It was kind of a weird plan, but because I was going to be driving to meet The Patient Mrs. in Connecticut after the show, and because I was going to the show right from work, I wound up bringing my dog and leaving her in the car while I went and saw Witch Mountain, Lord Dying, Pilgrim and Bezoar at the Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn. I kind of felt like a bad dog owner, but I’d just bought her a new bed, I left her a full bowl of cold water, rolled the windows partway down and I’d waited until the sun was down so she wouldn’t be hot in the car. She slept the whole time, and I made periodic between-band visits to take her for walks around the block. Turned out to not be a problem.
Better, by waiting for the sun to go down so as to not bake my dog, I avoided the trap of arriving way too early as I had for the Pallbearer and Loss show a few weeks back and got there just as Bezoar were taking the stage. Everybody wins! The opening act and local to Brooklyn, they were celebrating the release of their full-length debut, Wyt Deth, and played the album through front to back, drummer Justin Sherrell picking up and putting down an acoustic guitar to play up the menacing dark folk aspect of their otherwise noisy and doomed approach. Like a lot of the psychedelic doom making its way out these days, there was some level of influence from Electric Wizard‘s latter-day output, but Bezoar had more going on than riffs and horror-movie lyricism.
Vocalist/bassist Sara Villard rested comfortably in her middle range, and both she and guitarist Tyler Villard were quick to lapse into washes of beastly noise and feedback, Sherrell following suit with adept fills and tom runs. They didn’t leave a landmark impression, being somewhat reserved on stage apart from Sherrell, but the music was solid and the performance effective nonetheless. Brooklyn’s scene continues to grow, and if Bezoar are going to join the ranks of quality acts from that hyper-gentrified corner of the world — there’s a list of them at this point, which I’ll spare — I’ll offer no contradiction. As I hadn’t yet heard Wyt Deth, they made a decent first impression.
A quick pop back to the car to check on the dog and I was back well in time for the start of Pilgrim‘s set. A bigger band who’ve had success in Brooklyn in the past, though they’re younger, they probably could’ve demanded a better spot on the bill than they got if they felt like being jerks — I’d figured the Providence natives for either closing out the night or playing between Lord Dying and Witch Mountain — but it’s to their credit that Lord Dying had the more preferable slot, being a part of the tour that made the show happen in the first place. They were palpably a stronger live act than the last time I saw them (see above link), and in particular, guitarist Jon “The Wizard” Rossi seemed more comfortable on stage and showed more personality behind his thoroughly downtrodden and doomed vocal delivery.
I think a lot of the excitement about Pilgrim — aside from their debut, Misery Wizard, having been issued through Alan Averill of Primordial‘s Metal Blade imprint — comes from the band’s potential to carry traditional doom forward into a new, post-millennial generation, invariably bringing some new sensibility to the style. How that’s going to work out in the longer term, I haven’t the foggiest, but Pilgrim at this point are a good, young, heavy band, and I’m not going to take that away from them just because there’s hype around their record. They still have growing to do, but again, it’s been about three months since the last time I saw them (I’ll see them again as they headline SHoD over Labor Day weekend), and there was already marked improvement, so they’re growing fast. Hard not to root for an act like that, which I guess is at least part of where that hype comes from.
Lord Dying were easily the most metal band of the night and a fitting complement to Witch Mountain in how different they were. A double-guitar four-piece, their set was thrash-informed traditional metal bombast. Riffs factored in heavily, but they weren’t really stoner or doom, just heavy and straightforward and mean sounding. I liked them immediately and didn’t stop liking them as the set played out. They’d sold out their CDs, or I would’ve bought one afterwards and rocked it on my way north on I-95. Can’t do that with a 7″. Too bad.
As infectious as their slowed-down thrashing was, though, it hit just as my guilt pangs at having left my poor little dog in the car were approaching critical mass. I left the club momentarily to take the dog for a walk around the block and at least let her move around a little bit, as she’d been in the car at this point for two-plus hours. She was fine — she has always seemed to prefer being left in the car somewhere to being left at home, when it comes down to one or the other — but still, with another two-hour drive after the show, it seemed only fair to leave Lord Dying to their ass-kicking for a bit and let the dog pee. She seemed to appreciate it, even if she did almost get in a brawl with a much-bigger bulldog mix coming down the block the other way. She’s a countrified dog. No class in the big city.
When I got back inside, Lord Dying were done and Witch Mountain were getting set up. I didn’t have the courage to introduce myself to guitarist Rob Wrong, whose concise opinions once provided the central critical voice of StonerRock.com, but his red rocker pants and matching guitar — with a green plate to play up the holiday spirit — were a suitable extension of the personality I’ve always admired in his writing. As Witch Mountain got set up, new bassist Neal Munson seemed to have some technical problems, but by the time the set started, everything was worked out. Wrong led the doomly charge with waves of riffs — he’d turned down the opportunity to run his cabinets through the P.A., saying it was unnecessary, he’d be plenty loud anyway — as bluesy and trained-sounding vocalist Uta Plotkin proved the performance on last year’s South of Salem was no fluke. If anything, she sounded better live than in the studio, and as powerful as she was on the record, that’s saying something.
Being so very, very behind on reviews, I hadn’t yet really had the appropriate chance to dig into the new and third Witch Mountain album, Cauldron of the Wild — also their Profound Lore debut — but “Beekeeper” was an early set highlight and drummer Nate Carson (a founder of the band along with Wrong and also of Nanotear Booking) crashed through lumbering pacing that gave Plotkin more than enough room to soar vocally, which indeed, she did. Despite my lacking familiarity with the material, though, Witch Mountain were engaging and came off as tight as a band should be who’ve already been on tour the better part of a week, cracking a smile at a flub here and there but pressing on with the song all the same. They were heavier tonally in person, and it’s not often I’d refer to a band’s melodicism as “sick,” but seriously, these were some sick melodies.
It got to be past midnight and I knew I’d be on the road until around 2AM, so I made my way out and back to the car, where I fired up the directional robutt and followed its satellite course on more highway interchanges than I credited Brooklyn with having before finally stumbling on I-95 and defying the navigational system by taking it, knowing it was ultimately where I wanted to end up anyhow. Sure enough, I arrived at the Connecticut shoreline to find The Patient Mrs. already asleep, which the little dog soon would be as well. I stayed up a while longer to key down and finally called it a night going on three, promising myself I’d sleep late while knowing it wasn’t true.
Extra pics after the jump.
Witch MountainBezoar, Brooklyn, Lord Dying, New York, Pilgrim, Witch Mountain