in 1994. In March of this year, they finally released a second album, Hell Below/Stars Above, and I finally had the chance to see them live. Luckily, both the album and the show were well worth the wait.

The band ripped through the first four songs, “Plane Crash,” “I Come From The Water,” “Heel,” and “Quitter” without even stopping to breath. “Are you ready to rock,” singer/guitarist Todd Lewis, sporting his nifty “Metal God” t-shirt, finally stopped to ask, before busting into the title track from their newest release.

Fans were in a frenzy through virtually the entire set. The Paradise is a small club, so people were packed in tight, and security had their handful keeping people in the front row from getting crushed against the stage. Energy peaked during higher-energy songs like “Motivational,” the crowd-requested favorite, “Tyler,” and the popular single “Possum Kingdom,” or as Lewis dubbed it, “Daddy Needs a New Pair of Shoes.” The slower and lovely “Dollskin,” during which Lewis interestingly beat his guitar with a bass drum mallet to get the droning intro, brought quiet to the crowd, but the intensity remained. Throughout the entire set, guitarist Clark Vogeler flailed around, nailing beautiful solos like the one in “Jigsaw Girl.” Bassist Lisa Umbarger quietly bounced up and down with her head banging away as she and Lewis made connections with the up-close-and-personal crowd. Meanwhile, drummer Mark Reznicek held it all together, hidden behind the tightly packed stacks of speakers crowding the small stage.

The Toadies played a good chunk of both albums, as well as “Paper Dress,” their contribution to The Crow: City Of Angels soundtrack, the ATF Theme, and the grand finale, a cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” during which Lewis got the crowd to sing along to the high-pitched background vocal part. The Toadies may only have two albums worth of material to choose from, but the quality of that material is excellent, and the quality of the band’s live show is even better.

Plane Crash
I Come From The Water
Hell Below / Stars Above
Little Sin
What We Have We Steal
Mister Love
Paper Dress
Push The Hand
ATF Theme
Possum Kingdom
Jigsaw Girl
I Burn
Where Is My Mind