Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I swear one of these days — and one of these days soon — I’ll be putting up a vinyl review for Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter One, which launched their series of underground-scouring splits earlier this year by righteously pairing Geezer and Borracho, with riffy results. Not that it’s hurt sales any. I think the thing was gone before it was actually out. But it will happen. And it will need to happen even sooner because Ripple‘s already got the follow-up installment, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Two, in progress.
The Joseph Rudell cover art for The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Two has been unveiled, and in addition to lining up with Chapter One when placed next to it, it shows off a lot more of the world in which it’s all set. This time around, Pittsburgh’s Supervoid and Minneapolis’ Red Desert will represent Heavy’s second coming, and much like the cover itself, it’s cool to see the series working quickly to expand stylistically.
Word on a release date? Not yet from what I’ve seen, but I’d guess not before December or early next year. I’ll let you know when I hear more:
Our “Second Coming of Heavy” series got off to a banging start with an instant sell out of all Editions of Chapter One. Now Chapter Two is heading our way. But before we get there, it’s time to release our “reserve” copies of Chapter One. These are copies we held onto in case of any lost postage or damages. Now we’ll let them go.
Sorry, no Resurrection Edition are left, but we have a scant few Risen OBI and Black Virgin Editions. This is your last chance to get onboard the Second Coming of Heavy series before Chapter Two comes out. And remember, all chapters in the series have interlocking spine art, which lines up to create one killer image!
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Pittsburgh newcomers Monolith Wielder have announced they’ll release their self-titled debut full-length this fall. The album was recorded by Jason Jouver (Don Caballero) and mastered by Jack Endino (Windhand, High on Fire, etc.), and some preliminary audio has been posted in the form of unmastered mixes for “Angels Hide” and “Illumination,” which you can hear below. The four-piece position themselves between stoner and doom, which is fair enough, and get underway with some familiar but welcome swing and a touch of grunge-style aggression.
You can hear the latter particularly on “Angels Hide,” which is longer and slower than its counterpart as Monolith Wielder make sure to show off a bit of variety in the songwriting while still keeping it universally heavy. Their backstory and the audio follow:
Monolith Wielder was formed in Pittsburgh, PA in 2014 when guitarist Justin Gizzi (Molasses Barge) approached singer/guitarist Gero von Dehn (ZOM, Von Dane) about forming a new, heavy project. With the schooled and skilled Ben Zerbe (Mandrake Project) on drums the band had a foundation with which to lay forth doom laden riffs lathered with stoner rock grooves. Rounding out the four piece would be bass man Ray Ward, formerly the six string axe man in Dope Lake.
With the lineup intact the band went about writing their first collection of powerful, earthshaking jams rich in honesty and intensity.
Spring of 2015 found Monolith Wielder entering Plus/Minus Studio to record the debut full length. The capable hands and ears of Jason Jouver were behind the console to oversee the heavy storm that he would be tasked with corralling. The final step of mastering the record would be handled by Jack Endino, who recorded classics by Nirvana, Soundgarden, High on Fire as well as the latest by Windhand.
The self titled Monolith Wielder debut has an expected released in the fall 2015.
Pittsburgh riff metallers Supervoid initially released the single “Against Sunrise” last April. In fact, you can still download it name-your-price-style from their Bandcamp. The song was recorded for inclusion in the soundtrack to the locally-produced zombie film, The Other Side, and the four-piece — who may have still been a five-piece when the track was recorded — played last Dec. at a special event for the movie, billed as “concert and a movie” the Hollywood Theater in Dormont. At the time, it was the first show Supervoid had played in six months.
Footage from that set and footage from the recording sessions for “Against Sunrise” has been put together into a new clip by Team Orchard, the production company also behind The Other Side — which is on Amazon and Playstation and iTunes and Vudu and is coming to DVD early next year with the “Against Sunrise” video as bonus material — and it gives a sense of how they work both live on stage and in the studio. Less screamed than some of Supervoid‘s material, “Against Sunrise” remains a catchy thriller with a metallic edge, and whether or not you’ve heard it in the year-plus since it was first made public, it remains worth the time.
Supervoid will take part in the next installment of Ripple Music‘s split series, The Second Coming of Heavy, sharing a vinyl release with Red Desert. Last I saw the test pressings were done, so keep an eye out for the announcement of the release date, which can’t be too far off.
Until then, enjoy:
Supervoid, “Against Sunrise” official video
Back in March of 2014 we recorded Against Sunrise to be used in a local zombie film The Other Side. The awesome production team was kind enough to record us in the studio and also our live theater performance. The video is now live on youtube, and you can watch the movie on most major on demand outlets. Big thanks to Orchard Place Productions for the video!
[NOTE: Press play above to hear the full stream of Carousel’s 2113. Thanks to the band, label and PR for letting me host the premiere.]
Don’t let its minimalist cover fool you, Carousel‘s 2113 is brimming with life. The Pittsburgh four-piece’s second offering through Tee Pee Records after a raucous debut two years ago with Jeweler’s Daughter (reviewed and streamed here), the nine-song/46-minute collection also marks the arrival of guitarist Matt Goldsborough, who doubles in labelmates The Skull. His addition to the lineup with returning guitarist/vocalist Dave Wheeler, bassist Jim Wilson and drummer Jake Leger, is even more noteworthy because, while Goldsborough is is perhaps best known for his stint replacing Victor Griffin a couple years back in Pentagram, Leger also doubles as the drummer for reunited heavy rockers Bang, so more than most who work in the style, Carousel can claim direct lineage to the classic form from which they take inspiration.
Accordingly, 2113 makes for some of the most seamless ’70s modernization I’ve heard since Stone Axe, songs like “Man Like Me” and the talkbox-infused “Photograph” digging deep into a ’70s-sytle aesthetic and rhythm without necessarily needing the vintage production trappings that others sometimes take on. As was the case with Jeweler’s Daughter, Carousel work smoothly as a two-guitar foursome, this time around Wheeler and Goldsborough finding harmonies right from the start with opener “Trouble” that reinforce the timelessness that Thin Lizzy once so readily tapped. It’s a party vibe early, but the bulk of 2113 isn’t so easily caged into one mindset or another, much to the benefit of the album as a whole.
Wheeler‘s frontman presence is a major force throughout, but ultimately it’s his and Goldsborough‘s guitars both that lead the charge, while Wilson and Leger lock in alternately swinging and driving grooves to push songs like “Photograph” forward at an efficient but not at all rushed-sounding clip through its several included solos. The shift in approach between that cut and the subsequent “Buried Alive in Your Arms” — which almost beats the listener over the head with its hook and thus proves among the more immediately memorable inclusions — signals a sense of structural variety that continues throughout the record, but wherever they wind up, Carousel keep 2113 sounding consistent and largely effortless, swagger perhaps the album’s most unifying theme.
Fitting enough, Wilson gives a highlight bass performance on “Jim’s Song,” and the shortest track (at 2:54) winds up smartly placed to hold onto the momentum the band have thus-far built leading into the centerpiece of the tracklisting, “Highway Strut,” which is about as close as Carousel come to a mission statement on the record. Elsewhere, on “Buried Alive in Your Arms” or the later “Man Like Me,” or on the bonus track Joe Walsh cover “Turn to Stone,” one finds tales of loves lost and found, but “Highway Strut” feels like it’s in the middle for a reason. Also likely the opener of the vinyl side B, it’s a classic road song in the Grand Funk tradition of the sort that Dixie Witch once did so well, and while by the time it comes around, Leger has already broken out the cowbell once on “Photograph,” it couldn’t be more appropriate than it is highlighting the titular strut of the centerpiece.
“Strange Revelation” is about as close as Carousel get to psychedelia, with some added spaciousness in the guitar, but the prevailing vibe remains more boozy than druggy. Starting quiet, it trades back and forth for the first couple minutes until locking itself in around the halfway point through its seven-minute run, building to a satisfying apex that prefaces the title-track soon enough to follow “Man Like Me,” which like “Jim’s Song” on side A, is smartly located where it is. In this case, its straightforward thrust, dual leads and catchy chorus not only stand on their own, but act as a buffer between “Strange Revelation” and “2113.” If you want to go one farther, one can hear a touch of Joe Walsh in the guitar progression as well, tying the original song to the finale cover, but most importantly, “Man Like Me” is strong enough to sound like more than just an interlude between 2113‘s two longest tracks, the latter of which checks in at 7:42 well spent between AC/DC chug and some more of that highway strut they noted earlier.
As ever, Wheeler and Goldsborough affirm the forward position of the guitars, a layer of acoustics adding a sentimental touch to the second half of the track, which is entirely instrumental and topped with interwoven solos prior to a long fadeout. I don’t know whether “Turn to Stone” is included on the vinyl edition of the album — I’d assume not, but one wouldn’t want to feign certainty — but they fit the cut by the former Eagles/James Gang frontman smoothly into the overarching flow either way, even if after the fade of “2113,” there’s not much left that really needs to be said. It’s a quick listen, with or without “Turn to Stone” at the end of it, and Carousel‘s second makes a more than suitable answer to their debut, finding them as players working in more nuanced ideas without losing the natural spirit so essential to what they do.
Posted in Reviews on June 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Day one down and feeling good so far. Day two continues the thread of mixing more known quantities with bands either self-releasing or putting out demos, etc., and I like that. More than last time around — last quarter, if you want to use the business-y sounding language for it — I tried to really get a balance across this batch of reviews, posted yesterday and coming up over the next couple days. We’ll see how it works out when it’s over. It remains a ton of stuff, and I hope you dig it. Day two starts right now.
Quarterly review #11-20:
Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh
Pushing their way to the fore of Melbourne’s heavy surge, double-guitar four-piece Horsehunter proffer oppressive tonal crush on the four tracks of their 2LP Magnetic Eye Records debut, Caged in Flesh. The story goes that, unsatisfied the initial recordings weren’t heavy enough, the band – guitarists Michael Harutyanyan (also vocals) and Dan McDonald, bassist/vocalist Himi Stringer and drummer Nick Cron – went back into the studio and redid the entire thing. Mission accomplished. By the time 16-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Stoned to Death” is done, lungs are suitably deflated, spines are cracked, skulls cleaved, and so on. They’re hardly the only ones in the world to conjure formidable tonal heft, but it’s the deft changes in vocals – clean here, shouts there, more abrasive at the start of the title-track – and the sense of atmosphere in the three-minute penultimate interlude that really distinguish Horsehunter, as well as how smoothly that atmosphere integrates with the pummel in the second half of closer “Witchery,” attention to detail and awareness of the need for more than just sonic weight boding well for future progression.
A staggeringly heavy debut full-length from Sacramento, CA, five-piece Church, Unanswered Hymns was initially released digitally by the band and quickly picked up for a cassette issue by Transylvanian Tapes and forthcoming LP through Battleground Records. One gets the sense listening to the three extended tracks – 19-minute opener “Dawning” being the longest of the bunch (immediate points) – that those won’t be the last versions to come. Psychedelic doom blends seamlessly with vicious sludge extremity, creating a morass engulfing in its tones, spacious in its breadth and unrepentantly heavy, making it one of 2015’s best debut releases, hands down, and a glorious revelry in bleak tectonics that challenges the listener to match its level of melancholy without giving into an impulse for post-Pallbearer emotive theatrics. As thrilling as they are plodding, expect the echoes of “Dawning,” “Stargazer” and “Offering” to resonate for some time to come, and should Church show any predilection for touring in the next couple years, they have the potential to make a genuine impact on American doom. Yes, I mean it.
Recorded in a day and released by Grimoire Records, the four-track Without Form is slated as the debut from Baltimore atmospheric doomers Corpse Light, but the band have had tracks come out in drips and drabs since getting their start as Ophidian in mid-2012, even if this is their first proper release. Either way, “The Fool” sets up an immediate and grim ambience, the churning lurch from guitarists Keiran Holmes and Don Selner and bassist Aurora Raiten set to roll by Lawrence Grimes (The Osedax) and given earthy aggression by the vocals of Jim Webb. “Lying in State” fleshes out these morose aggro vibes, but it’s with the drop-everything-and-kill peak of the subsequent “R Complex” that Corpse Light hit their angriest mark. If Without Form was just about that, it would be the highlight, but the album’s 29 minutes have more to offer than pissed off tonally-weighted post-hardcore, as closer “Kenophobia”’s clever turns and deceptive forward momentum demonstrate, though a touch of that kind of thing never hurts either.
Heavy psych four-piece Sunder will make their debut this summer through Tee Pee and Crusher Records with a 7” for “Cursed Wolf,” so consider this notice of the tracks on their not-for-public-consumption demo a heads up on things to come. Their “Deadly Flower” was streamed here this past April, and the band’s previous incarnation, The Socks, released their self-titled debut (review here) on Small Stone in 2014, but with songs like the key-laced stomper “Bleeding Trees,” the ‘70s rusher “Against the Grain,” and the Uncle Acid-style swinging “Daughter of the Snows,” the Lyon, France, outfit continue to refine a style drawing together different vibes of the psychedelic era. “Deadly Flower” was also distinguished by its key work, and as for “Cursed Wolf” itself, the melody reminds of proto-psych Beatles singles (thinking “Rain” specifically), but the groove still holds firm to a sense of weight that’s thoroughly modern, and by that I mean it sounds like 1972. Keep an eye out.
Granted not everyone is going to make this immediate association, but when I first saw the moniker T-Tops, I couldn’t help think of like C-grade generic stonerisms, songs about beer and pretending to be from the South and all that. If you experienced something similar in seeing the name, rest easy. The Pittsburgh trio of guitarist/vocalist Pat Waters (ex-The Fitt, Wormrigg), bassist Jason Orr (Wormrigg) and drummer Jason Jouver (ex-Don Caballero) are down with far more sinister punk and noise on their self-titled, self-released debut full-length, riding, shooting straight and speaking truth on cuts like “Wipe Down” and the catchy “Pretty on a Girl” after the tense sampling of “A Certain Cordial Exhilaration” turns over the power-push to “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’.” “Ralphie” is probably an inside-joke if not a Christmas Story reference, but point is these guys are way less about-to-sing-about-muscle-cars than the name implies and their tight, crisp rhythmic turns come accompanied by vicious tonal force and an utter lack of bullshit, which is a scenario far preferable to that which one might otherwise expect.
Issued by Aqulamb in the imprint’s standard 100-page art book/download format, the self-titled debut from fellow Brooklynites The Space Merchants seeks to draw a line between psychedelic rock and country. And not pretend country like people with a Johnny Cash fetish because he covered that Nine Inch Nails song one time – actual, bright, pastoral, classic country. Call the results psychtwang and applaud the effort, which works oddly well in a thoroughly vintage context to come across on “Mainline the Sun” like something from a lost ‘60s variety show. Parts of “One Cut Like the Moon” and the later fuzz of “One Thousand Years of Boredom” give away their modernity, but The Space Merchants’ push toward a stylistic niche suits them well, and the intertwined vocal arrangements from guitarist Michael Guggino, bassist Aileen Brophy and keyboardist Ani Monteleone – Carter Logan drums to round out the four-piece – add to the rich, welcoming feel that remains prevalent even as the eight-minute “Where’s the Rest of Life” slips into wah-soaked noise to finish out.
The undercurrent of black metal coursing beneath the surface of Etiolated’s debut full-length, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies, eventually comes to the surface in 10-minute opener “Internal Abyss” and 16-minute eponymous closer, which bookends, but in part it’s the tension of waiting for those rampaging surges that keeps one hooked to the Armus Productions release. Guttural death growls echo up from dense tonal reaches, and tempo shifts, whether in those longer tracks or three-minute lumbering slice “Futility” are fluid, the North Carolina five-piece executing a slow-grinding chug in centerpiece “Exsanguinate,” which seems like a murk without end until the 1:47 “For Your Hell” kicks into a speedier, more blackened rush, guest vocalist Ryan McCarthy joining guitarist/vocalists James Storelli and Walls, bassist Cody Rogers and drummer Elliot Thompson in furthering the already prevalent sense of extremism before “Etiolated,” after a surprisingly peaceful if brooding midsection, plods the album to a close. To say “not for the faint of heart” would be putting it lightly, but if I had a vest and if Etiolated had patches, the two parties would definitely meet up at some point in the near future.
It has not taken long for the discography of UK psych jammers Blown Out to become a populated murky cosmos of its own. Planetary Engineering is released on Oaken Palace Records and finds the three-piece of guitarist Mike Vest (also Bong, etc.), bassist John-Michael Hedley (also Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs) and drummer Matt Baty (also the head of Box Records) exploring two mesmeric and sprawling instrumentals – one per side – that bend and flourish and hypnotize in organically-concocted swirl. Side A’s “Transcending Deep Infinity” tops 20 minutes and shifts from its spacey build to a low key groove at about 7:30 in, pulsing forward once more amid head-turning repetition, deep echoes and longform nod, culminating in a two-minute fadeout that brings forward “Thousand Years in the Sunshine,” an immediate bass groove and interstellar swirl no less trance-inducing than its predecessor. Cyclical drum fills morph over time behind the guitar and bass, and Planetary Engineering seems to push continually further out until, of course, it disintegrates, presumably as it crosses the galactic barrier.
I was fortunate enough to have been in attendance at Het Patronaat in Tilburg when French post-black metallers Les Discrets took the stage at Roadburn 2013. As such, it’s with some trepidation I approach their Live at Roadburn recording on Prophecy Productions – the impression they made live wasn’t something I’d want potentially spoiled or brought to earth by a document proving it was just another set. With Neige of Alcest on bass with guitarist/vocalist Fursy Teyssier, Les Discrets proved to be something really special to those who, like me, were there to catch them, and the eight-track Live at Roadburn – fortunately – captures both the majestic lushness they brought with them and the underlying weight that seemed to add impact to the material. What might sound like post-production mixing on “L’Echappée” or the wash of “Chanson D’Automne” isn’t – it really was that beautiful and that perfectly balanced coming from the stage. A vastly underrated act and a document that reminds of how stellar they were without sullying the memory in the slightest.
Brooklynite foursome Beast Modulus seem to care less about meshing with ideas of genre than sticking them in a meatgrinder and seeing what comes out. To wit the riotous chugging of “Cowboy Caligula,” and the blackened thrust of “WaSaBi!” on their self-released, self-titled outing, which leads to dueling growls and screams on the tonally weighted post-hardcore “Fabulous,” and the appropriately mathy turns of the thrashing “Tyranny of Numbers.” Inventive in their stylizations and in where the six songs included on the release actually go – hint: they go to “heavy” – the lineup of vocalist Kurt Applegate, guitarist Owen Burley, bassist Jesse Adelson and drummer Jody Smith have some post-Dillinger Escape Plan vibe in the calculated chaos of “Kalashnikov,” but closer “Killing Champion” is too impatient to even be held by that, the prevailing manic angularity of Beast Modulus ultimately crafting its own identity from the physical assault the music seems intent on perpetrating upon the listener.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
A wiser person than myself once opined that there are two kinds of people in this world, Rush fans and everyone else. Pittsburgh heavy rockers Carousel obviously know their target demographic lies within the former contingent. Their second album for Tee Pee Records, 2113 — as in, one more than 2112 — will be released on Aug. 28. The Scion Rock Fest veterans will have released their debut on the label almost exactly two years prior in the form of Jeweler’s Daughter (reviewed/streamed here), a record no less leggy than its cover art and which has stood up to any good times its been asked to complement since.
2113 is nothing if not an ambitious title, but with the arrival of Pentagram/The Skull guitarist Matt Goldsborough to the lineup — he’s not the only one with connections to a classic band; drummer Jake Leger doubles in Bang — Carousel look to step out beyond their debut, or at very least troll some Rush fans by covering Joe Walsh, which is no less entertaining.
The PR wire speaks:
CAROUSEL to Release New Album, 2113, August 28
Hard-Rocking PA Group Set to Unleash Follow-Up to Celebrated Debut, Jeweler’s Daughter
Pittsburgh hard rock heroes CAROUSEL will release their sophomore LP 2113 on August 28 via Tee Pee Records. The eagerly-anticipated follow up to CAROUSEL’s revered debut, Jeweler’s Daughter, 2113 is a midnight binge-blur of muscular, dynamic R’N’R, filled with timeless hooks and killer, scorching solos. On the new album, CAROUSEL welcomes new guitarist Matt Goldsborough — also of Pentagram and The Skull — into the band, joining the formidable lineup of Dave Wheeler (guitar, vocals), Jake Leger (drums) and Jim Wilson (bass).
CAROUSEL is a band that knows how to capture your attention; the group has the unique ability to filter the music of their childhood heroes through a contemporary lens. On 2113, the four-piece unleashes charged-up rhythms and wicked dual-guitar harmonies that lay a strong foundation for the shining voice and catchy choruses of front man Dave Wheeler. 2113 is the ultimate nighttime driving music; a head-turning blend of Casablanca-era KISS and prime time Thin Lizzy with one foot in the past and the other firmly secured in the future. 2113 also contains a “hidden” bonus cover of the Joe Walsh classic, “Turn to Stone”.
2113 Track listing: 1.) Trouble 2.) Photograph 3.) Buried Alive in Your Arms 4.) Jim’s Song 5.) Highway Strut 6.) Strange Revelation 7.) Man Like Me 8.) 2113 9.) Turn to Stone (Joe Walsh cover)
Later this year, Pittsburgh riff metallers Supervoid will release a split with Minneapolis four-piece Red Desert on Ripple Music as part of the label’s noble oh-my-god-there-are-too-many-bands-okay-fine-we’ll-just-put-out-stuff-from-everyone series of splits titled The Second Coming of Heavy. They recently tracked new material with Matt Very at Very Tight Recordings to include for their part and, diligent sirs that they are, video recorded what seems more or less like the entire experience. Or at least enough of it to edit it down and give everyone a little glimpse at what it was like in the studio.
Seems like a pretty laid back atmosphere, which always helps. If you’ve ever seen Supervoid‘s press shots, you know they’re not inclined to take themselves too seriously — though in my experience even the most heads-down-get-to-business session has a tendency to devolve into running gags, dick jokes, etc. — so it’s not much of a surprise they’d be having a good time while recording. Even better though is the fact that, as you hear the song being built in the beginning, one part at a time, the second half brings a (partial) reveal of the finished track along with a montage of its making. So you get a taste of the completed new music as well as a look at how it came together.
If I’m not mistaken, this will be Supervoid‘s first outing as a four-piece after quietly parting ways with guitarist Dave following 2013’s Filaments long-player (review here) and the subsequent 2014 digi-single, “Against Sunrise,” so I wouldn’t be surprised if some sonic changes are in store as they move from two guitars to one. Filaments is mostly sold-out, but there are a few limited-edition hand-made digipaks available at their Bandcamp, which will likely be gone by the time they make the trip to Long Island for the Eye of the Stoned Goat 5 fest in June. More info on that here.
Posted in Reviews on October 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
…Or at least near Pittsburgh, if not actually “in” it. Mr. Smalls Theatre, a righteously converted church with cavernous ceilings, incense smell baked into the walls and, thankfully, a spacious balcony, seems to be across the river from downtown, so I’m not sure what the exact designation is. Millvale, maybe? Anyway, it’s damn close to Pittsburgh, and that’ll have to do.
When I first got inside, I went and talked to the sound guy for a minute, just to say hi, cool room, etc. He asked which band I was with, and I said I was touring with Kings Destroy but I didn’t play, and he goes, “Just a hanger on?” That felt good. Deeply good. I think I said something like, “Yeah, basically,” and asked him for the wifi password. For what it’s worth, the sound all night was excellent. As I said last post, I was feeling pretty under the weather for this one, so I stayed on that balcony for the duration. The show was the four touring bands — Kings Destroy, Bang, Radio Moscow and Pentagram, in that order — and the place got fairly packed out by the time Radio Moscow went on, but even for Kings Destroy with an early 7:30PM start, there were people there. They were thanked for showing up early.
Granted, I was in a haze anyway — I kept nodding off before the bands went on, sitting in my chair on the balcony — but it was a very different experience watching the show from such a distance. More like a clip on YouTube or something. The energy was still there, but the physical sense of being away from it made it another kind of appeal. Add to that the pressure in my sinuses, which with the earplugs in made the whole thing kind of otherworldly as Kings Destroy started up with “Old Yeller” and got the show rolling in their lurching kind of way. “The Toe” followed, and while people were still coming in, I could see up front they were getting into it. A bird’s eye view of what I’ve been able to sense happening all along. I felt a little bit like I was doing an anthropological study.
The tour is in go-mode, so it wasn’t a surprise that Kings Destroy or anyone who played after them owned the stage as well as they did. It didn’t really matter how many people were there at any point, they were doing their show and did it well with nearly a week of every-night plowing through behind them. “Smokey Robinson” from the new album was one of three newer songs to be aired, with “Mr. O” given a much appreciated shout to yours truly and “Embers” following. Three really killer songs that represent the new record well in being some of their best work to date. “Blood of Recompense” closed and Bang came out after a long changeover and gave their set a workout. They’ve played the same songs every night, but they’re more locked in now than they were when the tour started in Chicago, Frank Ferrara, Frankie Gilcken and Jake Leger continuously smoothing out their classic sound, Leger blending seamlessly with the two original members in giving a fresh swing to the warm grooves, paced well and easy-rolling.
Radio Moscow absolutely scorched. Opening with “So Alone,” they tore into “Broke Down” and the dangerously catchy “Death of a Queen” from this year’s Magical Dirt LP, the always-welcome “Just Don’t Know” and “Open Your Eyes” — I think — before having their set cut short. That was a bummer and the crowd expressed their discontent in a round of boos that turned to cheers in support for the band. Nothing was broken, nothing out of order — guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs, bassist Anthony Meier and drummer Paul Marrone had been tearing ass through their frenetic heavy psych jams of which, even from as far away as I was, I could feel the vibrancy. Apparently the show was just running late and they were the ones who took the hit. Still, even the chance to see them play any songs at all was a win for Mr. Smalls, which showed appreciation in a fervent round of applause.
I was fading fast. I’d been nodding off during Bang — that’s not a slight on their performance, just noting that I was having a hard time keeping my head up. I knew I wanted to stick around for at least the start of Pentagram, and I did do that, watching “Death Row” and “All Your Sins” and the The Animals cover, “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood” that has become a nightly inclusion before I had to tap out. The good news was that Mr. Smalls was loud enough that even laying down in the back of the van, I could still clearly hear the band playing, but yeah, my evening was done a little early.
Load-out happened at its usual leisurely pace and I drove to where we were staying, about 25 minutes out of Pittsburgh in a place called New Stanton. Got in around one and I know I was out before two, though much of the night was spent coughing and trying to keep my head in a position to allow the mucus to drain. Would I be out of line if I said “ugh?” Not my best night, but at least the show was good.
No extra pics this time, but I’ll hope to pick back up in Baltimore as the tour moves on for the next gig.