It didn’t take long for video to surface of Saint Vitus‘ 35th anniversary European tour. The run, which includes Orange Goblin as the support act, kicked off Oct. 9 at Le Grillen in Colmar, France, and a day later, there were clips out of the band’s show. I’d say it has something to do with the special nature of the occasion, Vitus having begun one of doom’s most influential legacies when they formed as Tyrant in 1979 (and where, I ask you, is the band who will take up that moniker?), but really, even if it was just another show and just another tour for them, the situation would probably be the same. People want to see Saint Vitus. That’s a big part of the reason I’ve been able to go three-plus years with Wino Wednesdays.
The track “Blessed Night” comes off Saint Vitus‘ 2012 comebacker, Lillie: F-65 (review here). It was the first single from the album; a quick, three-minute shot of a song that was the first one they wrote since getting back together. Distinguished from the rest of Lillie: F-65 for having lyrics by Wino and not guitarist Dave Chandler — lines like “Her beauty is as timeless as dark forlorn galaxies” were a dead giveaway — it was also faster than a lot of what that record had to offer, songs like “Let Them Fall” and “The Bleeding Ground” more in league with the grueling doom one expects from Chandler‘s songwriting. But it’s a quality track nonetheless, and I recall the first time I saw them play it just being so happy there was new Vitus at all, let alone what it sounded like.
Vitus are performing all of 1986’s classic Born too Late album on this tour — they seem to be spacing it out in the set, rather than performing it front-to-back, so they can still close with the title-track — and I hope at some point to have a full-show, but until then, enjoy “Blessed Night” and have a killer Wino Wednesday:
Saint Vitus, “Blessed Night” Live in Colmar, France, Oct. 9, 2014
This week marks three full years of Wino Wednesday. It is Wino Wednesday #156. In that time, I feel like we’ve just about covered the man’s entire career, from his days playing with Warhorse in high school on down through Spirit Caravan‘s 2014 reunion. In and out of bands like The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, Place of Skulls, Premonition 13, his own Wino band and on and on with more guest appearances live and recorded than I think anyone can count, it’s been a three-year investigation into one of doom’s most storied and most accomplished figures. I don’t think when I started out that I imagined this feature would go on for so long, but I’ve yet to run out of things to post, so I guess until that happens, onward we go.
“Look Behind You” appeared on 1987’s three-song Thirsty andMiserable EP, sharing the B-side with the titular Black Flag cover. Tough bill, since when one thinks of that release, it’s the radical slowdown of the Black Flag song that invariably comes to mind first, but “Look Behind You” has been a live staple for Saint Vitus more or less since. It showed up on their 1990 Live album, and it has been a regular feature of sets since their reunion in 2009, its Motörhead-style rush made to turn on its head by Dave Chandler‘s transitions and thickened by his inimitable tone. The song goes back further than Thirsty and Miserable, though. In 1979, Tyrant (the original Vitus lineup under its first name) included it on their demo, so it’s clearly been around even longer than Thirsty and Miserable, and as you can see in the version below, which was taped live in Portland, Oregon, at the Satyricon in June 2010, it wears its age well.
Here’s to three years of Wino Wednesday and more to come. Enjoy:
Saint Vitus, “Look Behind You” Live in Portland, OR, June 26, 2010
I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to see Saint Vitus on stage 27 years ago. The context of the time makes it nearly impossible. Vitus during the Reagan years? This show, captured here in its entirety on what I can only assume was a video camera sent back in time from an unknown future to document such a phenomenon, took place in Nipomo, California, which is south of San Francisco, north of Los Angeles. The room is basically a box. Those who showed up to see Saint Vitus at that point — touring on their third album, with their second singer — probably would’ve at least mostly already been into the band, so I don’t expect it would’ve been like those tales you hear of the band in 1985 surprising disgruntled punkers on tour with Black Flag and whatever else. But still, to think of Vitus not as Saint Fucking Vitus but just as another act coming through town is something I can’t really get my head around, as much time as the video spends on the audience of mosher dudes.
That being the case, it’s all the better that footage like this exists, not so we can coopt its grainy look for our own empty-inside nostalgia for things we never knew, but just so we can get a look at what it might have been like to be there at that time. Invariably, our own place in time affects how we see it, what we read into the sounds, the fashion, the amateurish camera angles, the analog-looking date stamp checking off the minutes as they pass by. Still, even to watch as an outsider as Vitus rips into songs from Born too Late, and the preceding two albums is impressive. Later in 1987, they’d release the Thirsty and MiserableEP, and it’s arguable this is the band’s peak era. I’m not sure I believe that or I’d say it more definitively, but you can make a good case either way, and this show would seem to be working in their favor.
Please note: I did some research on the purported name of the club where this show took place. I can’t find anything about it. If it’s a punk venue, I’m not sure how it might tie in with SoCal’s skinhead history, but the video seemed worth posting anyway.
I’m not gonna say I’m posting Saint Vitus‘ “The Troll” only because I feel like I haven’t left the house in two weeks, but I will allow that was the original impetus behind my selecting the song, which originally appeared on 1988’s Mournful Cries. The blinds pulled down, the window air conditioner blasting, my ass firmly planted on the couch for untold hours to come, I’m nothing if not consistent. Oh sure, I’ll emerge to take a bag of trash out, or to pour water from a pot when, say, the pipes under my kitchen sink start leaking water all over the floor this morning for no apparent reason, but having been unemployed for over three solid months and having been sans The Patient Mrs. for two weeks, I’ve more or less reverted to shut-in status. I try not to put the tv too loud so the neighbors won’t hear which baseball team I like. Their front door is about six inches from mine and people judge you for that shit.
So yeah, if the theme I want to work with is self-removal from human society, then “The Troll,” albeit exaggerated, fits that. As a complementary motivation for this clip in particular, which was filmed June 26, 2010, in Portland, Oregon, drummer Henry Vasquez absolutely kills it here. This was earlier into his tenure behind the kit for Vitus, and I remember seeing them in Brooklyn later in 2009 when he’d first joined and thinking he was playing some of the parts fast. He’s more settled in this video, but still has a killer swing in giving his ride cymbal a workout. There was no way he wasn’t going to come across loud, but of course Dave Chandler‘s guitar and Mark Adams‘ bass hold their own, and Wino gives an excellent retelling of the lyrics, to which, if I haven’t made it clear, I’m having an easy time relating these days.
The West Coast leg of Saint Vitus‘ 35th anniversary tour wrapped up this past weekend in Texas with three shows in a row. They did Austin, Houston and Dallas on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to round out the run of gigs playing the entirety of 1986’s Born too Late as well as other selections from their hugely influential discography. It’s a show they’ll take to Europe and the UK in October/November alongside Orange Goblin (dates here), and presumably onward from there. However eager I might be to hear another batch of new material from them, 35 years of Vitus is an occasion worth marking, and they’re doing so in righteous fashion. They were here last fall, but I’ve still got my hopes up they do another East Coast leg before the touring cycle ends.
Whether or not that comes to pass remains to be seen, and I suppose you could say the same of another album, but it’s hard not to get greedy looking at the clip below for “The War Starter,” the closing track from Born too Late which was the first Vitus record fronted by Scott “Wino” Weinrich and in many ways the band’s most landmark release — rivaled, perhaps, by their 1984 self-titled debut, on which Scott Reagers sang. I had to laugh when I watched it for the first time and saw the camera, which is set up on bassist Mark Adams‘ side of the stage, vibrating from the band’s waves of low end. Yeah, that’s about right for Saint Vitus‘ tones. There are a bunch of videos shot in HD from the same night, but the dark vibes of “The War Starter” and foreboding atmosphere seemed to lock in really well in Houston, and it’s not a song they play at every stop on tour.
The Saint Vitus 35th anniversary tour began May 8 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and will wrap up this coming weekend in Texas. The legendary doom four-piece have been playing their landmark 1986 album, Born too Late– the first to have found Scott “Wino” Weinrich, then recently out of The Obsessed, fronting the band — in its entirety, and while most of that record gets aired at Vitus shows anyway with songs like “Clear Windowpane,” “Dying Inside,” and “The War Starter” as set regulars along with standard finale “Born too Late,” it’s still something special and only underscores the band’s long-standing relevance in their genre and the figurehead position they’ve moved into since coming back in 2009.
Portland, Oregon, was the ninth of the total 15 shows on this West Coast run. The gig took place at Branx on May 17, with Sons of Huns and Washington heavy rockers Mos Generator – don’t forget, Mos‘ Tony Reed recorded Vitus‘ 2012 album, Lillie: F-65– and was captured on video by the native Portland outlet Doomed and Stoned. Aside from making me wonder how many “EC f’n W” t-shirts guitarist Dave Chandler has, it looks to have been a killer time as Vitus made their way through the songs from Born too Lateand added choice cuts from the rest of their hugely influential catalog. Nine shows into the tour, they’re deadly tight throughout the set, with Wino, Chandler, drummer Henry Vasquez and bassist Mark Adams – who doesn’t show up much in the clip, but has a Grumpy Cat shirt on when he does, while we’re on the subject of wardrobe — on fire as the gig plays out. All the better as they get ready to take this show to Europe this fall.
Whether you watch the whole thing or skip around — the Born too Latestuff isn’t in order, but it’s all there — it’s worth checking out. Hope you enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Saint Vitus have been through a lot in the last 35 years. From frontman shifts that have taken them from Scott Reagers to Wino to Christian “Chritus” Linderson back to Scott Reagers then back to Wino to the 17-years between 1995’s Die Healing and 2012’s Lillie: F-65 where the closest thing to new material they had out was a 2003 one-off reunion DVD. They weren’t a band for most of that time, having gotten back together in 2009 to find an audience waiting for their return, but still, it’s been 35 years since guitarist Dave Chandler, Reagers, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta (R.I.P.) got their start as Tyrant in 1979, and the simple fact that Saint Vitus is still standing today is an accomplishment not to be overlooked.
As previously announced, Vitus — now Chandler, Wino, Adams and Henry Vasquez — will head out on a West Coast run in celebration of their 35th anniversary beginning May 8 (dates here). This week, the band let it be known that they’re bringing the show, which includes playing 1986’s classic Born too Latein its entirety, to Europe and the UK this fall, and that they’ll be joined by Orange Goblin on the five-week trek. The dates are as follows:
Saint Vitus 35th Anniversary Tour Playing Born too Late with Orange Goblin
09 Oct 14 Colmar (FRA) Le Grillen
10 Oct 14 Limoges (FRA) CCM John Lennon
11 Oct 14 Barcelona (ESP) Day of Doom
12 Oct 14 Madrid (ESP) Shoko
13 Oct 14 Lisbon (POR) Rca Club
15 Oct 14 Bilbao (ESP) Kafe Antzokia
16 Oct 14 Bordeaux (FRA) Le Krakatoa
17 Oct 14 Geneva (SUI) L’usine
18 Oct 14 Mezzago (ITA) Bloom Club
19 Oct 14 Rome (ITA) Init Club
20 Oct 14 Bologna (ITA) Locomotiv Club
21 Oct 14 Winterthur (SUI) Salzhaus
22 Oct 14 Munich (GER) Backstage Halle
23 Oct 14 Saarbrücken (GER) Garage
24 Oct 14 Paris (FRA) La Fleche d’Or
25 Oct 14 Tourcoing (FRA) Le Grand Mix
26 Oct 14 Vosselaar (BEL) Biebob
28 Oct 14 Bristol (UK) The Fleece
29 Oct 14 London (UK) Heaven
30 Oct 14 Dublin (IRE) Button Factory
31 Oct 14 Belfast (UK) Limelight 2
01 Nov 14 Leeds (UK) Damnation Festival
02 Nov 14 Rotterdam (NED) (Dutch Doom Days)
03 Nov 14 Cologne (GER) Luxor
04 Nov 14 Dresden (GER) Beatpol
05 Nov 14 Kraków (POL) Fabryka
06 Nov 14 Berlin (GER) SO36
07 Nov 14 Malmö (SWE) Babel
08 Nov 14 Stockholm (SWE) Debaser Strand
09 Nov 14 Oslo (NOR) Parkteatret
11 Nov 14 Gothenburg (SWE) Sticky Fingers
12 Nov 14 Hamburg (GER) Knust / Grünspan
13 Nov 14 Osnabrück (GER) Rosenhof
14 Nov 14 Jena (GER) F-Haus
15 Nov 14 Würzburg (GER) Hammer of Doom
To emphasize just how much Vitus have been through since ’79, I wanted to find something for this week’s Wino Wednesday you don’t see every day, and to that end, here’s a two-part set from the band live in Mezzago, Italy, from 1990 that features Wino on guitar alongside Chandler. He tears into a few solos and riffs out on “Dragon Time” and “Bitter Truth,” but by the time they get around to “Born too Late” and “Patra,” the guitar seems to have disappeared.
This experiment didn’t last long. Wino released the self-titled record from The Obsessed in 1990 and in 1991 traded out one band for the other. He wouldn’t return to Vitus until 2009, and in the five years since, he’s been frontman exclusively.
Saint Vitus, Live in Mezzago, Italy, Nov. 20, 1990
Kind of hard to believe it’s been five years already since Saint Vitus got going again. But it has. It was April 2009 that the Wino-fronted lineup of the ultra-seminal doom four-piece arrived on stage at the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and began the reunion that would lead to numerous North American and European tours since and the band’s first album in 17 years, 2012’s Lillie: F-65 (review here) on Season of Mist, for which a follow-up is reportedly in the works. They were celebrating 30 years at the time since Dave Chandler, Mark Adams and Armando Acosta founded the band as Tyrant in 1979 (then-vocalist Scott Reagers was obviously absent). In May, they’ve announced, they’ll embark on a West Coast run to celebrate their 35th anniversary playing 1986’s landmark Born too Latealbum in full.
Granted, at the average Vitus show — and yes, I do realize how fortunate I am to be able to speak of seeing them on “average” terms — you’re sure to hear the Born too Late title-track, usually in the encore, plus the speedier “Clear Windowpane,” and alcohol-induced “Dying Inside,” but side B tracks like “H.A.A.G.,” “The Lost Feeling” and “The War Starter” are rarer finds, so the chance to hear the whole thing front to back is something special to mark a worthy occasion. Vitus will be joined by emergent Portland, Oregon, rockers Sons of Huns, whom I was fortunate enough to catch recently at Hawthorne Theatre in their hometown (review here), for the tour which starts May 8 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and runs until it hits Dallas on May 25.
To celebrate the celebration, it seemed fitting to dip back to where this reunion started, to that reunion gig on the Main Stage at Roadburn 2009. If I’m not mistaken, they played a warmup show in New Orleans prior to leaving for Europe, but still, this was their official return, and they haven’t looked back since. The clip below of “Born too Late” is a little blown out and cuts off at the end — high definition-quality video recording was not as ubiquitous half a decade ago as it seems to be now, though I still can’t seem to manage it — but it should be enough to give some idea of how triumphant a return that of Saint Vitus was, and just how powerful they were when they took that stage.
Saint Vitus, “Born too Late” Live at Roadburn 2009
SAINT VITUS: Legendary Doom Metal Icons Announce Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Tour
Legendary doom metal icons, SAINT VITUS, are pleased to announce a very special run of live rituals to celebrate their astounding thirty-fifth anniversary! Sponsored by Scion AV, the tour will commence on May 8th in Albuquerque and wind its way through fifteen cities, coming to a close on May 25th in Dallas. The band will be performing the planet-rumbling Born Too Late album — the first SAINT VITUS outing to feature the imperious voice of Scott “Wino” Weinrich — in its entirety alongside other renowned VITUS hymns. The band will be joined by Portland stoner rock power trio Sons Of Huns, supporting their recently released Banishment Ritual full-length on EasyRider Records. Comments the band of their coveted spot on the tour, “We can’t be any more stoked to support one of the finest purveyors of doom and crush many cities in our wake!” Tickets go on sale Friday, March 14th.
Starting April 1st, Scion AV will be giving away two pairs of tickets to every club show via Twitter. Seewww.scionav.comfor details.
SAINT VITUS w/ Sons Of Huns 5/08/2014 Launch Pad – Albuquerque, NM 5/09/2014 Club Red – Phoenix, AZ 5/10/2014 Cheyenne Saloon – Las Vegas, NV 5/11/2014 The Observatory (Psycho De Mayo Fest) – Santa Ana, CA 5/13/2014 The Echo – Los Angeles, CA 5/14/2014 SLO Brew – San Luis Obispo, CA 5/15/2014 Strummer’s – Fresno, CA 5/16/2014 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA 5/17/2014 Branx – Portland, OR 5/18/2014 Highline – Seattle, WA 5/20/2014 In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT 5/21/2014 Marquis Theatre – Denver, CO 5/23/2014 Red 7 (Outside) – Austin, TX 5/24/2014 Fitzgerald’s Downstairs – Houston, TX 5/25/2014 Three Links – Dallas, TX
SAINT VITUS: Dave Chandler – guitar Scott Weinrich – vocals Mark Adams – bass Henry Vasquez – drums
Posted in Questionnaire on February 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
In many ways, Dave Chandler and Saint Vitus are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. Since founding the band as Tyrant in 1979, Chandler has been Vitus‘ principle songwriter and lyricist, presiding over some of American doom’s most essential works in albums like 1984’s Saint Vitus, 1986’s Born too Lateand 1990’s V on SST and Hellhound Records. When Vitus were once again laid to rest after a 2003 reunion, Chandler formed Debris Inc. with Trouble‘s Ron Holzner on bass and a host of drummers, including Henry Vasquez, who’d later replace Armando Acosta in Vitus after they got together again in 2009 for a reunion that has, to date, stuck, resulting in tours around the world and their first studio outing since 1995’s Die Healing, the 2012 Season of Mist release Lillie: F-65(review here), a tour de force of Vitus‘ trademark no-frills, no-letup doom that only served to demonstrate how many others in their wake have taken their influence but not managed to capture the same vibe — that’s not to say “magic” — that makes Saint Vitus wholly distinct in their approach.
In 2012, Vitus officially released the limited Marbles in the Moshpit, a former bootleg live album on vinyl, and they’ve worked with Scion A/V on two releases, 2012’s LiveEP and a split single with The Casualties. A stage presence like none other, Chandler lives in New Orleans and reportedly has songs in progress for a follow-up to Lillie: F-65. As anyone who’s ever read his lyrics knows, he’s a master of word economy, and that’s as true as ever in his answers to The Obelisk Questionnaire.
The Obelisk Questionnaire: Dave Chandler
How did you come to do what you do?
I learned how to play music very young in grade school and it eventually progressed to rock and roll.
Describe your first musical memory.
Playing the coronet, small trumpet, in the grade school band.
Describe your best musical memory to date.
That would have to be when we headlined the second stage at Hellfest in 2009.
When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?
When we stuck to our guns and played what we wanted during what we called “the punk rock wars” within the first two years when we were signed with SST. Eventually we gained the respect of the people that didn’t like us because we refused change.
Where do you feel artistic progression leads?
That depends on oneself, but in can lead to a betterment of what you create.
How do you define success?
If you are happy with what you are doing, regardless of what it is, and you are happy with your life… you are successful.
What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?
Dead bodies on the street.
Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.
Our next album.
Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?
The legalization of marijuana throughout the United States.
Is it too soon? It doesn’t feel too soon. It’s been over a year and a half since Saint Vitus released their comeback long-player Lillie: F-65 (review here) through Season of Mist, adding studio work to the live reunion that began on stage at Roadburn 2009. The four-piece — guitarist Dave Chandler, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez — recorded the album with Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed while on a West Coast tour, and though to have put it to tape and mixed over the course of just a few days seems awfully quick, it was actually the longest the band, who began as Tyrant in 1979 and for whom Lillie: F-65 would serve as their eighth album and first in 17 years, had ever spent in the studio.
I said at the time and I still feel like what the album did best was capture the spirit of Vitus‘ classic Wino-fronted material. It was simple, but in being simple, that much easier to screw up. Chandler‘s guitar tone sounds dead-on to what he delivers live on “Let Them Fall” and “The Bleeding Ground,” and there’s no studio trickery or excess to it. At 34 minutes, Vitus are as aesthetically lean and efficient as they always were, and while it would’ve been a surprise on multiple levels had they emerged from the studio with some overblown, multi-layered prog opera, that they didn’t only served to reaffirm how much they, as a long-running act, still had to offer in terms of progression and staying true to what works within their sound. Lillie: F-65 has little room for screwing around — even the Wino-penned guitar interlude “Vertigo” is brief, and I’ll argue all day that “Withdrawal” is as necessary a finish as an album can have, even though it’s basically just feedback — and spends its time instead handing down visceral judgments, plodding riffs and the sense of unease that made Vitus distinguished from their peers during their initial run and continues to stand them out today.
It would be easy to go on, to talk about Chandler‘s lyrics and Wino‘s vocals, Adams‘ basslines in “The Bleeding Ground,” or Vasquez stepping in to fill the role of original drummer Armando Acosta, or my hopes for a new album if not in 2014 then early next year, but at this point, Lillie: F-65 has been around long enough to speak for itself. Probably better to do that than ramble.
Granted, when it was released in 1988, Mournful Cries had a damn near impossible task in following 1986’s Born too Late, but no matter how you want to look at it, the two are very different records. The eye-catching bright pink of the earlier album cover is replaced by a grand dragon unfolding its wings, guitarist Dave Chandler shows a budding interest in getting on the mic, and instead of the inward-looking judgments of “I was born too late/And I’ll never be like you,” songs like “Dragon Time” and “Shooting Gallery” turned their eye outward, storytelling rather than describing. Maybe that’s simplifying it — certainly there were tracks on Born too Late that examined the world around them and told stories (“The War Starter,” to an extent) — but Mournful Crieswound up with a vibe much changed from its predecessor for coming only two years later.
It was the second of three full-lengths (the Thirsty and MiserableEP arrived directly after Born too Late, in 1987)in Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s first tenure as the band’s vocalist, and with Born too Lateon one side and 1990’s Von the other, Mournful Criesis very much the middle child. Vitus was moving away from the simplicity at root in their approach, and the songs were less grounded musically and lyrically as a result. “Dragon Time” is a good example of this — what did Vitus know about a medieval thematic? — but even if it or “The Troll” were intended as metaphors, the simple fact that metaphor was used at all was a step forward, though again, “The War Starter” touched on some of that idea without going quite as far. Vwould combine both approaches successfully, resulting in landmark Vitus cuts like “I Bleed Black” and “Angry Man,” but Mournful Criesbrought elements at work in the band’s sound to the fore that never were there before and never were there again in quite the same way.
I don’t think Mournful Criesgets the kind of acclaim as Born too Late or V, and part of that is down to the lack of an outsider-epic like “Born too Late” or “Angry Man” — “The Troll” is probably as close as the LP gets, and Vitus still play the song live — but it’s got its place in the Saint Vitus canon and for both how it relates to the rest of the discography and what it has to offer on its own level, it’s easily worth another listen.
For the most part, the Saint Vitus video for “Ice Monkey” is standard operating procedure. The clip comes culled from a variety of sources — studio footage, live footage and a performance section that seems to have been put together just for the shoot. There’s also some material that looks like it was filmed on tour. As that was about 23 years ago, that would’ve been something of a novelty at the time for a band of Vitus‘ stature and probably required a sizable piece of equipment. At the start of the clip, there’s a shot where they’re playing to one person — entirely possible that’s a soundcheck and even if not, I’m sure it’s a joke at their own expense because if you’re not looking to laugh about it you don’t put that in your video, but my understanding is they had more than a few shows where that kind of thing happened.
The real kicker about “Ice Monkey” is that Wino‘s playing guitar the whole time. Of course, he always contributed some to Vitus over his years in the band, it’s just strange to see it in the context of the video looking like business as usual. I don’t know how much he would’ve shared duties with Dave Chandler – who, if you catch it, has some pretty righteous costuming going on in the video — but it definitely doesn’t happen these days and must have created an interesting dynamic on stage. With Chandler being such a presence on guitar, and 1990’s V, from which “Ice Monkey” comes, being the last Vitus album with Wino on it until last year’s Lillie: F-65, it’s easy to read some measure of veering interest there before Wino went off to revive The Obsessed full-time, but who the hell knows what the situation actually was at that moment. Other than the band, I guess.
It’s a pretty rough quality video — there are a couple different versions out there, one with worse sound, one with decent video and audio, but that cuts off the last 20 seconds or so — but should be enough for you to get the idea. Please enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
I’ve had my eye out for footage from the latest Saint Vitus East Coast tour more or less since it started, and some has started to surface. The tour ran for three weeks, 21 days exactly, from Oct. 4 to Oct. 25, and along with support from Pallbearer and The Hookers and Gozu, Vitus hit the Middle East in Cambridge on Oct. 15. It was an early show, and a fantastic show (review here), and I felt fortunate to see all the bands, but especially Saint Vitus again, since they’re a group who just a few years ago I never imagined I would hear play live. And with as tight as vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez have gotten over the last couple years and as smoothly as the newer songs from 2012’s Lillie: F-65(review here) have been integrated with the many classics from the Vitus catalog, it was all the more a pleasure to witness.
Among the cuts that most easily meshed with Vitus‘ legacy material was the single “Let Them Fall.” Shorter than some of the others on Lillie: F-65and stripped down to its bare structural essentials in the tradition of “Born too Late” or “I Bleed Black,” it made for a perfect single to the album, which came across likewise as a continuation of the spirit of Saint Vitus at their Wino-fronted grittiest. A strong hook, a harsh lyrical righteousness, a slow plod and that tonal “voom” that nobody since Chandler has been able to make come from an amplifier in quite the same way — “Let Them Fall” had everything most essential about 21st century Saint Vitus. It was also the band’s first-ever video, which Chandler mentioned on stage at the Middle East, giving a special fuck-off to the “internet critics” who didn’t get the message of the clip in the process. Hardly a group of people who need to be taken down a peg, but fair enough.
The back of my silly big head is front and center for that rant and the rest of the video below, but other than that, it makes a great addition to Wino Wednesday and I hope that more from this tour begins to show up. Until then, enjoy:
Saint Vitus, “Let Them Fall” Live at the Middle East, Cambridge, MA, Oct. 15, 2013
Even as far as Wino Wednesday posts go, this one’s pretty Wino‘ed out. The date was May 28, 1999, and Spirit Caravan was playing in Wheaton, Maryland, at a club called Phantasmagoria that they would play many times over their years together, both earlier as Shine and later until their breakup in 2002, and right in a row in the set the now-legendary three-piece of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, Dave Sherman and Gary Isom covered “To Protect and Serve” by The Obsessed and “Bitter Truth” by Saint Vitus. One Wino-fronted band taking on songs by two others. It couldn’t get any more Wino if the dude was wearing a Shine shirt at the time — oh wait, he was. So there you go.
Separated by a span of six years, “Bitter Truth” and “To Protect and Serve” work pretty well together, especially since it’s Spirit Caravan playing them. The Saint Vitus song appeared originally on 1988’s Mournful Cries, which is kind of the bastard child of Wino‘s first era as Saint Vitus vocalist (the second era, by the way, is happening now), sandwiched in the discography between the landmark 1986 outing, Born tooLate,and 1990’s V. Cuts like “The Troll” and “Shooting Gallery” still feature in Vitus sets at least as of last week, and rightly so. Likewise, “To Protect and Serve” was a single from The Obsessed‘s 1994 swansong, The Church Within, and that material has always hit heavier live than on disc.
That’s all the more the case with Sherman‘s bass carrying the groove alongside Wino‘s riffs (nothing against Guy Pinhas, who played on the record, or Reid Raley, who’s been TheObsessed‘s bassiston their current reunion run). As Wino takes a solo around two minutes into “To Protect and Serve,” you can hear Sherman hold out notes and kick back in, and it’s telling of the kinds of grooves go on to proffer in Earthride.
Really, the tall dude up front who spends the whole time headbanging and pumping his fists has the right idea, so I’ll shut up and let this one play out. Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Spirit Caravan, “To Protect and Serve” and “Bitter Truth” live in Wheaton, MD, May 28, 1999
Posted in Reviews on October 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I won’t lie: The fact that Saint Vitus were playing on a Tuesday night had added nerdy glee for me for Wino Wednesday prospects. I was going to the show one way or another, but the fact that I could do two years in a row of live reviews for Wino Wednesday was an extra appeal. Last September, they played Brooklyn on my wedding anniversary and it was one of the best shows I’d ever seen. Doesn’t feel like more than a year ago, but the numbers tell it. Been a hell of a year.
Including, apparently, for Saint Vitus, who rolled through the downstairs space at Boston’s famed Middle East – a name I’ve seen on lists of tour dates forever but hadn’t actually ever been to until this show; the fact that I’ve only lived here for two months might have something to do with it — with Pallbearer and The Hookers in tow. Now well past their “reunion band” novelty and into the sphere of working a tour cycle, Saint Vitus delivered probably the most professional set I’ve seen from them. Gozu had joined the bill as local support, so I made sure to arrive early at the Middle East, which was a fortunate decision for the traffic I sat in getting there, and catch the start of the show.
That itself was also early, with Gozu going on around 7:30 following 7PM doors. I parked a couple blocks away and hustled in my lurching way to get into the venue and to the front of the stage, and here’s how it went from there:
Stop me if you’ve heard me say this about Gozu before, but the Beantown natives have hit that echelon of performance where the only thing that can possibly bring them to another level is touring. A band gets to a point where they’re so tight, so crisp in their delivery and so cohesive as a unit that just doing a show, even a relatively big one, which this was — that Middle East stage is wide, and deep; you could put a couch up there and make it your living room — is only going to do so much for them. Two albums in, Gozu have hit that point, so with the prospect of European dates around their impending Roadburn performance in the Netherlands next spring, it was a joy to watch them take a victory stomp over the hometown crowd. I hadn’t heard “Jan-Michael Vincent” from Locust Season in a while, with its funky vocal riding atop a fervent heavy rock groove, and though I still think they could milk that chorus for another round or two, it fit in well accompanied by “Ghost Wipe” from this year’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), from which the majority of the set was derived, though both swaggering opener “Meat Charger” and closer “Mr. Riddle” came from the earlier record, the latter following a blistering run through “Charles Bronson Pinchot” from the 2013 album. That song is about as aggressive as Gozu – guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, guitarist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Barry Spillberg, who seems only more righteously destructive every time I watch him play — have gotten to date, but even “Bald Bull,” which was comparatively unobtrusive in its studio form, was brought to life with considerable movement of air. Ditto that for “Signed, Epstein’s Mom.” I know for a fact that I’ll catch them again before they hit the road in Europe, but I’ll really be interested to see what some solid touring brings to their approach. As it was, they were an early treat well worth the rush-hour traffic to catch.
Monks of the First Church of Lemmy, Scientist, the Kentucky-based metalopunks The Hookers were demented, loud, energetic, and fun. How they wound up on a touring bill with Pallbearer and Saint Vitus, I have no idea, but they were a good time all the same, and seemed to revel in their standout position, frontman Adam “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw” Neal pumping his fist to the d-beat sprint in songs like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Motherfucker,” “Black Magic” and “Black Thunder.” Even their “slow” stuff was fast and they knew it, and I’m not sure if they’ve gotten a mixed response at other shows, but they seemed to think they’d be worse received than they were. Maybe that’s part of the show, positioning themselves as hated to play up the scumbag aspect, but it’s worth noting that toward the end of the set, when bassist/backing vocalist Juan Badmutha came down from the stage into the crowd, he was almost immediately invited to partake in somebody’s PBR, which that showgoer even carefully poured into his mouth so he didn’t have to stop playing. That’s courtesy. They were a long way away from being “my thing,” but they hit hard from the stage and made no effort to pretend they weren’t enjoying themselves or that it wasn’t fun to sing songs about horror movies and booze and whatever else, and I certainly respect the hell out of that. Even from Gozu, who can be plenty uptempo when they get to it, The Hookers were a swift change, covering themselves and their audience in whiskey-soaked grit metal, unabashed in a high-speed AC/DC kind of way with several shredding guitar solos tossed off with foot-on-the-monitor command.
Most of what Arkansas doomers Pallbearer played was new, as in, after the release of their 2012 full-length debut, Sorrow and Extinction(review here). Two of the songs — the set opener and another of the total three (I think) new ones — didn’t yet have vocals, but the double-guitar four-piece still used one of the instrumentals as the wrap of their set proper because, as guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell put it, “It’s fun to play.” Campbell is emotive enough on stage to cover for lyrics most of the time anyway, and Pallbearer‘s leads, provided either by him or fellow guitarist Devin Holt, are so mournful that the feeling is conveyed one way or another as bassist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly hold together the huge, spacious-sounding plod of the material, the former also putting on a headbanging clinic for anyone fortunate enough to be there to watch. Rowland had a whole side of the stage to himself, which was different from every other time I’ve seen Pallbearer – Campbell was front and center, splitting Rowland and Holt, where in the past he’s been to the left, with the bassist and guitarist in subsequent left-to-right line. The shift made Campbell come across all the more like a frontman, particularly for that portion of the set which had vocals, including the distinct “Devoid of Redemption” from Sorrow and Extinction, and a surprising but potent take on Black Sabbath‘s “Over and Over,” the closing track from Mob Rules, which was the finale/epilogue to their time. It’s always a bold choice to take on Dio material, whether it’s Sabbath or not, but to their credit, Pallbearer were wise not to try to capture the same kind of feel as the original version, instead slowing it down, thickening it out, and letting Campbell deliver the lyrics — which actually fit pretty well with Pallbearer‘s consistent downer thematics — in his own style. Not only was it the shortest song in their set, but it played to an influence I wouldn’t have expected on the part of the band. A young woman in the crowd shouted, “Put out another fucking album!” and that seemed to be the prevailing sentiment all around. Hopefully in 2014.
Right in the middle of their set, just before they launched into “Let Them Fall” from last year’s über-excellent return outing, Lillie: F-65(review here), Saint Vitus guitarist Dave Chandler got on his mic — which was there solely to address the crowd in such a manner — and say that the song was their first-ever music video and that it got panned by “internet critics,” so let the internet critics fall. That’s always a bummer. Nonetheless, Vitus absolutely destroyed. A Tuesday night, still the beginning the week, I don’t really know what I was expecting, but they came out to “Vertigo” from Lillie: F-65and with a one-two of “Blessed Night” and “Clear Windowpane,” ignited the crowd and proceeded from there to pummel with classic after classic from their catalog. They’ve toured with some consistency since the record came out, and among the encouraging signs I took from their set was that cuts like the aforementioned “Blessed Night” and “Let Them Fall,” as well as “The Bleeding Ground” and “The Waste of Time” fit exceedingly well with essential Vitus tracks like “Living Backwards,” the anthemic “I Bleed Black” and “War is Our Destiny.” Chandler, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez looked like a band who’d been playing shows for the last 11 nights in a row — that is, set in their execution like the whole thing was muscle memory — and the crowd couldn’t have been more into it. Moshing broke out during “The Bleeding Ground,” as Chandler noted, and a couple of surprise inclusions later on like “Shooting Gallery” from 1988’s Mournful Criesand “White Stallions” from 1985’s Hallow’s Victim, which seemed to take the place of their eponymous song in closing out their regular set, made for welcome additions to “The Troll” and the other older material. Vasquez got on mic before the encore to talk up the crowd and introduce the band coming back out. Mark Adams was “Original Member Number 69″ and “the King of Beers” both, and Chandler was “Mr. Doom Himself” or something thereabouts, while Wino was the “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla” (somebody was a wrestling fan). Each of the three came out on cue and Saint Vitus capped the night with “Dying Inside” and, of course, “Born too Late” — Wino and Chandler both hopping off stage and into the crowd during the course — which only underscored how on their game the band is some four years into what’s apparently (and thankfully) an ongoing reunion. I had some hopes in the back of my mind for a new song, as they put word out in July that Chandler has started writing for their next album, but no dice there. As dead on as they were, I could hardly call it a loss, though, especially with the comfort I get to have in saying “maybe next time” about a band who, a few short years ago, I was convinced I’d never get to see live. Fucking awesome.
As a side note to the review, I just want to say that I met John Perez from Solitude Aeturnus at the show. A personal landmark. There working for Vitus along with former The Gates of Slumber drummer J. Clyde Paradis –which if nothing else should be indicative of the respect doom has for its forebears — he’s someone I’ve been in contact with periodically for the last decade or so who’s been perennially awesome to me, whether I’ve been covering his band or stuff on his Brainticket Records label, whatever it might be, or even just generally offering me advice and shooting the shit back and forth. An all-around great dude and a hand I was very glad to have an opportunity to shake after so long.