The Armed played Paradise – 11/16

Mysterious Detroit collective The Armed headlined a wild show at the ‘Dise with support from Spaced and Body Meat.


The Armed are everyone and no one. The group’s years of public misdirection regarding their membership, or most other concrete details about their existence, are as much a part of their mythos as the colorful and riotously heavy music they make. Names you may know are ostensibly involved (including members of METZ, Converge and Rough Francis), and there are identifiable names and faces in the band’s current touring lineup, but to what extent their commitment to “be really honest with everyone” after five albums and 14 years is the real deal or yet another smokescreen remains unclear. Dan Ozzi’s Fader profile on the group from earlier this year, from which the aforementioned quote is sourced, goes to great lengths to both answer and un-answer the question.

When it comes to seeing the band perform though, none of this really matters. The sheer, overwhelming force of The Armed’s million-decibel, rainbow LED maelstrom is quick to clear any lingering practical or philosophical doubts regarding the band from your brain.

On the Thursday before Thanksgiving, the currently seven- (or eight- or…) piece crew brought the Armed Experience to the Paradise and lived up to most all hyperbolic expectations. The barricade was down and the balcony closed, which meant that every devotee (and the band definitely has those) packed in as close to that weird, low stage as possible. Amid the switching of instruments and lead vocal duties nearly every member of The Armed not tied to a drum kit flung themselves atop the arms of the crowd at least once, and by the encore’s conclusion a full-on stage invasion dissolved the barrier between performers and spectators entirely.

Oh, and they were performing songs of course. August’s Perfect Saviors, The Armed’s latest, dials their pummeling intensity back a shade (a process that began with 2021’s almost-accessible Ultrapop), but a setlist featuring a solid chunk of the record certainly didn’t feel restrained. And interspersed with the project’s most dare-I-say straightforward material yet was plenty of the more forthrightly frenzied math-metal-core of records past. The assembled ate up every second, screaming back words that in some cases I didn’t even realize one could fully make out from the band’s chaotic recordings. I’ve clearly under-committed to the cause.

The night was a spectacle worthy of the band’s mythic status, which I do think comes through better in photos than words. Take a look through the evening, including opening sets from Philly solo experimentalist Body Meat and Buffalo hardcore crew Spaced, below.