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Animals As Leaders Melts Faces at Portland, ME’s Aura! [Photos]

Drawing on elements of jazz fusion, progressive metal, and sheer, awesome talent, Animals As Leaders stands on an echelon far above any of their peers.



Animals As Leaders on July 3, 2023, photo by Nathan Katsiaficas

Drawing on elements of jazz fusion, progressive metal, and sheer, awesome talent, Animals As Leaders stands on an echelon far above any of their peers. The Los Angeles-based band is currently on tour in support of their latest record Parrhesiaopening for Dream Theater along with Devin Townsend. Lucky for us, they’re also playing a handful of headliner off-date shows. We caught the band as they came to play before 700 or so eager fans at Portland, Maine’s Aura on July 3rd!

After an opening set from local band Confusatron and a fun performance from regional act Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Animals As Leaders emerged to put on a stunning display of musicianship. Kicking things off with fan-favorites “Tooth and Claw” and “Ectogenesis.”

This is a tour in support of a new album, so it was only right that they threw in some newer songs. Addressing the fact that this was the band’s first show in Maine, guitarist Tosin Abasi asked the crowd how he was supposed to refer to them. “Maine-iacs?”—The correct answer was “Mainers,” but the crowd didn’t care that he got it a bit off as he launched right into “Monomyth,” enticing the crowd to circle pit for them.

Abasi and his counterpart on guitars Javier Reyes are so fun to watch—to get to see talent like this in person at such a tiny intimate venue was a real treat! The band continued on with some of the newer singles like “Conflict Cartography” and “Red Miso,” which were both well-received.


While serious musicians, Animals As Leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. At one point in between songs, a fan yelled out, “We need more biceps!” (referring to Abasi’s chopped t-shirt), to which he replied, “More biceps? What are the gun laws here in Portland?” Other highlights of the set included hit songs “Physical Education” and “CAFO,” both of which saw incredible performances from drummer Matt Garstka—who had the entire venue in awe several times in their set with bursts and flourishes of extremely technical drum fills.

You still have time to catch AAL on tour this summer; their run with Dream Theater continues into late July. Check out the remaining dates after the gallery below!

Tour Dates:

7/11 Detroit, MI @ Masonic
7/12 OshKosh, WI @ OshKosh Arena
7/13 Cedar Rapids, IA @ Alliant Energy Power House
07/14 Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theatre*
7/15 Denver, CO @ Mission Theater
7/17 Spokane, WA @ First Interstate Center
7/18 Calgary, AB @ Grey Eagle
7/19 Edmonton, AB @ Northern Alberta Jubilee
7/21 Vancouver, BC @ Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
7/22 Redmond, WA @ Marymoor Live
7/24 San Jose, CA @ San Jose Civic
7/25 Inglewood, CA @ YouTube Theater
7/26 Phoenix, AZ @ Arizona Financial Theatre


*Animals As Leaders only

When he's not out in the woods, clomping around in streams, or looking at shiny rocks, you can find our U.S. Managing Editor and contributing photographer Nathan Katsiaficas in the photo pit, covering everything from heavy metal to punk, alternative, indie, and hip-hop.