Roadburn 2014: Scott Kelly and Mike Scheidt Artist Clinics Announced; Papir, Nothing and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ll be completely honest: I’m not sure what all this means, but it would seem that Roadburn is going to be an even more packed weekend than I thought. Not sure where I got the impression, but I was fairly certain the festival was done adding to its lineup, and while I know there were a couple spaces that opened up on account both of Buzzov*en not being able to make it and the unfortunate loss of Selim Lemouchi, I think that’s accounted for here and then some, so maybe Roadburn isn’t done yet. Is it possible there’s still more to come? How much festival can one festival hold?

Here’s the latest from Roadburn‘s website:

Roadburn Festival 2014 Artist Clinics: Scott Kelly & Mike Scheidt, Friday, April 11th at V39

Following on from the 2013 festival, we’re very pleased to continue our artist clinics at this year’s Roadburn.

The clinics proved to be a great opportunity to give those of you attending the festival, many of whom are in bands or enjoy playing music on your own, and some some folks on the bill the opportunity to meet and learn from each other.

This year we have invited Neurosis‘ Scott Kelly and Mike Scheidt of YOB, a pair of sonic trailblazers playing a seminal role in creating punishing, slow, melodic and atmospheric pieces of work and both a huge influence on all things Roadburn. Both Scott and Mike are the embodiment of the spirit of the festival and we are looking forward to hearing them talk about their craft, artistically and musically. We feel very honored that Scott and Mike will give an insight in their creative spirit.

“I am honored to asked by my great friends at Roadburn to take part in this clinic”, says Scott Kelly, “I will bring myself to the table as clear and open as humanly possible. And I will answer any questions that you have to the best of my ability. I hope to see you all there.”

Scott Kelly and Mike Scheidt‘s artist clinics will be held on Friday, April 11th at the V39, located across from the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Änglagård, Reine Fiske & Nicklas Barker and Papir Added To Lineup For Mikael Åkerfeldt’s Curated 2014 Roadburn Event

We’re very excited to announce that Änglagård, Reine Fiske & Nicklas Barker and Papir have been confirmed for Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s curated 2014 Roadburn event on Friday, April 11th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

“I’m so happy to announce that Änglagård is taking part in my curated day at Roadburn 2014”, says Mikael Åkerfeldt, “If you don’t know them they are one of the three (together with Landberk and Anekdoten) pioneers of the second wave of Swedish prog /psychedelia. Just like the other two bands their sounds are heavily focused around the ghostly presence of the mellotron, yet the three bands sound nothing the same.

“I last saw them ”alive” last Summer and I was quite floored. Their show will be a winding musical journey of light and shade. Beauty and… the beast? Never mind my ramblings. They are amazing and you will love them. Just shut up!”

“Reine Fiske is in my opinion the best guitar player from Sweden and with that, one of the best in the world”, continues Mikael Åkerfeldt, “He’s got an ethereal quality that I’ve not heard anywhere else. And teaming up with the lord of dark psych and hellfire, Nicklas Barker just cannot fail.”

I’ve no idea what these cats are up to for Roadburn 2014, but I do know it’ll be fantastic. I do know there will be a Fender Stratocaster (yes, Reine?) on stage, and a mellotron. I will be there. Watching. Worshipping.”

“Denmark’s Papir will create their own extraordinary type of semi-improvised psychedelic rock by transcending the usual labels”, says Mikael Åkerfeldt, “Moody and unexpected twists and turns seems to be their trademark. Psych legends of the future? The band will appear twice at Roadburn but both sets will bear no resemblance to eachother. Exciting!”

Nothing To Make Their European Debut Appearance at Roadburn Festival 2014 with One-off Show On Thursday, April 10

We’re elated to announce that Philadelphian shoegaze four piece, Nothing, will make their debut European appearance at the 2014 festival on Thursday, April 10th at Het Patronaat in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Nothing‘s first full length album, Guilty of Everything – released this week via Relapse Records – has elicited an overwhelmingly positive reception worldwide from fans and critics alike.

The nine tracks of guitar driven, darkly introspective shoe gaze deliver uplifting, life affirming melodies with one hand, and plunge into dark, despair with the other, and we’re confident that Guilty of Everything will rank among the very best Roadburn-releated albums of 2014.

Having premiered the track ‘Bent Nail’ from Guilty of Everything earlier this year, we’re very proud to host Nothing for their first show on European soil.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Scott Kelly, “The Sun is Dreaming in the Soul” official video

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audiObelisk Transmission 035

Posted in Podcasts on February 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download


Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

I like making these podcasts because I never really know where they’re going to end up once I get started. One song leads to the next leads to the next, and before you know it, you’re all spaced out on how cool some brand new acoustic At Devil Dirt sounds coming out of the brutal dead-sludge of Coltsblood, or deep into the ultra vibes of a second hour loaded with interstellar meanderings. Some of these go brutal. This one just went far out.

That At Devil Dirt EP was just released yesterday, so if you don’t recognize the title, that’s probably why. A lot of this stuff is pretty recent, and while some of the songs you might’ve seen around, whether it was the Conan song they did the video for or the Druglord track that was streamed here with the full album, still other cuts, like the Trilogy, Black Moon Circle and Mope are new to these parts. As ever, I think it winds up with a decent blend and I hope you agree.

First Hour:
Ogre, “Nine Princes in Amber” from The Last Neanderthal (2014)
Sun Shepherd, “Awaiting the Firepit” from Procession of Trampling Hoof (2014)
Trilogy, “Invade and Occupy” from Burned Alive (2013)
Young Hunter, “Welcome to Nothing” from Split with Ohioan (2014)
Sergio Ch., “La Familia y las Guerras” from 1974 (2013)
Hull, “Legend of the Swamp Goat” from Legend of the Swamp Goat 7” (2014)
Conan, “Foehammer” from Blood Eagle (2014)
Druglord, “Feast on the Eye” from Enter Venus (2014)
Coltsblood, “Beneath Black Skies” from Into the Unfathomable Abyss (2014)

Second Hour:
At Devil Dirt, “Mirame” from Dinner is Ready (2014)
Black Moon Circle, “Enigmatic SuperBandit” from Black Moon Circle (2014)
Eidetic Seeing, “A Snake Whose Years are Long” from Against Nature (2014)
Goya, “Death’s Approaching Lullaby” from 777 (2013)
Mope, “La Caduta” from Mope (2014)
Mike Scheidt, “Rake” from Songs of Townes Van Zandt Vol. II (2014)

Total running time: 1:56:49


Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 035


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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mike Scheidt of YOB

Posted in Questionnaire on December 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

For years, I’ve been haunted by the “Proust Questionnaire” — a series of questions that was developed by French author Marcel Proust to discern personalities more or less as a parlor game. The idea is that by comparing different answers, one can discover somebody’s attitudes not just by their answers themselves, but even how they approach the answers. Do they blow it off? Go deep? Somewhere between? What does that say about the person answering?

My hope is that over time The Obelisk Questionnaire will be able to provide fodder for such understanding. The questions will be the same — the first of them left as purposefully vague as possible — and have been dealt out to a fairly wide swath of people of various levels of prominence whose work I deeply respect. Since I want to build a backlog as quickly as possible, we’ll have a new one each day this week, and I’m pleased to be able to debut the feature with Mike Scheidt of YOB this afternoon.

Since YOB made their full-length debut in 2002, they’ve gone on to stand among America’s most pivotal acts in the heavy underground. They’ve cast a wide net of influence and even up to 2011’s Atma (review here) have crafted essential, cosmic and wide-ranging songs with a deep undercurrent of spirituality. YOB are set to begin recording a new album Jan. 17, 2014, and this year, Scheidt also debuted the crust-infused side-project Vhöl, and contributed vocals to Lumbar‘s The First and Last Days of Unwelcome (review here), helping to make that one of 2013’s heaviest and most emotionally resonant offerings.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mike Scheidt

How did you come to do what you do?

I used to go and watch what was to become the band Dirtclodfight practice when I was 15. I was a massive music fan, but up until then I’d never known anyone who was actually in a band. After watching them jam once, I knew I had to do it too. I got my first electric guitar shortly afterward.

Describe your first musical memory.

My first musical memories are from when I was very little. My mom listened to the radio everyday, at home, in the car, everywhere we went. In the early ’70s, the radio kicked ass. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren,Three Dog Night, Elton John… that was “pop” music.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I have too many to name one. It would be impossible. If I had to say one, it would be the first one that I cannot remember which introduced me to music in the first place.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

The belief that people are inherently good. That I am inherently good. That belief is validated, and tested, daily.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

If we are lucky, artistic progression leads us more deeply into our Self.

How do you define success?

Anything that allows one to truly love.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I do not regret anything I have seen. Some things have been much harder than other things, but there is no turning back, no escape. To say that sounds haunting, but actually I find it comforting.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

There is quite a bit, musically and otherwise, that I would like to have the opportunity to create. Creation can be a bit of a violent affair. Struggling, fighting against all odds to make something happen. Willing it to be. I would love to be able to further foster the space within where creation is not encumbered with my shaky need to find meaning and identity in it.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I am looking forward to the time where each of my children find their calling.

YOB’s website

Lumbar on Thee Facebooks

Vhöl on Thee Facebooks

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Live Review: Uzala, Bog of the Infidel, Mount Salem and Mike Scheidt in Providence, 10.23.13

Posted in Reviews on October 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was a weird kind of night, but I like weird. Uzala were coming from the other side of the country — Boise, Idaho, and Portland, Oregon — and had brought YOB‘s Mike Scheidt along for the tour, also picking up still-nascent Chicago outfit Mount Salem on the way. The three acts weren’t exactly lacking variety between them, with Scheidt playing acoustic, Mount Salem indulging Korg-inclusive cult rock and Uzala crushing with plodding noise, but the show, which took place at Dusk in Providence, Rhode Island, was rounded out by local black metal shredders Bog of the Infidel. So yeah, kind of all over the place with a sphere of underground heavy, but still definitely a good time.

Providence is about an hour away from me. It still took me less time to get to Dusk than it ever took me to get across Manhattan and into Brooklyn from New Jersey, though, and I suspect that once I get used to the drive, I won’t find it at all unpleasant. I had Druglord‘s new tape (review forthcoming) along for the ride to set the mood and was excited to see Uzala particularly. The flyer for the show listed Scheidt at the bottom, so thinking there was a chance he’d be going on first, I took it as an instruction to get there fairly early. He did indeed wind up playing before any of the others, but even so, his set didn’t start until a little before 10PM. It was going to be a late night.

Sure enough, that’s how it played out. To get things moving and make up for lost time from the late kickoff, Scheidt played a shorter set, starting with a Townes van Zandt cover — pretty sure it was “Rake,” but don’t quote me on it — and part of a new song before going into two from last year’s solo debut, Stay Awake (review here), including the churning set-closer “Stay Awake,” which has only proved more of a landmark in Scheidt‘s songwriting in the year since the album was released and with a couple tours like this one under his belt. In that time, he’s clearly gotten more comfortable with the form of playing by himself. His set was loose,  casual and relaxed, but still conveying emotion and the sense of purpose behind the songs. It looked like something he was doing because he enjoyed it, rather than an experiment in something new, and when he fucked up the new song, he laughed it off like it didn’t matter at all, and so it didn’t.

Mount Salem formed in 2012 in Chicago, and I was going to say something about how in another couple years they’d be ready to hook up with Metal Blade‘s current cult rock fetish, but it appears they already have, so kudos. Money’s tight, but I will at least admit to picking up a CD of their self-released debut EP, Endless, and since I’d seen their name around over the last few months, I was eager to see what they had on offer. Vocalist Emily Kopplin started the set alone on stage setting a mood with keys and vocals before being joined by bassist Mark Hewett, guitarist Kyle Morrison and drummer Cody Davidson for a round of songs mostly culled from that EP. Everything sounds like Saint Vitus to me lately, but the stomp at the beginning of “Hysteria” seemed specifically indebted to “Born too Late,” though Morrison was sure to toss in lead notes and add personality to the familiar rhythm, and I found that though I had a pretty clear understanding of where Mount Salem were coming from in terms of their influences — taking that Vitus pace and offsetting it with strong cult/stoner blues chug while Kopplin topped with her powerful, versatile voice — they delivered everything I could have reasonably asked for such a new band on the road.

They had the tone, the vibe, and the approach pretty much down — not to mention the songs — and considering a lot of bands never get to that point, it’s all the more impressive that Mount Salem would essentially start out that way. The overall feel of “Good Times” was familiar within the genre, but the song nonetheless lived up to its name, and it seemed in watching them that all Mount Salem really needed to do was continue to put in work touring to refine their take. I’ll look forward to getting to know their EP, which came out earlier this year, and to finding out where their next batch of songs brings their sound. When they were done, they quickly loaded their gear off stage so that double-guitar five-piece Bog of the Infidel could get started.

My opinions on black metal vary widely depending on mood. Sometimes it’s all pretenders to the throne of two or three bands (what genre isn’t?) or dudes trying their best to sound Norwegian without thinking about why, and other times it’s ripping good fun, the brutality and extremity of something like Dark Funeral or Averse Sefira or any number of others providing its own excuse for being within a style that at this point has had three decades of development. Bog of the Infidel were tight and fast with some underpinnings of brutal groove amid a few showings of technicality — also armbands — and though I wondered why they, as the locals on an already late night, wouldn’t take the closing slot of the show and let Uzala play to what would almost certainly be the bigger crowd while also making more sense sonically coming after Mount Salem, they were solid at what they were doing and we should all enjoy anything in life as much as drummer Wraitheon seemed to delight in each blastbeat. Midnight came quickly as they ran through their set, as one imagines it would have no matter what time they’d gotten going.

After they were finished, Scheidt helped Bog of the Infidel load their gear out and Uzala set up on the quick, their logos cut into steel frontplates for their backlined cabinets. They’ve been too easy a band for me to let slide, frankly. Their 2012 split 7″ with Mala Suerte was streamed here, as was a bonus track from the cassette version of their 2011 self-titled debut full-length, but seeing them, I still didn’t feel like I’d ever really dug into what they were doing. Now a trio after parting ways with bassist Nick Phit (Graves at Sea), they split the guitar signals of Darcy Nutt and Chad Remains (whose name sounds even more like “charred remains” when said with a proper New England accent) through bass amps so the set lacked nothing for low end. Their new album, Tales of Blood and Fire, was released last week on King of the Monsters Records and they had both the tape and CD on hand and kept the setlist focused heavily on that material, only delving back to the self-titled to open with “Death Masque” and otherwise playing exclusively new cuts.

I hadn’t heard Tales of Blood and Fire yet, but it didn’t make a difference. Uzala‘s grooves were immersive on the immediate, and the periodic onslaughts of noise that came with Remains‘ solos only added to the overarching gnarl of their doom. They were, as so few bands are, an example of the difference a great drummer can make, as Chuck Watkins (also of Graves at Sea) alternately propelled and lumbered songs like “Burned” and “Dark Days,” the band hitting their own Vitus moment in the noisier wash of the former. Highlight moments came later into their set though, as the extended “Countess” proffered choice tempo shifts and a particularly right on performance from Nutt on vocals to go with the slowly unfolding riffs, and the subdued later stretches of “Tenement of the Lost” closed their set and Dusk alike. The house lights came up as Nutt, Remains and Watkins continued the quiet trance of what would be their last song (the image of the three of them continuing to pursue the demons in that song I expect will be what stays with me longest about this show), and as soon as they were done, one of the bartenders stood in the big, open window from outside and told the crowd in no uncertain terms to fuck off right out the door if they weren’t buying merch or in one of the bands. It was past one in the morning and I’ve always had a knack for following simple instructions.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Fall into Darkness 2013 Dates and Complete Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Nanotear Booking has put together a considerable and genre-crossing lineup for the 2013 incarnation of its Fall into Darkness fest, to be held from Oct. 10-13 in Portland, Oregon. From snagging the whole bill of the Orange Goblin tour on its way through town and adding local destroyers Lord Dying to the mix to bringing in Nik Turner’s Space Ritual and Trouble-offshoot The Skull to give a classic sensibility, it’s forward-thinking on a couple levels. Taking place at Mississippi Studios and the Star Theater, the final rundown on the schedule looks a bit like this.

Okay, more than a bit:


Started in 2008, the three-day March Into Darkness music festival showcased a variety of both touring and local bands, each adding their particular stamp of sonic heaviness and emotional depth that has since become Into Darkness trademark. Followed up in October 2008, Halloween weekend 2009, and each October since, the Fall Into Darkness fests have featured bands like YOB, SunnO))), Agalloch, Acid King, Earthless, Saint Vitus, Atriarch, Russian Circles, Red Fang, Wolves in the Throne Room, SubArachnoid Space, Witch Mountain, Black Cobra, and Krallice, all among an ever-growing roster.

Fall Into Darkness 2013 is now upon us. Check out the schedule.

October 10 – October 13, 2013
Mississippi Studios & Star Theater Portland

Thursday, October 10th
Mississippi Studios

Nik Turner’s Space Ritual
White Manna
Billions & Billions

8pm doors, 9pm music, 21+, $12 advance


Friday, October 11th
Mississippi Studios

Orange Goblin
Holy Grail
Lord Dying

8pm doors, 9pm music, 21+, $13 advance


Saturday, October 12th
Star Theater

Behold… The Arctopus
Eight Bells

8pm doors, 9pm music, 21+, $12 advance
Tickets: TBA


Sunday, October 13th
Mississippi Studios

The Skull
Hammers of Misfortune
Mike Scheidt

8pm doors, 9pm music, 21+, $12 advance

More info & history:

SubRosa, Live at Fall into Darkness 2012

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audiObelisk: Listen to Roadburn 2012 Audio Streams from Sir Admiral Cloudesley Shovell, Atlantis, Black Tusk, Christian Mistress, Doom, Mars Red Sky, Red Fang and Mike Scheidt

Posted in audiObelisk on August 3rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

There’s a few in this latest batch of Roadburn 2012 audio streams that I’ve really been looking forward to hearing. I stood and watched their whole set, but Mars Red Sky played a new song at the festival and I’d like to get another glimpse of what might be in store on their next album, and acts I didn’t get to see like Sir Admiral Cloudesley Shovell and Black Tusk should be fun to check out. Thanks as always to WalterJurgen, Marcel van de Vondervoort and the entire Roadburn crew.  Hope you have as much fun as I do with these:

Sir Admiral Cloudesley ShovellRoadburn 2012

AtlantisRoadburn 2012

Black TuskRoadburn 2012

Christian MistressRoadburn 2012

DoomRoadburn 2012

Mars Red SkyRoadburn 2012

Red FangRoadburn 2012

Mike ScheidtRoadburn 2012

Read The Obelisk’s coverage of Roadburn 2012 here.

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Live Review: Mike Scheidt and Nate Hall in Philly, 07.22.12

Posted in Reviews on July 24th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve never encountered a city I’ve wanted to live in as much as I want to live in Philadelphia. This time, as The Patient Mrs. and I sat at the bar Abbaye and I ate a cheesesteak marinated in Chimay beer with roasted garlic aioli and drank a Yards IPA from a cask, the thought seemed even less realistic — like if we tried to get a place there, Philly itself would catch on and bar my entry. A pipe dream. Among many.

We headed down early to catch YOB frontman Mike Scheidt and U.S. Christmas frontman Nate Hall at Kung Fu NecktieThe Patient Mrs. coming out for a show is a rarity, on a Sunday especially, but it being a mostly acoustic night and it being Philadelphia — for which I think it’s safe to say she at least in part shares my affection — I was able to persuade. Hall and Scheidt had been in Brooklyn the night prior, but as I was at the Brighton for Halfway to Gone, I’d been unable to attend, though I knew from reading SabbathJeff‘s review on the forum that it was an early evening. That took some of the edge off the two-hour drive to get there.

It was just the two of them on the bill, so when I got to Kung Fu Necktie a bit before 8PM, I was early. Hall would go on first, at 9, and Scheidt would follow at about 9:35. They’d be done by 10:30, because at 11PM, a DJ was coming in for a late set. I guess that kind of thing happens. The Patient Mrs. and I sat at the bar and had a couple expertly-poured Boddingtons and enjoyed the dulcet freneticism of King Crimson over the Kung Fu Necktie P.A. The course of the evening would not be nearly as restless.

I’ve made no secret through the years of not being a fan of U.S. Christmas. Some bands just don’t click for some people, and it seems like no matter how much acclaim they get or however much on paper I should be so into them they could charge me rent, I remain stern in my position. I didn’t review last year’s The Valley Path and though it’s a friend putting it out, I’ll likely skip this year’s reissue of Bad Heart Bull as well. I’m sorry, but it’s not my job to like every band, and I’d sooner paint Williamsburg with my brains out the side of my skull than go back on something I’ve written without a genuine change of heart.

That said, earlier this year when I heard Nate Hall‘s solo debut, A Great River (on Neurot; track streaming here), I appreciated its sparseness and cohesiveness of atmosphere, and found Hall‘s ability to translate U.S. Christmas‘ ambient regionalism to a singer-songwriter context both impressive conceptually and an enjoyable listen. I liked it, to be clearer. And having liked it, I was looking forward to hearing how Hall would be able to bring those songs to life on stage. He did well.

Decked out in journeyman braids and a hat that, if you told me he’d stolen it from a museum I’d both believe you and be like, “awesome,” Hall ran through several of the tracks on A Great River. At times the reverb felt too heavy on his vocals — though that’s loyal to the sound of the album as well — but the a capella “When the Stars Begin to Fall” was nothing if not a bold inclusion, and he more than pulled it off, and “A Great River” was all the more powerful for the stripped-down, acoustic-only presentation it got, Hall‘s subdued, almost mumbled vocals sounding well within their rights to be tired beyond their years. He covered Townes van Zandt and brought Scheidt on for a song before closing out, and wrapped his short time on stage as unpretentiously as he’d started it, putting his guitar back in the case with his name spraypainted on it and walking to the back of the venue to sell some merch.

Two chairs had been situated on the Kung Fu Necktie stage, and the mics were already in position — and hell, by the time Hall was done, Scheidt had already been on stage playing as well — so there was no real changeover or anything like that between sets. Nonetheless, a short break felt natural. Apparently Hammers of Misfortune and The Gates of Slumber were playing nearby with locals Wizard Eye opening, and that may have cut into the attendance some, but there were heads here and there and The Patient Mrs. went so far as to laughingly point out shortly before Scheidt went on that she wasn’t the only lady present. It was true, though I didn’t know whether to congratulate her or what.

I’m a lucky man.

Scheidt‘s solo debut, Stay Awake, was pretty close in my mind after reviewing it just last week, but he, on the other hand, seems to have already moved well beyond it. Where the prior two times I’ve seen him do sets apart from YOB (in Brooklyn and at Roadburn), he’s barely started before he’s announced his inexperience in the form, this time he sat down and said, “I’m gonna do a few different things here,” thanked the crowd and immediately opened with two finger-picked instrumentals, unrepentantly folksy, and in the case of the second — which he shouted out to the teacher who taught him the technique back in Oregon — joyful. The surprises didn’t stop there.

From the album, which came out last month, he played only two songs — “Until the End of Everything” and “Stay Awake” — and both of them he delivered with a clarity and confidence (would be hard to call it “swagger” in the context of psychedelic folk) that even two months prior simply wasn’t there. Straight-backed, he projected his vocals when he wanted to project them, or otherwise slouched, leaning on his guitar at a few points like it might be the only thing holding him up. The spoken part introducing “Until the End of Everything,” which I singled out in my review of the record, he positively nailed, and in a bit of tour camaraderie, he returned the favor paid him and brought Hall back on stage for a song as well.

That gave the show a bit of symmetry, sure, but their cover of the Rolling Stones‘ “Dead Flowers” — they nodded to Townes van Zandt‘s version, which some might recognize from the final moments of The Big Lebowski — made for a fitting and charming apex for the evening, with Scheidt‘s take on “Stay Awake” serving as the closer for his set and final affirmation of how well and how quickly he’s adapted to solo artistry. Not only did he perform the song well, or deliver the lines effectively, but he had a palpable sense of enjoyment while he did it. Heads nodded to the acoustic groove — his riffs are his riffs, after all; that’s a hard impulse to fight and everyone there seemed to decide not to fight it in unison — and he successfully conveyed the emotional dynamics at the heart of the song: Frustration, persistence, fatigue, persistence, in cycle and simultaneous.

I wished him safe travels and bought a copy of U.S. ChristmasSalt the Wound 2012 reissue (I already had a physical copy of A Great River) and the Stay Awake CD from Hall before splitting. Sure enough, it was about 10:30. The Patient Mrs. and I were home by 12:15AM — which felt like the miracle work of a cosmos that wanted me to not be even more of a miserable bastard this entire week — and asleep no latter than I probably would’ve been anyway. Philly wins again. Philly always wins as far as I’m concerned. The show was even better than the cheesesteak, and for the evening, the company and the performance, a purer win than I’ve had in a while.

Extra pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Mike Scheidt, Stay Awake: No Matter What Comes

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Much of the derisive end of the response I’ve seen to YOB frontman Mike Scheidt’s first solo outing — given the title Stay Awake and released last month via Thrill Jockey – seems to center around the simple point that, “This isn’t YOB.” This is true. One imagines that had the Eugene, Oregon, native wanted to follow-up YOB’s 2011 Atma full-length, no one would’ve argued. The quick turnaround would’ve been hailed near universally and it would’ve been a great way to continue the momentum from their run of shows opening for Tool and a way to mark their ascendancy as a touring act (new West Coast dates were just announced). Thinking about that, maybe part of the appeal of doing an album like Stay Awake for Scheidt is the purposeful defiance of that expectation, checking that forward push and not losing sight of a personal creative drive. I don’t know that to be the case, but it makes for easy conjecture. Most pivotally, what the album does is balance neo-folk intimacy with Scheidt’s own particular psychedelic lushness, and amid a slew of heavy/doom solo outings – this year alone has brought acoustic works from Nate Hall of U.S. Christmas and Scott Kelly, as well as Kelly’s three-way split with Wino and Neurosis bandmate Steve Von Till tribute to Townes Van Zandt – it’s the flourishes that work to distinguish what is by now a familiar form at its root. Couple that with Scheidt’s relative inexperience in the style – he has said on stage that he’s very new to it – and Stay Awake can’t help but be individualized, whatever aspects of others’ work it might draw on. Some Kelly influence is there, and the interplay of electric backing chords and acoustic picking that forms the musical basis of “Until the End of Everything” is something I tend always to attribute in my head to Ben Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance or perhaps even Angels of Light, but Scheidt maintains his wavering melodic vocal delivery and puts it to use in a variety of constants on the six-track/43-minute Stay Awake, which was recorded by the venerable Tad Doyle at his Studio Witch Ape.

That it’s a genuine studio production would on paper seem to run counter to the album’s bedroom folk intimacy, but in terms of the actual sound of the record, it doesn’t. Whatever room space is added to the third cut, “In Your Light,” the solitary mood pervades, and that’s true from the gradual fade-in of opener “When Time Forgets Time,” which keeps Scheidt’s unique (though increasingly imitated) riff patterning despite the shift in context. Of all the songs on Stay Awake, the first is probably the closest he comes to YOB’s style, but he’s neither near it nor a stranger to straightforward opening tracks – see any of the last four YOB records – so don’t think I’m making a direct comparison. “When Time Forgets Time” does much to establish the overarching aesthetic, but little to set up the dynamics that play out over the course of the ensuing Stay Awake, fading out as it came as though we’ve just glimpsed a piece of a larger whole. The shift toward more radical experimentation first shows itself on “Until the End of Everything,” which dedicates the first 1:45 of its total 4:49 to a slow spoken word piece formed at least in part from the lyrics on which a breathy Scheidt reminds his listeners that “Reason has no place in this,” and “Until the end of everything/You will be loved.” The turn from the momentum of the first track might be set as an analogy for the album itself, but that spoken part also marks a misstep – not so much in concept or recording, but in execution – and it’s the moment on Stay Awake where Scheidt’s inexperience with singer-songwriter material feels most apparent. By the time his jarringly distorted electric guitar kicks in at 1:46, the words he’s saying feel forced and overperformed. The reason I say this relates to inexperience is because once the song starts and the lyrical cycle begins again, that’s not the case. “Until the End of Everything,” on which he backs himself vocally and touches on harmonies here and there, marks one of Stay Awake’s most effective arrangements and most lasting melodies. Even the feedback shortly before the four-minute mark and that fades back and forth through the last minute of the song feels purposeful and impeccably placed behind Scheidt’s soft picking. Really, it’s the pacing and, at the end, the drama in the spoken delivery that derails the beginning and forces the music to reclaim the momentum that “When Time Forgets Time” set into motion, which, thankfully, it does. (I’ll say here as well that in the two times I’ve seen Scheidt perform “Until the End of Everything” live, he’s delivered the spoken part quicker and more effectively.)

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