Live Review: Eggnogg and One Inch Giant in Brooklyn, 08.27.12

Monday night, huh? I’ve passed up some pretty great shows in my time, simply because they happened on a Monday. More often than not, Monday nights find me tired and feeling beat to shit, retreating back to my humble river valley to nurse my wounds and sacrifice some manner of livestock in the name of a mildly productive Tuesday. However, I wasn’t going to miss Eggnogg at the Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn, playing with One Inch Giant, Nevereven and Eyes of the Sun, and even though I felt a little guilty going to a show on a Monday that wasn’t a Precious Metal gig, I nonetheless took the by-now quite familiar route across Manhattan and through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel to get across the Pulaski Bridge into Brooklyn. I can do it on auto-pilot at this point.

You know how sometimes you go to a show to see one band and everything that isn’t that band’s set seems to just kind of be in the way? Well, I’ve no doubt that on any other night I’d probably have been way more into show openers Eyes of the Sun and Nevereven, but I was pretty locked into what I was looking for. Nonetheless, Eyes of the Sun‘s abrasive post-metal was well-met by the dual flat-screens they set up on either side of the stage, showing edited-together clips of the earth from space with scenes of sundry atrocities — factory farming, genocide, pollution, slavery — spliced between. Came on a little thick, maybe, but I can’t argue the principle. People are awful.

Also Brooklyn natives, Nevereven were catchy and straightforward hard rock, the sort that would’ve had a shot 15 or 20 years ago at commercial viability when such a thing was still possible. Some progressive elements at work in the guitar, and plenty tight, but landed kind of flat despite the best efforts of frontman Gary Pickard. Both bands drew a solid crowd and garnered a solid response, again, it just wasn’t where my head was at.

My head was primed for catching Eggnogg for the first time. Their Louis EP (review here) was still pretty fresh in my head, and I was surprised to find Bill O’Sullivan on bass and Justin Karol on guitar — I’d thought it was the other way around, and re-reading their current bio, it lists both players as guitarists, so maybe they switch off — though it worked pretty well, Karol playing through a Marshall half-stack and O’Sullivan running an Acoustic combo amp through the Saint Vitus bar P.A. while drummer Jason Prushko, who was the most stoned-looking dude in the room if he wasn’t actually high, slammed away behind, filling in for Ryan Quinn.

Having summarily dug the hell out of both the 2012 EP and the 2011 Moments in Vacuum full-length (review here) before it, I was stoked for the set. Really stoked, actually. I know I hear new music a lot, but it’s not often I encounter a band who seems to have so much potential, and even more, not often I get to see a band like that while they’re still getting their bearings. That’s exciting to me. Eggnogg are young, and in their formative stages, but the heavy psychedelic funk that’s made its way into their sound over the course of their last couple releases — hardly there on their 2009 self-titled but already an essential facet by Louis — and their penchant for grunge melodicism makes for a fascinating combo, and seeing that live for the first time was something I’d been looking forward to since I saw they were starting to play out again while continuing to work on their next record.

They played four songs. Two from each full-length. From Moments in Vacuum, there was the opener, “Magog” and the lurchingly infectious “Wheel of the Year,” and from the self-titled, the heady jam “Northern Lights” and set closer “The Gods Will (Destroy the Hive).” I’d streamed the self-titled through Palaver Records‘ site, but no question the material from the second album was more familiar.  The stomp in both of those songs was right on, Prushko‘s drumming more at the forefront in a live setting than Quinn‘s on the recordings (nature of the beast, not a statement on Quinn‘s playing), and Karol‘s guitar having the same kind of start-stop immediacy, made all the more intricate by upstroke picking and quick mutes.

The room wasn’t full by any stretch, but the people who were there were into the set, myself included. I noted that the members of One Inch Giant, in town from their native Gothenburg, Sweden, ahead of a performance this weekend at Stoner Hands of Doom XII in Connecticut, were right up front for most of the time, and rightfully so. Eggnogg‘s sound was no less organic on stage than it has been on their recorded output to date, and O’Sullivan‘s vocals showcased a rare ability to make a stoner rock gruffness not sound like a burly put-on. His croon and throaty shouts were both effective, and as Karol let loose a burgeoning stoner rock softshoe during the extended solo of “Northern Lights” — it was a kind of Naam-esque two-step/waltz at this point, still very cool — everything seemed to be coming into place.

And that was what I was there for: A band in progress. Their grip on their aesthetic was firm and, by the end of the set, commanding, and but for the want of some louder gear — I shudder to think of “Wheel of the Year” coming through full stacks — they seemed ready to hit the road. I mean that. There’s a certain point where a band has laid the groundwork and established what they want to do, and Eggnogg seemed to be right there, so what’s left is refining and reinventing that process through songwriting and touring. They can only get stronger for the experience, whatever else it might bring them, and their relative youth is an asset working in their favor. When they finished, I was even more stoked on their possibilities than I was when they started.

I bought a copy of the self-titled from Karol, and waited for One Inch Giant to round out the night, which they did in pristine Euro heavy rock fashion. It didn’t occur to me until I spent a while staring at the cover of their Malva EP that I’d heard them before, but they did alright by Sweden, putting on a rock show full of movement for a crowd that was by then sparse at best. Bassist Axel Berglund wore a Suffocation shirt, vocalist Filip Åstrand had Morbid Angel, and guitarist Gabriel “Abbe” Lugo Méndez held and played his instrument like someone well schooled in extreme metal, so I wondered what the band’s roots were in that regard. They broke out some blastbeats in one of their songs and I felt somewhat vindicated at having noticed.

I’ll confess I didn’t stay for their full set. The knowledge that I’d see them again this weekend at SHoD made doing so seem somewhat less urgent, excited though they clearly were to be playing the string of shows they were just beginning. Of the trip out of the city, I’ll say I usually won’t listen to music after a show, finding it — like eating a bag of potato chips after dinner — to be bad for the digestion, but I was still riding high enough on Eggnogg‘s set that I put on the self-titled and let its doomly pulsations guide me through Rt. 3 traffic and home to The Patient Mrs., still awake and still working upon my arrival shortly after midnight. Forgetting to take out the garbage, I went to bed with the distorted strains of “The Gods Will (Destroy the Hive)” still in my head.

A couple extra pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.


One Inch Giant

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