Harvey Milk laid waste to BK over the course of 3 nights earlier this week to a packed room at Union Pool. They started off the first night by playing the entire new album, "A Small Turn of Human Kindness", straight through. To anyone that has heard the record, you know it is one long dirge of ugliness and mostly slow riffs that demands your unwavering attention. I wasn't sure how this would translate live, but it worked surprisingly well - almost or even better than on the recording. Even more surprising was the level of attention the audience actually gave it. There was almost no annoying chatter to be heard during the quieter parts and a raucous applause when the piece was concluded. I was impressed by Brooklyn that night, as most shows that receive a good amount of promotional press (like this one) are usually packed with heads that are just there because the media told them it was the cool place to be that evening. This show was either packed with the Milk faithful or the band press-ganged the ignorant into their stable. I'd like to hope it was a mix of both. After the album, the band switched gears and brought down the house with a handful of the more upbeat & rockin' songs off of "The Pleaser" and "Life... the Best Game in Town". As they say, always leave on a high-note.
For the second night, they completely switched that formula around by playing all of "The Pleaser", followed with cuts from "Life...", "Special Wishes", and the debut "My Love Is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be". One of the highlights was "Rock & Roll Party Tonite", which pretty much summed up the mood of the show. This was a high-energy, beer-swillin', rockin' good time, with a good amount of headbanging and general good cheer from the crowd. Then, just as they did the night before, they turned that right on its head and beat everyone into a somberly depressing mood with the closing combo of "The Anvil Will Fall" into "I've Got a Love". Still, no matter how dark a song about oppression by a violent father can be, the crowd's enthusiasm didn't waver. It just morphed from the kind of good time you'd have at a spring-time picnic into the kind of enjoyment one gets from seeing pro fighters bash each others brains in. In other words, they brought the heavy and they brought it good.
The last night of this run of shows was a pretty good mix of old & new. The set culled tracks from "My Love", "The Pleaser", "Life...", "Special Wishes", & from their various 7" singles, including the new track from their recent split with Wildildlife. If nothing else, this set was a showcase of just how diverse of a band Harvey Milk is. One minute, they're on a seriously heavy, sludgy metal tune like "War" or "Crush Them All", just to follow it up with a 70's rock throwback track like "Anthem" or "What I Want". Somehow, this works for them in spades. It was a suiting end for this concert marathon, and I think the crowd really got their money's worth.
The trio of Creston Spiers, Kyle Spence, and Stephen Tanner are obviously masters of their craft that have dedicated their time to honing their skills for the live arena. Night after night, they not only pulled off their sometimes very complex songs, but did so gracefully and with grins on their faces. I don't think anyone in the crowd on any of the nights could say they didn't see a top notch band doing what they do best and having the time of their lives. There might be other, bigger-profile bands out there emulating the same sound that the Milk has been creating for over a decade, but few do it as well. They are well deserving of the accolades bestowed on them by their loyal fan base. As Creston said to the crowd on night number two, "It's good to be Georgia's least popular band."