I was late getting to The Outer Space, sort of co-located with the Hamden Ballroom in Hamden, Connecticut, which is tucked far enough off the beaten path to seem at night to be out of purview of Yale University in nearby New Haven, but probably isn’t by day. The parking lot looked to be shared with a couple commercial or light industrial concerns, but being slightly down a hill gave it a tucked-away sensibility, and the high quality of the venue itself played into a well-kept-secret vibe. A separate bar up front and the venue proper in back with a large stage, high ceiling, pro sound, pro lights, it had a spacious feel, but wasn’t by any means empty.
I’d missed Wasted Theory, the Delaware-based Southern heavy rockers who’d played just a couple weeks ago at Vultures of Volume II in MD (review here). They’d had to go on first because, much like myself, New Hampshire’s American Burn had hit traffic coming south for the show, so it was American Burn wrapping up when I got there. From what I caught, the five-piece’s burly, Down-influenced heavy riffing seemed intact from when I caught them opening for Gozu in May (review here) — I also noted that vocalist Lee had a Gozu shirt on he acquired at that same gig, sans its original sleeves — and though I only saw a little bit of it, they seemed to get a good response from the crowd as well.
New York trio Geezer were on next, out on a weekender alongside Wasted Theory that would take them the next night to Allston, Massachusetts, where they’d meet up with Kind and Mos Generator, the latter fresh off their run with The Atomic Bitchwax. The heavy blues specialists were down drummer Chris Turco and had Charles Ruggiero filling in alongside bassist Richie Touseull and guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, seeming a natural fit in the group for having been a former bandmate of Harrington‘s in aughts hard rockers Slunt. This also marked my first time seeing Geezer since Touseull stepped in on bass, and fittingly, they opened with “Long Dull Knife,” the May 2015 single that was their first studio outing with him in the band.
Harrington‘s slide ever at the ready, it was impossible not to notice how molten Geezer‘s blues has become and how, without directly invoking psychedelia, the Kingston, NY, outfit have managed to bring about a laid back, earthy, jammy vibe. Liquid fuzz. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Geezer a handful of times by now, and even without Turco‘s drums, the progression they’ve made in presence and sound was evident, Harrington in an “STB Family” shirt as a finger-plucking blues frontman, his gravelly voice calling out the changes on stage and turning to the mic to inform the crowd that they’d indeed hit into the “Full Tilt Boogie.” And so they have.
Just last week, Geezer announced they’d inked a deal with the Paris-based bookers Total Volume, signaling clearly an intent to tour Europe, and watching them roll through “Ancient Song” and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus,” both highlights of their 2014 STB Records full-length, Gage (review here), they looked and sounded ready for export, and while Ruggiero was just sitting in, he brought a sense of tension to the drums that fit well. Clearly the right person for the job, even if it’s a temp job. They finished with another jam-heavy groover (maybe new?) that was right on to the point where I didn’t even miss “Pony,” and were suitably lauded for their efforts. Because their material is so easy-rolling, it’s easy to lose sight of just how quickly they’ve come so far, but Geezer have worked deceptively fast, and so in addition to having an eye out for EU dates, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a new album in 2016.
Homegrown riffers Curse the Son had been pushing for a release even earlier than that, but I’ve no specifics to report on when or how their follow-up to 2012’s Psychache (review here) might arrive. They’re due, though, and seeing them for the first time in more than a year — actually, last I caught both Geezer and Curse the Son individually, they were also sharing a bill, at The Eye of the Stoned Goat IV in Worcester, MA (review here); funny how that works — was all the more intriguing because, like Geezer, the Hamden-based band have also swapped out bassists, with Brendan Keefe taking the role formerly occupied by Richard “Cheech” Weeden. Much to my delight, they also had new material to share.
I was enough of a fan of Psychache‘s plus-sized fuzz riffing and spacious vibes to be palpably stoked when STB picked it up for a giving-it-its-due vinyl release (review here) last year, but I’ve been looking forward to new Curse the Son for a while, so a live taste was welcome. There were two new songs played and neither had a final title, but both took some of the roll-happy spirit of the last album and seemed to build on it with more of a sense of bounce and chug. Having Keefe wielding his low-slung bass in the band also signaled a clear change in dynamic because he had a microphone in front of him and added his backing vocals to bechapeaued guitarist Ron Vanacore‘s own (and while I’m making a theme out of frontman t-shirt choices, Vanacore had the Iommi-as-god shirt, which seems about right), giving Curse the Son‘s live performance something it didn’t previously have, but that at the same time was truer to the layering on Psychache and presumably the next record as well.
Case in point, “Spider Stole the Weed.” First, if there was any doubt Curse the Son were the hometown act, it was cast aside quickly by the audience’s familiarity with the track. Second, Vanacore got a good laugh afterward when he told the true story on which the song was based — there was a spider, it stole the weed. Third, having Keefe‘s vocals added only highlighted the hook even further on stage, and it made me hope they’ve continued to explore the two-singer approach in the studio, at least on some cursory level. Not that he and Vanacore need to be harmonizing necessarily — though they came close once or twice — but just continuing to refine their sound and make it a richer listening experience on the whole. Weedian Psychache opener “Goodbye Henry Anslinger” was similarly enhanced.
They had another, quicker new one worked in, drummer Michael Petrucci (also Lord Fowl, etc.) adding snare flourish during the builds and finding tension in each fill, and closed out with “Pulsotar Bringer” from 2011’s debut LP, Klonopain (review here), the full-on nod brought to its natural boiling point, and the point underscored that, like Geezer, Curse the Son have taken significant steps forward since their first album. As they move ahead with the lineup of Vanacore, Petrucci and Keefe, I’ll still look forward to what comes next, whenever it happens to show up, be it in 2015 or the New Year.
More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.