Taking the day off work to get down here in time was the right choice. I sat in traffic on I-83 for long enough that, had I put in even the most temporary, in-and-out-type appearance at the office, I’d have been late. And the south side was just rubbernecking. There was an overturned 18-wheeler that had spilled whatever it was carrying on the northbound side, and it was closed off. They were redirecting traffic through wherever the hell it was, and it added an hour onto my trip, easy, but it could’ve been much worse. I could have been driving that truck.
Because it’s already two in the morning, and because I’m tired, and because there’s a lot to get to, I’m going to cover Stoner Hands of Doom XI in note form. That seems like the most direct line between point A (the show) and point B (the coverage). Tomorrow, pending sobriety and/or the requisite energy — both of which are in short supply at the moment — I might decide to do something completely different. I reserve that right. For now, here goes:
Borracho: After the ride down from NJ and the arrival at the Days Inn where I’m staying, I opened up the bottle of wine I brought with me, turned on the stream of the Yankees radio broadcast and tried to relax a bit before heading back out over to Krug’s Place. Needless to say, the “fuck it” demons were out in full force, but not missing Borracho was a big part of what got me off my ass and back in the car over to the venue. Really. They were even better tonight than they were with Truckfighters, and they basically started their set with the soundcheck. I guess it was kind of a stutter way to kick off the fest, but once they got going, they were locked in for sure. They still need to tighten up their presentation, but already they were too good for the early-showing crowd that caught them. I felt fortunate to be in that number.
Ancient Astronaught: I didn’t realize it until I talked with guitarist/vocalist Skipper (who identified himself as such) following their performance, but all three members of the Fairfax, Virginia, three-piece are formerly of Ol’ Scratch. Skipper was in the band in 2008 and toured with them, and some of the lessons he learned in that now-defunct outfit he’s obviously brought to Ancient Astronaught — most pivotally in tone. Theirs was the first of several truly sick Sunn tones throughout the night, and though their songs were basically vehicles for conveying riffs and shouts and the occasional bit of stonerdelia, I’ve zero complaints with that. They were loud as hell and I dug it as one of several instances tonight in which my earplugs were rendered useless.
Against Nature: They’re another one. Speaking of Sunn amps, Against Nature guitarist/vocalist John Brenner played pedal-less (quite a contrast to Skipper‘s setup during Ancient Astonaught; his pedal board literally lit up) through a Sunn Beta Lead, and it was one of the most gorgeous tones of the night. Bassist Bert Hall, Jr., also won out on the night’s best bass sound, as it was crisp and clear, but still full and totally fuzzed. Having been a fan of Against Nature‘s work for so long from the albums, it was excellent to finally see them live. The laid back air Brenner brings to the recordings was still intact, but they definitely had a vibrancy to their set as well. Killer to get some classic rock on the SHoD bill. I spent their whole set thinking about how much ass a tour of them and Stone Axe would kick.
Windhand: I’d seen their name forever, and they had the drummer from Facedowninshit (he might also be in The Might Could — and where the hell, might I ask, are those guys this weekend?), so I was excited to finally see Windhand in-person, and they didn’t disappoint. They laid it on thick and viscous with Electric Wizard-style riffing, and that was enjoyable enough, but their considerable noise element only made the whole affair heavier. Strange to have that kind of noise following Against Nature, but it worked. It was that kind of bill, and the people who were there were more than willing to go along for the ride. They were a lot of fun, and I tried to acquire a CD, asking both vocalist Dorothea Cottrell and guitarist Garrett Morris, to no avail. The Richmond outfit continue to elude me, but they killed.
Apostle of Solitude: Here’s who I was at the show. I was the guy who, as Apostle of Solitude — now featuring Devil to Pay axeman Steve Janiak on second guitar/vocals alongside bassist “Iron” Bob Fouts, drummer Corey Webbb and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown — was setting up, yelled out “Celtic Frost!” I have zero regrets at having done so, especially since they wound up closing with “Procreation of the Wicked.” They played one or two new songs before getting there (I seem to recall one was called “Good Riddance” or something like that), and were generally awesome. I’d seen them in NYC a while back and they were good enough at that time for me to buy not one, but two, t-shirts, both of which I still wear on the regular. If they’d had a third to go with their SHoD set, I’d totally have picked it up. Their split CD with The Flight of Sleipnir and Rituals of the Oak would have to suffice, and as I’m sitting here in survival testimony, indeed it did.
Negative Reaction was supposed to headline tonight in place of The Gates of Slumber (Lord, also listed on the poster above, will play Sunday), but fest organizer Rob Levey got on stage as Apostle of Solitude were finishing what would have been their regular set to announce that a member of the band had an immediate medical emergency. Guitarist/vocalist Ken-E Bones and drummer John “Old” MacDonald were hanging out in the Krug’s parking lot, so pretty safe to assume it was bassist Damon who had the trouble. They’ll hopefully be able to round out the bill tomorrow.
Tags: Against Nature, Ancient Astronaught, Apostle of Solitude, Borracho, Frederick, Maryland, Stoner Hands of Doom XI, Windhand