One of the oddly satisfying things about doing Wino Wednesday for as long as I have at this point is the fact that whenever I think I’ve seen it all, I turn a corner and find something else I didn’t expect. I think it’s safe to say that because of the more widespread technology there are way more people taping shows now than in, just an example, 1994, when Wino was making a go of it with The Obsessed, so a lot of the majority of the live clips for Wino Wednesday are culled from the last five years, give or take. Even within that sphere, the supply might seem to dwindle, but it never runs dry.
I’ve been thinking of Wino‘s upcoming shows in Philly and New York right after the Xmas holiday for the Feast of Krampus two-nighter with Sixty Watt Shaman and about the recent announcement of a second Wino & Conny Ochs collaboration, dubbed Freedom Conspiracy, to be issued in 2015 probably through Exile on Mainstream, and I guess I’ve had acoustic stuff on the brain, so I’m looking through thinking I’ve done just about everything worthwhile from the Wino & Conny Ochs 2012 European tour, and then I find this video from Amsterdam of the two of them playing in what essentially looks like a box made of brick to a small, seated audience just one day before they’d hit Roadburn in Tilburg, and it proved once again that I’ve barely scratched the surface.
What makes this video special in my mind, apart from the intimacy of the setting at De Slang — bare lighting, bare stage, theatre-style seats — is the fact that there are no microphones. Both Wino and Ochs‘ voices are projected naturally to the crowd (I recognize a face or two from Roadburns past), and it gives a feel that’s just perfect for the raw nature of that material. They perform “Heavy Kingdom,” the title-track of their 2012 debut (review here) and cover “Nothing” by Townes van Zandt, and the results are gorgeous.
Hope you enjoy:
Wino & Conny Ochs, Live at De Slang, Amsterdam, April 11, 2012
Until a pair of live albums surfaced in 2012 to coincide with The Obsessed‘s touring reunion, their 2001 split with Jimmy Bower‘s underappreciated The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight was their final release. A 7″ vinyl put out on Southern Lord, it featured just one song from each band, both of them Lynyrd Skynyrd covers. For The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, it was “Cheatin’ Woman,” and for The Obsessed, “On the Hunt,” both taken from Skynyrd‘s 1975 full-length, Nuthin’ Fancy.
Aside from being a ringing endorsement for that album, the single was kind of a curio for The Obsessed. By 2001, guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich had moved on to Spirit Caravan – hell, by later in 2001, you could say Spirit Caravan were on their way out, though they didn’t disband until 2002 — and so far as I know The Obsessed weren’t playing any shows or anything like that. “On the Hunt” had also appeared on the 1999 Incarnate compilation, and it was recorded by Joe Barresi in 1994, so it’s not like Wino called up Guy Pinhas and Greg Rogers and said “let’s go,” but for The Obsessed having called it quits six years earlier, to have one song surface on a 7″ seems a little out of left field.
I won’t argue, though. With Dale Crover of the Melvins enlisted for a guest spot on drums and backing vocals, “On the Hunt” gets stomp to match its riffy groove, and while The Obsessed was never quite as arranged as Skynyrd – no piano, no 17 guitars or however many it wound up being — they pretty clearly get to the heart of the track with their cover. Wino was still covering “On the Hunt” as recently as 2010, though by then it was a solo acoustic rendering, so I guess he managed to strip it down even further some 16 years later. Go figure.
I count myself lucky to have seen The Hidden Hand the few times I did. I could tell you a story about blowing a chance to do a show with them owing to a snowstorm around when their last album, The Resurrection of WhiskeyFoote, was released in 2007, but more pleasantly, I recall a few especially killer gigs circa 2004’s Mother Teacher Destroyer that were an enlightenment in terms of showing me the power of what a classic heavy trio could accomplish on stage, Wino and bassist/vocalist Bruce Falkinburg playing off each other’s work so well. When it hit, their third and final outing didn’t do as much for me — its narrative of rebellion seemed put together after the fact and the songs came across as moving away from the warmth of the record prior, which I still hold as their best — but even without drummer Dave Hennessy or Evan Tanner, who played on 2005’s Devoid of Color EP as well as The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote, they were an excellent and continually underappreciated band. At the time, you could say the same for Spirit Caravan, The Obsessed and Saint Vitus too.
Fair enough. The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote came out in Feb. 2007, and they were done by August of that year, but in between they took time to hit Europe for a full month. The complete set which you can see below was webcast May 9, 2007, on fabchannel.com — not linked because it doesn’t exist anymore — and features cuts from all three The Hidden Hand records, emphasizing some of what was best about that band in their prime. The show was at Paradiso in Amsterdam, and also on the tour were Philly heavy prog instrumentalists Stinking Lizaveta and weirdo doomers Beehoover. Sounds like a solid bill. Quality on the clip isn’t the greatest if you’re looking to make it fullscreen, but it’s still worth checking out for the pro audio alone.
If time has taught us anything at all about rock and roll, it’s never say never. Shrinebuilder put out its self-titled debut in 2009 on Neurot Recordings with the staggering lineup of bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist/vocalists Scott Kelly and Scott “Wino” Weinrich and drummer/vocalist Dale Crover, played here and there, followed-up with a single and a live record, played some more shows, and then receded. It was never intended to be a full-time project, and when they were done, everyone went back to their own bands, whether it was Sleep and Om for Cisneros, Saint Vitus for Wino, Neurosis and solo work for Kelly or the Melvins for Crover. Rumors of a second album persisted for a while and then similarly receded.
We may never get another Shrinebuilder record. Hell, we might not even get another Shrinebuilder tour, or a single show, but it seems just as likely that at some point and in some form — whether with all four of the same players or not — they’ll get together again for some purpose or other. The full set snagged for this week’s Wino Wednesday revelry was filmed by TubeVision, a long-running East Coast taper, and captures Shrinebuilder on their inaugural run from Nov. 2009, not yet a month after the release of the self-titled, live in full force at the Sonar in Baltimore, Maryland. I was fortunate enough two nights later to see Shrinebuilder take the stage in Manhattan with Rwake (review here), and while it was just over five years ago now, I can still readily recall the powerful presence they had as a band on stage and the weight the performance carried because of who it was standing up there.
They might or they might not ever do another album, but whatever winds up happening, we were lucky enough to get it once. Hope you enjoy the video:
Shrinebuilder, Live at The Sonar, Baltimore, MD, 11.13.09
I’ve been kicking around the idea lately of ending Wino Wednesdays. I mean, it’s been over three years. We’ve covered an awful lot of the man’s career with The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, Shrinebuilder, Premonition 13, solo band, solo acoustic, guest spots, and so on, and aside from having run a decades-long gamut of the available videos, it’s starting to feel a little fanboyish. Don’t get me wrong, I dig Wino‘s work a lot, but I’m not trying to stalk the guy. 162 weeks later, I worry it’s getting to be a bit much.
Last week, Scott “Wino” Weinrich got arrested in Norway with what turned out to be 11 grams of of meth. Not an inconsiderable amount. He was deported back to the US, which left the remaining three members of Saint Vitus to finish out the last few shows of their 35th anniversary co-headlining European tour with Orange Goblin on their own. They did it, and from what I’ve heard they were pretty good, but no question it wasn’t the victory lap they had in mind. The whole situation was a bummer on just about every level, and it brought to mind a refresher of just how rampant addiction is in this community. Everything from meth to coke to prescription abuse to beer to vinyl, doom appeals to those who have a habit of forming habits. All the more reason to watch out for your friends and hope they do the same for you.
Wino issued a statement yesterday to Decibel saying he’s entered rehab for treatment and he’ll be back next year with a new Wino & Conny Ochs release, a new solo album, a new webshop and a biography. That’s all well and good — except perhaps for the biography, which much to my personal disappointment I didn’t get to write — but the important thing is that he gets himself well first. New records and projects are cool, but life needs to take precedence. On behalf of this dinky website, I wish Wino all the best in the challenge ahead of his recovery. We’ll be here, continuing to pull for him each week, for the foreseeable future.
Here’s that statement:
At this time I feel it is necessary to release an official statement of the facts in regard to my recent deportation from the country of Norway. First, I want to apologize to all Saint Vitus fans, and to my band members and crew for my lapse in judgment that ultimately resulted in me missing the last six shows on our Born Too Late 35th anniversary European tour. On November 9th before noon just over the Norwegian border, I was arrested for possession of an illegal substance. I take full responsibility for the consequences of my actions. The other members and crew were unaware of my substances use. I was truthful with the authorities, and initially sentenced to 16 days in jail minus the three initial days immediately following my arrest. On those days I was in solitary confinement, with no reading or writing material and fed solely bread water. Despite these conditions, I was treated respectfully and cordially by all Norwegian authorities. Initially, I believed I would be fined, allowed to continue the tour, and upon its end, I agreed to return to Norway to finish my sentence. I was disheartened to realize that I was to be deported straightaway back to the US, and not allowed to finish the tour. I sincerely regret the inconvenience and loss incurred by everyone involved with these gigs, the inspiring co-headlining Orange Goblin, our booking agent, promo folks and the venues, and of course fans and ticketholders. I want to salute the members of Saint Vitus for carrying on with these shows without me, and proving admirably the class of true road warriors they are. Again, my deepest apologies to all. After several productive years of sobriety, the rigors of almost nonstop touring and life’s circumstances led me to develop a dependency that has become detrimental to my health and now, my freedom. As of now, I am currently off the road, and actively engaged in treatment.
And THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES….
I will continue my course of creating music and art. Early next year you will see the release of “WINO AND CONNY OCHS” new full-length recording, “FREEDOM CONSPIRACY” on Exile on Mainstream records. Also on the near horizon: A full-length Wino solo acoustic recording, the launch of my art and music web store, and my no holds barred biography.
Thanks to all who Believe! Wino, November 18th,2014
And to keep with Wino Wednesday tradition, here’s Saint Vitus doing “Saint Vitus” in Stockholm, Sweden, at Wino‘s most recent show with the band:
Saint Vitus, “Saint Vitus” Live at Debaser Strand, Stockholm, Nov. 8, 2014
“Where’s Wino?” Well, it would seem he’s been deported. From Norway. Last night in Göteborg, Sweden, for what I believe might have been the first time in the band’s 35-year history, Saint Vitus performed their set as a three-piece. It was bassist Mark Adams, drummer Henry Vasquez and guitarist Dave Chandler on stage, and Chandler himself took up vocal duties, calling it, “the weirdest Saint Vitus show [the crowd] has ever fucking seen.” I don’t doubt it.
Martyn Millard of Orange Goblin, who are co-headlining the current Vitus tour in Europe, had posted a picture of the trio on Thee Facebooks but gave no comment as to the situation itself. I emailed Season of Mist this morning but hadn’t heard back, and then just a little bit ago, Vitus posted the following:
Saint Vitus would like to regretfully inform all of our European fans that our lead vocalist Wino was detained by the Norwegian police and immigrations officers for possession of illegal substances since Sunday November 9th. As of 4 pm yesterday evening (Nov. 11th) we were informed by his Norwegian defense attorney that he would more than likely be released that same day and be able to continue the remaining dates of our European tour. This morning we received notification that Wino was being deported today back to the U.S. with no hope to remain in Scandanavia or anywhere in the EU.
SAINT VITUS WILL CONTINUE THE REMAINING DATES OF THE TOUR!!!
Our sincere apologies to all of our fans, the promoters, booking agents and especially our Norwegian fans and promoter for the cancelled show. We will still deliver the HEAVY sound to all of our friends in Europe and it is our hope that everyone will understand our position to go forward with the remaining dates without Wino. David Chandler and Henry Vasquez along with a few surprise guests will take over vocal duties and this will be a rare opportunity to see Vitus with main songwriter David Chandler vocalizing his tormented tales of pain, heartache and DOOM. We hope to still see all of you on our remaining dates. FUCK THAT WEAK SHIT!!!!
So there you have it. Detained and deported back to the US, leaving the band to improvise who’s going to handle the vocals. I bet Orange Goblin‘s Ben Ward gets a turn if he wants one, and there’s bound to be someone in Germany — where the four remaining dates of the European tour will take place — who’s up for filling in for Wino. Booted out of the EU. That must have been one hell of an “illegal substance.” Like plutonium. As a testament to Vitus fucking the weak shit of their circumstances, here is Chandler, Adams and Vasquez doing an encore of “Born too Late” in Göteborg, for the first-ever Wino-less Wino Wednesday.
Saint Vitus, “Born too Late” Live in Gothenburg, Sweden, Nov. 11, 2014
The Saint Vitus 35th anniversary European tour with Orange Goblin — who started out as “special guests” and now seem to be co-headlining — is only a couple days away from passing a full month. While on the road celebrating one of doom’s widest legacies, Vitus are performing 1986’s classic Born too Late in its entirety, unquestionably their most influential record fronted by Scott “Wino” Weinrich. They did the same on the US West Coast earlier this year and I’m hoping they’ll bring the show east maybe in the New Year, but either way, anything Vitus does, someone’s at least gonna shoot it on their phone, so yeah, there’s plenty of footage out there if you know what you’re looking for.
I’ve yet to find a clip of a whole set, but I’ve seen a couple setlists where they haven’t broken up Born too Late to spread it throughout, which is what they did in the US, but instead are simply playing it backwards, so that they start with “The War Starter” and end with the anthem “Born too Late” itself. Fair enough. If you’re going to play that song, you want to play it last; it’s been their closer for years and makes an excellent encore. They haven’t forgotten their latest work, either, though. “Blessed Night,” which you can find below recorded from the first night of the tour, comes from 2012’s Lillie: F-65 and was the first song Vitus wrote after getting back together, solidifying its relatively speedy progression while on the road performing their classic material.
Though word came out a while ago they were writing, I have yet to hear any kind of official notice of a follow-up to Lillie: F-65, and they don’t seem to be playing anything new on this tour — clearly that’s not the focus of the 35th anniversary run — so “Blessed Nights” is about as recent as it gets. Hope you enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Saint Vitus, “Blessed Night,” Live in Colmar, France, Oct. 9, 2014
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
An awful lot about Maryland doom can be explained by listening to The Obsessed‘s Lunar Womb. Not everything, obviously, but many of the early-to-mid ’90s groups began putting out albums in the wake of The Obsessed‘s reformation and subsequent to the release of their self-titled debut in 1990, whether it’s Unorthodox (first album ’92), Wretched (first album ’93), Revelation (together since the mid-’80s, first album in ’91), Iron Man(first demo ’88, album ’93) or Internal Void (same). It’s important to remember Pentagram were going at that time with the Bobby Liebling, Victor Griffin, Martin Swaney and Joe Hasselvander lineup and to note the impact that band had on the entire Doom Capitol region, but particularly for coming back after Wino‘s stint in Saint Vitus ended, The Obsessed would have some measure of influence as well, and one that continues to resonate in trad doom today.
Released in 1991, Lunar Womb moved beyond The Obsessed‘s self-titled with a sound that was darker, heavier and more forceful on the whole. Listening to it now, the production is dated — one can hear the ’90s about to happen in the drums — but the material holds up anyway, and “Back to Zero,” which begins side B of the vinyl, is one of the album’s best realized tracks. Bassist Scott Reeder takes a turn at vocals over a driving groove and for a band whose overarching vibe is so straightforward, consistent largely in mood and pace, it’s kind of an unexpected turn. That said, even the first chugs of the intro/verse riff telegraph the fact that, indeed, you’re listening to The Obsessed. The lineup of the band at this point was Wino on guitar/vocals, Reeder on bass and Greg Rogers on drums. Both Reeder and Rogers would later play in Goatsnake as well.
So far as I know, the reunited version of The Obsessed never included “Back to Zero” in a set. Or if they did, there isn’t footage of it out there. Either way, it’s something a little different from them and worth singling out on this Wino Wednesday. Hope you enjoy:
The Obsessed, “Back to Zero” from Lunar Womb (1991)
I know we’ve discussed it before — we’re more than three years deep now on Wino Wednesday, there’s not a lot that hasn’t been covered at one point or another — but I really do think that Place of Skulls‘ 2003 sophomore outing, With Vision, is one of the best American doom records of the last decade. Even putting aside the novelty of the collaboration between Scott “Wino” Weinrich and Victor Griffin, whose band it was, it was the songs themselves, the nuances and differences and similarities of craft between the two legendary guitarists, that made it such a special release. Of course, the collaboration didn’t last, but even as a one-time thing with Wino in and out of the band, With Vision was an integral meeting of masters of the form and the results were every bit as stunning as their pedigrees would suggest.
They trade off lead vocals throughout the album, and it’s easy enough to read the shifts in approach to riffing as indicative of who wrote which song. “Long Lost Grave,” for example, has Wino on vocals, and it sounds pretty much like a Wino song, at least until the soloing at the end. Much of With Vision plays out like this, with one or the other at the fore, but the tradeoffs give the record a vibrancy that Place of Skulls‘ subsequent two albums, 2006’s The Black is Never Far and 2010’s As a Dog Returns (review here), couldn’t match with Griffin as the lone songwriter. That’s not to knock him as a songwriter — through Death Row, Pentagram, Place of Skulls and most recently In~Graved, he’s proved a landmark craftsman of traditional doom — but he can’t be two people. It’s just all the more reason With Vision is essential listening.
Of course, the Griffin and Wino collaboration was short-lived, and to date there hasn’t been any hint that they might at some point work together again. It’s probably more likely than a second Shrinebuilder record, less likely than cities on Mars. So be it. With Vision still stands up 11 years after its release, so dig into “Long Lost Grave” and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:
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
Not exactly the most uplifting message ever put into a song, but Wino‘s take on Savoy Brown‘s “Shot in the Head” was nonetheless a highlight of the 2010 acoustic debut, Adrift. That record (review here) came out four years ago this month, and had its fair share of melancholy, with songs like “Whatever” and “Old and Alone,” but despite its foreboding title, “Shot in the Head” was actually more upbeat — frustration rather than depression — and its road-weary lyric fit Adrift‘s personality well, Wino taking the lines, “I’ve had enough of getting shot in the head/I’ve had enough and I wish I was dead,” and presenting them not with a downer woefulness, but something closer to the bluesy humor of the original.
The track opened Savoy Brown‘s 1972 full-length, Lion’s Share, which was the British outfit’s ninth album in six years. Understandable at that point why they might’ve “had enough,” but it’s worth noting that guitarist/vocalist/founder Kim Simmonds has toured and released music ever since, working with well over 60 musicians in various Savoy Brown lineups since starting out in 1967 — up to and including this year’s Goin’ to the Delta – so apparently he was still a ways off from his fill. Wino isn’t quite there in the number of people he’s worked with, though if you count both bands he’s been in and bands with whom he’s guested, he’s got to be over 40, but it’s plain enough to see a correlation there, and he seems to have a good time with the song, doubling his vocals to create a kind of one-man blues chorus and sneaking a plugged-in solo into the second half.
I looked for a live version of “Shot in the Head,” but came up empty. Could’ve sworn I saw him do this song at some point, but there doesn’t seem to be video to back that up. The album version’s plenty raucous, and I hope you enjoy it and have a happy Wino Wednesday:
True, I said I’d hold off putting up more clips from the Spirit Caravan reunion tour. Or at least I think I said it. Or at least I think I thought it. Either way, it was a stupid idea. There’s an awful lot of footage out there of Wino, Sherman and Henry Vasquez kicking ass across the land, and I’d be a fool to not embrace it because I live under the delusion that anybody’s keeping count of how often one or another of Wino‘s bands appears here. Hell, I’m damn near three years into doing Wino Wednesday. Redundancy stopped mattering a long time ago.
With that in mind, here’s something a little different. Ha. “Inside Looking Out” was originally released as a single by The Animals in 1966. A couple years later, in 1969, Grand Funk Railroad took it on and switched the lyrics so it was talking about reefer, and that apparently did the trick in terms of making the song awesome. It’s been covered by many over the years and has a classic boogie riff with some start-stops, and anytime Wino and Sherm want to share vocals, that’s cool by me. At about the halfway point in the video, right before the solo, the dude filming decides to throw the horns right at the bottom of the shot. I kind of thought the song itself was making the point of its own asskickery, but I have a hard time arguing with the sentiment.
This tour wasn’t Wino‘s first experience with “Inside Looking Out” either. The Obsessed released it in 1996 as the A-side of their Altamont Nation 7″ on Bongload Records with “The Peckerwood Stomp” accompanying, and it was also included in their 1999 compilation, Incarnate, on Southern Lord, which made it somewhat more readily available. As you can see in the clip below, experience counts.
Spirit Caravan, “Inside Looking Out” Live in Las Vegas, March 18, 2014
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.
According to the raw interwebular research I was able to put together — i.e., I Googled it — The Hidden Hand played the release show for their second album, Mother Teacher Destroyer, on Oct. 29, 2004, at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C. If I’m wrong about that, I hope you’ll at least give me credit for trying to track down when this clip of “The Crossing,” the opening track from that record, was played. Whenever it was, bassist Bruce Falkinburg absolutely nails the vocals, and even in the “uploaded five years ago” quality, the song sounds pretty righteous.
Their 2003 debut, Divine Propaganda, was rawer, and 2007’s swansong, The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote, more ambitious, but to me, Mother Teacher Destroyerwas the quintessential outing from The Hidden Hand during their all-too-short run from 2003-2007. Not only did it have the rawness and progressive sensibilities in near-perfect balance, but the tracks themselves were so memorable, both individually and how they fed into each other, that the album remains high on my list of favorite Wino-related releases. I’ve featured the album before, so I won’t belabor the point, but it was the right offering at the right moment.
All the better, then, to get a glimpse of that moment nearly a decade later, by checking out this video of “The Crossing” from the release show. Wino, Falkinburg and drummer Dave Hennessy are in top form — you can see them nail the tricky change shortly before the long guitar solo kicks in — and it seems fair to think this was if not as good as they got, then probably close to it. I still consider The Hidden Hand probably the least appreciated of the bands Wino has been in, the stalled-out and largely forgotten Premonition 13 notwithstanding, and something like this is a real treat at least for me, and I hope for you as well.