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The Relapse Contamination Festival took over the Troc for the weekend and what a wicked weekend it was. To avoid exhaustion, I pared it down to the essentials and saw only seven of the fourteen bands that played. And I was more than satisfied.

I began the weekend’s festivities Saturday night, battling over parking with the cursed throngs of Philadelphia International Auto Show-goers, arriving just as Alabama Thunderpussy finished up and Cephalic Carnage prepared to take the stage. Neither of those bands ever really piqued my interest, so their antics merely served as mild amusement while I awaited the mighty Mastodon, whose Troy Sanders sports one of the greatest metal faces I’ve ever seen as he bellows through their punishing, one-syllable-at-a-time lyrical repertoire. That I had any opportunity to see said metal face was lucky indeed, as my view of the band was obstructed through much of their set by not one but two seven-foot-tall women. Still, whole amazon tribes would not stop the metal assault from penetrating me; they were eventually shuffled out of my way by the inevitable pit-induced crowd sway. And then came Neurosis. I’ve missed their shows on a number of occasions since I was first made aware of their existence about eight years ago, and they were kind enough to consolidate the intensity of all those missed shows for my initiation. Were it not for the giggly stoner dipshits that flanked my left, I might not have been so sure the world wasn’t ending. I’d have liked to check out 27 at the after-party up in the Balcony, but there just is no following Neurosis.

On Sunday night I confirmed the Eagles’ loss before leaving for the show, securing a drive unobstructed by face-painted merrymakers overturning cars in anticipation of the Super Bowl. Today Is The Day made a whole bunch of scary noise that was way better live than it is on their records, at least the later ones. The microphone was halfway down Steve Austin’s throat for the duration of their set. High On Fire was likewise impressive; the surprise this time was that they’re only a three-piece. That’s a lot of power for a three-piece. As for The Dillinger Escape Plan, I’ve never seen them put on anything short of an awe-inspiring show, and this one was no exception. Relatively new singer Greg Puciato handled the new Dillinger/Patton songs well and went on to joke that the next album would feature Sebastian Bach (wow, two posts in a row with Skid Row references!). My Philly faves Dysrhythmia kicked the ass of the packed after-party, as they seem destined to do at every show they play. They’re recording with Steve Albini next week. I can’t wait to hear what that sounds like.