It goes without saying that this show was at Ace of Clubs. Nowhere else in Manhattan has the gumption to put on a gig like this on a Saturday night. And even if they did, it wouldn’t be nearly as good without the cornbread upstairs, so there you go.
In thinking about writing this review, I looked up the last time I saw Devil to Pay at Ace of Clubs, and wow, I must have been in a shit mood that day. Tried to remember what would have had my panties all up my butt, but can’t think of any lasting traumas from November. As ever, I’m sure it was something trivial and there was nothing I could do about it. That’s usually what does it.
This time around, Devil to Pay sounded pretty killer. They’re kind of right in the heavy rock middle ground; not quite just stoner, not quite just doom, not entirely Southern but every now and then belting out a guitar lick that’d make Pepper Keenan smile. Some of their material is frustrating in that, standing there in front of the stage, I want the four-piece to really kick into it, bust out a balls-heavy groove and just ride it for five or six minutes, but that’s not their thing. The Indianapolis outfit is more focused on structure, on streamlined songwriting, and since they’re good at it, I’m not about to hold that against them. They had a good crowd for their set and everyone, myself included, was much pleased at the rock that ensued. I’d love to hear an album from them with a really vibrant, raw production. Take away some of the class from what they do, dirty it up a bit, and see how it comes out.
Lo-Pan, who followed immediately, are fast becoming one of my favorite bands. I’ve seen them three times now in the last four months (once in Michigan, twice at Ace of Clubs), and with every set they’ve delivered solid heavy American stoner rock, unabashed in its fuzzy glory, killer in its rhythms and topped with soulful vocals. They’re the real deal, and I get the feeling if all goes well, their next album might just be the best Small Stone Records debut since Sasquatch (though, admittedly, Lo-Pan have an advantage in this since it wouldn’t actually be their first album). I recorded video of one of their songs — a new one, I think — which you can view below.
I don’t know why I didn’t buy a Lo-Pan shirt last time I saw them, but needless to say, I rectified the oversight at Ace of Clubs.
The last band of the evening’s total four was local metal outfit Ikillya, who organized the show. Why a band so outwardly metal would want to play with stoner acts is beyond me, but although they were the odd men out on the bill — maybe they like it that way; it certainly has its appeal — they gave an admirable showing. There’s a lot of performance in what they do. They even have a banner to play in front of. But they back that performance with a level of metallic tightness that I’m just not used to seeing anymore. There are metalcore elements, but they’re more like a crunchier Shadows Fall than a Killswitch Engage, if you understand the difference. If you don’t, I’m sure you’ll survive. Either way, their sound might not have been in line with what else was happening that night, but their energy and dynamism would have made them stand out no matter who was on the bill, and yes, I do mean that as a compliment.
It was a good night. I saw some good friends, some good bands, and didn’t even get embarrassingly trashed doing it. I’ll be back at Ace of Clubs on August 7 to catch Earthride, Valkyrie, Alkahest and several others I can’t recall at the moment, so expect to hear more about how much ass the venue kicks. Devil to Pay and Lo-Pan are still touring. Check out the rest of the dates here.
Tags: Columbus, Devil to Pay, Ikillya, Indiana, Indianapolis, Lo-Pan, New York City, Ohio, Small Stone