Any Devin Townsend tour brings the expected amount of innerspace mind-rompery with it. An "expectacle", you might call it. (Stupid? Maybe, but I'm giggling and you can lighten up.) In early 2010, just as his Project was gaining steam, Townsend returned to the stage in a modest role supporting chak-rockers Cynic and the spazz-prog of Between the Buried and Me. Later that year he headlined shows with Meshuggah-lites Periphery and TesseracT in tow. Now that the DTP's four-album cycle is complete, he's on the bus again with thesis-defenders The Ocean and Baltimore local boys Rome Apart.
Rome Apart launched the night's festivities with the very picture of diversity: white guy on drums, Asian on bass, black guy at the mike, green guy and ape man on guitars (though green guy's face gradually peeled off as the show progressed, leaving him looking suspiciously Caucasian). Ape man's mask had enough hair to bang most righteously throughout their Life(switch En)force-driven stomp, which the band performed competently and passionately. Singer Keiron Kitson-Walters' banter lasted nearly as long as the songs did, though he can be forgiven as he tried to connect with a meager and half-interested audience.
The Ocean brought their German thunder with absolute conviction, serving cuts both new and pre-"centric" to the growing crowd. Their set was short but high energy, and if they taught me anything it was that saving your eardrums with foam plugs is for pussies; metal loses all potency when the sound is muted and trimmed of treble. Before the band launched into closer "Origin of Species", those puffy purple nubs were away gathering pocket lint.
Townsend's own "Balls-timore" celebration began well before any human player took the stage. He first titillated the masses with Ziltoid Radio (apparently '90s camp-pop is huge with fourth-dimensional omnisciences) and dozens of projected slides of famous photographs with Devy's wacky expressions Photoshopped into them. Still shots segued into video of Ziltoid himself taunting spectators with crude quips and another dance number, somehow only gaining audience respect by finding a dick joke in shouting the last two syllables of the rave lyric "happiness".
Finally Devin and company manned their instruments to lead a now packed and adoring room through two wordless rockers and a killer set. _Ocean Machine_'s "Life" was followed by live staples like "Deadhead", "Supercrush", "Bad Devil", "Color Your World" and more. In place of past favorite "Pixellate", the band added "Stand" and "Julaar" from the more recent _Deconstruction_ record. Through it all, Devin's rubber face contorted into myriad unlikely shapes, every one of which dissolved into a wide, grateful grin. This is a man who loves his music and loves his fans. His pleasure at such a joyful and raucous reception was palpable, and by the time he encored with "Universe in a Ball" and invited fans to an on-stage dance party for "Bend It Like Bender", the love was overflowing in both directions.