Periphery embraces chaos with packed show at The Fillmore

Pooja Bale/Staff

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A long line snaked out the door of The Fillmore last Thursday, packed with fans wearing various metal band shirts, their faces and ears covered in piercings, all buzzing with delight to hear three progressive music groups blast their ears with complex guitars and fast drums. The headliner of the night, Periphery, certainly did not disappoint. Delivering an energetic and chaotic show to its dedicated fans, the band appropriately kicked off its tour in San Francisco with a sold-out show.

As The Fillmore darkened, a tune that resembled a remixed theme song from the film “Psycho” rang through the venue. It wasn’t actually the infamous tune but rather the intro to the metal band’s opening song, “Reptile.” “There must be something in the water,” sang lead singer Spencer Sotelo along with the entire floor. The nearly 17-minute-long song was an excellent and extremely prog way to rile up the crowd, and it was more than successful.

Periphery, a Washington, D.C.-based progressive djent metal or metalcore band, is made up of Sotelo, guitarists Misha Mansoor and Jake Bowen and drummer Matt Halpern. The band has been performing without a bassist since Adam “Nolly” Getgood left the band in 2017, but Periphery proved during this show that it’s just as powerful without a bass player. 

The band is currently on tour for its newest album, Periphery IV: Hail Stan, the title harboring a cleverly placed typo that speaks to Periphery’s “give no f—s” personality as a progressive group. The band was supported by Plini, an Australian progressive djent guitarist, and Arch Echo, an American progressive fusion band that replaced math rock band Covet after it dropped from the lineup.

Periphery played fan-favorites such as “It’s Only Smiles” and “Scarlet,” during which a deep red glow fittingly covered the stage. Heavy riffs echoed from Bowen’s white Ibanez guitar while Mansoor played the deeper complexities of the songs, both backed by the stacks of Peavey amps behind them. The crowd chanted for Periphery to play “Marigold,” which became one of the group’s best songs of the night. While Sotelo’s tasteful screaming of the lyrics could barely be heard over the wall of sound from the guitars, it didn’t matter one bit — the crowd knew all the words and was screaming right along with him.

The key factor of the show, besides the charisma of Sotelo and the immense talent shared by Bowen and Mansoor, was the intensity and devotion of the fans. As soon as Periphery took the stage, the crowd members pressed against the rail separating them from the band, eager to get as close to the group as possible and wanting desperately to show their love. Hundreds of arms topped by hands forming classic metal horns waved in the air throughout the performance. It was more than easy to get swept up in the passion of the show.

The whole floor transformed into a giant mosh pit — as is expected at a metal show — and while The Fillmore isn’t a small venue, the space still felt intimate. Many fans chose to crowd surf, uplifted by fellow audience members who helped them make their way to the foot of the stage. One fan, wearing a shirt that read “Feminist AF,” surfed to the front eight times, where diligent staff members carefully lowered them to the floor. At one point, a shoe was thrown onstage, narrowly missing Sotelo, who didn’t seem to care. And, of course, there wasn’t a single moment when fans stopped headbanging.

Periphery ended the night with a welcome encore, playing “Lune,” a song that bangs as hard as it is beautiful. It’s safe to say that Periphery more than pleased its massive audience. And though sweaty fans slowly shuffled out after the show amid air mixed with adrenaline and sorrow, they all undoubtedly left with a wonderful night to remember.

Pooja Bale covers music. Contact her at [email protected].