It was a three-night tour and I, being a colonel among the weekend warriors, missed Friday night in Boston, but hopefully made up for it Saturday and Sunday in Maryland and Connecticut, respectively. Afforded a chance to catch the likes of Cortez, Ichabod and When the Deadbolt Breaks live two nights in a row, it was not an opportunity I was going to pass on. They called it the Amped for the End tour. Pristina was on the bill as well, but fuck Pristina. They blew Saturday, played their wannabe Meshuggahcore first and then split before the next band even went on. It’s not there were so many people there; it was basically the bands playing to each other and a few sporadic others. Splitting was a dick move.
Sunday they didn’t even show up. They live in Connecticut. Screw those guys. Who names a record Boner Jams?
The other three bands, by contrast, were killer. The sound at Krug’s Place in Frederick (where Stoner Hands of Doom X will be held next weekend) was a little muddy, but everyone seemed to be having a good time anyway, and it’s not like Deadbolt was about to break out the catchy corporate number that required absolute clarity. This is doom. Muddy works. It was clearer at the El n Gee in scenic New London the next night anyway, so in watching the three bands, you got a taste of both worlds.
Last time I saw Cortez, it was in New York City at the Delancey, a small club with a smoking lounge upstairs. Their singer — they’ve since gotten a new one — was climbing the water pipes on the ceiling of the basement venue, which of course only made me think that very soon I and everyone else in the crowd was going to be soaking wet. Blame the alcohol, but I don’t remember much else about that night, including who they played with. So for them, it was a second chance to make a first impression.
And they did. Their powerful stoner groove copped a feel on classic riffage while non-monkeybar singer Matt, boldly decked out in flip-flops, punctuated the rhythms with his clean and confident approach. The heaviness in guitarist Scott‘s tone might have only been matched by that of his beard, and Jay and Jeremy (also of Roadsaw) killed on bass and drums. When their set in El n Gee was done, I told Jeremy I wanted to friends with his ride cymbal, and I meant it. That thing was good.
Speaking of speaking, I also asked them why the hell they haven’t signed to Small Stone yet. Their lone EP, Thunder in a Forgotten Town, which I picked up in Maryland, came out on Buzzville, but their rock seems custom made for the Detroit bearers of all things quality and stone. One hopes the current lineup has better luck.
Both nights, my chief impression of Ichabod was, “Man, these dudes are onto something.” Contrary to what I recall from hearing their Let the Bad Times Roll full-length in 2003, they’ve got a psychedelic edge to them now that blends with angry, sub-hardcore sludge tempered with a Boston intensity that was near-blinding as it was emitted from the stage at Krug’s. It was like a wash of dark stonerism punched in the face and called names until it cried. They’re supposed to have a record out called 2012 one of these days (they had stickers and copies of 2005′s Reaching Empyrean in the meantime). Not soon enough to get a closer listen at how it comes out in the studio, because live it was overwhelming.
If anyone’s did, their sound might have worked better at Krug’s than El n Gee, if only because of that wash effect, everything happening at once, whereas in Connecticut it was easier to parse the individual instruments. In either case, they destroyed.
Deadbolt closed in Maryland and it was nearly two in the morning by the time they were done. Not a long set, just a long night. Their polymorphous lineup has seemed to solidify around a trio for the time being, anchored as ever by guitarist Aaron Lewis, who is joined by drummer Mike Conner and bassist Roman Garbacik. Garbacik‘s presence in particular appeared to have a tightening effect on the band, his vocals playing off Lewis‘ effectively and naturally while Conner made the most of his kit’s vast expanse of drums and cymbals.
I’ve seen When the Deadbolt Breaks more times now than I can count, and though they usually roll up with someone new in the band, both in Maryland and in their home state, they sounded more like a unit than ever before and did not allow their set to be mired by its dronier moments, instead balancing the atmospheres essential to their attack with the blistering heaviness they’re so able to wrench from their amplifiers at any given moment. They have at least one album in the can, maybe two at this point. I think it’s high time their name got out beyond the borders of their home state.
Tags: Boston, Connecticut, Cortez, Ichabod, Massachusetts, When the Deadbolt Breaks