Animals As Leaders performed for a rabid sold out crowd at Soundstage in Baltimore’s inner harbor on 4/13/2022. This was a highly-anticipated show. Metalheads from DC, MD, VA (the DMV) and beyond filled the venue to its maximum capacity. The band were on tour in support of their 2022 album, Parrhesia, but the tour has now come to an end.
I was fortunate to be at this show, and too be the only photographer in the photo pit. What a treat! Anyway, be sure to check out the Official Animals As Leaders Website for music, news, merch, and tickets for festival appearances and tour dates. Continue reading below for my full review. All images copyright and courtesy of Andy Jillson.
Soundstage was packed for Animals As Leaders’ performance in Baltimore, Maryland. I arrived at the venue about 30 minutes before the band was scheduled to play. I was huddled in a corner next to the bar due to lack of floor space. Took me a few minutes to make my way through the thick crowd.
The audience were extremely loud and chatty prior to the band taking the stage. The buzz in the room was peppered with happiness, joy, anticipation, and a bit of alcohol-fueled debauchery. The vibes from the attendees enhanced my overall enjoyment of the show. I felt a rush of excitement and a deep sense of belonging as I entered the photo pit. The band received a more than warm welcome. It seemed like a homecoming performance.
Animals As Leaders appeared onstage and the venue erupted with sporadic flurries of moshing, slam-dancing, crowd-surfing, headbanging, and of course air-guitar playing and air-drumming. This is a band that seemed to bring out the best air-guitarists and air-drummers I’ve ever seen. Almost the entire crowd were rocking out in one form or another. The set started with “Tooth and Claw,” “Tempting Time,” and “Wave of Babies.” Those are all songs the fans obviously wanted to hear.
The band appeared to be laser-focused during the performance. They were difficult to see due to the lighting, but I did catch a smile and a metal face from each guitarist. I did my best to photograph the band while still taking moments to close my eyes and absorb the music. Sounded and felt prolific. Punishing instrumental prog-metal accompanied by white hot lights and legions of clambering, fevered fans. Even some of the staff members were rocking out.
Other songs that stood out in the set included “Micro-Aggressions,” “Ectogenesis,” “Thoughts and Prayers,” “Physical Education,” and “Cafo.” The music sounded like it was from the future…or maybe a distant planet. It definitely sounded reminiscent of certain types of prog and metal music I’ve heard before, but had strong classical, jazz, psychedelic, and post-punk industrial rock influences. At least that’s what I heard during the band’s live set. At times I heard Latin rhythms and hip-hop beats woven into the music as well. Honestly reminded of The Mars Volta. I hate band comparisons, but my brain said “this kinda sounds like Volta.”
It seemed there were hundreds of sweaty metal fans smashed against the railing behind me during my time in the photo pit. The heat was nearly unbearable. Sold out metal shows are notorious for generating ridiculous amounts of heat. The sound of the music, the lights, the intense heat…this show was hardcore. Following the first three songs, I made my way back to the corner and watched the rest of the performance from there.
If you are unfamiliar with Animals As Leaders they are well worth checking out. They are a technically-proficient instrumental trio on the forefront of hard rock and prog-metal. The band hails from DC and currently consists of founding member/guitarist Tosin Abasi, guitarist Javier Reyes, and drummer Matt Garstka. Guitarist and engineer Javier Reyes joined shortly after the first album’s release, and was followed by drummer Matt Garstka in 2012. They have been collectively blazing their own musical trail since.
Below are more photos from Animals As Leaders’ sold out show at Soundstage in Baltimore, MD on 4/13/2022. Enjoy!
Stream Animals As Leaders’ new album, Parrhesia, on Spotify and then buy a copy!