Chevelle continues evolution at Boston show

A review of Chevelle at the Avalon Ballroom on September 11, 2007

, Staff Writer

Change is a tough. For a band like Chevelle, with Platinum and Gold records in their past, finding a new sound carries with it the possibilities of alienating hardcore fans and finding no audience for new tunes. Fortunately, as Chevelle’s show at the Avalon on Tuesday night proved, change is sometimes good.

In reference to the band’s new album, Vena Sera, Lead singer/guitarist Pete Leoffler said in a press release, “I wanted to sing more and get into those upper registers of my voice. I\’ve done a lot of screaming in the past and wanted to get away from that this time.”& The resulting tunes, heavy as always but tinged with bright melodies and harmonies, benefit greatly from the new direction.

The Boston crowd, however, came to the show to see the old stuff. “Sma”, from the band’s debut 1999 debut album, Point #1, received a warm reception punctuated by a particularly large mosh pit, which stayed impressively active for the entire show. The rhythm section of bassist Dean Bernardini and Sam Loeffler provided a bit too much bottom, and occasionally Pete Loeffler’s vocals were lost in the mix.

Vena Sera’s “Saturdays” was full of sweet harmonies that provided excellent counterpoints for the guitar fuzz and rolling double bass drum as Chevelle showed off their ability to perform massive dynamic shifts, especially impressive for a three piece band. This may have been due in part to the fact that they were capable of playing very, very loudly.

The band kept the stage banter to a minimum, relying instead on pre-recorded samples (Aqua Teen Hungerforce) between the songs. Bernardini occasionally stopped to throw Oreo cookies to the crowd. Pete Loeffler did pump up the crowd, saying, “Boston, we just played New York City last night, and you’re kicking our ass way harder than they did.”

Chevelle continued to kick as Loeffler introduced “Closure”, saying, “Here’s one for the ladies who hate their boyfriends.” The lurking vibe was topped with the anthemic chorus, “You will never belong to me,” as the band got their Tool on, branching out from the general System of a Down influenced tracks like “Well Enough Alone”.

“I Get It” saw the band truly branch out, infusing their heavy sound with a sort of post-punk dance flavor that sounded like a Bloc Party song that would be played on WAAF. It was worth the price of admission to see the mosh pit look so confounded, some guys looking for someone to hit, some dancing, and some just standing, looking puzzled.

The pit got a chance to take their frustrations out during “Forfeit”, which was greeted by a large ovation. Chevelle seemed like a hard rock band that you could bring a date to. On the face they are all distortion and bottom end, chugging songs with screaming vocals. But just under the surface there is a glint of melody, of brightness that lifts the songs out of the sludge. With Vena Sera they seem to be heading to better things. The days of the mosh pit may be numbered.

Leave a Reply