In an attempt at efficient show-going, I walked into Europa in Brooklyn at 10PM to catch Saint Vitus and only Saint Vitus before splitting out to CT for the weekend. The fates, looking down on me and laughing as ever at my feeble attempts to outwit them, had other ideas.
Not a week after seeing Om, Six Organs of Admittance and Naam in the same venue, I was back to stand in the middle of another round of awesome music vs. dogshit surroundings, this time featuring the original sons of Sabbath, Saint motherfucking Vitus. I’d stand in between a hipster and his ironic moustache for these dudes. I flew to Holland to see these dudes. Surviving Brooklyn seemed a small price to pay.
But then, it always does.
It was crowded beyond moving from side to side, so I stuck out the duration hovering over the bar. Unlike the Om show, fiscal limitations (and driving obligations) prevented me from getting smashed. The stage was empty as I walked in, and since across the street from me as I made my way to Meserole Ave. and headed in the same direction was Wino Himself, I decided they must be next. My timing was perfect, all was well in the universe, blah blah blah life is good insert further setup for contradiction here.
Saviours played for an exorbitantly long time. I’ve been watching their shows since they were touring on the Warship EP (only three years ago, but the beginnings of the band nonetheless). I’ve seen them play in living rooms and in back yards. They’re about to put out their third album, Accelerated Living, and I don’t know if it was the mistiming on my part, the already inexplicable foul mood I was in or just the repetitiveness of their riffs, but I was bored out of my fucking mind.
They just didn’t do it for me. Might be able to chalk it up to Iron Maiden syndrome (that is, if you’re there to see Iron Maiden, it doesn’t matter who’s opening because you’re there to see Iron Maiden), but the guitars sounded thin, the moves looked rehearsed, the vocals were inaudible and the drums were lame. I didn’t care, I wanted them off the stage and by the time they were done, the thought of splitting out and missing Vitus altogether was beginning to seem more and more reasonable.
It was a little after 11:30PM as I remember it that Saint Vitus — Scott “Wino” Weinrich, Dave Chandler, Mark Adams and new addition Henry Vasquez (Blood of the Sun) on drums — took the stage, and the tones… Man, the tones. Chandler‘s guitar, even a quarter century after the self-titled came out, is the sound of pure doom. How many bands have come since and failed to match its power? It doesn’t come out of his Marshall stacks, it is channeled forth from malevolent forces unknown, and he’s almost on another plane while playing. Un-fucking-real.
Wino, if he wasn’t, looked good and fucked up, but unlike when I previously saw them in April, he and Chandler seemed more cordial as regards sharing microphone time between songs. Both responsible for the banter, it had seemed a conflict of egos initially, but I guess more playing time helped sort it out at least somewhat. They opened with “Living Backwards” into “I Bleed Black” from V before going further back in their catalog with “Clear Windowpane” from Born too Late and “War is Our Destiny” from Hallow’s Vitcim.
Already the borough around me seemed to melt away and all there was was the stage and the band on it. Vasquez did a noble and crashing job in place of Armando Acosta, though it was never going to be the same and during the first encore, “Dying Inside” was clearly too fast. Wino and Adams seemed friendly on a professional level, and it was fun to see the former playing air guitar to Chandler‘s solos, even if his vocals were too low during the earlier portion of the set. Once the sonic issues were fixed, it was smooth going for the rest of the night. “The Troll” from Mournful Cries, “White Stallions” and “Mystic Lady” ended the regular set.
There was a break before the encore, but the band didn’t leave stage, apart from Wino, who went to the bar for another round of drinks. Chandler and Adams tuned up and Vasquez sat and looked contented with life (who wouldn’t be?) behind his kit. Soon “Dying Inside” kicked off the encore and went into a noisy rendition of “Saint Vitus,” Wino handing the mic to the crowd for the gang shout parts in the chorus.
Anthemic closer “Born too Late,” which should have been the mantra for a goodly portion of the crowd, myself included (I was three when the self-titled came out; sorry for not being on the ground floor), was a fitting end to the evening and the only song I actually sang along to. The attitude and spiritual rebellion that song captures is unmatched in the genre or otherwise, and quite frankly, nothing else would? have done to top the excited rendition of “Saint Vitus” that had preceded, Chandler, who was wearing an ECW shirt, shouting it out to professional wrestler and Brooklyn native Taz, “since he was on the East Coast.” It didn’t really make sense, but by that time, Wino‘s banter was largely unintelligible and the crowd let it go. Quite a reference, in any case.
Chandler issued an invite to the audience to stick around and drink with the band, and though I’d have loved to have taken them up on it, it was time to head out. The little dog Dio was patiently waiting in the car. I made my way out of Europa and into the cold Brooklyn night, stopping at a deli for a pesto chicken wrap, some Sun Chips and an iced tea as a late dinner before splitting altogether.
There’s no grand reflection to be made, I don’t think. Or if there is, I don’t have it. Just, “This is why we’re here,” which I’m not the first person to say. I’ve seen Vitus twice now and feel privileged for it. Some you win.
Tags: Brooklyn, Gods, Saint Vitus