If you’ve never been, the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is to hipsters what the Ent forest is to orcs. They seem to just spring up out of the ground. It’s a nonstop fashion show of apathy, misdirected misogynist irony, and expensive beer. Good sushi, but you pay for it in more than just dollars. It’s like a theme park. Hipster Disneyland.
Nonetheless, for Mighty High, Cortez and The Crimson Electric, I’d gladly hoist my fat ass off the couch to brave such unwelcoming climes. Some band no one ever heard of opened the show at The Charleston, to which I’d only been once prior, to see Kings Destroy. It was now as it was a couple months ago: a basement with surprisingly good sound. Kind of like Lit Lounge in that way, but if dank and moist isn’t your thing, you probably weren’t going to the show anyway.
Mighty High gave the Stooges a stoner boot to the ass, debuting their new lineup, vocalist/guitarist Woody High and drummer Jesse D’Stills joined by new guitarist Kevin Overdose and bass player Labatts Santoro. The foursome ran through probably twice as many songs as anyone else played that night, hitting high marks with “Cable TV Eye,” “Breakin’ Shit” and the “prog rock epic,” “Yes Sucks.” It was the first time I’d ever seen them, and they didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Their music and their presentation is completely without pretense. They don’t dress up, don’t bullshit around, just play their songs and have a good time. Amazing that in a borough so full of assholes, there’s any room on the other end of the spectrum for Mighty High.
Loud in that basement, too. Kevin Overdose and Woody High split some vocal duties, but for the most part it was straight-ahead motion the whole time. And there was some motion. They had the best crowd of the night (being the hometown heroes) and you just can’t watch them and not enjoy yourself if you have anything even close to a sense of humor. This won’t be the last set of theirs I catch.
It had been a while since I’d seen Boston‘s Cortez — long enough for drummer Jeremy Hemond (also of Roadsaw) to get a haircut, anyway — and as always, it was a pleasure. Not only are they some of the nicest guys on earth, but they riff with an energy and crispness that makes me think of what it must have been like to see stoner rock when stoner rock was young. Their sound and style is more solid than ever, and as they said a new album was in the works, I can’t wait to hear it. I wonder who’s going to put it out…
They put a couple older songs in the mix, among them “Stone the Bastards” from the 2007 Thunder in a Forgotten Town EP, which I managed to capture for the video you can see below. It was kind of dark, but I think you can still get the idea. Scotty Fuse‘s riffs, Hemond‘s giant cymbals, Matt Harrington‘s vocals and Jay‘s bass all managed to balance out pretty well down there (though admittedly, there’s an awful lot of cymbal on that video), and their set, as always, was a highlight of the night.
The Crimson Electric were down a bass player as of about two weeks ago, and they struggled some because of it. Their solution to the issue was to run one of the guitars through a bass and guitar cabinet both to fill out the low end, and it actually worked pretty well to thicken the sound, but there were some technical issues that took some momentum out of their set. I don’t doubt they did the best they could with what they had, and they still rocked, so I’m certainly not about to complain.
That said, being the last band on stage at a show like that has one distinct disadvantage: you’ve already done a full night’s drinking when you start, and you still have to get through the material. There was some shit-talking from the stage and it very nearly crossed the fine line between friendly joshing and dickery, but everyone in the crowd, myself included, knew the deal, and at the end of the show, The Crimson Electric still sounded killer. I remembered how great they were at last year’s Stoner Hands of Doom in Maryland, and I’m sure once they get their lineup nailed down again they’ll have no trouble getting back there.
I got back to my humble river valley shortly after three and was up for maybe another hour. I’d managed (somehow) to stay sober, though I’d swear I saw some dudes taking beers out of their socks at the club. A little recession-special espionage. You do what you have to, I guess.
Good people, good tunes, good times. It’s nights like this, when the “scene” and the inherent politics thereof stay at the bar upstairs, that remind me why I love this music so much.
Tags: Boston, Brooklyn, Cortez, Massachusetts, Mighty High, New York, The Crimson Electric, Unsigned bands, Virginia