Isis Signs Off

After a 13-year run, Isis has played their final West Coast shows.

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There was a palpable buzz in the room knowing that this was the last Isis show most of these people would be seeing.
Josh Keppel
After a 13-year run, Isis calls it quits.
Josh Keppel
The final Isis tour is scheduled to be a 18-show run across the US with the final performance in Montreal, QB, where the band played their first live show.
Josh Keppel
Their final Northern California show was at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on June 4, 2010.
The band played for about two-hours and had the audience in bliss, and sorrow, knowing this was probably the last time they would see some of their favorite songs performed live.
Josh Keppel
Isis guitarist Mike Gallagher (left) and bassist Jeff Caxide (center) told NBC Bay Area contributor Kenneth Thomas, “We’re treating every show as if it’s our last. Because it is.”
Josh Keppel
Keyboardist, guitarist and singer Bryant Clifford Meyer told me while in SF he likes to head to the Mission to get a burrito from El Farolito or Taqueria Cancun. I tried to engage him in a debate about SF vs. LA burritos but he didn't bite.
Josh Keppel
The final leg of the tour starts with Isis playing the Bonaroo Festival in TN on Saturday, June 12.
A presumed band mascot, the bean-bag cat sits in for all live Isis shows. Here he squashes drummer Aaron Harris' left arm.
Bill Luisi
Singer, guitarist Aaron Turner was fun to watch as he whipped his mane around giving it his all.
I was mesmerized by lead guitarist Michael Gallagher, rarely taking my eyes off of him.
There was a palpable buzz in the room knowing that this was the last Isis show most of these people would be seeing.
Josh Keppel
The West Coast leg concluded in San Francisco and Los Angeles, before the band ends their 13-year run in Montreal, the city that hosted their first live show - appropriate that they’ve been ending shows with an Isis classic, “The Beginning and the End.”
Josh Keppel
Isis is one of the few groups that can transmit a full range of emotions and visceral feelings through their music, rare in their style of metal.
Josh Keppel
Listening to a band evolve their earlier sound from something all-too-often compared to Neurosis to something more progressive, complex, and instrumentally rich that defies genre specification, is something to which fans have gotten attached.
Josh Keppel
Along with that comes a complimentary visual element, which is even rarer in the world of music - through artfully created album covers and shirts drawn and designed by singer Aaron Turner, limited tour posters by different artists, and a genuine appreciation of connecting their sound to something you can see.
Josh Keppel
“This is one of our favorite places to play, particularly this venue,” said singer Aaron Turner (center); as he thanked the tour openers, Jakob and Tombs, and the fans that have supported them through their 13 years.
Josh Keppel
The show began with a psychedelic drone that brought the room into unified attention, before being pounded with the assaulting initial notes and shouts of “Threshold of Transformation” - an ideal opener, considering the theme of the night.
Josh Keppel
The band played with a go-for-broke ferocity and physical intensity that resulted in louder and heavier versions of songs that spanned their history.
This energy was felt by the crowd and given back to the band - fists pumping the air to the thunderous drums of the oldest song they played, “Collapse and Crush,” fans shouting the lyrics to the closest song they’ve had to a single, “In Fiction,” and an overall appreciation of the years of music they’ve created.
Josh Keppel
Even in LA, where audiences are particularly stoic, the crowd couldn’t help but get into the music, head-banging and shouting almost as loud as the SF fans.
Josh Keppel
At the LA show there were a few rude texting types on their cell phones - Aaron Turner called them out with a simple plea to put away the phones and feel the music they’re playing one last time, and folks complied after realizing their lack of respect.
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The band continued their final West Coast show, ending in what many described as the best they’ve ever seen them perform.
Josh Keppel
“Simply put, ISIS has done everything we wanted to do, said everything we wanted to say” - so states the farewell announcement on their website.
Josh Keppel
Each member has musical projects of their own to which they can now dedicate their energies, each with their own flavor that they previously brought to the band.
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Even with the promise of these new beginnings, a unified sadness accompanied a simple and heartfelt “Goodbye” at the end of their SF and LA shows.
Josh Keppel
And just like that as drummer Aaron Harris left the stage, so did the chance to see Isis live in SF again. (There's always a chance they could follow their Ipecac label-head Mike Patton and reunite after 11 years or so like Faith No More recently did.)
Josh Keppel
After the show die-hard fans gathered in front of the backstage door for a chance to rub elbows with Isis.
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The merch table was loaded with back-stock that was quickly being snapped up by the fans.
NBC Bay Area
Eventually, the band members did make it upstairs and some, like guitarist Michael Gallagher, even signed some stuff.
Some Great American Music Hall employees, like Mickey (left) and Jeremy, took the night off to be spectators instead of strong-arms.
Josh Keppel
The last hangers-on hoping for some face time.
Josh Keppel
Sam Thorsen (left posing with Isis drummer Aaron Harris) flew to SF from Brisbane, Australia for five days to see his first, and last Isis show. Thorsen met Oaklander Sara Kay (right) a few weeks earlier in Africa.
Here are some more pictures since it is, after all the last time these guys will be on stage together in SF.
Josh Keppel
There are still 10 shows left, most on the East Coast with Boston, MA being the only city where the band is playing two nights (at the Paradise Rock Club), so you still have a chance to catch the band if you are so inclined.
Josh Keppel
Check their website for details on the final shows:
Josh Keppel
Josh Keppel
Josh Keppel
Josh Keppel
Getty Images
Josh Keppel
At the end of the show, singer Aaron Turner got down on the floor to manipulate his myriad of effects pedals.
Josh Keppel
Farewell Isis! Been great seeing you over the years... Hope you have a great life!
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