It had been years since I was last in the Cake Shop, but upon my arrival I found it much the same as I’d last left it: upstairs a coffee bar that sells LPs and limited this-and-thats, and downstairs a basement venue not unlike other venerable Manhattan stops I’ve come across over the years — Lit Lounge, Ace of Clubs, The Pyramid all spring to mind. Christmas lights hung around the stage, giving a festive air, which was appropriate for Kings Destroy‘s record release show for the brilliant And the Rest Will Surely Perish. I got there in time to see the band soundcheck, and they sounded tight, guitarist Carl Porcaro playing through a broken wrist and not being held back by it in the slightest. Everything came through clear, so they broke down and eventually the show got going.
Maegashira opened. There was a lot of friends, a lot of emotions and a lot of feedback. Then it was over.
I couldn’t remember if I’d seen The Brought Low since they put out Third Record earlier this year, but even if I had, I was certainly more familiar with the songs this time around. During the course of their set, they played the first four songs off the album in a row — by the time they got around to the ultra-grooving “My Favorite Waste of Time,” I was both drunk and so happy I couldn’t stand still — as well as cuts from their prior self-titled and Right on Time offerings. They’ve always been a live band in my mind, and since they went power-trio, they’ve only gotten better. Their garage rock side comes out more in their sound, but they offset it with thicker tones and occasional breakneck speed. However long it had been, it felt like too long since I’d seen them. What a band.
As they do, Kings Destroy pulled in a good crowd for the release show, and they positively killed. They were slower than the last time I saw them, and it seemed like the band had purposefully taken a step back to examine what they were doing live, to bring it more in line with the album. It worked. Porcaro and fellow guitarist Chris Skowronski played together with the kind of unspoken chemistry you can only have when you’ve shared a stage with someone for years — because they have — and bassist Ed Bocchino‘s tone is quickly becoming one of my favorites in doom. Couple that with the refined crash of Rob Sefcik and the increasing confidence of Steve Murphy — now firmly in command of the room — behind the mic, and you’ve got the makings of a classic.
They’re reportedly at work on new material already, but stuck to And the Rest Will Surely Perish for their set. I’m not sure when I grabbed it, but at some point in my stupor, I grabbed their set list and it went as follows: “Medusa,” “The Mounty,” “Planet XXY,” “The Whittler,” “Stung,” “Dusty Mummy” and closing with “Old Yeller,” leaving only “Two Tons” from the record unplayed. Even when Porcaro broke a string, they kept going. He got another guitar and was back in it in no time, and no momentum was lost. These dudes are pros — and I’ll be totally honest — they make me wish I had a real label, with distribution and promotion and all that happy crap, because they deserve to be heard.
The crowd thinned out some after Kings Destroy, leaving Alkahest to close out the night in the basement. I continue to be a fan and intrigued to see where these guys end up stylistically, since every time I see them it’s a different kind of experience. Frontman Chris spent a good portion of the set writhing on the Cake Shop floor (which didn’t look clean), leaving the stage to the rest of the band, who filled it amply. They were a last-minute replacement for Mighty High, whose drummer’s special lady had a baby the week prior, but Alkahest made the best of it and capped off a great night in fittingly aggressive fashion. Their balance of tortured vs. angry vs. ambient has not yet ceased to fascinate.
The Patient Mrs. drove me back to the valley, and certainly I wouldn’t have made it without her. I gave back some of the evenings Newcastles in the form of a short and sweet-tasting vomit session, then crashed out, my ears ringing, my body sore, and my stomach already looking forward to the omelet that would necessarily follow in the morning. I wouldn’t have traded any part of the night for anything in the world.