Live Review: Alabama Thunderpussy Reunion with Suplecs & Loud Night in Richmond, VA, 12.03.22

Alabama Thunderpussy 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

4:15PM – Before show

I’ve never been to Richmond, which is host to Richmond Music Hall, the venue for this Alabama Thunderpussy reunion. No better spot, probably. Hometown show, friends in Suplecs and Loud Night on the bill. If it was ever going to happen, why the hell not now and here? I can think of no reason this reunion should not go forth as planned.

Soundcheck is, fundamentally, a re-gathering of friends. The ATP guys and the Suplecs guys go back decades, and what feels like an old rapport is quickly revived. Spinal Tap references, inevitably. I didn’t bring water, which was a rookie error, but I walked up to the local metal shop, Vinyl Conflict, and found that vinyl won the conflict. No complaints. I wasn’t really looking to spend the money. I hobbled back to the venue, a bar that looks like it is doing well, place you could taken your kids if you had the kind of kids you could make sit still for a meal, and the venue space is right next door with exposed brick, nice dark wood floor, bare ceiling, fans spinning lazily. Look up, no ninja strike force waiting for their move.

Left at 7:51AM, arrived 1:34PM, so the ride wasn’t terrible. I’ll need to pick up a fridge magnet on my way out of town tomorrow. It has not escaped my attention that Richmond on first impression looks like a lot of towns on the Eastern Seaboard; the place where a city happened. It’s got its fancy condos — more coming, perpetually, it seems, but it’ll stop next time the housing market collapses — and it’s got its older houses, a lot of growth post-WWI/II you can see in the brickwork. Older roots, had its industrious time when industry was a thing. Now restaurants, apartments. The vinyl store. Ups and downs to everything, man.

I am lucky to have The Obelisk present shows at various times and in various places around the world. If someone asks me if they can put a logo on a poster, I rarely say no. This one feels a little special, I’ll admit. ATP were one of the first bands who in my mind came to represent a lot of what worked best about Southern heavy rock around and after the turn of the century, and I’m pleased to say they always delivered live, every time I saw them, and I saw them a bunch, from spots like Irving Plaza in NYC to a (beloved) hole in the wall like The Saint in Asbury Park.

And Suplecs it’s been since probably SXSW in 2004 or 2005, so if you believe in due, I have to qualify. They soundcheck after Alabama Thunderpussy are done, play a funky psych jam that just kind of comes out, as I expect it might anytime, anywhere from them, but it’s basically a warm-up, dropped soon enough in favor of getting the kick drum right. Guitar getting shocked stops the whole thing. They reverse the polarity. It works. Next jam is blues, as it would be.

It’s barely after 5PM, show is still hours off. I don’t mind sitting, so I expect I’ll do a good bit of that before things actually get started.

Loud Night show up, soundcheck. Dudes eat. Pretty mellow scene before doors then the stories start quick about how long it’s been, last time who saw what band, this and that and that kind of thing. The room is excited before even Loud Night starts, stage waiting in red light. 8PM start, me waiting on a bench along the wall, needing more water.

Here’s notes from the show:

Loud Night

Loud Night (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Dudes would join the filth-encrusted lineage of Motörhead and Venom and they know it. A good dose of humor in the between-song banter gave a bit of context to the onslaught, sociopolitical lyrics to set finale “Holy Hell” arriving with the disclaimer that we’re already there. Fair enough. Black metal, thrash-in-dirt, what would be fuckall if it wasn’t so physically demanding to play, this was my first exposure to Loud Night, who are obviously schooled in older school methodologies despite being the youngest band on the bill. They had a backdrop that was righteous in how much it looked homemade, and their sound was very much embodied in that. Full-speed, all-go, stop to breathe between but hit it again soon enough. I don’t mind saying it was the most metal thing I’ve seen in some time, but especially encouraging coming from a bunch of not-grayhairs. They weren’t kids, by any means — local citizens, upstanding and all that shit I’m sure — but they played like raw bastards and that is a thing to be appreciated when one can appreciate it. Maybe that’s the future of metal. No genres, only spit. There’s part of me that hopes so, and part of me that thinks that kind of thing will always be relegated to the few ears willing to be so decisively battered.


Suplecs (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Okay, I looked it up. The last time I saw Suplecs was in Philadelphia in 2011 (review here). That’s probably long enough. And I don’t want to seem overly sentimental, but wow that set took me back. Suplecs doing “White Devil?” Has stoner rock ever been more stoner rock? Maybe when they did “Rock Bottom?” Hell if I know, but I was transported watching them to a simpler and, for me, drunker time, circa 2004/2005, bumming around SXSW in a well-earned 20-something’s stupor, making it to see them lay waste to one room or another, maybe not for the first time that day. Today, my back is sore and my knee is sore and I’m tired because I’ve been up since five this morning not drinking but they still tore it up. If this is getting old, at least the music is good. It is my sincere hope that, if I ever get to see this band again, it won’t be in another 11 years. They were a blast as well as a blast from the past, and they remain one of the aughts’ most undercelebrated original era stoner bands. They should be out playing festivals in Europe when not doing the reunion gigs of bands with whom they toured pre-9/11. I don’t think that will happen, but for just three dudes, they made the stage feel small and they had heads in the crowd singing along to more than just their take on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” though most certainly to that as well. Like a lot of bands from their cohort, they would be bigger if they were starting out now, but so it goes. They remain better and more fun than they’ve ever gotten credit for being.

Alabama Thunderpussy

Alabama Thunderpussy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Is the world ready for an Alabama Thunderpussy reunion? I don’t know. Richmond, Virginia, sure as shit is though. I guess the cliché thing to say here is they took the stage like they never left, and who the hell could ever know if such a thing is true, but, well, they definitely didn’t sound like a band who hasn’t spent the last 15 or so years kicking ass, which I suppose is what they are. I never got to see them on their original run with Kyle Thomas — who doubles in Exhorder and triples in Trouble — but with Erik Larson and Ryan Lake on either side of the stage on guitar, Sam Krivanec on bass and Bryan Cox on drums, they were locked in quickly and stayed that way for the duration. It was a thing to witness, and Thomas’ voice only added to the scorch, nailing songs from before he joined the band as well as from the Open Fire album, which remains their most recent outing. Let’s add a big ‘to-date’ to that, because it seems to me that if this was a one-off, it was great but a waste, and if it was a kind of re-proof of concept, the concept was proven long before they even hit into “Wage Slave,” never mind “Rockin’ is Ma Business” at the end of the night. They’ll have to do more. Having stood in front of that stage, it would be hard for me to imagine them not keeping it going, at least for the odd festival here and there. It’s just too good to leave alone. I don’t know if the world is ready, but these guys are. I tend to think of nostalgia as a trap — your lazy brain keeping you tied to old memories so it doesn’t have to go out and make new ones. This set, seeing ATP again after so long, was a little bit of both. But the bottom line is I’m glad I came, and I’m glad I was here to see this happen on their home turf, and I’m glad there was water back on that table by the door. All winning situations. Then you get to all the shred, and groove, and balls-out heavy rock and roll — a band just absolutely going all-in the whole way through. Where’s the next stop on the tour?

I feel like maybe it’s going to be a bit before I’ve slowed my brain down enough to properly process this evening, but a few things came clear: Suplecs are even better than you remember them being and Alabama Thunderpussy can’t possibly or at least definitely shouldn’t end this here. What I saw and heard come off that stage was too forceful, and the energy too vital, to let it sit untapped. They’re more than 25 years on from their start and tonight seemed like a new beginning just starting to unfurl. I sincerely hope that is the case.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Alabama Thunderpussy


Loud Night

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4 Responses to “Live Review: Alabama Thunderpussy Reunion with Suplecs & Loud Night in Richmond, VA, 12.03.22”

  1. Jon says:

    Lol I was there I’m guy with clutch shirt on with bald spot (#128514#)

  2. Coffes says:

    What a great show! Thanks for the artice. RVA has a some metal for sure!!!

  3. Adam Kravitz says:

    Was an awesome show glad you got to see it in Richmond and check out our city. Was also cool to say hi in person :)

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