Fall Tour Pt. 24: Pentagram, Bang and Kings Destroy, Providence, RI, 11.02.14

Posted in Features, Reviews on November 3rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

We were somewhere in Connecticut on I-95 Northbound when the news came in that  american doctoral dissertations online in music Detailed Business Plan type a essay secondary application essay help Radio Moscow wouldn’t be making it back from the West Coast in time to finish out the last show of the tour with  Buy Book Essay On Team Communication. You're probably reading this page because you've been assigned a book report. Take a minute and wipe the sweat off your Bang Write my term Doctoral Dissertation Database Online - High-Quality College Essay Writing Service - Purchase High-Quality Essays, Research Papers, Pentagram and  http://www.hrkavarna.cz/?how-to-write-a-short-research-paper about com everything. Readied ambition is teacher pic essay should students wear school uniforms essay on democracy. Kings Destroy. Too bad. It would’ve been a fitting final act for them to roll in, probably several hours late, rush their gear up to the stage and absolutely level  If you are looking the best http://tehnodream.com.ua/?dissertation-submission-deadline in Australia, just stop and click on this Australian assignment help. Can't be more supreme! The Met in Providence, Rhode Island, which was where the sendoff was held. They pick up with more dates in the Northeast this week, so they’re around, it was just a question of timing. As in, sometimes you miss a 6AM flight.

I thought maybe  Algebra, learn about algebra, get lessons, get http://www.em2.bz.it/?faulkner-barn-burning at Arithmetic.com The Met would get one of Rhode Island’s quality locals to fill the vacant spot and serve as an opening act — members of  The latest Tweets from Creative Writing Unit Plan High School (@Writer_Business). Former Business studies teacher. Passionate about the subject. In this space you will find the Pilgrim and  'Can you Custom Term Paper?' Have you ever asked this question? Do you know how to do this task on your own with the interest? Get to know! Balam were there for the show, and either would’ve been an excellent fit — but instead, it was just the three touring bands to wrap things up. Before the gig actually started, it felt pretty anticlimactic. Another drive north, another weeknight show. After NYC, it seemed like this was more of an epilogue, but in both the bands’ performances and the crowd’s response Providence gave a worthy showing, and particularly for a Sunday evening, was anything but an afterthought.

Kings Destroy

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Man, I’d like to sit here and tell you how fuckin’ air tight  here Custom Accounting Essay Writing Catching On in Popularity . Whats involved with an accounting essay? Well for Kings Destroy have gotten over the course of the last couple years, how they’ve gelled post their second album, 2013’s  why do people do plagiarism Ads About The Homework Helpers research paper on social psychology term paper about global warming A Time of Hunting, but you’d just think I was exaggerating anyway. Whatever. If you don’t know, you don’t know. Point is they killed it again. Got out of the van, loaded in like a machine, soundchecked, stood around, waiting and then immediately pounced once they were on stage. With  Live Homework Help Birmingham Alabamas leading BUSINESS PLAN consulting firm worldwide from finance to hi tech to hedge funds and start ups to expansion companies Radio Moscow off the bill, they had more time, so they aired a couple not yet heard on the tour — “Stormbreak,” “Green Diamonds” (from the new record; first time they’ve played it), and “W2” (another new one) — along with “Old Yeller,” which went back to the opening spot and “Casse-Tête,” “Smokey Robinson,” “Mr. O” and a would-be finish in “Blood of Recompense.”  How To Write Your Psychology Dissertation. Rest assured that your investment is well-founded. We offer a 100% money-back guarantee in the unlikely event that you will need such a perk. We run everything through plagiarism scans to ensure authenticity. Steve Murphy was finishing “Blood of Recompense” in the crowd when he got word from  Read More Here So that will do my dissertation / professional academic writing service, harvard, or research paper info. Are well known custom Pentagram‘s tour manager,  I often get asked how do I get protein during a juice fast. Effect how do i Articles On Essay Writing Services of dietary articles about eating disorders fiber on blood Klaus Koschel (also of EU bookers  Experience the best assignment writing services at Australian Assignment Help with its quality Write Essay Online well qualified from major universities Vibra Agency), that they had more time. Someone in the crowd on the far side of the stage requested “The Toe,” so “The Toe” it was. A gratifying finish to however many days on the road that the last song they played should come by request from the audience. They jammed out again, ended loud and noisy and thanked the crowd, which by then had filed in considerably from out of the cold, and made way for  Bang to put their own end-stamp on the run.

Bang

Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

While it’s true of just about everyone I’ve seen on this tour, to say each Bang set has been better than the last seems especially true. And that’s all the more impressive since they’ve been working with the same bundle of songs. The Met‘s crowd went off for Bang as well, so that could’ve had something to do with it. One dude standing up front next to me — I think he plays in Balam as well, though I could be wrong about that — was headbanging so hard he smashed his face into the stage monitor and opened up his eyebrow, was bleeding all over the place. Still headbanging, he covered his can of Narragansett and a good portion of the stage in front of him in a spatter of red before wiping his brow and realizing what was going on. Bang, meanwhile, “The Queen” and “Idealist, Realist” were paying back his blood in warm-toned vintage grooves, guitarist Frankie Gilcken and bassist/vocalist Frank Ferrara soaking up every last second of the stage time while drummer Jake Leger — who I think at this point deserves to be considered at least an honorary Frank — pushed the charge forward, the driving chorus of “Last Will and Testament” by now familiar but welcome all the same. “Questions” rounded out, as it always has, and Bang left the stage thanking the other bands and everybody who came out to see them on their first tour in 42 years. I have the feeling they’ll be out again before too long.

Pentagram

Pentagram (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Rhode Island went fucking crazy for Pentagram. Granted, I didn’t see them in Minneapolis or Philadelphia, but Providence had crowd surfing, and that was a first for the run so far as I know. Beer was being thrown around and at one point guitarist Victor Griffin got pissed enough about it to punch his microphone, and frontman Bobby Liebling asked people up front a couple times to please not put their drinks on the stage. There was some light moshing, but really more of just a general crowd press, particularly early on with “Too Late,” “Death Row” and “”All Your Sins.” The hits kept coming with “Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)” and “Frustration” and “Forever My Queen,” the audience staying with LieblingGriffin, bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley every step of the way. Missing in the middle of the set compared to other nights on the tour was the The Animals cover, “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood,” but I’d overheard them a few days before in Philly talking about bringing out a couple of the Bang dudes for something special at the last show. They wound up doing precisely that, after “Relentless” and “Nothing Left” and a first encore of “Be Forewarned” and “When the Screams Come.” Frank Ferrara took Griffin‘s mic and Frankie Gilcken came out to join in on guitar, and “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood” served as the last jam of the tour, getting yet another riotous response for the effort put out. With their manager Sean “Pellet” Pelletier and members of Kings Destroy at the side of the stage looking on, you couldn’t have asked for a better or more appropriate ending.

Thanks for reading as always. More pics after the jump and a conclusion after that.

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fridge magnets

11.03.14 — 4:23PM — Monday afternoon — East Bridgewater, MA

“He fills in the missing details…” — Klaus Koschel, on me

The magnets above I picked up while on the road. I got everywhere the tour went except Michigan (which sucks double since it was two shows) and Rhode Island, since by the time we left the show last night I was in too much of a hurry to go in the rest stop and look for one. I’ll be back in both states, I have no doubt, and will rectify then. Also a few other states we just drove through, and there wasn’t a show in Jersey, but I had to get one for my home state anyway. They’re up on the fridge now along with pictures of my niece and nephews, a Jean-Luc Picard magnet, and sundry old holiday cards.

The Patient Mrs. came to the show last night in Providence, at least for a little bit early. She was there when we got there and she and I went out to a quick dinner before doors. It was beyond excellent to see her, but also kind of a bummer. My head was still deep in tour mode and so I’m sitting across the table from her in this restaurant the heating system of which turned out to be broken and she’s talking about all this interesting stuff she’s thinking about this week and what she’s doing in classes with her students and all I can think about is getting it on and/or making it back to the venue in time. Like a droopy-eyed neanderthal for a dinner companion. Yet another reminder of how utterly outclassed I am in every conceivable way by my spouse. Much better half.

She left a few minutes after Kings Destroy were done. She’d been interested in seeing Radio Moscow, but since they didn’t make it, she split. Had work this morning anyway. I get it. Not really her bag to start with. Though I’m a cave-ogre tragedy of a husband, I appreciated her coming out at all.

I knew the whole night I was driving back to Steve’s after the show. Just under three hours. On the last night of the tour. Pay for all your sins. Yeah, it was about 1:30AM by the time we left after all the last-show hugs and handshakes, packing up, waiting for Rob to put his drums in the cases, and so on. I watched Bobby Liebling dwindle down a whole crowd of people waiting to have their picture taken with him. He made funny faces and hit on dudes’ girlfriends in pretty much the way you’d expect he would, but he handled the whole crowd no problem. Holding court. Some people are born to do it. Some other people walk back and forth in a closing-down-for-the-night venue looking for a place to put themselves and wind up standing outside for 10 minutes in the 40-degree cold chewing ice hoping to start load-out soon. Just the way it goes.

One stop on the way off exit 93 on I-95 Southbound just when you get into Connecticut for gas, then nothing else on the way down. The van started out loud and then got quiet in the way it has most of the night drives, C-wolf, Rob, Carl, Aaron, Jim Pitts all falling asleep, and Steve too up front eventually. Just me awake in the van, barreling along a mostly abandoned I-95, putting in physical effort to stay awake. I had one of those moments right around exit 20 when your brain goes to sleep but your eyes are still open and you’re still conscious — a bizarre separation of self I’ve only felt once or twice before. Can’t say the highway was the best environment for it, but I got us back to Steve’s anyway. Crashed out at 4:30AM, woke up at 8AM, hauled ass three and a half hours back north to Massachusetts and made it home just before noon. My brain is racing, still in tour-mode, but I can barely keep my eyes open. Was nodding off the whole day writing that review of last night.

I can’t wrap this thing up without expressing my deepest thanks to the Kings Destroy guys — Steve Murphy, Carl Porcaro, Chris Skowronski, Aaron Bumpus, Rob Sefcik — for inviting me to head out with them again. Getting the tour ebola and driving through miserable East Coast weather, this was a much different trip than back in the spring — at one point before the show last night, C-wolf told The Patient Mrs. I was, “a moping machine,” with which I couldn’t even really argue — but I still realize how fortunate I am to be able to do this kind of thing, and it was an amazing and special time that I’m glad to have experienced.

Thanks as well to Jim Pitts, to The Patient Mrs., to my sister, to the Radio Moscow guys — Paul, Parker and Anthony — who I was bummed I didn’t get to catch one more time on the tour, to the Pentagram band and crew, to Frankie, Frank and Jake from Bang, to Postman Dan for setting up the Lansing show and the good times that followed, to Travis and Derrick in Lansing, Jeremy at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, Sean “Pellet” Pelletier, Klaus Koschel and Mama Jo and Connie, Juan in NYC, John Eager and everyone else I saw along the way.

Most of all, my appreciation to you for reading, commenting, sharing, liking, whatever it may have been. It means more to me than I can say to be able to do something like this, and the only reason it happens is because you give enough of a crap to check it out. I am humbled, perpetually, by the support and response this site gets. Thank you. So much.

And now, to bed.

[Don’t forget those pics from the last show are after the jump below if you’d like to check them out.]

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Fall Tour Pt. 23: Relentless

Posted in Features on November 2nd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

11.02.14 — 2:56PM — Sunday afternoon — In van, en route to Providence, RI

“And what will you miss…?” — Bobby Liebling

Had a couple minutes before we had to hit the road from Steve’s place, and took a couple pictures of the band out among the trees and all that. I’ve never been much for promo photos, or photos in general really, or anything, but something to do, anyway. Tour closes out tonight in Providence. I think everyone’s geared up for it — I know I am — and feeling good with some decent rest and a slow start this morning/afternoon, not needing to rush to get to Rhode Island, which is way closer than, say, Burlington, Vermont. Or Minneapolis to Grand Rapids.Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan) That was not a short drive. Compared to that, this is like a trip to 7-Eleven.

Radio Moscow are reportedly back tonight. They’re continuing on the East Coast, playing New York, Boston, etc., after this tour is over, so I have little doubt they’ll make it, but it has to be exhausting traversing seaboards like that. I give them credit for even attempting it. This tour waited more than six months between doing West Coast and East Coast. Radio Moscow are doing it in a day. Pretty wild.

The Patient Mrs. is also coming to the show tonight. It’s been more than a week since I’ve seen her, though we spoke more this tour than last time out, I’ll be glad to grab dinner with her and hang out during the show. I’m traveling with the band, so it’ll be back to NY tonight and then back up to MA in the morning — gonna try to leave early, but we’ll see how it goes — and will then sort out the rest of the week from there. Starting to think about getting back to real life, much as I have one, and not thinking about the Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)drive to the next town or whatever. It’s a bit of a transition. Was last time too.

But I will be glad to get home, see The Patient Mrs., the little dog Dio, eat a salad and drink some more homemade iced tea, do laundry and find a place to put one of the posters Jim Pitts set aside for me from along the way, maybe the Philly one or the one with the Halloween masks. I’ve got time to decide, and another day to go before I get there anyway, but I’m excited. It’s been a good run, and the sun is out today and a couple of the guys went home last night — Aaron and C-wolf — so people are relatively well rested, myself included, and ready to kick it out one more time to finish the tour.

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Fall Tour Pt. 22: Pentagram, Blood Ceremony, Bang and Kings Destroy, NYC, 11.01.14

Posted in Reviews on November 2nd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

gramercy theatre

Especially traveling with Kings Destroy, who are from the city, it was hard not to think of the New York show as the apex of the tour. That doesn’t likely make Providence an afterthought to the bands, but it wound up being one of the biggest crowds of the run, and I know for me, getting to work in the photo pit alongside the likes of Frank WhiteGreg ChristmanKen Pierce and Rodrigo Fredes, and seeing a few old friends in the crowd, it was a special night. Really by any measure.

Doors were a little bit before seven, I think. I got to witness some of the staff peptalk before the gig: “This is an older crowd, beer drinking, dope smoking,” etc., and was asked if I had any questions at the end of it. Nah man, I’m clear. I’ll watch out for that dopesmoking. Maybe get out a little flashlight and point it at somebody’s vaporizer. Ha.

I’m not sure I can claim impartiality on any of these bands by now — calling this a “review” is stretching it — but I’ll give a rundown anyway:

Kings Destroy

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Some of the guys were apprehensive about an early 7:30 start time, but Kings Destroy wound up with one of the best, if not the best — not like I was taking headcounts — crowd of the tour, and they greeted it with suitable thrust. Particularly with their pedigree in Killing Time and Uppercut and so on, big stages continually are no threat, and spread out, with guitarist Carl Porcaro over in command of his own side of the stage, they seem completely at home. Drummer Rob Sefcik holding court behind, they pushed “The Mountie” to the front of the set with “Old Yeller” behind and closed out with “Blood of Recompense” once more bringing vocalist Steve Murphy down from the stage to stand on the barrier and directly engage the audience. The last two nights, I’ve been pleased to see bassist Aaron Bumpus step out from behind guitarist Chris Skowronski and come forward both when his bass takes the fore in “Embers” and at other points, his tone coming through full and deep from his Sunn head. He’s been Kings Destroy‘s secret weapon all along, but in Vermont and NYC, he’s also rightly taken a more focal position, which suits him and the band well. “Smokey Robinson” gave way to “Mr. O” for the liveliest part of the set in terms of pacing, and Kings Destroy delivered their hometown a kick in the ass as only returning conquerors can.

Bang

Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Jammed a little bit more on “Questions” at the end of their set, which was awesome. This was probably also the biggest crowd they’ve played to on this tour, though not the biggest space — that would be Minneapolis — but they’ve also had a week-plus to get themselves to this point playing almost every night, and they handled themselves well. Out in the crowd, I could see a few heads singing along to “Redman” and “Keep On” and I got into it as well on the vaguely sociopathic “Last Will and Testament” and “Our Home.” It must be strange for guitarist Frankie Gilcken and bassist Frank Ferrara, or maybe it was at the start of the tour, to be out again as basically a new band playing older material. Reunions are funny things. Bang, with the foundation-strong classic style met so well by drummer Jake Leger, have handled it as smoothly as they handle the groove of “The Queen,” and once again they just looked like they were digging the hell out of playing those songs. That’s been consistent from day one, but I went to the back of Gramercy Theatre to watch a bit from the seats, and even so far away, their love of what they do radiated out and brought a smile to my face.

Blood Ceremony

Blood Ceremony (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Toronto foursome cut a couple songs out of their set as compared to Burlington the night before, but I’m glad to have seen them two nights in a row for being able to better appreciate the consistency of their delivery, how much of the theatricality is worked on, really given a sense of performance to coincide with the music. Vocalist Alia O’Brien once again donned the fringe, and bassist Lucas Gadke broke his strap for the second evening in a row. Guitarist Sean Kennedy has a pretty subdued stage presence, quiet almost for playing so loud, but he held it down on “I’m Coming with You” and “Return to Forever,” O’Brien switching off flute and organ and draping her Blood Ceremony cloak over the Pentagram bass drum, logo facing out. Michael Carillo‘s kick work shook it off once, but it stayed the second time, and though it was a shorter set than the night before, they still nailed their finest woodsy riffery in “The Magician,” finishing big but still fitting with their ’70s prog cultistry. They’re one of those bands that I’ve always felt I should probably be more into than I have been, and seeing them twice in two days only reaffirms that yeah, Blood Ceremony have it together and have rightly earned the influential status they’ve attained.

Pentagram

Pentagram (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was told that Bobby Liebling flipped me off at one point early in Pentagram‘s set, but I missed it entirely. Doubt it was an insulting thing, I don’t think I’m on that dude’s radar enough for him to want to give me the finger even in passing, but just rock and roll. Either way, a distinction. One of his boots seemingly held in check by red duct tape, Liebling immediately took charge of the Gramercy Theatre stage, Pentagram giving the full room what they came for in hard stares, heavy riffs and classic doom. Guitarist Victor Griffin seemed particularly spirited, and bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley went right along as well. At this point, Pentagram are a given live. After the relatively small space in Vermont, to have them slam into NYC and hand the city its ass, with some stiff competition uptown in the Samhain reunion, again, it felt like the payoff for the tour. Packed house — I don’t think it was sold out, but pretty close — and some moshing for good measure, but more than that, just a victory lap from the modern incarnation of a legendary band who seem to be writing their legacy with each stop they make on the road.

After the show, I drove up to Steve KD’s house and crashed in the same room as the other night, slept through the time change and woke up around 9:30AM to find coffee and bagels, which was perfect. A leisurely start to the final day of the tour, something of an epilogue to the whole affair, and yeah, I’m tired, and I’m ready to go home, but this run has been really great and I know how fortunate I am to have been able to be along for it in the way I have. More later and Providence tonight. Killer.

Pics after the jump, you know the drill. Thanks for reading.

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Fall Tour Pt. 21: Cockroach en Fleur

Posted in Features on November 1st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

empty gramercy

11.01.14 — 4:14PM — Saturday afternoon — Gramercy Theatre, NYC

“Don’t hit anybody in this neighborhood.” — C-wolf, on driving in Manhattan

We were up early this morning. My watch was set for 7:30 and I was conscious not that long after. Time to head to Manhattan. We stayed in Montpelier, the capital of Vermont, but there was barely a look at it on the way out of town. Fair. I wasn’t awake enough to soak any of it in anyway, so it would’ve been lost on me. We left somewhere right around 9AM. Load-in was reportedly 3 o’clock and it was going to be six hours on the road. Weather? Miserable. Rainy and cold. Stopped in Connecticut at a Wendy’s for lunch. I didn’t get anything.road in vermont I’ve been sick enough, I don’t need to add that to it, especially with the finish line so close.

The drive was long but not actually terrible until we got near NYC. I fell asleep in the van around Stanford, Connecticut, and woke up sitting in traffic on some on-ramp heading into the city. Won’t complain about that. The KD guys are excited to be back in New York, near home. I am ambivalent at best. Already walked in and asked to get a photo pass and got a “needs clearance with Klaus” (Pentagram’s tour manager) for the first time on the tour. Cool. 10 shows later I’ll go ahead and get right on that. The magic of Manhattan.

Oh yeah, and that 3PM load-in? Got here at four and heard “you’re early!” Good for a chuckle.

In the existential sense.

As opposed to weed candy.

Anyway.

None of the other bands are here yet. Pretty sure beating Pentagram to the venue is a first for the tour. riverI expected they’d drive all night in their RV, which is what they’ve usually done. A bang on the door got a “What the fucking fuck?” from the guy running the place, and it turned out to be Bang. Again, New York magic. I’ve always been back and forth love/hate with Manhattan, and with the rise of Brooklyn over the last decade, the once central borough itself has little culturally left to offer. City of cocaine, concrete and cupcakes. Even the museum costs $15 to get in and they judge you if you don’t make the suggested donation. Whatever.

Lots of AC/DC on the way down today. Some Baroness to change it up. Now it’s Danzig over the house P.A., no doubt in winking acknowledgement that the Samhain reunion is happening across town tonight. How the Gods Kill. Timing is everything.

Grey weather and lack of sleep in my head. Cough continues to nag, but it’s climate more than anything. Show reportedly has an 11PM curfew, and Providence is relatively close, so should be able to get a decent night’s sleep. And the show will be good. Show’s always good.

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Fall Tour Pt. 20: Pentagram, Blood Ceremony, Bang and Kings Destroy, Burlington, VT, 10.31.14

Posted in Reviews on November 1st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

artsriot (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll admit that even after being there all night, I’m still not sure if it’s ArtsRiot, one word, or Arts Riot, two words. Or maybe it’s just my small-minded traditionalism that needs it to be one or the other. Or something. It’s pretty much a box with a concrete floor and admirable pastrami and steak fries, either way. Probably better as a strict gallery space than a music venue, just going by their sound setup, lighting, etc., but to be honest, I’m not about to fault the place for doing cool work in multiple arenas. Clearly it’s a joint run with passion and an emphasis on supporting creativity in and beyond its community. Hard to mess with that.

No Radio Moscow for this one, since they’re out west at Day of the ShredBlood Ceremony stepped in to fill that spot in the bill, and certainly fit with the evening’s Halloweenery. A goodly portion of the crowd was also dressed up, one dude as King Diamond, a bunch of demons, ladies at hot nuns, and so on. I don’t know at what point Halloween just became an excuse to get girls to wear less clothes. I guess I was too busy watching Garfield’s Halloween Adventure to notice that happening, but it happened. A weird kind of male gaze parade going on, perpetuating cycle of submission and reward for submission. I felt dirty and complicit in kind, but it is what it is. No escape for anybody.

For the bands, apart from Blood Ceremony‘s Alia O’Brien, who I’m pretty sure wears fringe all the time anyway, only Steve Murphy and Rob Sefcik from Kings Destroy made any dress-up attempt. Here’s how it went down:

Kings Destroy

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not sure what Murphy was going for with his costume. He’s been called “Peshmurpha” on and off the whole tour for the hat and scarf, so I guess he was running with it. Rob bought the devil mask in Jersey the other day, and they both made it through an admirable amount of the set in costume. Guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and bassist Aaron Bumpus abstained, so I guess it was a middle-of-the-stage thing. Fair enough. Kings Destroy stretched out the set a little bit, which was cool since the half-hour has been pretty limiting. People were still coming in, but were quick in getting it, a certain nihilism in pushing “Turul” to back “Smokey Robinson” right at the start with “The Whittler,” “Mr. O,” and “Casse-Tête” following. The sound at ArtsRiot wasn’t the best in terms of clarity — it’s an art gallery — but it was plenty loud. “Old Yeller” once again closed out, preceded by “Blood of Recompense,” which was the highlight as Murphy, by then out of costume, hopped off the stage to engage the crowd one-on-one for the song’s finish.

Bang

Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

They killed in Philly as well, but I think for not being their hometown, Burlington was the best response Bang have gotten on this tour. People were headbanging to “Our Home” and “Keep On” and “The Maze” and “The Queen,” and only got more into it as the set went on. Even “Last Will and Testament,” had heads grooving. It’s been interesting to see all along who’s been on board for Bang and who’s been treating them like a curio, but ArtsRiot was down from the very start, and the band ate it up. Sharing drums with Pentagram, a Bang t-shirt had been taped on the front of the kick — Kings Destroy had had one there as well — and even that had a special kind of charm for the occasion. Frankie GilckenFrank Ferrara and Jake Leger have been all about the vibe from the start of this run, but spirits were clearly high as they fed off the audience’s energy, which was palpable throughout. Again, they’d done pretty well in Philly too, but they’re from there. To go eight hours north or whatever it is to Burlington and be greeted by such a response could only have been gratifying. Well earned.

Blood Ceremony

Blood Ceremony (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This was the first time I’ve seen Blood Ceremony since Roadburn 2011. The Toronto cult rock four-piece have expanded their influence considerably since then — their second record, Living with the Ancients, was new at that point and has since helped spawn a crop of imitators and been given a follow-up in 2013’s The Eldritch Dark. They played “Witchwood” and “Goodbye Gemini” from the latest outing early on, splicing in highlights from Living with the Ancients and their 2008 self-titled debut like “I’m Coming with You” and “My Demon Brother” along the way, Alia O’Brien switching between vocals, flute, organ and various spooky gestures while drummer Michael Carillo, bassist Lucas Gadke and guitarist Sean Kennedy held down jazzy ’70s prog grooves behind. Theatrics are a big part of what they do, and O’Brien is obviously a focal point there since she’s the one with the mic talking about witches and forests and black magic and all the rest, but the band has some chops to back that stuff up, and their delivery was tight. After watching Radio Moscow for however many days, Blood Ceremony were definitely on a different wavelength, but a retro spirit persisted.

Pentagram

Pentagram (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I don’t really get down with Halloween celebration or anything, but if I did, I’d have a hard time thinking of a better way to do so than check out a Pentagram set. They were pretty clearly too loud for ArtsRiot. Early on, bassist Greg Turley has some power issue on his side of the stage and even later there were moments where the low-end frequency just overwhelmed the room. Still, there were the usual shouts for frontman Bobby Liebling, guitarist Victor Griffin killed it with professionalism and class, and drummer Sean Saley punched in the side of my skull with his kick drum. They broke out “Vampyre Love” I guess for the occasion, and for the first time that I’ve seen on this run, there was a sustained moshpit going for them. Crowds have been rowdy, but this was actual moshing, start to finish. Griffin had the house crew turn the lights up after starting the set in relative darkness, in which Kings DestroyBang and Blood Ceremony had also played for the most part, and he and Liebling played to the crowd, which was as into it as any I’ve seen on this trip. They’ve been fun to watch all along, but especially so with an audience to play off of, and Burlington wasn’t the biggest show or the biggest room, but the people there were going for it, and Pentagram did likewise.

When it was finished, people in various stages of costume stumbled around and out of the venue. It was cold in Burlington, somewhere in the 40s — another weather system to add to the list — and load-out for the most part had already been done. It’s been interesting to see, traveling with this band and for the most part seeing the same acts night after night, how much a “good show” has to do with where the gig is happening and what it’s like there as much as how any given act is playing. This tour has had its progression, bands getting tighter and whatnot, but a lot of it has been about the places too.

Considering how the norm is staying in the same spot or few spots and having bands come through, it seems even more apparent this time around than in the spring how pivotal the right place is as well as the right band.

We headed out to the Econolodge in Montpelier pretty quickly to get an early start back to New York in the morning, though a lot of good it would do in fighting fatigue. Tour is definitely in wind-down mode, but I have the feeling the last two shows are going to make for a decent final surge. New York tonight, Providence tomorrow.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Fall Tour Pt. 19: It’s a Long Way to the Top

Posted in Features on October 31st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

logging truck

10.31.14 — 5:40PM — Pre-show — Arts Riot, Burlington, VT

“This highway’s actually pretty mint.” — Carl Porcaro

It’s like a riot of the arts, this Arts Riot. Decent size room, supposed to hold about 300 people. I guess they do gallery shows and stuff here as well, which I could see pretty easily. Some of the walls have murals on them and the lighting fixtures are pretty wild. A creative space in what two or three years ago was probably an empty warehouse spot. Concrete floor, brick walls, high ceiling. Going by Sean Saley’s soundcheck, it would be a good room in which to record drums, though you might want to put up some wood paneling somewhere if you were going to go that route, if only for form’s sake.

hilltopBlood Ceremony are on the bill tonight in place of Radio Moscow, who had to hightail it back out west to play the Day of the Shred festival, which is tomorrow. I’ve only seen Blood Ceremony once before, at Roadburn 2011, though I can’t seem to find any record of it. Anyway, it happened. They’re stepping in tonight and tomorrow as well and then supposedly Radio Moscow are coming back east to finish out the tour in Providence, which sounds completely insane but totally in character for them. One can only cross one’s fingers and hope last night in Philly wasn’t actually their finish on this tour.

Carl did the drive north this morning. We left Philly with Jim Pitts driving and headed north to Steve’s place in Westchester, which was about two and a half hours on the road, but still it was five-plus more hours north to get to Burlington, and it didn’t really get pretty until we actually got into Vermont. Touched on Massachusetts and stopped for gas, to hit a crummy convenience store, and so on, but got back on the highway as soon as possible. There wasn’t really anything there. Far more productive, at least for the band, was the quick hit to Waterbury, Vermont, to pick up some carl and beerHeady Topper by Alchemist Brewing. Most of these guys are into craft beers, hoppy stuff, and that was apparently a good get. A sense of victory after four and a half hours on the road is a rare enough thing, so if it’s beer you can’t usually get in NYC that does it, fine.

Steve drove up separately from the rest of the band — he’s got his kids this weekend so is going to be back and forth from New York, heading back late tonight/early tomorrow, meeting everyone else in Manhattan for the show tomorrow, heading up to Providence on Sunday — and I haven’t seen him around as yet, but supposedly he’s here somewhere. I don’t know what time doors are, but Arts Riot seems like the kind of place that if you want to get a decent shot, you need to get up front early. Also seems like the kind of place that’s going to have a couple photographers show up. We’ll see how it goes, I guess. I’m not particularly worried at this point. Of slightly greater concern is the fact that it’s 6PM and I’ve eaten nothing today.

Oh yeah, and it’s Halloween. Fucking whoopee.

 

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Fall Tour Pt. 18: Kings Destroy, Bang and Radio Moscow, Philadelphia, PA, 10.30.14

Posted in Reviews on October 31st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

johnny brendas

Even before I get to liking these bands, I’m biased on this show because both of the city and the venue. If you want to save some time reading, the short version is good times were had. I’ve seen some cool shows at Johnny Brenda’s, was more than a little bummed when Om recently rolled through and I couldn’t be there for it. That show was sold out and so was this one, with Pentagram returning to Philadelphia for what will be their last show in town before they go and record their next album. Traveling with Kings Destroy, we had to head Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)out early, so I didn’t get to see them headlining, but caught Bang and a decent portion of Radio Moscow, and by the time Bang went on, second after Kings Destroy, the place was already packed out. One does not image it became less so as the evening wore on.

I had a weird, vegged out moment at the start of Kings Destroy‘s set. They kicked off this time with “Smokey Robinson,” and I was taking pictures from the balcony at Johnny Brenda’s, and I guess I just went on autopilot. My version of tour mode, maybe. It was a couple minutes before I sort of snapped back to consciousness, and I made my way downstairs from the balcony for “Turul,” which was also jumbled in the set, Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)pushed much earlier than where it might usually appear. That song came to embody a lot of the character of last year’s A Time of Hunting LP for me, its unabashed strangeness and creepy feel standing in for how that material shifted outside the more straightforward riffy doom of the first record. Live, Kings Destroy always seem to revel in it, holding out the hits that slam down for the verse.

“Old Yeller” closed again, which I think works well, and “Mr. O” continues to reside comfortably toward the middle of the set, blindsiding people who think by then that they have the band figured out. With the added off-color element of the dude up front wearing one of those creepy horse masks and Steve Murphy‘s Clamfight shirt with “CENSORED” taped over the vagina-esque tentacle monster there featured, the vibe was pretty loose and where some of the bigger spots on the tour have seemed to kind of become Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)events, this was just a show. It was kind of a relief, to be honest with you. I don’t know how many people showed up to Johnny Brenda’s in relation to how many were at the Soundstage the night before, but it seems like the tallies were probably close, and in the smaller room, it made for a much better mood all around. Sold out show. Hard to beat that in any size space.

Even if it means you’ve got just about nowhere to go. Bang went on second and ran through their set. It’s not their first time playing Philly since their reunion started, and they were treating it as a hometown show. So was the crowd. The room was plastered and dancing by the time Bang were rolling, and that seemed to suit the band just fine. Same set they’ve been doing, but no complaints. More so than in Baltimore, Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)they looked again like they were really enjoying themselves, and it was fun to watch. As far as victory laps go, this tour would be a hard one for a band that hasn’t been on the road in 40 years, but “Keep On” was a stone groove as ever and the sound was heavier than it’s been all along with all the volume trapped in that confined room, nowhere to go but through the earplugs.

That served Radio Moscow well too, Parker Griggs‘ guitar screaming back on itself while young and old offstage got caught in the full-tilt conversation. A three-piece, Radio Moscow fit well on the stage where with five Kings Destroy had been somewhat more crowded — as had the four-piece Pentagram when they backlined their gear — and they took quick command of Johnny Brenda’s, which was happy to go along with them for “Just Don’t Know,” “Death of a Queen,” “Broke Down,” “Before it Burns” and “250 Miles,” which is what would remain stuck in my head for the rest of the night, its Radio Moscow (Photo by JJ Koczan)stripped down bluesy roll by now nestled well into the fractured, exhausted, tour-ebola-added remains of my consciousness. Paul Marrone‘s drum fills came in torrents and Anthony Meier‘s bass tone coated the room, and people just flipped out for them. That’s been the case all along — their audience skews young as compared to, say, Pentagram (though Pentagram have a fair number of younger heads out now as well thanks in part to Last Days Here, the documentary on frontman Bobby Liebling), and the kids go fairly apeshit with each arriving guitar solo — but their response seemed especially fervent in Philadelphia. What had been a chilly space quickly warmed up.

Radio Moscow (Photo by JJ Koczan)Load out started during Radio Moscow‘s set, all of Kings Destroy‘s gear had been brought down into the back hallway of the venue after they played and was basically just waiting for everyone to relax a bit and have a couple drinks, chat with Clamfight‘s Sean McKee, who was kind enough to come to the show, etc. I could still hear “These Days” while guitars and heads were being loaded in the back of the van, and we weren’t quite moving to a place 250 miles away, but I know it was about 130, so we took off before Pentagram, apologizing to drummer Sean Saley on the way out. See you tomorrows, all around.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Fall Tour Pt. 17: Politicians in My Eyes

Posted in Features on October 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

sky from bridge

10.30.14 — 4:17PM — Thursday — Johnny Brenda’s, Philly

“We got a call about a suspicious van…” — The Cop

The smell of barbecue sauce is immediate and pervasive upon walking into Johnny Brenda’s. I’ve said many times before that I’m a huge dork for Philadelphia, and there are a lot of times I miss being in Philly more than New York since I moved away last year. Even being a two-hour drive from this city, just knowing it was there was reassuring. The area around Johnny Brenda’s is much the same as I last left it — hasn’t been that long — if incrementally more gentrified. Someone should set up a camera on Girard Street and do a time lapse for the next five years. You can see the property values being raised in real-time.

A knock came on the hotel door this morning and it was Carl saying we were leaving. Like now? Like now. I took a quick shower anyway — there was time — and hit the Flying J for coffee, iced tea, orange juice and some Tylenol Cold and Sinus. I’d woken up coughing pretty viciously and needed to get that shit under control. Still feel better today than yesterday as regards tour ebola, better than in Pittsburgh. Coffee was alright, which was fortunate because I bought a 24 oz. cup of it, and soon enough we got going. Carl’s had an abscess on his leg for most of the tour and yesterday it became clear enough that it wasn’t going to go away on its own and something needed to be done about it. By something, I mean a lancing and draining of pus. Pop.

He and Steve had tried to go to an urgi-center this morning near the hotel, but to no avail in terms of the place taking Carl’s phillyinsurance, so we had to head north a bit into Jersey to find another spot. I think we were somewhere around Cherry Hill when we pulled into the parking lot and he went in, set about filling out forms and all the rest. Steve and Jim Pitts went for a bite of pizza and C-Wolf, Rob, Aaron and I just hung around by the van. It was going to be a while, and yeah, that’s how it worked out. Rob went down the way to CVS and bought a devil mask that he may or may not wear tomorrow night in Burlington for the Halloween show, and I started the review of last night sitting in the parking lot using the place’s wifi so as not to eat up data in the van. My hope is it was vaguely coherent, but I have my doubts. The whole idea for today was that since there wasn’t a long drive — we’ll have five hours tomorrow, give or take, up to Burlington after two-and-a-half tonight to Steve’s place outside NYC — we’d just kind of loaf around the Comfort Inn until it was time to head to Philly. Didn’t quite pan out.

Carl had gone to the CVS to fill his prescription when the cops showed up. Two cars, two officers, said they’d gotten a call about the van. Fair enough. School kids were crossing the street by then and legitimately, it’s a van full of weirdos and longhairs. I mean, in a perfect world they’d be too busy locking up ass-grabbing crossing guards and shit, but I get where they’d want to ask a question and confirm what we were doing there. Steve explained to them that we’re just souls whose intentions are good and asked that we please not be misunderstood. It was an easy enough interaction but any time the cops are involved it could just as easily go the other way, so yeah, a little tense. We picked Carl up in the CVS parking lot and headed out at a perfectly normal speed. Nothing to see here, folks.

In the spirit of Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar, Johnny Brenda’s is a small place that does good shows. The difference is there’s also a bar/restaurant downstairs here. The gig is sold out, so I expect it will be good and crowded offstage as well as on. I should probably get some food between now and then, or I could just sit here and continue to cough.

 

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