Coinciding with the announcement that they’d signed to Season of Mist and would release a new studio album, reunited Florida riff bombers Floor launched a two-week tour that brought them to Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar Friday night, March 29. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks‘ other outfit, Torche, had played the same venue a couple weeks prior, but I’d missed that show, and with the chance to hear new Floor songs along with cuts from their en-route-to-classic 2002 self-titled and what was once their swansong, 2004′s Dove, it wasn’t a mistake I was going to make twice.
The show opened with Brooklyn-native double-guitar all-caps noise rockers VAZ, who locked in more than several driving grooves along the way with their NYC-characteristic crunch. They’d recently toured their way to SXSW in Austin, so that they were tight on stage made sense, but it was a welcome start to what would prove to be a good night of heavy tones, and when they were done, yeah, I bought a $5 tape. I’ve never been one to resist a bargain, and having never seen VAZ before, they made a decent first impression with frantic drums and a style worthy of their pedigree in early ’90s AmRep noisebringers Hammerhead.
After lugging his own cabinets onto the stage — there were several, and they were large — Joe Preston took the stage solo with his bass and his drum machine for a Thrones set. The audience was duly reverential for Preston, a former bassist for the Melvins who’s worked with SunnO))) and many others along the way, and accordingly, he had no trouble charismatically holding down the set on his own. Starting instrumental, he gradually introduced vocals, electronic beats, drones and probably the most blissful feedback I’ve heard in a year (or any other applicable amount of time that would qualify as “long”). At one point, it seemed to run its wavy current directly through the audience.
Aside from t-shirts with the giant floating head from Zardoz on them — that’s knowing your market — Thrones offered a surprisingly rich experience for being a one-man deal. Obviously, Preston‘s been at it a while even since reviving the project in the studio in 2010 following its initial run from 1994 to 2000 or thereabouts, but a lot of people would’ve been talked over, and he wasn’t. The room was full by the time he was a third of the way through, and at least where I was standing, when he introduced a drone, or went quiet, there was little noise other than applause or the occasional, “Hey Joe!” which he answered with, “Hey what?”
Though the aesthetics were different, it was a great lead-in for Floor. As Brooks, guitarist Anthony Vialon (interview here) and drummer Henry Wilson (who formed the underrated Dove following Floor‘s initial split and now also plays in House of Lightning) got set up, I couldn’t help but wonder if they — a two-guitar trio lacking a bassist — and Preston – a bassist touring by himself — might wind up collaborating at some point. The math works out, and though I doubt a partnership that brought Preston on board would be convenient as he lives in the Pacific Northwest and Floor are based in Miami, a song or two with all four on stage didn’t seem like it would be out of the question, given the apparent amiability between the two acts, who swapped jokes as the one loaded off stage and the other on.
Wilson announced before the first song that it was Brooks‘ birthday, so an already celebratory mood — the mere fact that Floor were touring was something special — became even more so as the three-piece delivered a sing-along-ready one-two punch with “Scimitar” and “Downed Star,” tracks one and three from the self-titled. Three years ago, when Floor played Europa, I remembered crowd surfing and other general pit whathaveyou, so that wasn’t such a shock, but it after having my kneecaps adjusted a few times via the edge of the stage and having two of the remaining five hairs on my head removed via some guy who just seemed to think he was caught in a Shelob web and had no choice but to tug his way to freedom, the “I’m too old for this shit” impulse took over and I split to the back.
The new stuff? There were four songs listed with initials and numbers on the setlist — the opener “B1,” “DB,” “52,” and “TMITB” — that I can’t find any other account of in their catalog (Below and Beyond is a good metric, as it encompasses everything), and the first led off with vocals drawn out over psych riffing and Wilson‘s steady crash, Vialon subdued as he fit a quick lead into the end, soon making way for the start of “Scimitar” and “Downed Star.” Hard to judge sonics from a live show in terms of making judgments how something might sound in its studio incarnation. No complaints, in any case. I wasn’t in the mood for analysis anyway, happy to go where the riffs were going. Most of what they played throughout their time — “Nights of Lolita,” “Sneech,” “Twink,” “Assassin,” “Iron Girl,” “Ein (Below and Beyond)” and “Night Full of Kicks” — came from the self-titled, which was to be expected, but there was room for “Bombs to Abbadon,” “Dove,” “Loanin’” and “Diamond Dave’s are Forever,” as well as the new material, so even if the crowd wasn’t already standing on its toes to pump fists along with “Figured Out,” Floor had plenty to keep it there anyway.
“Return to Zero” — the middle piece of the opening trio of the self-titled — made its appearance in the encore and got possibly the biggest response of the night, the crowd moving in a wash the way science has dictated it must. The room sang “Happy Birthday” to Brooks and more riffs and feedback ensued, another song or two, and the set didn’t so much end in the sense of thank-you-goodnight-big-light-show, but seemed to kind of finally implode under the weight of Floor‘s tones. By the time Metallica came on through the P.A. afterwards, I felt like I’d just had my brain kicked.
Extra pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.